SHEEN Sharing

A Project of the Scottish Employability Co-ordinators' Network

Reflections on the first SHEEN Sharing Diigo Training Day

Trepidatious no more
I’m sitting on the train home to Glasgow from Aberdeen after our first SHEEN Sharing Diigo training day. It was a gorgeous blazing hot sunny day. I approached this training with some trepidation. It felt a bit like Cherie and I had gone out on a limb in recommending Diigo as the tool of choice for the Scottish Employability Co-ordinators’ Network. On paper (and in my experience) it looked very close to meeting all of the ECN’s requirements, but getting people to try a new tool is something different. Didn’t feel we had much of a fall-back position if they didn’t like it, or if they found it too hard to bother learning to use.

Stoked by the chaos and keenness
Anyway, I’m absolutely stoked. I remember when I used to run training sessions on the Stòr Cùram repository, and I’d have my slides and lesson plan and handouts lined up. Then they’d see the first slide, log onto the repository, and proceed to ignore me for the rest of the session except to call out questions in a chaotic manner while digging hell-for-leather into the software. It was a bit like that today. You know it’s gonna work when they get on with it without you.

Getting started on Diigo: a community of practice in miniature
In true community of practice fashion, James (Robert Gordon University) ended up practically training Joy (Aberdeen University) under my nose, because he had already not only imported his bookmarks from Firefox, he’d installed the Diigo Toolbar and pretty much taught himself to do the bookmarking, highlighting and annotating of Web resources that is the key to Diigo’s goodness. I’d not wanted to burden participants overly before the session, and had felt guilty about even asking them to get Diigo user accounts and import their bookmarks. I wasn’t sure about how the latter would succeed, at home or in their offices with different OS/browser setups. I’ve found that Diigo can be slow and buggy when importing bookmarks from file from browsers or other bookmarking services. I also hadn’t wanted to get involved in trying to get folk to install the Diigo Toolbar until we got into the training session. The thing is, once you have the Diigo Toolbar installed, you can import your browser bookmarks in a couple of clicks, without going through the export file / import file palaver. Which James worked out for himself.

Look out future Diigo trainees: you’ll need to prepare!
Pam (St Andrews University) had also got herself a user account and imported her Delicious bookmarks (with tags intact) in preparation for the training day. She’d installed the Diigo Toolbar without realising she’d done it. It’s that quick and easy. So I have fewer qualms about asking folk to do this before the next two training sessions. I’m further pushed to this by the fact that university computer labs won’t let you install new software in the training session, so my original idea of showing them how to do it is moot anyway.

University computer labs not the best places for Web 2.0 training sessions?
Speaking of university computer labs: we had planned a 3-hour training session, of which I thought we needed every minute. Lucky we didn’t need every minute, because it took us an hour to get sorted out so we could start. First off, I’d asked those that had them to bring wifi-enabled laptops (by no means a given in the ECN)- luckily all three of today’s participants had them. Otherwise we would’ve had to let some folk use the computer lab PCs, on which they couldn’t have the Diigo Toolbar installed, which was no use at all. However, the next fly in the ointment was that the wifi signal wasn’t strong enough in the lab! So we had to go to another room, get everyone on the wifi there, after much faffing. In the end though, James and Pam were so far ahead of where I’d expected them to be, and the group was so small, we still managed to get through everything I’d wanted to cover in two hours. The next two training groups are bigger though, so I’ll need to be on the ball about making sure we have adequate technical support beforehand.

Joy of Joy: and getting quick help from Diigo
We even managed to get Joy up to speed right there in the session, even though she hadn’t had time to do any prep. It helped that she doesn’t bookmark much anyway (she relies on browser history, and Google, which I can related to!) so we didn’t have to install any prior bookmarks. She was the only one using IE though and we found that the edit bookmark popup wouldn’t appear for her when she tried to edit tags for a bookmark. I was off straight away Tweeting @diigo for help- and they responded really quickly. We didn’t get that problem solved by the end of the session but it was impressive and comforting to see how on-the-ball they were- for the participants as well as for me. We pretty much ganged up on Joy and told her to get Firefox anyway.

