Collaborative writing using Delicious and Google Docs:Technology boon or bane?

I have just given my workshop called Collaborative writing using Delicious and Google Docs at the TESOL Arabia Conference in Dubai Friday, March 11, 2011. As with all my presentations I put my slides and handouts online. This one is here: and there is a link in the slide show that points to the Moodle course which incorporates the materials I was presenting:

<To access the Moodle course, no need to log in, simply Enter as a Guest>

At the top of that course it says “TLL goes to TESOL Arabia” and right below that you can find my presentation handouts in pdf format. I made numerous copies of those handouts and brought them with me from Abu Dhabi to the conference in Dubai.

When I proposed a 45 minute workshop, I assumed I would run it from an internet connected computer before a room full of participants also at their own internet-connected computers.But since I’m in the loop with the conference organizers by virtue of being active in the TA EdTech SIG, I knew that there was some doubt whether there would be Internet there at all, or even if there would be more than one computer in the room, so I conceived the presentation as if there would be no Internet and the participants would have no computers. Within a week or so of the conference we learned that there would in fact be wireless Internet in the room and that one of the colleges had contributed laptops, and so from that point I was able to assume I would be able to conduct an actual hands-on workshop.

Still one never knows what connectivity will really be like on site at a conference in a hotel, so soon after reaching Dubai I went to the room where I would be giving the presentation. This was Thursday evening, the day before I was to go live. Using my laptop, I got online with no problem, so this was when I decided for sure that I would be conducting a workshop with Internet.  Also it was from that moment only that it seemed possible that I could broadcast live from my presentation.

I never announce a live event anymore until I have actually established connectivity from the room I’ll be presenting from and the computer I’ll be using, and that night I was even able to arrange to get online from my hotel room, so when I finalized my slide show there I was able to upload it to That was when I decided to create a space at my Moodle course for my presentation materials (that Moodle course is unlikely to ever be used again with students at the institute where I developed these materials, so converting it to a presentation site seemed exactly the right way to seal development of the course). I uploaded all my handouts there, and before bed I sent word out to my network, my PLN, that I would attempt to go live from the presentation venue the following day.

Actually, through another strange twist of fate, my presentation was given an hour and a half time slot though as I mentioned earlier the CfP form had solicited proposals for 45 minute sessions. At one point in time when it seemed my workshop might actually have neither Internet nor computers for participants to get their hands on, and I didn’t think I would need more than 45 minutes, I was nominated to be the featured speaker for the TA EdTech SIG at the conference. Had the SIG had its act together earlier we could possibly have invited someone truly worthy to come and give a featured presentation, funded in part by the conference organizers, but we were organizing organically at the time and the opportunity slipped. However as we were still entitled to put forward such a speaker, it occurred to someone that I might fit the position (plus I would require no budget outlay to encourage me to attend) and when I was nominated, we thought we might use the time after I had done with my workshop to talk about the EdTech SIG and show off its Ning at

It was THIS time that I had in mind for our live presentation. I didn’t think I would be able to conduct a workshop tethered to a headset on my presentation PC. But for the latter part of the show, where we would talk about our plans for the TA EdTech SIG I thought it would be marvelous if we could bring in other voices from around the region to speak to our local conference-goers, and give them the sense of connectiveness with peers at a distance. So when I made the announcement, I told people we would be online at 7 a.m. GMT, one hour into a workshop that started at 6 a.m. GMT and would last till 7:30. In other words, the live participants would be the last part of the show. I even prepared a blog post on the philosophy behind such an occasion, and the LAST thing I did the night before was to publish my post, cleaned up but still incomplete, but tightly wrought with regard to the arguments I intended to make:

So Friday morning I was at the presentation room an hour early and getting set up, rearranging the room according to my needs. The table I would be using was tiny so I requested a larger one. The datashow projector provided for the event seemed to be running on a 40 watt bulb; the screen was in effect illegible at the back of the room, but there was nothing to be done about that. I was asked if I would need speakers for the PC, and since I was planning to have voices join us from cyberspace I said yes, and someone went to get some.

