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Asking students to do independent research on the internet about a topic you are studying in class can be fraught with problems. Many students feel overwhelmed by the often complex, sometimes irrelevant results on their screen in response to their search engine requests which in turn leads to poor behaviour underpinned by confusion, frustration and a sense of failure for both student and teacher. Poor information literacy skills amongst my students can certainly be an issue. One solution I am trialling with my students is the use of free social bookmarking and content management tools. These offer me the chance to locate, pre-screen, curate and organise websites together on one page in a central place around a set theme or topic that we are covering in class, perhaps to enrich or extend their learning. This can then be accessed both in and beyond the classroom by students, fellow teachers or even parents from any computer with internet access. If this sounds too much like spoon-feeding your students, many of these content management sites permit collaborative contributions and commenting facilities whereby students can add their own web finds to the existing repository and can leave comments for others to read about content on this central page. Popular sites include Symabloo.com which has a visual interface great for visual learners and Diigo.com with a strong collaborative interface.

Examples include: 

http://www.symbaloo.com/home/mix/3710-William-Shakespeare

http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/Chemistry

 

Suggestions for classroom uses from other educational professionals can be found here:

http://www.theedublogger.com/2014/04/09/11-ways-to-use-symbaloo-in-the-classroom/

https://sites.google.com/site/team8project9440/using-diigo-in-the-classroom-2

I will be reporting my progress as it happens at the coal face!

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