Tagged: diigo

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The new Diigo is a major improvement

newdiigologofavicon I’ve liked Diigo for a long time. (Here’s a post from 2009 and another from 2012.) In fact, I used to be (a tad) obsessed with Diigo.

But then, something happened, and Diigo wasn’t being developed as consistently, and I lost interest as glitzy social clipping services like Pinterest and Snip.it and Bundlr and Scoop.it came along and made Diigo look so, well, ordinary.

But now, I’m happy to report, Diigo is back. And so am I.

Most impressive is Diigo’s site redesign. It’s a major overhaul. Gone is the clutter. The look is clean and clear. Here’s my library dashboard:

Diigo Screenshot









If you take a closer look, you can tell that the developers took extra care with details. For example, the number of annotations for each clip is highlighted next to the title. You can expand or collapse your annotations.

Better yet, the new search bar works extremely well. The default (see the M?) is called “Meta Search,” which locates search terms both in post titles and annotations. It’s so good that I made the big decision to get rid of tags altogether. Tags weren’t helping me organize my clips very well, and I figure that I can use Diigo lists if I want to curate and save a “best-of” collection. If you don’t like the Meta Search, you can also search by tags or by full text (if you have Diigo Premium.)

Diigo has also improved its already-excellent Chrome extension. Seriously, this is one of the most useful extensions out there. Here are some of its features:

  • Save a webpage to Diigo,
  • Annotate a page,
  • Save the page to read later (I prefer Pocket),
  • Take a screenshot (genius),
  • Share the page via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Gmail, or an annotated link.

I can’t say enough good things about the extension. No other service allows you to annotate the Internet as smoothly as Diigo does. Once you start highlighting or taking notes, up comes the “Annotation Toolbar,” which lets you change the highlight color and write a sticky note. Or you can reorganize the clip by changing the title, adding tags, and sharing to a list or a group. (I could do an entire post just on these features. Yeah, maybe I will!)

As a teacher, the only problem I see with Diigo is that I don’t see it working seamlessly with students (despite Diigo’s “teacher console,” which makes it easy for teachers to create and manage class groups). It’s just a little too advanced and too text-heavy. Once students get used to reading and researching a lot (maybe in the 11th and 12th grades?), they probably would see the many benefits of Diigo. But because Diigo lacks a strong phone app (particularly on Android, where Power Note is only mediocre), it just won’t fly with the average student. Students (and many adults) are too attracted to big and beautiful images, and though I don’t want Diigo to emulate Pinterest, it wouldn’t hurt to move at least a little in that direction.

I can’t wait to see where Diigo heads next. It has tons of users and a huge amount of potential. In the meantime, I’ll be playing around with Diigo, experimenting with it, and doing a whole lot more highlighting and annotating. If you use Diigo or try it out, please let me know what you think! favicon

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Using Pocket in the classroom to promote nonfiction reading

pocketfavicon I read tons of nonfiction (see Iserotope Extras), and as a teacher, I want to encourage my students to read tons of nonfiction.

The new Common Core State Standards agree with my approach.

But up until yesterday, I couldn’t quite find the best and easiest way to incorporate nonfiction into my classroom with my students.

Diigo is a great service, but it hasn’t been updated for a long time, plus it takes a lot of investment to set it up with students. Snip.it was great until Yahoo bought it. And Google Reader is shuttering soon as well. What is an English (or social studies, or science, or any) teacher to do?

Yesterday, Pocket, which lets you save content to read later, announced a major new feature: Send to Friend. Before yesterday, if you wanted to share an article with another person, you could email the article, but your friend would have to read it directly from his or her inbox or forward it, somewhat clumsily, into their Pocket.

No more! Now you can send an article directly from your Pocket to your friend’s Pocket, plus you can add a personal note. No more middle step of going through your friend’s email inbox.

So what does this all have to do with building a community of nonfiction readers in your classroom? Sure, there are other ways for students to share articles, but Pocket works easily and intuitively on phones, which students love. That’s crucial.