I got my powerpoint up in Slideshare, opened my handouts in pdf, and in yet another window launched the Elluminate presentation room we would be using. I tweeted what I was doing in a last-minute 140-character call for participation. Someone brought the speakers and we ran a sound check on some music that comes with Windows in the music folder. By then participants were arriving, and they took their places to the languid rhythm of Brazilian samba.

The presentation began, participants appeared suitably rapt as I explained the philosophy behind what I was doing. The philosophy is something I’ve worked out well in my mind, and it makes sense to audiences. I explained however that it was another matter to teach in this way to students, let alone write those materials in a way that teachers who were unfamiliar with the tools, Google Docs and Delicious, would be able to teach from them. The materials would therefore have to teach the teachers as they taught the students.

This part is a little complex but I turned to the point in my workshop where I would get the teachers to follow me in what could be complicated for some. They would have to form groups, create a Google document, share it with one another and with me, write something there, publish the document, create tiny URLs from the publication link, and then tag the published work in Delicious using a tag I would provide, which would allow anyone to aggregate at one URL all content created under that tag.

I had all those windows open on my computer and I was just about to start showing them what to do when suddenly the datashow projector went blue. I saw quickly that this happened because my laptop had gone into sleep mode and now that it had got my attention I could see it had done that because the power light was not on, meaning it had been running on battery all that time. So I excused myself and got down on my hands and knees and crawled under the table where the drapes on the table were concealing the real problem. When the workers had brought the speakers they had needed a place to plug them in, so they had created one by unplugging the charger to my laptop.

This could have been a momentary hitch except that the wiring was done with supermarket adaptors so when I removed the plug for the speakers and plugged in the power cord for my laptop there was a surge that knocked out power to the projector and also to the router, so that suddenly not only had the laptop and projector died, but the room was without Internet.

Phillip Towndrow, who was present at the time, complimented me later on how smoothly I responded to the sudden change in circumstances. It wasn’t that difficult actually since I had prepared my presentation from the outset with no hard, fast assumption that there would be internet or even computers there for each participant. My PowerPoint was in fact a set of screenshots showing each step in the process, and my handout was a printout from this presentation. So when it became evident that the show would have to go on without technology, I was prepared for that eventuality. After an initial search for tech support, I simply asked participants to follow their handouts and took it from there.

Now here’s the interesting bit. Many asked me later how my presentation went after the total tech breakdown, and I said to me it seemed to go very well. Those present also said, to my face at least, that my presentation was a good one. Why would this be? Interestingly, as soon as the computers went down, gone were the distractions. The squinting at the dim screen behind me stopped. The multitasking diminished. I no longer had the need to navigate the multiple windows on my desktop, with screen real estate confusingly constrained by cramped resolution when the datashow was attached, and further reduced when I put in a magnifier to compensate. Whatever, I didn’t have to deal with what people couldn’t properly see anyway, or ask them to page forward with me in their version of the slides at I simply held up my copy of the handout and said, here at step 3 you’ll see this, and at step 4 this will happen. Though I had to ask them to imagine what they might see on their screens if they actually followed those steps, all were focused with me on the handout. I couldn’t actually show them until at the end connectivity was restored, and then I could open a Google Doc and show them the interface and history and show them how a set of Google Docs could be aggregated in Delicious around a class tag.

So I thought it went well, perhaps better than if I had tried to lead them in synch hands on, with half of them getting lost, some not paying attention. My only regret was that when I finally got reconnected with Elluminate, we found that Graham Stanley had tried to join us but was no longer responsive. Later he tweeted me at his end that he had had a computer freeze as well.

That’s technology. Some might think we’d be better off without it, but it’s only through trial and working through error that pioneers can blaze trails that others can follow and establish the trail as a mainstream superhighway.





