I’m becoming increasingly fond of electronic bookmarking services like Delicious and Diigo. Diigo, in particular, has become my bookmarking tool of choice, because of their collaboration tools. You can highlight, add sticky notes, search, make lists, and create groups. Here’s a 4-minute video showing how the Diigo collaboration tools work.
But the best way to get a feel for what you can do, is to take a look at an annotated article. Here’s an example, from Will Richardson. What he’s done is to bookmark an article (from the Wall Street Journal) in Diigo and then highlighted key passages and made comments on them. When others use his Diigo-created link to navigate to the article, they see his highlights and comments (roll over the highlighted comments and his sticky notes appear). In addition to reading the bookmarker’s comments, the reader can comment right back – agreeing or disagreeing with him, asking further questions, seeking clarification. With time, you can imagine a whole conversation started (and recorded) around an online article.
What an interesting idea to try with biology students. You could start by bookmarking an appropriate (pick a fairly straightforward one) scientific journal article and highlight it to point out the key elements. You can add your own comments (with the sticky notes) to make points that support what you’ve been talkingg about in class or lab. For instance, “here’s the researcher’s hypothesis” or “notice the basic structural elements of the paper” - or ask them a question “which is the control group?”. When students access the url you provide, they will see your annotations and can add their own.
Let me know if you try it – would love to see a collection of Diigo-marked articles with teacher-to-student conversations.