A Review of Social Bookmarking & Other Link Curation Tools

What I Wanted

If you have followed the TWRCtank for awhile, you know that I had a long list of resources in the sidebars on the right-hand side of this blog. Several people mentioned they did not like all the scrolling and they wished there was a way to indicate that I added new resources to the list. Over the past few months, I’ve played around with many technology tools trying to figure out the best way to share resources for teaching reading/language arts with you.

Many of these these tools are called social bookmarking tools. By social, I mean that you are able to easily see other people’s public bookmarks and they can see yours. (Most of the sites I tried allow private and public bookmarking, but some force all your bookmarks to be public.) Social bookmarking tools also usually allow you to follow and be followed by people with similar interests.

The tools I tested are Delicious, Diigo, Pinterest, PortaPortal, Scoop.It, Sqworl, Symbaloo, WordPress pages, and the WP-Table Reloader plugin. Obviously, there are pros and cons with each tool and they will vary depending on your wants and needs. I wanted a technology tool that:

  • Created a visually attractive end-product
  • Was not intimidating to non-users
  • Allowed me to annotate each link
  • Was relatively easy to use
  • Could easily be shared with others
  • Did not require a lot of scrolling
  • Had some capability of indicating when I added new resources

Why Social Bookmarking?

It is impossible for one person to find all the great resources on the Internet. Luckily, social bookmarking is an easy way to share and keep up with the latest and greatest, as well as with the golden oldies. (I am a big fan of shared knowledge.) Until this point, I’ve been collecting and storing my links to literacy resources in an almost unmanageable number of folders in my email account. Now that I have found the tools I want to use, I can start going through them again and bookmarking them publicly. I also look forward to finding out what others are bookmarking about teaching reading/language arts.

In case you haven’t tried these tools yourself, but you are interested in social bookmarking, I created a table of pros and cons. Keep in mind that my research was not extremely thorough and some of my information may be inaccurate. That said, if you are ready to venture out into the social bookmarking world to start sharing your knowledge, I hope the table will help you select the tool that best matches your wants and needs.

My Evaluation of Each Tool

I tried to bookmark the same ten links so I could better compare the end product of each tool. In doing this, I sadly discovered that some tools would not allow me to bookmark all ten links. I will share the end product for each tool below the table of pros and cons. The ten links I tried to bookmark are about reading comprehension.