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Promoting critical, spacial, lifelong learning skills in mature students of science and technology

The other day I was sitting in a meeting of a research committee at my workplace.  The committee has only recently been formed and is at the stage where members are discussing their ideas vis a vis institute requirements, and at the moment one of these is accreditation by ABET generally emphasizes criteria such as higher order and critical thinking skills, “understanding of the need for and an ability to engage in self-directed continung professional development;” and an understanding of cultural awareness, ethical responsibilities, and respect for diversity.

In this meeting those present were discussing how to break away from largely didactic teaching practices to incorporate those which get students doing things, engaging with visualizatons, and interacting with the teacher and with one another.

Second Life

As I have done before on occasion I wondered aloud why an engineering program such as ours had no presence in Second Life (or a comparable SIM, though SL offers a highly developed range of options).  This is an environment where users build their worlds, and there are many instances where students have learned to script and create their own such worlds for a wide variety of projects.  For example, there would be opportunities for engineering students to model architecture, refineries, oil platforms, and oil reservoirs themselves.  They could create laboratories where they could walk inside of molecules or conduct physics experiments with dramatic results, or play with intriguing mathematical constructs. I mentioned my own interest in virtual simulations, but my purpose here is not to argue the point but to document what I know about Second Life and its use with students in the UAE.

My first published study of educational opportunities in Second life was: Stevens, Vance. (2006). Second

Life in Education and Language Learning. TESL-EJ, Volume 10, Number 3: There I documented what I had learned about SL and concluded that SL had “caught the imaginations of

many who see in the depths of their computer screens how their work can be made

more enjoyable, productive, and interactive in the course of encountering

others attracted to 3D virtual spaces. One certainty is that Second Life is

having an impact and making a difference now, and that it has already altered

in interesting and positive ways the shape of upcoming developments in

technology used for education.”

A year later at the METSMaC conference in Abu Dhabi, March 18, 2007, I gave a talk on the potential for education of

the MUVE Second Life in an oral

presentation entitled “Second life and online collaboration through peer to

peer distributed learning networks”. The draft of the paper I

submitted for the proceedings can be viewed in browser-friendly HTML here:,

and the published version is here: I had given a similar presentation at the TESOL Arabia Conference in Dubai the day before, and an annotated rendition of the slides presented at this talk appears here:

The following year I was invited to consolidate what I had by then discovered in my explorations of Second Life in a paper published in The Linguist: Stevens, Vance. (2008). “Class of the future: Language

learners can now meet up with native speakers in their home country, without

leaving their computers. Vance Stevens enters the virtual world of Second Life.”

The Linguist (June/July), pp. 18-20. Available:

To prepare this paper I took notes at At the time I had attended a conference held in May 2008 in (and about) Second Life at (the link now goes to the 2010 event, but there is an archive). There was a very interesting presentation at this conference by Chris Surridge and Mark Karstad on a project they had been working on with the young ladies at Dubai Women’s College, which had given them the opportunity to create and learn in a virtual mock-up of a Dubai virtual campus, as reported in a Middle East technology newsletter from April 2008: The slide show of their presentation highlights the cultural but also the learning aspects of the project:

I suggested at the meeting that working with our students in such an environment might engage them spacially and on a critical thinking level, as had been shown at Dubai Women’s College. I think that a project in Second Life would not need to be conducted by a SL expert, but only by someone who was willing to learn alongside the students.  The students would learn what was necessary to build the world from available resources (including peers and mentors encountered in SL) and from each other, with the guidance of the faculty member chosen to lead the project.

Meanwhile, just tweeted:


The interview was part of the EVO session and was recorded by Heike Philp February 9, 2011 via an audio / screen-sharing bridge between Second Life and Adobe Connect. The link to the Connect recording is:



What I had already proposed prior to this meeting had been meant to address the lifelong learning and communications portions of the ABET criteria, which I have been involved with through my work with communities of practice and personal learning networks throughout the past decade.

