Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Great Expectations Part 2

Well after a traumatic week of IT "failures" I thought I should report back on the great Diigo social bookmarking experiment.

Firstly - technical: our IT department are investigating the fatal mix that is IE7 and Diigo and "will get back to me". Fortunately for my credibility, the same browser freezing happened when they tried it!

Secondly - the students' reactions: I met up with a small group in another seminar and asked how they had found the IT session. They shrugged, said everything was fine and they had got on with the task quickly and efficiently. They didn't find downloading Chrome a chore and thought Diigo was possibly quite useful.

Thirdly- activity on the Diigo group: 75 out of the 103 students on the course are now members. During the introductory sessions students added some additional links they had researched. The original library has doubled in size. Some joined the site over the weekend and continued to add links (following instructions I had provided in the form of Jing screencasts). Some have added a couple of things into their own libraries, but all of this activity is still limited to the focus of our current assignment. What I hope to see over the coming weeks and months is continued use of the site for saving bookmarks related to other modules.

So maybe not such a disaster after all but whether this proves to be a really useful tool for the students is another question......

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Great Expectations

I have been putting off writing this post all day. Maybe I just had a couple of bad sessions (OK, four bad sessions) but as I see my modest plans (for incorporating social bookmarking into my study skills module) crash and burn, all I really want to do is sit in a corner and weep.

Firstly, trying to demonstrate the beauty of Diigo using the university's PCs in our IT suites failed at the first hurdle - Internet Explorer. For some unfathomable reason, the web browser freezes as soon as Diigo loads. (This doesn't seem to happen off campus).

After a wasted hour with my first group of by now rather bored and cynical students, I managed to work around this by getting the next group to spend the first few minutes of the session downloading Google Chrome, but really - should I have to?

I am trying to look on the bright side - hey! I have by now introduced some 50 students to the joys of Chrome! And most of these have now also joined Diigo, managed to handle bookmarking - and even highlighting and sticky notes using the lovely Diigolet for Chrome.

But there is more. I am witnessing, right in front of me, the workings of the digital divide.The thing is that these groups include international students, "mature" students and those with dyslexia and other difficulties. The 18 year old, straight from A levels, UK born students generally whizzed through instructions in seconds and had installed Chrome, Diigolet and highlighted their first webpage whilst I was still showing our "non traditional" students how to search for the download.

(I should also acknowledge that some new students - including the digital "residents" - have still not been able to find lecture notes on the VLE!)

Over the next few weeks, I will continue to monitor the students' use of Diigo (and the VLE come to that) to see how things progress.

It has been a salutary lesson for me, though what exactly it all means is maybe too early to tell.