Chemistry Students Building Delicious Link Collections

It is re-assuring when a faculty member investigates a new technology and runs with it. I got a recent email from Liz Dorland, chemistry faculty at Mesa Community College, and maybe one of 7 people in our district who read this blog (You are never famous in your own country, Hi Liz!).

She shared form my mentions of it she had done some experimenting with using Furl to have her chemistry students review web sites relevant to their course content– the problems she was running into was not being able to separate her own professional Furling from a class Furl without having two separate accounts (though I thought folders were an answer. So when I told her about del.icio.us, off she went:

Below is the link to the first week collection. I told them to find sites with information about elements. Naturally, they found lots of periodic tables. I had them submit the link and a short description to WebCT. I created a one question (paragraph type) Quiz titled Week 1 Bonus Link with the instructions where the quiz question would be. At the end of the week, I copied the summary version of the submissions into Word, put in an extra tab after the URLs, and pasted that data into a spreadsheet. I clicked on the links one by one then used the del.icio.us tool bar link to add it and to paste in the short descriptions. There might be an easier way, but this worked fine. I’ll need to work with them on writing better descriptions, but that was part of the plan–a bit of writing practice.

Here is the link if you want to check it out. I made a link on the course WebCT home page for the students to use that opens the links page in a new window. Later I may have them experiment with developing their own collections, but this is good for now.


I used Week1 as a keyword in del.icio.us so links will be able to be sorted by week, but I’ll add some more keywords next time that are more chemistry specific. Interesting experiment. This week I asked them to find interactive tutorials to practice density calculations. I’ll think of a new objective each week that relates to what we’re working on.

Thanks for the push that got me to try the experiment!

It’s a good start, and I have long said that teachers spend too much time manually creating laundry lists of web site links. Sure, the use of tags like “Week1” will not be of much use across del.icio.us (and will not create magically wonderful folksonomic structures) but it makes for a fine organizational scheme within her class links. And her class topics such as Density bring in some OFT “other folks tagged” links of interest.

Then I told her about doing more than linking to her collection from WebCT, but embedding the latest additions via RSS feeds and Feed2JS with this example.

And she recognizes the next step of having students do the posting themselves. The recognition of writing good descriptions is worth focusing on , e.g. she ias asking for more than “This is a great periodic table.” Thanks Liz for diving in to something new! (I would have sent you and e-mail, but MEMO seems to be eating all messages this weekend)

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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