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Pedagogy Column: Diigo as a Research Tool for Creating a Community of Researchers in the Classroom

Saniye Gokcora, Developmental Skills

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Diigo (www.diigo.com) is a bookmarking program that I use in my reading and writing courses to share information and create a community of learners. Diigo enables users to bookmark articles and web pages, save them online, and share these with individuals with the same interest who can post comments. Highlighting and “sticky-notes” features allow users to annotate selected texts. Diigo is widely utilized in various levels of education for online reading and better retention of information. 

When I teach a writing course with a research paper emphasis, I create a Diigo account for the course by giving the name of the course, the semester, and year. For example, CUNY (Course code) F’13.  Then, I use the “create a new group feature and invite my students to be members of this group. I type their institution/college e-mail addresses in the appropriate box and send an invitation. Only academic e-mail addresses can be used in Diigo. Someone can join the group by invitation only. 

Instructors can take advantage of the privacy settings in Diigo. Depending on the reasons for using Diigo, the instructor can make this strictly a class account and choose the privacy setting accordingly.  

As members of the account, students use Diigo to bookmark articles on the research paper topic, highlight important information, and create sticky-notes and categorize groups of articles.  Each student’s bookmark helps other students in the class to be aware of several online sources available on a specific topic. Users can highlight words or phrases and annotate the text by using post-it comments. 

Diigo as a research tool makes it easier to collect all the materials for class members at one specific location, and motivates them to gain more self-efficacy to do research.  As students become members of the same group of readers in the same Diigo account, they have access to each other’s articles. A group member’s work can be read and critiqued by other students.  Eventually, every student contributes to the information gathering effort on a specific topic, yet each student works independently to write the paper and make an argument.

Integrating quotes in research papers is challenging for most writers, and Diigo becomes a useful tool at this stage of writing. Students can highlight specific information in different colors or use the “sticky-notes” feature to make a comment or to indicate useful quotes to be integrated into their papers.  

As members of the same course, students create a sense of community and gain a new sense of confidence in doing research and writing papers.

 

Additional Information: how I organize the process of helping students find and evaluate sources for research papers, and the role Diigo plays in this process

 

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