Sharing student experiences via Diigo Webslides and MediaWiki
Pam had asked if she could speak with me after the training to get some support and ideas around her idea for a SHEEN Sharing Student Experiences Group. She wants to better be able to both encourage students to share case studies of their work placement experiences for the St Andrews Careers wiki (e.g. see their School of Modern Languages page, with some student experiences at the bottom), and to find a better way of presenting said case studies. Well, I am certain she’s already doing a good job extracting the case studies from students, however, we both thought a little added bribe of offering a draw for an iPod or an Amazon voucher might help; I didn’t really think offering a more Web2.0ish method than the wiki form she’s already set up would help. What we did come up with was using Diigo’s Lists and Webslides feature, which lets you set up a live Web slideshow of links you have bookmarked*, to showcase the case studies (the main problem being the gnarly wiki structure which made it difficult for Pam to provide easy access to them). We examined how you can publish a Webslides List slideshow to many and varied places, and also how you can get an iFrames widget and embed it straight into a site, including, if you have the correct extension installed, into a MediaWiki page. However, we don’t yet know if her university’s IT manager will allow the latter, so she’ll be happy with the former, and just make a link in the wiki (and anywhere else she can think of). They’ve had a few issues with students not wanting their personal stories and pictures being too widely publicised, so she’ll just be keeping it on St Andrews Careers site, and she’ll be creating different Webslides shows for different subject and discipline areas. We also decided to start using the Diigo Groups feature to start an ECN discussion about collecting and disseminating student experiences.

The Twitter open plan office
Pam also mentioned that she misses working in an open plan office- she enjoyed the face to face chatting, laughing and immediacy of ideas and help today. She’s already trying Twitter: I know Cherie and I think Twitter would work much better as a virtual open plan office for the ECN (distributed as they are around Scotland) if more joined, but one thing I promised was to send her the blog post about setting up TwitterFox so she can have it at least sitting in the corner of the Web while working.

A SHEEN Sharing case study for Diigo?
Maggie Tsai at Diigo had emailed me a week or so ago asking if I could submit a case study of our use of Diigo in SHEEN Sharing. I’ve held off responding until now because I just wasn’t sure how well it would go down with the ECN group. But I’m feeling more confident now. I’ll be emailing her back this week.

* For an example of a Webslides slideshow, here’s one showcasing four examples of Netvibes and Pageflakes used for projects that I put together as a List of links on Diigo: http://slides.diigo.com/list/morageyrie/sheen-sharing-examples

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Bookmarking, Group Spaces Online, Microblogging, Resource sharing sites, SHEEN Project Events & Meetings, Social Networking | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Next phase under way: a community ECN site plus a lovely resource sharing tool

SHEEN Sharing to date: many tools, little time
Since we kicked off in January this year, SHEEN Sharing has shown Scotland’s employability co-ordinators a lot of Web 2.0 stuff, possibly to the point of overwhelm at times. This phase has been necessary just to make sure folk start getting a glimpse of what’s out there; you can’t elicit decent requirements from people if they don’t know what’s possible. We’ve also been doing a lot of listening to the ECN’s priorities, and thinking hard about ways to meet them in the short time available. We’re now ready to recommend a couple of tools, only one of which the ECN will need to “learn”.

Priority One: sharing and recommending employability resources
While our plan to work with small groups of co-ordinators and other stakeholders in trialling different social media and other Web 2.0 tools is still burbling away in the background, the most important priority is the one that brought this project into being in the first place. The Employability Coordinators’ Network want a way to share, discuss and recommend good quality employability resources, and a way to make sure those resources (and discussion on their quality and use) can be made available to current and future stakeholders. We knew we didn’t have the resource for a formal, sustainable repository, so we’ve been investigating the freely available tools out there currently which make resource sharing and recommending, and community building, easy.

