With Diigo research doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In this case, students are beginning the research process with a pre-research activity where the goal is to discover possible topics for an argumentative essay that fits the class theme of personal freedoms. Most students at this point don’t have an idea about what to write about, so not only are they exploring for themselves, but all of their ideas are saved and shared with the whole class.
The instructor can set up a group in Diigo which provides the class with a single URL to access the group bookmarks and discussions. It also permits the instructor to limit participation to only students in the class. Students can be invited to the group via email or they can sign up individually at the group page. For the assignment, students are instructed to save 10 websites with personal freedoms themes, tag the sites with our class tag (personal+freedoms or “personal freedoms”) as well as other relevant tags, and then write a 2-3 sentence summary of what the web site is about and why it could be valuable for someone who chooses this topic. This assignment is easily converted into an asynchronous discussion assignment by additionally requiring students to read back through the group’s bookmark list and comments and then comment on bookmarks that look interesting to them. Students can also “like” saved bookmarks that they think are best suited for the class by clicking a thumbs up symbol next to each bookmark. The compiled list of bookmarks gives the students a starting place for exploring possible paper topics and a place to discuss those topics.
The first image below shows what the Diigo group list looks like with student bookmarks, comments, likes and tags.
There are quite a few more features that Diigo offers for incorporating research skills into your assignments for students. Instructors can create a discussion around an online article by having students annotate and discuss it right in Diigo. Start by bookmarking the article in Diigo and then instructing students to visit the link, highlight sections in the article and comment via a sticky note. Sticky notes will need to be saved to a group and not private, so that all students can see all notes. Students can then read the highlighted sections of the article and view other students’ comments. It won’t be threaded, but students can also comment on other students’ sticky notes. Below is an image that demonstrates what this looks like. Click here to see a video on how to add sticky notes.
To help keep students engaged with Diigo and any discussions you have going on, instructors can have students set up alerts for the group. Students can get immediate, daily or weekly alerts via email any time someone in the group saves a bookmark or leaves a comment on a bookmark.
Diigo is free with an option to Go Pro for a few extra features. They also have educator accounts. There is a heavy focus on education with this tool, so if you sign up with an educator account, you’ll end up with a Teacher Console area where you can manage all of your classes (groups).