Even more del.icio.us – Bookmarking and Subscribing

Yesterday we follow the trail of breadcrumbs left by other educators, and wound up with a treasure chest filled with del.icio.us websites.  Today we’ll be looking at blazing our own trail and how to make it all really simple.

First things first, if you’re going to use del.icio.us, you need to know how to bookmark your sites.  I’m going to share three ways.  The hard way, the easy way and the even easier way. 

First up is the hard way.  The hard way is copy the URL of a website you’re on, navigate over to del.icio.us, click on Post, paste in the URL, and then add all your keywords.  Does it work?  Yes.  However, that’s FAR too many clicks.  We can do better.

The easier way is to use what’s called a "Bookmarklet". I’ve written about bookmarklets on Teach42 before, so if want an in depth description of them, you can read it there.  But suffice to say a bookmarklet is just like a bookmark with one exception; when you click a bookmarklet, it performs an action instead of taking you to a web page. In this case, you can use a del.icio.us bookmarklet to make bookmarking a site even easier.

Here’s how you do it: Surf the web until you find a site you like, click on the del.icio.us bookmarklet, put in your tags (keywords), and continue on with your life!  Easy breezy!  If you go to the del.icio.us bookmarklets page, they have simple instructions for installing the bookmarklets on Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.

There is an even easier way, and that’s to install extensions for your browser that build in full del.icio.us functionality!  After installing the extension, you’ll be able to bookmark sites and search through your bookmarks with ease.  There are extensions available for both Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Now that you have your del.icio.us account set up and you know the easy way to add sites to it, let’s talk about one other way that del.icio.us can become kinda magical: RSS.  If you don’t know what RSS is, don’t worry.  Suffice to say, RSS allows some programs and websites to subscribe to things.  Every page that you see in del.icio.us is chock full of RSS goodness.  But what exactly does that mean?

Here’s an example.  Alan Levine does a lot of websurfing and finds all sites that are of interest to me.   If I navigate to his del.icio.us page, I can subscribe to his bookmarks.  Everytime Alan saves a new bookmark to his account, I will know about it automatically.  I can subscribe to his bookmarks using My Yahoo, Google Homepage, an argregator like Bloglines, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or any other service that integrates RSS.  Let’s say you’re only interested in his education bookmarks.  Well, just click on the education tag and the page that comes up will have a slightly different RSS feed.  Subscribe to that and you’ll JUST get updates with sites that he tags with ‘education’.

By doing this, you don’t even have to check on people’s bookmarks to reap the benefits of all the time they spend surfing!  For example, one of my favorite del.icio.us accounts is GCPS, which is populated by the teachers of Goochland County Public Schools.  As a Director of Technology, I subscribed to their del.icio.us account and everytime they bookmarked something, I received it in my aggregator.  Then I would forward it on to pertinent teachers.  If they bookmarked a math site, I’d forward it on to the math teachers. If they bookmarked a grammar site, I’d forward it on to the Language Arts department.  I was a hero to so many teachers who kept asking me where I found the time to go off and find all of these websites.  The secret was that I didn’t have the time to do it, but I tapped in to the people who did! 

I always say, it’s not about spending more time on the internet, rather making better use of the time that you do!  By making good use of a social bookmarking site like del.icio.us, you’ll find that the good sites just keep landing right in your lap.

Have fun exploring and don’t forget to share what you find!   

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