A one-stop shop for employability resources: Netvibes
We’ve now established that Netvibes will let us set up a project site for free, which will allow a place for the ECN and other stakeholders to come and find resources that the ECN has shared and discussed. Netvibes does this without us having to build a website; it pulls in stuff from anywhere on the Web using newsfeeds and widgets, and presents them in any structure you like. It can also have a public face (for stuff you want to push out to different stakeholders) and a private face (just for those with logins).

I can set up the Netvibes page; we don’t need ECN folks to do anything but feed back on how that’s looking.

A place for a community to share and discuss resources, and build a wider network of interested people
We’ve also found the wonderful social bookmarking site Diigo, which does a lot more than store your bookmarks. It meets most of our requirements, for both private and public group activities around sharing, discussing, recommending and commenting on resources.

I can set up Netvibes to make public the results of this resource sharing and discussion on Diigo (only those bits we want to be public of course!). This can be done in as fine-grained a way or as broad a way as possible. For instance, we can have a section on our Netvibes pages just for “anything related to employability”, and one on some narrow topic of interest, such as PDP for international post-grads. We could have a feed out of Diigo, appearing in the Netvibes page, just for our own group discussions on third-sector voluntary placements, alongside a feed listing everything being discussed around the world on Diigo by anyone on this topic, and some individual feeds from prominent blogs and websites in this domain. The possibilities are many and varied.

Both Cherie and I have been playing with Diigo’s numerous features in the past few weeks, and we’ve both used the words “falling in love” to describe our reaction to this very cool free tool. And don’t worry: as previously mentioned, if you are already using Delicious for your Web-based social bookmarking, it couldn’t be easier to use them both with no extra effort, or to swap over to Diigo.

The next ECN meeting
We’d like to use our slot at the next ECN meeting on June 1st to show you Netvibes and Diigo properly, with some prototype stuff set up so you can get a feel for them. We’ll be taking feedback and suggestions at this point.

Training on Diigo
From there, if folk are happy with the approach we are recommending, and with the support of the SHEEN Sharing Development Group, we’d like to set up some training sessions to get folk started on using Diigo to share, recommend and discuss resources. Our hope is that this wonderful site will take over from the ECN JISCmail list as the place to go when discussing and sharing resources with other employability co-ordinators. And of course, finding resources again that you’ve previously heard about or saved.

Finally, Cherie has noted to me that one of the things she finds exciting about Diigo is the way it allows you to find other resources out there that you hadn’t previously known of, and indeed to come across other networks of people with similar interests who may be of use to you in your work.

So, ECN members: see you on June 1st! And don’t forget to drop into one of our weekly Wednesday SHEEN Sharing webinars if you’d like a preview, a taster, or any other help with anything SHEEN Sharing related!

May 25, 2009 Posted by | Bookmarking, Group Spaces Online, Resource sharing sites, SHEEN Project Dissemination, SHEEN Project Events & Meetings, Social Networking | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diigo: a match made in SHEEN Sharing heaven?

I spent some time this week digging deeper into Diigo, to see if it is as close a fit to SHEEN Sharing requirements as it looked at first.  It’s certainly very promising, and I’d like to show it to the ECN in detail soon and recommend it as the way forward for the core work of the SHEEN Sharing project.

Diigo is like a next generation Delicious: it’s social bookmarking with the ability to also append comments and discussions on resources to the resources links, and to highlight and comment on sections of resources you’ve linked to.  Being a Web2.0 tool, you can then expose these resources, comments, discussions and highlights to other applications using feeds and widgets.  This means that the ECN can use Diigo to share resources and their experiences with them in one common place, but the results of this can be picked up and exposed in any site or repository.

This post goes into a bit more detail about how all this actually works, with special reference to how SHEEN Sharing might use it.