My involvement with such communities is a very long story. One of my articles concerning that involvement which has received positive feedback from peers is this one: Stevens, Vance. (2009). Modeling Social Media in

Groups, Communities, and Networks. TESL-EJ, Volume 13, Number 3:

This ongoing involvement in communities practicing online professional development has led to my giving an ongoing online course in Multiliteracies, sometimes as part of the TESOL Principals and Practices of Online Teaching program, and sometimes as a community service component of the EVO, Electronic Village Online, annual professional development sessions based at The “Multiliteracies for Social Networking and Collaborative Learning Environments” course has been lately developed through a wiki maintained at  As can be seen from the syllabus at that wiki, the course is run through the MOOC concept, and uses ePortfolios as its only assessment tool.

MOOC means ‘massive open online course’, although I argue that the idea scales down to ‘mini’, or ‘miniscule’.  The idea is that the materials in such a course are online and openly accessible, as is famously the case at MIT; the benefits of participating in such a course as opposed to simply consuming its content are interaction with a professor and other students, and the social network of peers and other learners with similar interests that participants derive from such a course.  Participants are expected to orient themselves in the open environment, declare their interests to other participants, network with others in the course, cluster into breakout conversations, and then focus on what will be their main ‘takeaway’ from the course. 

One means of demonstrating focus is maintenance of an ePortfolio, where participants define their learning goals with respect to the course, document their progress in meeting these goals, and post certain deliverables that indicate achievement of some aspect of these goals. 

For my own Multiliteracies course I’ve been using the MOOC model as outlined in this document:

McAuley, Alexander; Stewart, Bonnie; Siemens, George; and Cormier, Dave.  (2010.) Massive open online courses: Digital ways of knowing and learning, The MOOC model for digital practice. Created through funding received by the University of Prince Edward Island through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s
“Knowledge Synthesis Grants on the Digital Economy.” Available from

The 4 videos mentioned in this document are embedded at various places in the Goodbyegutenberg syllabus. 

Hazel Owen worked for a time at HCT DMC and recently gave a plenary on ePortfolios entitled “Web 2.0 ePortfolios that work for both students and educators: Strategies and recommendations.”  It’s handout (online in Google Docs) is chock full of resources and includes a diagram showing a mindmap of ePortfolio affordances: The podcast site for that conference has numerous presentations on ePortfolios well worth listening to:; for example Allison Miller’s presentation on Current VET initiatives and e-portfolio national directions,  Allison Miller coordinates ePortfolios for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework and helped organize a conference on the topic last year:

Addition rationale for use of ePortfolios is given toward the bottom of the syllabus here:

I elaborated on the affordances of ePortfolios for promoting some of the skills mentioned above in a blog post for the course here:

I point out that ePortfolios are an excellent way for mature 21st century learners to track and reflect on their learning goals and accomplishments. Among the many affordances of eportfolios that make them ideal tools for mature learners to perform self-assessment, and even for institutional assessment for such learners, are:

  • They motivate students/participants by providing global audience (Let’s use the term students here to suggest that you might apply these principles and techniques not just to this course but to your own classrooms)
  • Hence students spend more time perfecting them for peers than they do for a teacher
  • Thus they encourage global perspective
  • They are connectivist
  • They introduce learners to social networking, concept of networked learning
  • They fit well with MOOC philosophy
  • They invite dialog, conversation (clustering)
  • They are constructivist
  • They encourage reflection
  • They encourage learners to set their own goals, propose learning strategies, document milestones, and present outcomes
  • They are owned by learners, not by institution 
  • They are sometimes maintained by learners after a course ends
  • Thus they carry over into lifelong learning
  • They carry over into real life (as cv’s for example)
  • They help make learners aware of their personal web presence
  • As assessment tools they are formative

I made this list for a presentation I gave on this topic on January 30, 2011, recorded here, in Elluminate:

Although current curricula at the PI lack scope for such models I believe the conversations we have had in the research committee meetings so far have been pointing generally in this direction.  I have in my own materials development at the PI been aiming at this target by introducing students to social bookmarking using Delicious and collaborative writing using Etherpad clones and Google Docs.

I’m slated to give workshops on these materials in March this year at the TESOL Arabia conference in Dubai and a week later at the International TESOL Convention in New Orleans.  I’ll put links to those presentations and to these materials here when I’ve got them ready.