Here are a couple ways teachers can try Pocket out:

1. Share a class Pocket account.
You create an account and share the login and password information with students. When students find a particularly interesting article, they Pocket it to the account. In class, you read one of the articles as a whole group, or you give students the option of reading any of the articles in the queue.

I would recommend this as a first step so your students can become familiar with finding good articles, Pocketing them, and building an enthusiasm for reading. Once that happens, you can choose to move to Step 2.

2. Create and build individual student accounts.
When students have their own Pocket accounts, they have more ownership about what they’re reading. They’re more likely to Pocket articles they care about. Pocket even allows you to favorite articles, so students can keep ones they find particularly interesting.

Also, with individual accounts, students can use the Send to Friend feature. They can send an article to a peer or to the class account. Groups of students with similar interests can trade articles. Once recommended articles get shared around, you’ll likely see a nonfiction reading buzz gain traction.

I haven’t yet heard of teachers who are using Pocket with their students to promote nonfiction reading. Are there any of you out there? If so, let me know. Even if you’re not currently using Pocket, it would be great to know if you think Pocket could work in your classroom. favicon

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The best tools to keep track of everything on the Internet

favicon What do you do with everything you find on the web?

Like, how do you remember the good stuff you’ve read? And how do you organize it and access it later? What if you want to share it with someone, or a group of people, in a few weeks?

Please tell me! — because these questions have taken over my brain over the past month.

(I’m not alone. Over the past year, content curation — the practice of seeking, sifting through, making sense of, and sharing the best of what’s on the Web — has gotten huge. To me, this new phenomenon is the evolution of social bookmarking.)

I’m happy to report that I’m making some progress, but I still find myself doing the same research more than once, clipping an interesting quotation while fending off feelings of déjà vu, convincing myself that the Internet has reshaped my brain into some Silly Putty of distractability.

This post won’t unveil My Epic Online Reading Flow (still in draft form), but I will share some tools that have saved me from online overload.

Aggregating Content: Google Reader and Twitter
Instead of visiting tons of websites to find good articles, I rely on Google Reader to do the discovery for me. To be sure, this practice prevents me from stumbling upon random good stuff, but most of the time, I don’t have the time. My colleagues on Twitter also share high-quality articles, especially about teaching and reading.

Saving content to read later: Pocket
One problem with excellent content is that I don’t always have time to read it. That’s why a read-later service is crucial. There are many excellent ones, including Instapaper and Readability. But my (recent) favorite is Pocket. It’s beautiful, has excellent phone apps, and saves video as well as text.

Pocket is sort of my information headquarters. Most everything goes there for quality inspection and processing. Most articles get deleted, but the lucky few make the cut.

Annotating content: Annotary
“You take notes?” people ask me, “of stuff on the web?” Yes. I do. (Not all the time.)

It all started several years ago when Diigo came out. Diigo took the social bookmarking trend Delicious began and added an annotation feature to the mix. I became a little obsessed. After all, if they’re called web pages, doesn’t it make sense to take notes? I thought so.

Unfortunately, over the past two years, Diigo has become bloated, not very pretty, and not maintained particularly well. But a new annotation tool, Annotary, has filled the gap. Its bookmarking and annotation toolbar incorporates sharing options, too, which is a plus.

Publishing content: Bundlr
After spending time seeking, sifting through, and making sense of tons of information, it’s time to share it. Most items go to individuals through email. Then there are the select few that get shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. My favorite articles, though, deserve to be preserved and published to a wider audience.

As many of you know, I’m pretty excited about Bundlr and Iserotope Extras. There are at least 40 other tools that do the same thing (including Annotary), but Bundlr, in my opinion, does it best. I’m finding that people appreciate reading articles recommended by someone who has read them already and written a blurb to offer some context. That’s why I like Dave Pell‘s NextDraft, an excellent daily newsletter, and that’s why (at least some) people like Iserotope Extras.

Update, December 2012: I now prefer Snip.it over Bundlr!