Web-based social bookmarking

Delicious is the widely used tool for this: instead of saving your favourites or bookmarks in your browser, you save them to your account on the website; this way, it doesn’t matter what computer you are on, you can always access them.  You can import your browser bookmarks into Delicious when you start.

  • You can save bookmarks as private, or public.
  • You can add descriptions/comments to them.
  • You can tag them with different keywords to help you and others find them.
  • You can make newsfeeds of your public bookmarks available elsewhere, for instance in your Facebook page, your Netvibes site, or on your blog.
  • You can share them with your network of Delicious contacts.
  • You can create feeds based on particular tags, for instance, you can make a feed of everything tagged “employability” by anyone using Delicious, or a feed just of resources you have tagged “employability”.

Some examples of Delicious feeds can be seen on this blog, in the far right-hand column.  We decided at the start of the project, as an experiment, to tag anything useful we knew of on the web about employability with the tag “sheensharing”.  We then put a feed from Delicious pulling all resources tagged “sheensharing” into the blog.  This was just done as an example, to show how social bookmarking and tagging can be used.

Diigo is a next-generation social bookmarking site.  It includes features for sharing and exposing annotations of, discussions around, and highlighted portions from resources, as well as really useful group features, allowing groups with specific interests to discuss and share resources.

Diigo: highlighting, rating and discussing resources

  • You can highlight a portion of text on a website and bookmark this.  Here’s an example: I’ve highlighted a portion of a job ad relating to employability in the Guardian: http://www.diigo.com/05×64.  Follow the link and see the highlighted portion.
  • You can add a comment to a resource.  This one is a different job ad in the Guardian, with a comment appended: http://www.diigo.com/05×67.  Click on “comments” in the Diigolet bar at the top.
  • You can comment on a highlighted portion of text, or add a “sticky note”.
  • You can expose these comments and discussions about resources publicly using newsfeeds.

Diigo lists

Diigo groups

  • You can create groups within Diigo, and belong to any number.
  • You can create feeds and widgets exposing groups’ shared bookmarks, including comments and discussions on the resources.
  • Groups have forums for general discussions, and these forums can be exposed via feeds and widgets, or be kept private.
  • Groups can be set up to auto-post to a blog: see the previous post here for an example, using a trial group I set up called “Employability”.
  • You can set up a Group Tag Dictionary which recommends tags to group members, making it easier to create feeds based on tags you’ve all agreed to use for various topics.
  • You can have a private group, where noone but group members can see forum discussions, comments and annotations on resources; you can also belong to public groups; when you save a bookmark with annotations you get to choose which group you are saving the comment and bookmark to, and you can edit this later.  So discussion can take place in a private group, but if you want to share something publicly you can do that too.
  • Within groups, you can vote for resources (it’s a basic “thumbs up”, not star ratings, and you can’t expose these votes externally yet).

Diigo and Delicious

  • You can import your browser bookmarks or favourites into Diigo.
  • You can import your Delicious bookmarks into Diigo.
  • You can set up Diigo so that when you save, describe and tag a bookmark in Diigo, it is automatically saved, described and tagged in your Delicious account too.  This means any existing feeds or widgets you have set up in Delicious will still work.  It also means you have an effortless belts and braces approach- if anything stops working in Diigo, it will still work in Delicious, and vice versa.

Diigo and Netvibes

We’re trialling using Netvibes as a central gathering and dissemination point for resources shared and recommended via the ECN.  Netvibes lets you put any number of “blocks” or widgets into it so it’s a one-stop-shop with little windows into feeds and pages and tools from other sites.

