We've talked about Web 2.0 tools here a couple times before. Here's a tool every one of you should use -- just trust me on this one -- called Delicious. I've been using it for about a year and a half or so, and it just keeps getting better. Its latest revision makes it a must-have for anyone who surfs the Internet and saves bookmarks (also known as favorites).
Delicious is, by bare description, an online bookmarking tool: You find a site you like, and you bookmark it so you can return later. Delicious takes your computer-based bookmarks and puts them online. That way, no matter where you are, you have access to all of them.
Picture this scenario from yesteryear: You're in a workshop, someone shows you a cool Web site, and you write the URL down on a Post-it note. When you got home, you visit it on your home computer, and maybe bookmark it there. Then, a few days later, you're back at school, and you want to go to that site in class, but, darn it, you can't remember the exact URL, and you don't have that Post-it note with you. Bummer -- you'll have to recopy the URL onto a new Post-it note when you get home and take that with you to school the next day. Or, if you're really modern, you email it to yourself! Well, those days are long gone.
If the above scenario sounds familiar, jump into 2007 and start using Delicious. You save your bookmarks online, so the Post-it-note scenario doesn't apply anymore. No matter where you are, if you're in front of an Internet-connected computer, you have access in your Delicious account to every bookmark you've saved. That should sell you right there. But it gets so much better.
By being a Delicious user you are, in essence, sharing your bookmarks with the world of other Delicious users. That's cool, because if you and I are both fourth-grade teachers, saving bookmarks about volcanoes, it might be fun to know what other bookmarks you're saving because, chances are, I might like to use those same sites with my kids. In the old days, if I never met you, I wouldn't be able to tap into your bookmark library. But I can with this free tool. When you save a site into your Delicious account, you'll see a link that refers to how many other people have saved that URL. Click on that link, and you can see who else has bookmarked that site, and the other sites they bookmarked.
In addition, the site's genius works on the tagging concept: You tag the sites you've found with keywords that help organize them, and make them easier for others to find. For example, I've saved the URL for Edutopia.org, and I used the tagwords "video," "technology integration," "pbl," and "resources."
This is social bookmarking: I want to connect to you and share my bookmarks with others around the world. I want to learn from you based on your bookmarks. I also want to save time, because maybe you have already filtered through the ten million Google sites that reference volcanoes and have found a handful that are perfect for the classroom.
Use the same judgment you use with any other tool. Try it yourself first before you use it with your students. It's a site that links to other sites, so you never know what you might find, but that's the good thing. For more information, check out this video by Jeff Utecht and posted on YouTube that explains how to use Delicious. Once you get used to it, try the browser add-ons, which make it even quicker. If you're familiar with RSS, you can even subscribe to other people's bookmarks. Ah, the power of social networking!
I just did a two-day workshop for school principals, and they are now completely addicted to Delicious. Share your thoughts -- or, better yet -- your Delicious accounts and experiences with us here. You'll find mine (quite a hodgepodge) at edleadersonline.