I had been hoping to experiment more along these lines if given the opportunity, and I hope the direction that the research committee is setting will provide opportunities for materials designers at the PI to venture further toward meeting ABET criteria, which coincide with my own teaching philosophies in creating curricula for students that will challenge them and get them thinking socially and collaboratively in conjunction with networks of other learners.



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Enhancing Student Performance and Professional Development Online, class #1

I’ve started a new professional development course at the PI called Enhancing Student Performance and Professional Development Online, Its impetus is ostensibly to help teachers in the Intensive English program familiarize themselves with the tech tools that are being taught to the students there by their computing teachers, according to materials that I, as one of the computing teachers, am helping to prepare.  These tools are, in particular, Delicious and Google Docs, but in facilitating the course it is hoped that needs for other useful tools will emerge, and we can include those. 

Accordingly an email was sent out to all of PI including all the students here that the course was on offer. The inclusion of students turned out to be a good thing because at the first class there were no teachers present.  Instead 4 guys showed up, two graduates and two undergraduates.  One couldn’t stay, but the three who were there seemed appreciative and keenly attentive throughout.

The “Plan”

As noted above, I was expecting to be flexible with the program,and for this reason I had only prepared the first lesson. I had prepared printouts of two articles which discuss what teachers should know in the way of digital literacies:

  • Stevens, Vance. (2010). Writing in a multiliterate flat world, Part I. Multiliterate approaches to writing and collaboration through social networking. Writing & Pedagogy, Vol. 2.1, pp.117-131.
  • Stevens, V. (2010). How can teachers deal with technology overload: Reader response to Allan, J. (2009). Are language teachers suffering from technology overload? TESOL Arabia Perspectives 16(2), 22-23. TESOL Arabia Perspectives 17(1), 22-23.

The first is a handout of an offprint I’ve been sent, but the second is available online at:

My plan was to start the teachers on the Web and Internet search materials I created for our Computer Literacy course.  The materials I have created follow a three-step approach.  The first step is familiarity with the tools, the second is content creation with the tools, and the third would be to enable creativity and critique with the tools in question. 

This Web and Internet Search course adheres to the first step in the process.  It is a set of materials created to be done by teachers and students together with no need for anyone to have accounts for the tools tested. Rather, Web search is done with Google, which everyone is familiar with already, but then participants are shown searching with Delicious, Twitter, and Spezify at

Adapting the Plan to Class #1

Because those present were not the audience I was expecting I felt my way by dialoging with the three guys about what they knew already about Google and search, and then I used as an example a search on Creative Commons, and we landed on We had a look at the way you could blend licenses to copyright your work to be shared from the menu of restrictions: attribution, share-alike, non-commercial, and no-derivatives.  We discussed why people would want to share their work online, and I noted my preference for the Attribution Share-alike license here:

We looked at Creative Commons in the context of where I found one of my slide shows where @All Rights were reserved, and I set this one to the Creative Commons license above.  We talked about finding images on the Web and whether or not we could use them in slide shows we created and posted to Slideshare.  We used to browse for images on a topic suggested by one of the guys present and found a set which we weren’t sure if we had rights to.  So I showed them in advanced Image Search where you could filter the results to give you only CC images. We found an image and checked, and sure enough, its owner had specifically given us the right to share it as long as we attributed the source.

View on »

Having nailed the concept of sharing online by specifically granting license to do so, we moved to Delicious, where the guys all signed in with their Yahoo IDs.  We discussed the concept of tagging and how it can be used in project management; for example how I can get a list of all my students’ Delicious accounts by having them each visit their bookmarks and tag the page with a unique tag, like this: But we were there to do one thing mainly.  In order to benefit from use of Delicious as a “social” bookmarking site, you have to specifically set your bookmarks to Public Domain, or to one of the Creative Commons licenses offered.  So I showed them how to visit their Settings in Delicious and set their RSS Fees Rights/Licenses to Public Domain:

View on »

What might happen in Class #2

This was where we left off after an hour.  The next class will have totally new people in it so the program will be as planned for the first.  That is, we’ll have a look at the Web and Internet Search materials, chapter 4 here:

I think for the teachers, there’s plenty of material there, but if there’s time (or next time) we’ll start on Delicious here:

Somewhere in here we will start to transition from the first step in the 3-pronged approach (familiarity) to the second (content creation) and get Twitter, Yahoo (for Delicious), and Google accounts (for Google Docs).

