I am smack in the middle of creating my e-portfolio for my MLIS degree, and I can see several uses of social bookmarking as a student and while working on an e-portfolio.
I use Del.icio.us to bookmark the the websites my professors recommend, and I add tags that correspond to the course name and number. Early on in a new career, when you don’t have a lot of experience yet, I think it is useful to be able to easily refer to some of the stuff you studied. My problem is that I started using Del.icio.us (does anyone know the reason for the punctuation?) midway through my degree program, so at this point, I have only half of the sites from my coursework bookmarked. I wish I had started using it during my first semester because then I wouldn’t lose the sites pertaining to the subjects I studied at the beginning of the program. Also, as I create my e-portfolio, I find that I am searching for materials to refresh my memory on things like ethics, information-seeking behaviors, and teaching theories. Again, I wish I had bookmarked everything all along rather than starting when I was halfway through.
I just read an interesting blog post called “Using Del.icio.us to Create an Easy, Always Updated Online Portfolio” by Michele Martin. She suggests using Del.icio.us to create an online portfolio that is easy to update. A couple of days ago, I read an announcement that SJSU will be changing its learning management system (LMS). Again. It was changed right before I started the SLIS program, again when I was partway through the program, and now it will be changed again right after I finish the program. At this point, I’m just going to assume that it will be changed again and again and again. That begs the question: what happens to my e-portfolio every time SJSU changes the LMS? It looks like it might be a good idea to look for a new home for my e-portfolio (rather than keeping it on an LMS). I’m not sure at this point how often I would want to update my e-portfolio, but I will be looking into the possibility of using Del.icio.us.
Delicious.com is a social bookmarking site. It improves on the older method of bookmarking websites by storing the bookmark list online, by allowing the user to assign tags to their bookmarks, and by making it possible for people to share their bookmarks and see what sites other people are bookmarking. Tags, words used to describe the websites, are assigned to the bookmark by the user; many tags can be assigned to a bookmark, making it possible for a bookmark to fall into more than one category which leads to better search results.
A library could use Delicious as a type of pathfinder. A list of recommended websites about a topic could be put together and then shared on the library’s website. This would essentially be a specialized subject directory because it would be librarians choosing the websites, not a search engine spider, and they could carefully select only high quality websites. A disadvantage of social bookmarking comes from the fact that there is no standardization for the tags that people create. Delicious, therefore, loses the advantage of a controlled vocabulary. If librarians are creating the tags, however, they can battle this disadvantage because they already know how to describe information, and they can provide clear and consistent tags.