National Writing Project

Digital Toolbox: Social Bookmarking

Date: August 2008

Summary: Social bookmarking is a useful digital tool for keeping, marking, annotating, tagging, and sharing lists of favorite websites.


Social bookmarking explained "in plain English"

Many writing project teachers and their colleagues have found that social bookmarking sites are useful additions to their digital toolbox.

Social bookmarking sites are Web-based services that allow users to mark favorite websites with "bookmarks" and to annotate and share them on the Web with others. In this sense, social bookmarking is similar to bookmarking on your browser, but you can do so much more.

Why Use Social Bookmarking?

Social bookmarking sites allow teachers to create a customized set of Web links for their own purposes or to share with students.

In addition to bookmarking, annotating, and tagging, the social functions of these bookmarking services allow users to create a network of persons who can share bookmarks and perhaps contribute to your list.

Teachers can build resource collections for classes, professional learning communities can build and share links to websites of interest, and writers working together can create shared sets of resources for their projects.

Most services also share these benefits:

  • Bookmarks can be added to your account easily, often through a direct link to your account that can be added to your Internet browser.
  • Because bookmarks are stored online, they can be accessed by teachers and students from any computer with an Internet connection and a standard browser.
  • Bookmark collections can be downloaded into a file for formatting and sharing as a publication.
  • Users can network to follow each other's bookmark choices.

How Do You Choose a Bookmarking Service?

There are many social bookmarking sites. Most share a set of core features, though some might have a particular feature that interests you. One of the most important features of any site is the membership of the site. Since one of the key interests in any social bookmarking site is the opportunity to share bookmarks with others, it is helpful if members at the site share your interests and would bookmark sites that interest you.

Currently, NWP maintains bookmark collections at Delicious. Other popular sites include

  • Technorati for its technology-focused community
  • StumbleUpon for its visual interface
  • CiteULike, which focuses on academic citations
  • Reddit and digg where users vote to push the most popular links to the home page

Users typically create an account to use the service, and since the bookmarks are stored online in a shared Web space, users must have Internet access to access their bookmarks. Most services are free but may include advertising.

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