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I’ve been meaning to create this blog post ever since the first leg of my flight home from TESOL New Orleans, when I sat by chance next to a fellow conference-goer and shared insights about distance professional development all the way to Chicago. Our conversation touched on how Jenny, whose job entailed helping teachers where she worked in Alaska keep up to date, managed to connect them in online professional development. We mentioned a lot of sites which we both thought we’d like to recall at a later date. Once we landed, we both had time to kill, and I was invited to join Jenny and her colleagues at their departure gate (my flight wasn’t for hours!). While there, we had a “class” or seminar to recap what we had shared about online professional development.
When I have a class, or any online or blended event for that matter, I like to set up a tag for it. Tags are a good way to crowd-source communication with one another. For example, if your friend posts a picture of you on Facebook, your friend lets you know about it by tagging you in the photo. You are informed that you’ve been tagged, but not only that, anyone with permission can search Facebook for all photos with that tag; i.e. all photos of you on Facebook (as long as you’ve been tagged in them).
Similarly, when I am teaching a class, I will create a tag for that class. If we have a class party (or if participants take pictures of each other interacting colleagially at a conference) we can upload photos to Flickr with that class tag and they can be found there aggregated around that tag. If I find a URL I want my class to see I can tag it in Delicious with the class tag, and so can anyone else in the class. That’s because if you preceed a tag with http://delicious.com/tag/ <– and put the tag after the slash/ then anyone who tags a site with that tag can call the others’ attention to the site when it appears in the listing of links created at that URL by anyone anywhere using Delicious who has tagged a site using that tag.
Obviously you don’t want a lot of clutter to appear at that link, so you need to pick a tag that isn’t being used. You can test this by trying the URL out. For example, for a class I am teaching in the spring of 2011 I might create a 2011s030efl, or something that it would be very unlikely for anyone else to co-opt. You want this tag to be mnemonic, but also unique to just your event. If you test out http://delicious.com/tag/2011s030efl and get no hits, then that tag is yours, and only yours. (And you’d be surprise how well students can remember tags like this that look cryptic but have intuitive logic to them).
For our class in Chicago airport, Jenny and I settled on the tag vance-chicago. Then we went online and showed each other links. As we hit the links we tagged them vance-chicago. And you can see what we came up with here:
Later I went through and edited the tags by adding more tag descriptors to the sites in addition to vance-chicago and embellishing the notes to tell why we selected those tags. Now when you visit that link you get a “student’s” view of what such a list of links should look like.
This technique can be applied to any event that resembles a “class”. For example, on April 10, 2011, I conducted a session archived against that date at http://learning2gether.pbworks.com/2011spring. The purpose of the session was to talk about the ISTEK conference that had just taken place in Istanbul. The participants at that conference considered themselves a part of each other’s PLNs and they left artifacts of their encounters all over the web.
Our recap was with Nik Peachey, one of the plenary speakers there, who is always full of ideas for links and tools to try out. You can see/hear the recording of our Elluminate session here:
- Or, if you prefer: http://tinyurl.com/2011apr10peachey
Because I knew we’d want to compile a list of links, I suggested participants play tag games; that is, I asked those who visited any sites mentioned to tag them ‘istek11‘ in Delicous or Diigo. For the reasons mentioned above, I had done a search already in Delicious and come up with no prior links — well actually there was one link from Elizabeth Anne, who was also a presenter at ISTEK — so this tag was perfect in that any items with that tag would likely be ours).
I’m not sure how you search Diigo (there is no obvious search tool at http://diigo.com) and I don’t think anyone created any tags with Delicious during the session, but after the event wound down, I went back myself through the presentation to find sites mentioned and to tag them (and annotate them) in Delicious. This was the result:
So this is a URL where anyone who wants to can highlight for anyone interested any link they think should be associated with this event. This link points (at this writing) to just the links I put there, though anyone on Delicious can tag sites relevant to this event using istek11 and in so doing add them to this list.
As you can see, this technique is useful in any case you would like to compile a list of links for a group of collaborators. This technique allows you to manage or crowd-source that process.
It will be interesting to see if others in the ISTEK PLN will treat this as an opportunity to crowd-source a list of links that might help them compile links associated with the conference, as I suggested in 140 characters here:
— Vance Stevens (@VanceS) April 12, 2011