There are other things we could do.  It would be fun to experiment with writing collaboratively using and one of the Etherpad clones. That is we can look at the particular affordances of each in a synchronous classroom environment and then compare those with an asynchronous task using a wiki to see which would work for given assignments.

We can also look at the many ways that Delicous can be used to manage classroom communications through tagging.  And we can develop this thread through further exploration of Tag Games:

Here we usher in our Introduction to PLN, with some consideration of whose microblogs to follow.  The following are given here:

EdTech Podcasts are invaluble for connecting with a PLN and keeping abreast.  Here’s a great resource: Ed Tech Crew’s favorite podcasts (a LOT of them, and good ones!)

We could add to these activities by using them as starting points for further exploration, and this in a sense is my design for the course, to get started in certain directions, and then as we did in the first class, branch out in tangents as we feel is appropriate, and finally record where we went here and/or in a wiki somewhere.

If you’re coming to class #2, this should give you some idea of what to expect.


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Cool use of EtherPad clone makes student workbook F.U.N.

I had a pretty neat experience with a tech enhancement to a workbook exercise in our Computer Literacy handbook today, which I’d asked my class to prepare as homework.  As the class began I checked that they had done it.  In the past I’ve been unsure of what to do at that point.  Many students copy from one another so it’s not really worth taking the time to check off whether they’ve done it or not, and if I project the book at the front of the room and call on students to answer questions, this consumes 20 or 30 minutes with only one student engaged during each turn. This can often become an exercise of little value.  

However for this lesson I had planned to have them answer the questions in class in a single collaborative Google Doc.  Before class I had copied the text from the checkpoint to a new Doc and deleted the lines, leaving space for the students to write at their keyboards.  But when I went on to the doc to show them, it challenged me for a Google password, which I realized, this early in the semester, the students didn’t have.

Instead of slapping palm to forehead, I shifted to the other foot.  My colleagues and I had tested Google Docs in the lab together and decided we couldn’t use it in a big class because it was too slow with multiple users. However I was trying it out today because Google had bought a company called Etherpad which had corrected that problem in a product that they developed as open source code, which they then released into the wild.  Google now incorporates the code into a much faster Google Docs, but the open source code was snapped up and hosted (with Google and Etherpad’s blessings) on a number of servers where the app is still available for free.  Google “etherpad clone” and you’ll find there are many such sites; e.g.:

So I quickly found an Etherpad clone, which I opened on the fly with no sign-in.  This created a document into which I pasted what was in the Google Doc I had intended to use, and then I copied the URL for the room and pasted that into to create

As soon as I gave this to the students, they appeared in the room, quickly one after another, wrote in their names, and started typing answers to the questions.  It turned out the room had a capacity of 8 so I told them if they couldn’t get in to pair with someone else. They quickly regrouped around 8 computers, and as the text got thrown onto the whiteboard, the class took on a dynamic feel.  Whatever they typed appeared instantaneously on each student’s screen, as well as on the whiteboard at the front of the room.  They finished the checkpoint collaboratively in just 5 or 10 minutes.  They seemed to enjoy the exercise, and the discovery of such a useful tool.

This certainly made the exercise come alive today.  If you have a clever idea for using Etherpad tools in your class, leave us a comment, thanks …


Here’s the URL the tinyurl points to:

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21st Century Skills for Professional Development Online – Round Two

I am envisaging a fledgling online teacher training / professional development program to be held online (based at, meet there after noon GMT, then branch out at 13:00 from there) to link several balls I’m juggling.  These are (1) a professional development course I hope to run face-to-face at my workplace, (2) a course I’m teaching in September for TESOL, (3) a PD series I’d like to organize for the TESOL Arabia EdTech SIG, and (4) an attempt to breathe life into the weekly Webheads sessions which have been going on each Sunday noon GMT since 1998.