Pros & Cons of Link Curation Tools

Technology ToolCostIs It Social?ProsCons
DeliciousFreeYes1. Can tag bookmarks.
2. Can see how many times the link has been bookmarked.
3. Can add multiple tags to each link.
3. Can change level of detail on link descriptions (low, med, high)
4. Can display alphabetically or by date bookmarked.
5. Entire link collection is displayed in one place via a list of tags.
6. Can leave/read comments about each link.
7. The date the link was bookmarked is given.
8. Easy to bookmark.
1. It looks intimidating to the non-user.
DiigoFree, but can pay to have ads removed.Yes
1. Can tag bookmarks.
2. Can save links to lists.
3. Can set up account so it cross-posts links to Delicious.
4. Can add multiple tags to each link.
5. Entire link collection is displayed in one place via tags or list titles.
6. Can get a free educator account.
7. Can leave/read comments about each link.
8. The date the link was bookmarked is given.
9. Easy to bookmark.
10. Can highlight & put sticky notes on text on pages you bookmark. (Note: I think only certain people can use the sticky notes & using the highlighter made my list of links look horrible at the advanced detail level because it included all the HTML code from the selection I highlighted.)
11. Can join Diigo groups.
1. It looks intimidating to the non-user.
PinterestFreeYes1. Visually pleasing (if the images at the link are good).
2. Easy to pin.
3. Can leave/read comments about each bookmark.
1. Can't bookmark links that do not have large images (ex. pdfs & podcasts)
2. Number of characters allowed in description is limited.
3. You MUST pin an image for each link you want to save & available images at links are not always what you want.
4. Cannot pin link to multiple boards. Must pin each one separately.
5. Can't leave/read comments about each link.
6. No clear way to show when links are new.
PortaportalFree, but can pay to have advertising removed. This also gives you the ability to upload your own files for download.No1. Number of characters allowed in description is limited, but sufficient.
2. Entire link collection is displayed via category lists.
3. Can easily alphabetize lists & categories.
4. Has a "NEW" icon you can use to indicate new bookmarks.
5. Other available icons: Wow!, :), Thumbs Up!, & Cool!)
6. Not as easy to bookmark as the others, but it's not that difficult either.
1. If you have many items in a category, it will require lots of scrolling.
2. Customization is limited.
3. Cannot copy links from one category to another. Must enter each one manually.
4. Can't leave/read comments about each link.
Scoop.ItFree Yes1. It can pre-populate a description for you.
2. The number of characters for your description is sufficient. (It may be unlimited.)
3. Easy to scoop links.
1. Not all links can be scooped.
2. Can scoop a link to only one curated topic at a time.
3. Seems less user-friendly than the others, but I didn't play around with this one much.
4. For the most part, I did not think this was visually appealing.
5. Can't leave/read comments about each link.
6. No clear way to show when links are new.
SqworlFree, but can pay to have advertising removed.No1. Visually pleasing when an image from the link can be grabbed.
2. Easy to bookmark links.
3. Can move tiles around to alphabetize, but it takes work if you've saved a lot of bookmarks.
1. Number of characters allowed in link title & description is EXTREMELY limited.
2. Can't leave/read comments about each link.
3. No clear way to show when links are new.
4. When images cannot be grabbed from links, a default sqworl icon is used.
SymbalooFreeYes1. Logos of popular websites will be displayed when you save the URL.
2. Can easily copy links to different webmixes.
3. Visually pleasing when pre-populated link icons are good or when you are good at customizing them yourself.
4. Pretty easy to save links.
5. Can be embedded in a blog or webpage.
6. Can apply for a free educator account. Why? Click here to read a great post about the Symbaloo educator account.
7. Can easily color code the tiles.
8. Can customize the wallpaper.
9. Can use your own images for each tile icon.
1. You are not allowed any characters for a link description & you only have about 30 characters for the link title.
2. Can't leave/read comments about each link.
3. No clear way to show when links are new.
4. More for curating websites than for curating links to articles, videos, and podcasts.
WP-Table Reloaded pluginFree, but you can donate.Somewhat - Comments could be left on the webpage below the table. Another possibility is to embed a Google Doc survey asking for feedback on the link curation.1. Visually pleasing when there aren't a lot of columns.
2. Unlimited number of characters for link title & description.
3. Can easily alphabetize table columns.
4. Can leave/read comments about each link.
5. Many ways to customize if you know a little HTML & CSS.
6. Lots of help on the Internet to help you customize.
7. Could enter & bold "NEW" in the table to indicate new links. Can also make the hyperlink color different to indicate new or visited links.
8. If users dislike scrolling, they can limit the number of rows to display on each page to ten.
1. Requires some HTML & CSS.
2. A blog or website is required to use this plugin.
3. Cannot save links to multiple tables.
4. There is a way to freeze the table header, but I think the javascript is outdated so it did not work for me. If I figure out how to update that, this option will become a pro.

The End Products of Each Technology Tool

Here is a Symbaloo I curated that will show you the end product for each of the of the tools discussed in the above table. However, I did not use the WP-Table Reloaded plugin with the same ten comprehension links because I had already created a simple WordPress page for that. Therefore, I’ve included that in the Symbaloo, along with a tile showing the end product for vocabulary resources compiled using the WP-Table Reloaded plugin. Click on each tile to see the end product for each tool.

In case the Symbaloo does not display properly, here is its URL: http://www.symbaloo.com/embed/socialbookmarkingtest

Your Thoughts & Shares?

What ways do you think you could use these tools? How have you used them already? What end product did you like best? How do you you share great resources you’ve discovered?

If you have already started curating public links related to literacy, please share a link to them in the comments below. I can’t wait to find more people on these social bookmarking sites who share my passion for reading/language arts. And remember… sharing is caring. :)

*Note: I would like to give a shout out to the folks in the We’re Bloggers group on the WeTeach Ning for helping me think this through. I really appreciate your time and feedback! :) Another shout out to Tobias Bäthge. I love your WP-Table Reloaded plugin and all the help you give over the Internet.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
This entry was posted in Reading Comprehension, Resources for Teaching Reading/Language Arts, Social Bookmarking and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.