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:

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