I plan to start these events at 13:00 GMT this Sunday Sept 5, 2010, 5 p.m. here in the UAE.  The first event will be held at EduNation in Second Life, hosted by Heike Phelp and others ( for more information, and the event will take place at this SLURL


That day (Sunday) and time (13:00 GMT) is chosen for several reasons. 

  • It’s a good time for global networking. It’s early morning in the western hemisphere and around 1 to 3 or 4 pm in Europe.  For people in Asia it’s no later than 9 or 10 pm.  It’s on a Sunday which is free time for a lot of people in these areas, but a working day for us in the UAE, which also has its advantages, since people in the TESOL Arabia EdTechSIG in the UAE would have the option of connecting either from work or from home.  Home might be most convenient for some in case of firewall issues at work
  • This is at a time when the PLN Webheads has been meeting each Sunday at noon GMT for the past decade. As such it’s an established meeting time with people accustomed to attending to what’s going on at that time
  • The start date coincides with a course I’m teaching from Sept 6 to Oct 3 for TESOL on Multiliteracies for Social Networking and Collaborative Learning Environments.   For that course I’ll be scheduling some online events.  For example I am scheduled to give a talk on PLNs for the YL (Young Learner) SIG in IATEFL on Sept 19 at 1300 GMT, or 5 pm here in the UAE, which will be a part of the above mentioned series, and anyone wishing to tune in will be welcome.
  • The timing also coincides with a teacher training course I plan to propose for the Petroleum Institute based on my 21centuryskills4pdo model (  My plan has been to have a F2F course running here that would coincide with my online course for TESOL in September. This also feeds into preparation of teachers for some of the teaching materials I’ll be developing for Intensive English students this fall, dealing with Google Docs, Delicious, Internet Search, and so on.

I would be inviting all participants in any of these courses / networks to move within all at once and acquire 21st century skills for professional development through immersion and osmosis, as one would a language if one were to go to a country in which that language was spoken.   This might not immediately appeal to people who prefer top-down guidance in their PD, though group members can be counted on to go out of their way to accommodate and guide them; we’re known to be good about that :-).

On the other hand, people who are ready to dedicate some time to taking advantage of opportunities for PD should find this a rich concatenation of events, which they themselves will be able to a certain extent to direct (as one would approach a berry bush, picking the most appealing and nearby berries, as opposed to learning through a conduit, another metaphor for information transfer).

If you are reading this post and would like to join us, you could do so

As we say in the UAE, ahlan wa sahlan, all are welcome,


A version of this post appears at:
The Tiny URL for this post is

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Diigo or Delicious?

I’m cc’ing this by email to my Posterous blog, so you can read this and some of the other issues we’ve tackled on the TESOL Arabia Ed Tech SIG list at  (When emailing this, the subject of my email becomes the title of the blog posts; any images or media I attached would be embedded in the post; quite nice and easy to use with students).

The question of the day is: “Diigo is now the one to link with Google and delicious needs a yahoo ID – is it best to stick to one or use both?”

More good questions!  Whether to use Delicious or Diigo is a personal choice; however most bloggers seem convinced that Delicious has the greater user base.  In a blog post, Christy Tucker, asks which is best for beginners, Diigo or Delicious?  She seems torn between the basic functionality of Delicious (no confusing extra features) or the greater visual appeal of Diigo (plus having all those extra features!):

When I Googled to try and find up to date statistics on , the info I kept turning up was years out of date, so I plugged +2010 in the search query.  This was the one post I found from earlier this year:

This is from Kathleen McGeady, a teacher who was using Delicious and switched to Diigo due to the 7 additional features she mentions in her post.  She also notes that “If you are using Delicious and want to make the switch, you can import all your Delicious bookmarks to Diigo and you can activate the Diigo setting to “Save to Delicious”. This means you can send your new Diigo bookmarks to Delicious automatically.”