  • You can put a block in Netvibes from a Diigo group; you’ll see resources shared publicly within that group, along with tags, descriptions, comments, discussions, and highlighted portions of those resources.
  • For each resource you can either view all the Diigo commentary on the resource, or view the resource directly (you can toggle easily between these in Netvibes).
  • You can link straight from that block by tag, by user, by group, and by resource, and go straight into the relevant place in Diigo.
  • You can have a block in Netvibes showing a public group’s  forum discussions.
  • You can have a block in Netvibes showing your resource list slideshow.
  • You can have blocks in Netvibes based on feeds for specific tags, e.g. a block showing everything tagged “employability”.  This means you can have a fairly fine-grained structure within Netvibes, making it easier for visitors to the Netvibes page to find things on the main topics of interest.

Things to note

  • You can’t (yet) set up feeds for groups by tag within the group into Netvibes (or anywhere much).  They are working on this, but it being a free service, no telling when it might come.
  • All group activities are either public or private according to the public or private setting of the individual group so you have to make sure you set things up properly and folk understand what they are doing when they bookmark and discuss resources.
  • Diigo doesn’t allow you to upload resources, it’s for link-sharing only; for those creating their own resources and wanting to share those, they would have to use another method of making the resources available online, then bookmarking them in Diigo.  Alternatively, all resources of this nature can be shared via groups on other services, and feeds and widgets from these services can also be exposed via Netvibes.
  • Examples of how all this looks in Netvibes will be made available very soon.

May 15, 2009 Posted by | Bookmarking, Group Spaces Online, Resource sharing sites, Tagging, Using Newsfeeds | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Universities’ Careers Services using Twitter

Added to post from comment below, 6 May 2009 from Helen Curry at University of London Careers Group: Helen has a page on her blog listing Careers Services she knows of with Twitter accounts; she is keeping this list up-to-date: http://helencurry.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/careers-services-on-twitter-uk-he/.

Now that we have a SHEEN Sharing Twitter account for you to follow (@sheensharing), we’ve very quickly come across university careers services using Twitter for dissemination.

For instance, Keele University Careers Service tweets as @KeeleCareers.  Here’s a sample posting (with URL removed for their privacy’s sake):

Wonder what skills employers look for? Go to ‘Stand Out To Employers’ May 6, 1pm, K2. Book a place: [URL]

Then, @KeeleCareers “re-tweeted” (passed on a tweet they had received to their own followers, including us) a message from the University of London’s Careers Group, who tweet as @CareersGroup, which both alerted us to the the UoL’s Twitter account and sent us to their own blog post on some relevant student blogs:

blogging: Desperately seeking graduate jobs: top student-led blogs http://tinyurl.com/cy2apt

So, in a few minutes we are networked into some sources of resources. We can immediately click a button to follow these Twitter accounts, see their news quickly when we want to, read new items and pass them on in a jiffy.

How did I find @KeeleCareers in the first place? I did a search of Twitter (in the search box in the right-hand column) for “employability” just to see what came up. Very worth setting up targeted searches by the way; this can be done very simply within Twitter’s webpage, or in a more advanced way using a tool like TweetDeck). And there was a tweet from @KeeleCareers; being familiar with Keele University I immediately noticed it.

Running that “employablity” search again today, I see tweets from @jobs_manchester, @NorthEastTweets and @SkillsWork. I haven’t even investigated who these accounts belong to yet but I can already see another rich vein opening up.

Last week, I found @sheensharing was being followed by someone with the odd username of @idid_better. Thought it was a spammer at first but followed their link and discovered an organisation interested in:

“developing and promoting international learning experiences such as internships abroad”

.. so we followed them back to see what comes up there.

Interested? Get yourself a Twitter account soon and start following @sheensharing – we’ll re-tweet stuff to you and let you know what’s coming up of interest. Also, you can start following other ECN folk, as well as other people and organisations of specific interest to you. Conversations can be had quickly and information shared easily. Maybe you’ll even decide your own department (careers or otherwise) should start Twittering to reach students and teachers?

For information on using Twitter, see the earlier posting here.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Microblogging, SHEEN Project Dissemination, Social Networking | , , , , , | 4 Comments