Archiving and saving content: Evernote
The last step is making sure that I don’t lose anything. Too often, parts of our online lives find themselves in different places. My photos, for example, are backed up on Dropbox, while my important work documents stay on Google Drive.

But for online content, I’ve decided, after years of trying my best to stay away, that Evernote is the best way to go. Click a button from Pocket, and the clipper strips away formatting and saves articles in plain text, all in one step. No, Evernote is not going to display my articles beautifully like other tools, but it’s robust enough to keep everything all in one place.

* * *

Wow, that was a lot — and that’s just the beginning! I’m really interested in hearing how you manage your online lives, find high-quality information, and make sure it’s organized. (It’ll help me stay sane.) Please let me know! favicon

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Using Diigo to expand Article of the Week

favicon One of my favorite ways to improve students’ reading skills, to expand their background knowledge, and to teach current events is through Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week.

In Mr. Gallagher’s assignment, students get one article each Monday to read, annotate, and respond to.

But what happens if your students ask for more articles to read (or you want them to read more)?

One idea is to provide your students with newspapers and magazines in the classroom. This is wonderful but expensive. Another option is to introduce your students to Google Reader. This takes a significant investment in technology.

But if you keep a class website or blog, an easy way to increase your students’ access to high-quality articles is by adding a Diigo Enhanced Linkroll on your sidebar as a widget.

If you haven’t used Diigo before, you should check it out. It’s a wonderful social bookmarking and research tool that lets you save articles, annotate them, and share them with groups.

To the left is a screenshot of part of my current Diigo linkroll on iseroma.com, my class blog. I call it “Read This Now!”

You’ll see that there’s a link to an article and a short description, which I’ve written to spark student interest.

This makes sharing interesting articles easy. All I need to do is read like normal. (I read a lot online.) When I find an article that I think students would like, I add a little blurb and make sure to tag it correctly so that it appears automatically in my class blog.

Now if you don’t use Diigo, or you think it’s too complicated, you can always do something similar by adding an RSS feed into your class blog’s sidebar. Some people use Evernote, while others prefer Google Reader (or a read-it-later service, or even ifttt.com). But the problem with RSS feeds, especially on WordPress blogs, is that you can’t (as far as I know) add text to items. That’s why I prefer Diigo.

This is a new feature on iseroma.com, so I don’t know if students will like it or how exactly how I’ll use it. But I believe deeply that students need tons of high-quality text around them to read, and “Read This Now!” is just another idea to get good reading material to them.

If you’d like more details about how to use Diigo, let me know, or check out this how-to videofavicon

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Longform + Readability: One-two punch for finding great articles

favicon I love reading nonfiction and current events. On my Kindle, I get The New York Times, The New Republic, The Economist, The Nation, Fast Company, and Wired. I also subscribe to Time and The Atlantic in print.

A lot of my reading, however, is online.

In addition to Google Reader, I rely on Longform, which I consider the best curator of excellent nonfiction articles. The editors do a wonderful job selecting only high-quality, in-depth articles.

Sometimes, I get frustrated with Longform because I can’t seem to skip any articles. They’re all good. The articles come from varied sources, which prevents me from sticking to my tried-and-true.

The downside is that there’s never enough time to read all the articles, especially in one sitting. That’s why I’m happy that Longform has teamed up with several read later services, like Instapaper and Read It Later. From Longform’s website, you can immediately save an article for later.

My favorite of these services is Readability. Like Instapaper and Read It Later, Readability lets you save articles for later reading. You click a button, and the service compiles a list of articles for you that you can read on your computer, phone, Kindle, or tablet. I also like that it’s free.

The most impressive aspect of Readability — and the feature that sets it apart from the others — is that it’s beautiful. The service converts web articles into a distraction-free reading experience. Gone are the ads and other annoying pop-ups that clutter up the screen.

I’ve even found myself using Readability with Diigo to annotate the articles I read. Readability provides the clean reading experience, while Diigo lets me highlight and take notes.

