Save Trees: Teach with Internet Tagging
by Carrie Hannigan, M.S.
Spring cleaning led me to think about how I organize information through internet tagging. Okay, so I wasn’t actually cleaning, but moving large binders of paper to the back of a closet. The binders were busting full with handouts from previous teachers. Back in the days before the Internet, teachers had to kill trees in order to share their great informational finds with students. (Then, geeky students like me, punched holes in said handouts and kept them forever.)
Modern teachers, though, can save the trees (and space in students’ closets) by relying on Internet Tagging tools, like Delicious, Diigo, or Zotero. When you find a website you want to share with students, your first instinct is to save it as a bookmark. Unless students have access to your computer (yikes!), they won’t see what you’ve just bookmarked; furthermore, they won’t know what inspired you to share this site with them. Internet tagging, though, provides access to the information and your insights.
Here’s how a tagging works. Create an account with a tool like Delicious. Copy/paste a URL through the “Add Link” feature of the tool, which will save the URL to your account, not your computer. The tagging tool will allow you to create an annotation (or comment) for the website and tag, which is a one-word descriptor. Ideally, the tag you choose should be intuitive, but also work to collect websites with similar content. For example, the tag can be as simple as grammar or as specific as CompII. Like other social networking tools, you can also set privacy restrictions or share your tags with specific people. As long as it has a URL, you can tag it and share it.
What about those websites that are there one day and gone the next? Use the Wayback Machine to find an archived copy of the website, like a cyberspace footprint on the moon. Not everything is archived there, but you might be surprised at how much is still available, and then you can tag the archive URL.
Some students/instructors may not be ready to move past printing out and binding great information, but I suspect that once they realize how much easier it is to access and organize internet tagged resources, trees can breathe a sigh of relief.