Diigo: Organizing Links and Making Lists

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Do you have Information overload?

Do you find it difficult to organize all those cool links and multimedia sources you find online?

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allows you to bookmark, organize and save online material, and then share it with whomever you choose.  It helps educators and students track and organize information they plan to use in their projects and lessons. It’s a great curation and organizational tool for the entire learning community.

A  simple 7-minute overview shows you how to create bookmarks in Diigo.

Check out a few lists I’ve made to help me learn new applications:  Diigo Learn , Google Learn, and Mac Learn. Since I’m new to GAFE (Google Apps for Education) and Diigo,  I will refer back to these lists this summer when I have more time to watch the tutorials and read the articles.

Since sharing and working together is what 21st Century Learning is all about, I hope that the Diigo lists and links that we gather and share will create an opportunity for collaboration, curation, and organization- a librarian’s digital dream! 🙂

The Art of Eliminating Distractions

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MULTI-TASKING TURNS TO SINGLE-TASKING, INCREASING THE ABILITY TO FOCUS.

Do you find it difficult to focus when you write? That “ding” of an incoming email interrupts your thought process. A Skype message or phone call breaks your concentration just as you’ve found the perfect sentence to wrap up a really juicy paragraph. Your flow is interrupted by that weird sound that Facebook makes when to indicate that someone has commented on a photo or status update. Interrupted by the distraction, you grasp to recover the thought you just had, but it has escaped into oblivion, never to be found again.

Enough of that. One tool that I’ve been using for years to help me concentrate in a clean, distraction-free writing environment is something called OmmWriter. The free download offers a writing tool for PC, Mac, and iPad. Ommwriter is your own private writing room where you can close the door behind you to focus on your writing in peace”. Gone are the icons at the bottom of your screen. Gone is the toolbar at the top of your word document. Gone are the webpages, tabs, and browsers. All you see is a clean, uninterrupted screen, just ready for a new idea or creative thought. Even spell check is turned off so that your ideas aren’t blocked by the obsessive need to edit mid-sentence. When you’re finished, just copy, paste and save your text into a Word document and move into the editing phase.

OmmWriter is a helpful application that helps writers focus. It’s clean and free –  a fresh, calm breeze in a world of technological distractions. Multi-tasking turns to single-tasking, increasing the ability to focus. Find out more about it here.

But Can’t I Just Google It?

Google_logo_2010Hello, students. I know that most of you use Google on a regular basis. So do I! I can’t imagine a world without the instant gratification of typing a phrase in the search bar and finding the answer to my question. Because you all love finding information by doing an Internet search, it can be hard to shift directions and use online databases.  You probably like performing a Google search because that’s what you’re familiar with,  that’s how you’ve found information for research in previous classes, and that’s how you find information in your daily, personal research. I, for example, do hundreds of internet searches each week  to find information. I can’t imagine my life without Google!  When it comes to professional or academic research, however, I  turn to databases.

Here’s why some of you might have trouble switching over to using databases in your research:

  1. Database research takes time and effort to learn
  2. GOOD research takes time (it’s not quick and easy!)
  3. New databases are unfamiliar online environments
  4. Previous teachers might not have required it.

ebscoSo, why are are teachers asking you to use databases in their research?

Here’s why.

1.    Anyone can post anything on the web. There’s no sure way to ensure that your first hit when searching for info on “embryos” won’t be the post that a 3rd grader in Australia did on his class blog. For scientific research, we want credible, timely information written by experts in the field. Databases have just that.

2.    University research requires that you know how to use online databases. In order to acquire research and information fluency, you will need to apply digital tools to gather and use information. This is necessary in order to be successful in college. Teachers would be doing you all a disservice if you left our school not knowing now to navigate, search, and research within online databases.

3.  Using a database uses time efficiently. If we were to do a google a search for, let’s say, “stem cell research”, we would get 120,000,000 hits. Who has enough time to sort through millions of webpages to find a credible site, especially when many of them are advertisements or business sites? Not me! I’d rather use a database that has a collection of articles written by experts in the field.

Finding information on an online databases might not be as “quick and easy” as conducting a familiar Google search. However, if you  give it time, you will most likely be rewarded with credible sources and the added benefit of using your time more efficiently.