One of our motives for authoring this site is to involve students in an experience that is different from what we could offer through our more conventional writing projects (our books). We wanted to find immediate and embedded ways to involve learners in the activities we describe. What follows is presently our best example of this idea.
This section examines the educational use of social bookmarking. There are many social bookmarking services available to you and we will eventually direct you to the most powerful and common applications of this type. First, however, we invite your "participation" in a smaller scale bookmarking site we maintain. This site runs on the open source software called Scuttle and is available at http://learningaloud.com/scuttle/. If you are viewing this page and have registered through the Participants' Portal, you should be able to login to the site we maintain, create a personal account, and try out the system we describe here.
Scuttle is open source social bookmarking software written by Marcus Campbell and made available under a GPL license. The developer claims that Scuttle supports most the features of the del.icio.us API so most features will be familiar to those accustomed to del.icio.us. This software may offer an opportunity for schools wanting to provide their own social software services.
Scuttle For Users
Scuttle Home Page
This is the appearance of the initial page you will encounter when connecting to a Scuttle site. The initial page will show recently added bookmarks - one in this case. The number of bookmarks appearing on this initial page has nothing to do with the number bookmarks available from the site.
There are several components of each entry. These components include:
The title of the web page is "active" - clicking on this title will take you to the web site.
Search and Discovery
There are several ways to explore the resources available from a Scuttle site (these are described as Search and Discovery in our section on bookmarking as a participatory tool). You can conduct a text search by entering a word or phrase in the search textbox and then selecting "Search". You can explore all of the tags added by contributors by selecting "Popular Tags". This link will open what is called a "Tag Cloud" with the size of the terms within the cloud indicating the number of entries associated with that tag.
Scuttle Tag Cloud
Tags appearing within Scuttle are active. A tag within the tag cloud or tags associated with individual entries will generate a list of all entries with that tag. The tags associated with individual entries (see top image) appear below the information provided by the author.
Scuttle For Contributors
The following instructors consider tasks involved in adding bookmarks, comments, and tags to Scuttle.
Register and log in please
The issues of personal property and personal information are touchy topics for all participatory web tools. It is true that there is an assumed emphasis on sharing, but sharing can mean anything from allowing others to read some of the content you have created to allowing others to completely change the content you have created. Participatory web applications typically assume the author should be allowed to exercise personal decisions regarding what information and powers to give over to others.
Registration and log in requirements protect both the system and the content of each individual using the system. Registration and login before use allows the system to account for the actions of individuals and while accountability cannot prevent some forms of misbehavior, educational institutions typically must have ways of holding individuals responsible for their actions.
Scuttle has fairly common expectations for registration. Potential users are asked to provide name, password, and email address. More sophisticated participatory web applications may ''authenticate'' through email. This means that before allowing access, the system will send the potential user an email containing a link that must be selected to complete the registration process. The purpose of this approach is to assure that the potential user can be connected with a personal email address. Scuttle is less sophisticated than these programs, but as system administrator, I typically send an email myself and if I receive no reply drop users I cannot authenticate.
Add new bookmarks
Once a user logs in, a new tab appears at the top of the page. The "add a bookmark" link opens a page containing a form for adding a new bookmark and related information to the bookmark database.
The fields in the add a bookmark form include:
Modifying the bookmarks of others
Social bookmarking sites typically allows users to modify the bookmarks provided as public by others. Technically, you do not modify their bookmarks, but rather create a copy of bookmarks and modify them to your own needs. You may wish to contribute a comment or a tag more guided by your personal interests. For example, as you teacher you may use the comment to emphasize what you want your students to attend to on a site and a tag to identify the bookmark as connected with your class (e.g., grabebiol2007).
To accomplish such goals, locate the bookmark you want to personalize and note the "copy" link appearing within the entry (see below).
Selecting the "copy" link will open a form with the address and title fields already filled in. The description and tags fields will be empty. Add the information you want to include, select public or private, and save changes.
Scuttle does have some other useful features, but our interest here is in discussing the most general characteristics of social bookmarking sites. If you are interested in learning more about the specific implementation of Scuttle described here select the about link when you connect to the site.