I was finally able to carve out some time to write my post for Leadership Day 2013. I’m a few days late, but I think this Scott will forgive me. While I’m writing this post specifically for administrators, I think everyone can benefit from what I am about to share.
How familiar is this scenario? You come across a tool or article that you think your staff would be interested in so you email it to them. Your email reads something like this…..
I just found this great website that I thought you might want to use with your students. Here is the link: www.blahblahblah.com
Most teachers check their email at school during the few moments they have here and there. Chances are that most of your staff will never look at the email you sent ever again. (Hey- I’m just being honest!) The resource you tried to share might have been something really great, but unfortunately you will never know because you have shared it Web 1.0 style. Even if a few teachers check out the resource you shared there really isn’t a way for them to easily discuss how they are using it. If you really want something to stick then you should consider using Diigo.
So what is Diigo? My friend Steven Anderson recently wrote a post that provides a fabulous overview so I do not feel the need to do anything beyond write a simple summary here. Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allows you to organize, annotate, and share your bookmarks in a variety of ways. I think one of the most powerful features of Diigo is the Groups feature. As a principal, you could set up multiple groups within your school. You would want one group that would include all of the teachers in your building. Then you might have a few more smaller and specialized groups set up for different grade levels or classes. (While you are at it, why not set up a group for ALL administrators in your district where you could begin sharing resources across the district?)
There are multiple ways to save bookmarks on Diigo, but my favorite is to install a Diigo extension on my browser. (This is where the awesomeness begins to happen.) When you bookmark a site you can (and should!) add a description of what you are bookmarking. This helps those you share it with (or who come across it if they are following you on Diigo) understand why you bookmarked it. Next, you can add tags, or important words that identify what you bookmarked. This makes it a cinch to track down bookmarks later on so it’s important to complete this step. Finally, you have the option to share to a group. Let’s say you found a blog post about using how to use Google Maps to help teach about the Civil War. Chances are this would be of interest to your social studies so you could just share it with the Social Studies group.
Setting up groups is easy! Inviting teachers to join is easy, too! All you have to do is invite them on the group management page. Once your teachers set up a Diigo account they can join the group or groups you invite them to and they can determine how often they receive the links that are share in that space. Members of the group can also add links that they want to share. They can also comment on bookmarks. This is a GREAT place for teachers to share how they are using different resources in their classrooms. Administrators can also make suggestions for how they see teachers using the resources they have shared.
This is where Twitter comes in. Many educators are completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of useful information shared on Twitter. I think one reason many educators avoid Twitter is because they don’t have any idea how to organize and manage the things they find there. Often times we “favorite” tweets that we intend to read or share later, but it never happens. Luckily there is a simple way to fix this! By linking your Twitter and Diigo accounts together, your favorited tweets will automatically be saved on Diigo. This is a HUGE time saver! All you need to do from here is figure out when you will go back and tag, describe, and share the links. It doesn’t take any more time to do this than it does to share resources through email, but sharing through Diigo helps create a sense of community.
One of the best things about Diigo is that when you save bookmarks there you are building a library of resources for your teachers. And those bookmarks will be there for new staff members as they join your team. Imagine how reassuring it is for brand new teachers to walk into a job and have a wealth of ideas and resources that have been vetted by their administrator and coworkers!
The other really slick thing you can do with Diigo is leave stick notes. Imagine for a moment that you want to share an article with your staff that you want to discuss at your next meeting. You can highlight section that are of particular importance and you can leave a sticky note on the page that can be shared with members of a group. Those members can comment on the original note or leave notes of their own. How great is it to be able to have a discussion right on the article itself!
If you included the few simple ideas I have shared you in your routine, you would be incorporating nearly all of the ISTE NETS for Administrators! Good luck!