April 28, 2011

Delicious, which Yahoo just sold to YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, is an ideal teaching tool for tagging content to share with students or other teachers.

We are all inundated daily with content to process and share via Twitter, Facebook and other social media. But Delicious, a social bookmarking site, helps you organize materials of interest by tags and descriptions — for your own future use and to share with others. It proves especially useful for teachers, who need content categorized and contained in one spot when they need class examples on the fly.

My brain becomes a sieve when I’m prepping lectures, often leaving me struggling for good examples. I may not, for instance, remember this compelling California Watch multimedia journalism package on earthquake safety and public school construction. But by using the Delicious bookmarklet I installed on my browser toolbar, I can tag the California Watch package however I like. In my case, I gave it the tags:

  • Multimedia: I want to remember to use it to show how some stories are good for text while others are better suited for audio, video or interactivity.
  • Map: Someday I’ll show a class how easily we interpret information when it’s mapped out.
  • Data: My students routinely struggle with translating quantitative information into useful forms.
  • Nonprofitjourn: California Watch is a product of the Center for Investigative Reporting, which is a key player in new funding models for news.

Next semester, when I want to show a great data example, I’ll simply return to my Delicious page, look for the “data” tag and find this package there. What’s more, I can also tag it by specific classes to push links out to students, such as tagging it “676” and directing students in my J676 Digital Media Law and Ethics class to read new content with that tag. No more reading lists that are outdated the minute I copy them. My course content is dynamically updated with the latest issues, controversies and developments.

But Delicious is more than just a tool for keeping my own materials organized. It draws on the power of the crowd to extend its strengths. Once users make their bookmarks public on Delicious, any other user can see these bookmarks. So when I am looking for a slideshow example, I can try my own slideshow tags, but I also can look for other people’s tags.

One of my favorite bookmarkers is Poynter’s Regina McCombs. She’s far ahead of me in keeping track of the seemingly endless developments in mobile journalism. Check out her Delicious bookmarks with the tag “mobile.” I follow them to ensure I’m informed.

Delicious will save you time and bring you variety and smarts, and I can’t think of a better combination for teachers. If you haven’t already created a Delicious account, try setting one up and start tagging. For inspiration, check out the wealth of content available on these journalists’ Delicious pages:

Which journalists do you follow on Delicious, and for what type of content? You can use the comments section below to share your suggestions.

Katy Culver teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and is an adjunct faculty member at Poynter.

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