Doug Noon reports that he did this but it didn’t all go smoothly:

However, Maggie Tsai, one of Diigo’s developers and spokespersons, was quick to comment, and in her second comment she explains in some detail how to do this.  In the last comment here, Doug still didn’t seem sold on Diigo.

Marshall Kirkpatrick posted at TechCrunch that he thinks Diigo “rocks”:

Marshall write that 4 years ago. Since then, I personally have become very intrigued with Diigo and have been poised for some time to do what Kathleen McGeady did (but have hesitated being aware of experiences like those of Doug Noon). 

Ideally, because of the larger network, you should use, or at least experiment with both.  If you choose one, I’d go with Delicious (larger network, the defacto social bookmark site for many).  If I wanted to use Diigo I would synch my Delicious bookmarks there and set Diigo to post back to Delicious (I’m still not clear is posting to Delicious updates Diigo; I doubt it does, and I guess this is why I haven’t made the move myself).

I have been very happy with Delicious as a means of keeping track of my own browsing on the web and being able to pull up links at will and share them with others quickly and effectively.  However, if I wanted to annotate sites and show those with my annotations to others, or if I wanted to make slide shows of a subset of my browsing, or form groups and direct links consistently to that group (TAEdTech, or a class grouping for example) then I might tend to use Diigo.  At the moment, Delicious does what I find useful in a social networking site, and so far I haven’t felt the need for the higher feature set.

Reference: I just came upon

Gabriela Grosseck, 2007, Using Delicious in Education:

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Alerting your group to web links of interest to them

The EdTech SIG in TESOL Arabia is gearing up to help teachers in the UAE to make better use of 21st century tools.  I recommended they read two papers I have published / posted recently where I’ve outlined a strategy for change agency, teacher professional development, and what is needed for moving curriculum into the 21st century — at the links below.

The TA EdTechSIG is a part of that strategy.

my recent book chapter (equally relevant) here:

To which someone responded:

“What’s the best way to collate such links and share them with members etc? Googlepages? Or something more collaboarative like a wiki where people could comment and also where others could add links?”

So I wrote:

You are asking exactly the right questions.  The best way to collate such links and share them with members is … da!da!  (the winner is … ) Delicious, or Diigo.

Those two URLs you asked to be collated and shared, I tagged them both in my own delicious account with taedtech and also edtechuae (just to be on the safe side).

Now you can see them using the delicious url / tag / taedtech (or edtechuae). That is, slash ‘tag’ slash the label or tag you wish to search for; ie.


Now in order to avoid duplication we really need to agree on which tag we will use!

The beauty is that this system needs no maintenance.  No one needs to visit a site in particular or add links.

To use it, each of us needs to open a delicious account (this is like Google, once you start using it, it becomes a part of your life and workflow).

When you see a site you want the rest of us to view, you simply click the tag bookmarklet in your browser and add taedtech and (until we agree on just one) / or edtechuae as one of the tags to that site.  You may give it dozens of other tags to help you find it when you want it, but the taedtech is specifically to share it with the rest of us.

I mentioned a tag bookmarklet.  You need to install this on your browser on every browser you use.  You can work without it but the bookmarklet saves a lot of clicks. 

Second, Delicious is opt-in which means it will NOT share your bookmarks unless you specifically give permission (which is the whole point of delicious, so do it J). For this you need to visit your acct / settings / Bookmarks / RSS Feeds Rights License  and pull down the permission to Public Domain and Save it.

The RSS thing means that at a page such as you can put the RSS feed into your Google Reader or iGoogle page, so it will tell you when any of us have added feeds, but that’s another lesson.

Diigo has even  better features.  For example we could set up a taedtech group there and it would email you when any of us had recommended a site.

Enough for today, as I mentioned in one of my papers, you go in baby steps J

I think I’ll post follow on questions and answers in this blog, ^V^

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