As a big-time nonfiction reader, I highly recommend Longform and Readability. Instead of worrying that I’m missing key articles, I trust that I’m getting the best the web has to offer. favicon

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5 reasons Diigo is better than Google Sidewiki

faviconYesterday, Google announced Sidewiki, which allows people to comment directly on web pages for others to see.

It’s a neat concept. It makes the Internet more interactive, and readers before you can add helpful information to navigate the site.

Some teachers have noticed the similarities between Sidewiki and Diigo, a popular social annotation application. Will Sidewiki, with Google’s backing, replace Diigo’s strength among educators?

No way. Here are five reasons why:

1. Diigo’s highlighting feature is much better. Many teachers use Diigo to help students improve their reading strategies by having them highlight passages and write sticky notes to interact with the text. With Sidewiki, you can highlight a passage, but once you make a comment, it gets mixed up with all the rest of the comments. Diigo’s comments stay connected to their corresponding passage.

2. Diigo helps students with research. With Diigo’s bookmarking feature, students can learn how to gather online resources, organize and evaluate them, and guard against plagiarism. Teachers can share recommended websites to the whole class for an assignment or research project. Sidewiki doesn’t do research.

3. Diigo is as easy as Sidewiki to use. Some people are saying that logging in and requiring a toolbar makes Diigo too cumbersome for students. Sure, getting students used to Diigo does take some start-up time. But the same thing goes for Sidewiki, which requires Google Toolbar and logging in.

4. Diigo allows for better privacy. Google is all about publishing everything to the whole world. Although I don’t have a problem with this, many schools do. Diigo isn’t perfect when it comes to privacy, but there is a teacher module that allows you to determine who is in your class and whether students can create their own profiles.

5. Diigo’s sticky notes are better than Sidewiki’s. Google will use an algorithm, similar to its search feature, to determine which user comments will stay on the page and which ones will drop to the bottom. This, of course, is not helpful when it comes to students’ sticky notes. With Diigo, all comments are kept in exactly the same place the user intended. In short, Diigo gives a much more accurate view of how students interact with a website, which can improve teaching and learning. favicon

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Why teachers like me like Diigo

faviconDiigo may be hard to pronounce, but pretty soon, everyone will be using it.

If you haven’t heard of Diigo (DEE-go), it’s an application that mixes web highlighting with social bookmarking.

Yeah, I know: That’s still confusing. Let me try again.

Have you ever wanted to show your students a great website and then highlight crucial parts? With Diigo, you can do that. Better yet, you can share your thoughts with your students and have them respond, all on the same website. It’s like a chat room based in online text. That’s the web highlighting part of Diigo.

How about this: Have you ever wanted to share with your students a collection of online resources for their research? How about asking your students to keep track of their own research and be able to cite their sources? Yep, that’s Diigo, too, the social bookmarking part.

I won’t lie, it seems confusing, but let me tell you, it’s worth it. Here’s a video that might help:

I plan on piloting Diigo with my students this year, and I can’t wait for the possibilities. Here are a couple ideas I have for early in the year:

  • Interactive assignment sheet. When my students get a new assignment sheet and rubric, I rarely know if they understand what’s expected. After all, they don’t always take notes or ask questions. But what if students had to share their thoughts and concerns about an assignment? With an assignment online via Google Docs, I’ll make my students identify important or confusing passages from the assignment sheet and to add sticky notes with comments and questions. My hope is that the online conversation will lead to better understanding.
  • Interactive Reading Assignment. All reading teachers say that we must do a better of teaching students to interact with what they’re reading. I already teach my ninth graders concrete ways they can mark up their texts, but because there’s no Elmo in my classroom, there’s not an easy way to display my students’ thinking. So I plan on uploading a reading to Google Docs and having students make annotations online. It’ll be great to see how different students tackled the reading and what different interpretations materalized.

Yes, I’m pretty excited. No, Diigo is not perfect — the user interface is not pretty as, say, SimplyBox, but it’s a powerful resource. I’ll keep you updated about Diigo as the year progresses. I hope it all works out. favicon