Why You Should be Using Social Bookmarking Tools

Still storing your bookmarks on your browser? That is soooooooooo 2007. It’s time to get with the program and start using social bookmarking. Social bookmarking is a “two-for” — it will save you time and provide a way for students to collaborate on their research.

Teaching with Technology column

Bookmarks were originally saved on a browser, which creates a couple of problems. One, your bookmarks are not available if you are on another computer. Two, these bookmarks cannot be searched. New bookmarks are simply thrown into the bottom of the list, which becomes unmanageable once you accumulate a lot of sites.

Social bookmarking has changed all that. Tools such as Delicious and Diigo allow users to store their bookmarks on a password protected website that can be accessed from any computer on the Internet. Better yet, users can add searchable tags that make sorting and finding bookmarks a breeze. If I want to find that interesting website on social media in education, I type “education” into my Delicious system, and then can sort by the subcategory of “social media” within that tag, which brings me to exactly what I want.

Social bookmarking benefits
I find myself storing far more bookmarks than I once did. I have literally hundreds of bookmarks, and possibly over a thousand, but they are no less manageable than the millions of sites I can search on Google. The systems integrate into your browser to make it easy to add a new bookmark. I recommend opening the left side navigation bar in Delicious and leaving it open. This allows you to search bookmarks instantaneously without changing your screen. I’m sure that I visit far more sites each day than I once did now that finding them is so much easier.

But it gets better. A database keeps track of the number of people who store each bookmark. The user can search this database to see which bookmarks are the most popular. For instance, when I was looking for free online music program, I typed “free online music” into Delicious and found Pandora Radio at the top of the list, with more than 60,000 users bookmarking the site. This is quite an endorsement, and Pandora turned out to be a fantastic site.

Both Diigo and Delicious allow users to form groups that let all members to share their bookmarks. I can create a group in Delicious that is just open to my students. When they find a good website, they are instructed to share it with others in the class. They are also required to provide a short description of each site in the bookmark, including why it is of value. This forces students to think about and articulate the value of different sites in comparison to one another.

As usual, please leave a comment about ways that you have, or might, use social bookmarking in your courses.


Delicious: The first and still one of the most popular social bookmarking tools. Its interface is very easy to use. http://delicious.com

Diigo: A little more functionality than Delicious. Allows you to annotate and highlight bookmarked sites. http://www.diigo.com

John Orlando, PhD, is the program director for the online Master of Science in Business Continuity Management and Master of Science in Information Assurance programs at Norwich University. John develops faculty training in online education and is available for consulting at jorlando@norwich.edu.