Naked Googling – we see you!

Diigo may fast becoming the new black in Social Bookmarking. The PBL Group on Diigo now has over 80 PBL teachers and educators with some fantastic discussions happening in a short period of time

Two of our PBL teachers are now using it to aggregate and focus learning in a cohort of over 150 students, divided into around 20 project groups.

Here’s how it is working. The students are working within Catholic Studies (the content) and Information Software Technology (IST). IST is a compulsory subject in 9th grade, no longer an elective.

The student task is scaffolded on our Moodle Server “PM Online

In conjunction with the Blake Society, Parramatta Marist will be hosting the 2008 Images of Jesus Exhibition.

With the theme “Images of Jesus throughout history to contemporary times”, the exhibition has been created to link art, digital media and religion and give students new possibilities to explore and have published their own personal images of Jesus in the twenty-first century. This competition is one of many that the Blake Society promotes and supports, including the Blake Poetry Prize and the Blake Prize for Religious Art.

The winner of the Blake “Images of Jesus” Competition will have their work published in the Catholic Outlook. The competition will be judged by a panel of specialists.

Closing date for entries: Week 10, Term 2.


1. Each exhibition must be created by a group of 4 entrants.

2. Each exhibition must consist of a total of 12 pieces of artwork. Each group is expected to contribute one artwork from each historical period and four original artwork submissions.

3. Each piece within the exhibition must be accompanied by a written art caption of approximately 150 words. Each art caption must contain the name of the original artist, the artist’s motivation at the time of creation and personal analysis of the artwork.

4.There is a word limit of 2000 for each exhibition.

5. Individual submissions must be the original work of the entrant.

6. The exhibition must never have been published before, or have won another competition and they must not be under consideration by any publisher, literary magazine or for any other prize.

7. Artwork must be on the theme of “ Images of Jesus throughout history to contemporary times ”.

8. Exhibitions must be presented in a wiki and saved to digital media.

9. Each entry must be accompanied by an entry form.

10. Entrants should write their names, email addresses, group number and the title of the work on a separate wiki page.

11. No entries will be accepted by email.

12. The judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence about the result will be entered into.

Gavin Hays (IST) and Bruce Carr (RE) – the project facilitators, work as all our staff in PBL do in a team teaching environment. The students are obviously researching a wide range of things to answer this project and prepare their presentations. As we are painfully aware – “Googling” can largely be a shallow activity of clicking and skimming, rather that objectively assessing content and wide reading. Some students are better at searching than others – which often leads to a shallow pool of research.

Gav and Bruce have come up with a criteria in the project rubric that encourages students to research and share information, not just with a group, but with the year group using Diigo.

One of the interesting, and unexpected results is that students not only look for information, but are using Diigo’s comment feature to ‘sumarise’ and ‘critically assess’ the information found in the context of the project. This has caused some competition within students, and also helping students with less skilled search techniques metacongnitively judge what they are doing in comparison to others – all with the wonderful anonymity that the web offers.

Students are not just looking at ‘static’ images, but have jumped into looking at ‘film’. They are just as interested in looking at stills from music videos, films as they are in ‘art’ images.

The are using Diigos discussion group feature to talk about what they are finding and actively discussing what they are finding and how it can be applied to their learning and project requirements.

Compare this to ‘normal’ classroom “Googling”. The only evidence that students have actually done an research is some loose bibliography, and the often obvious ‘cut and paste’ job that they are slapping into a final document.

Gav and Bruce have begun to extend the Web2.0 environment into a new application. They have a pan optic view of what the students are looking at and can judge how ‘deep’ the research is going. They can comment on what they are finding.

Rather than ‘wait’ for the end product, they are able to see the direction the students are heading, and what kind of information the students consider ‘of value’ in answering the project.

In just over 2 weeks, 113 students have bookmarked and shared over 170 sources of information that can be used to develop their solution. Some groups have also set up their own smaller groups in this time.

Gav and Bruce have found: a simple and effective way to scaffold and create community learning; to be able to leave a ‘trail’ to show the path the students are taking; have a rich resource of bookmarks specific to this PBL unit of work that they can use again.

The students are still ‘Googling’, but are justifying, applying and creating in a very open Web2.0 space.

Of course some students are better than others at this but the quality of the ‘early bookmarks’ is helping the middle and lower order kids use a scaffold to build their own research. The students are TEACHING each other what makes a good ‘find’ and teaching Gav and Bruce a lot about how they go about research and what aspects of a ‘find’ that they consider ‘good’.

Gavin Hays and Bruce Carr are part of the Project Based Learning Group on Diigo. Our PBL classrooms are powered entirely by Web2.0 technologies – with the addition of Adobe Creative Suite for production. We do not run Mircosoft Office, nor Movie Maker. Our students produce work online or through Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut Studio.

This week, a question was asked in a ‘strategy’ meeting – how can we measure the increase in learning between what we used to do, and what we are now doing. The problem with that is the point of reference is the past. We never used to measure stuff like this, we made assumptions. What we are more interested in is benchmarking the growth and leveraging these skills into these kid’s futures. We could measure it as “Suggest 2 ways you can use Social Bookmarking in learning (4 marks)”. I would imaging most of the students would not get full marks in an exam,but if we ask them to do it, show it and apply it then we get a full score card and move from low order stuff to high order stuff in a very short space of time.

So stop asking kids to ‘list’ and ‘find’ with Google, and start asking them to analyse, appraise and apply with Diigo!