I could only join today’s live session at Elluminate for the last half hour. Little as I heard (I haven't listened to the recording yet), it has prompted me to reflect on why, how, where - and perhaps, also for whom - I tag. Also, on how and why I could use this with my students.
I started tagging as a way to keep track of all the interesting information, pages, blogs, tools, etc that I encountered as I started my online journey. My very first experience with tagging goes back to my acquaintance with Delicious. As many others have said, those early tags were perhaps not very appropriate but, thanks to Rita Zeinstejer’s advice, I learned early on that, as far as tagging is concerned, “the more the merrier”, meaning that when you use a wide variety of tags, it’s much easier to find what you need later on. As I became more familiar with Delicious, I learned that it offers the possibility of creating groups. This is a great feature to work collaboratively with colleagues or simply to see what the people in your network, those whose judgement you trust, consider worth bookmarking. More recently, I joined Diigo, which, I must confess, I do not use as frequently as Delicious. However, I find it particularly useful in that, apart from all the features it shares with Delicious, it sends you updates of what the people in your network are bookmarking. I’m not sure Delicious offers this feature (I have to revise the settings, I guess)
Presently, I’m fascinated with a couple of applications, Twibes and TweetDeck, which have given me a new perspective on the power of tagging. Twibes has helped me sort out in groups the myriad of tweets that pop up on my Twitter homepage. Among other interesting features, it includes RSS for the tweets and for the members, as well as groups and people search. TweetDeck allows you to manage your Twitter lists, sort your information into columns and also search for lists. All of these of course require tagging. Another of my recent finds, is how to tag pictures in Flickr, though I’m not so sure I’ve mastered it yet - I tagged a picture in Flickr but I still can’t see it on Spezify (search engine that displays the results in the form of images and newspaper headlines) or Taggalaxy (which does the same with pictures)
So, how and why could I use tagging with my students? Basically, in the same way and for the same reasons I am using it: to search, bookmark, organize and get back to content, to network and connect, to work collaboratively. As Vance pointed out in the Elluminate session, it can be used to direct students to specific content. With the information overload on the web, it is necessary, especially when working with young learners, to provide some kind of guidance and selection. Apart from looking for content utilizing certain tags, students can tag any content they create and work collaboratively in this way. This could be accompanied with the creation of a backchannel for communication on Twibes.