I have been teaching IST 110 this semester at Penn State in a completely new way … all new assignments, new tools, and new approaches. I am still asking students to work in teams to solve a large real world problem assignment. The focus though is more on the tools that are powering the concepts of web 2.0 — open collaboration and community. One of the new assignments I have been tinkering with takes advantage of the social bookmarking tool del.icio.us. The ability to maintain a set of shared, community created, resources is something I’ve wanted to do for some time. When I finally got my mind wrapped around the social bookmarking approach I knew I had to use it in class.The way it works is that every student signs up for a del.icio.us account on the first day of class. Doing that allows them some time to figure out what the environment is good for. We then decided on a common tag to use when bookmarking things that were somehow related to the class. I simply asked them to start using and I gave them a couple of weeks to get started … it was really cool to see how the shared set of bookmarks started to come alive a couple of weeks in.
I actually created a new “assignment type” for them around the concept — the Social Bookmark Activity. Every couple of weeks students pick two of their bookmarks and post it to the class blog. They are to report why they selected what they did and why they used to tags they used. It seems like it is paying off … I would like to continue using this type of assignment but I would like to find ways to make it more meaningful. I am wondering if any of you have some ideas? At any rate, it has been a great way to get them to look at building a knowledge base in a new way and has expanded their class reading list quite a bit. I’ll be trying to pull some student thoughts and reactions to this and report them here.