Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Diigo is GREAT - but not perfect

If you are reading this post it's probably because you're familiar with Diigo and what an amazing, powerful learning tool it is. You, like I, love the social aspect of it that allows other readers to comment on your bookmarked discoveries, and you love how you can share bookmarks with groups, etc. We could go on singing the praises of the tools within Diigo. But, in a video conference session this morning with Kevin Jarrett, we discovered some issues that you should be aware of.

First, let me say that we both spoke with Maggie Tsai after our discoveries, and she is very much aware of our concerns. However, at this point in time, with her company's resources and manpower so heavily involved in trying to get their next version ready to release, there won't be a solution to our concerns very soon.

A couple of the issues were minor, having to do with uploading student names via the supplied template. Those are easy fixes; nothing to be too concerned about. But, here's where we began to worry. After Kevin had created a few student accounts, he logged in as one of those students. But, the access to some of the Friend features was there. While an outsider cannot contact a student (since students don't have profile pages) a student COULD contact an outsider. Now, I can't imagine they'd want to, but they could. Also, a student can see all the teacher's friends and, I think, their bookmarks.

But, I think the biggest issue came when Kevin was able to browse the groups in Diigo and he found one that, let's just say, you wouldn't want to be caught reading it in church. He was also able to see all comments that had been made public, and for his situation in the elementary schools he had reservations about that.

So, I think that diigo with the younger kids may be out - at least for now, at lest for the younger students. And, you should at least be aware of the other concerns before you launch into it. Some schools wouldn't have a problem, while others would faint dead away at the mere thought of it. My thinking is that the sites themselves are still blocked, and the rest are just words - and words can never harm me.

As I said, we did talk to Maggie, and she did confirm that the system is working as designed. But, she also said that these issues could be avoided entirely should there ever be a way to, say, have your own domain of Diigo, just as you can with Google Docs. And, she said that some of our findings could be addressed, once they are free to spend some time on them. Once the new release it out and in prime time. And, she said that she and the team there welcomes feedback from teachers.

So, if you're going to be using Diigo with students, at least go into it with eyes wide open. My suggestion is that you create at least two dummy student accounts and you log in as those students to see what you can see. Maybe consider having an entirely different Digo account that you use with students and which doesn't have 'friends' attached to it. And, if you're already using Diigo with students, please leave a comment to let us know your experiences But, whatever you do, even if you decide to avoid it for now, do NOT give up on it. It's WAY too good a tool to just forget about.


Kevin Jarrett said...

Jim! Great post. Good conversation with Maggie today as well. Thanks for orchestrating it. Getting Diigo's awesome power into the classroom is going to be great but I agree with you it's got to be ready. I would also agree that any teacher thinking about using it with their kids should create a class, upload some test accounts, then log in and explore - like the kids will - and see what we saw. Personally, once Diigo has a way to segregate those 'regular' features (like Groups) we'll be good. Until then, I'm holding off from introducing it to my students. I have confidence in Diigo though - they'll get it done eventually!


mrsdurff said...

That's enough for me - the word of two men I Diigo at our school this year.....

Jim Gates said...

Hold on, there, MrsDurff. We've heard back from Maggie, of Diigo, that they're going to create a fix that will limit the visibility of groups to only those groups that were created by the teacher. That should eliminate the biggest problem. The other, being able to see all my friends and their bookmarks will be solved if the teacher creates a school-only account.

I STILL think that this is THE BEST tool out there for saving and sharing bookmarks and I know that they (Diigo) are working hard to make sure it can be used in the k-12 community.

So, don't write it off for the whole year just yet.

Kevin Jarrett said...

Hey Jim, heard from Maggie? What's the latest? -kj-

Jim Gates said...

Nothing, yet. I didn't want to pester, given their pressures to get the new version released. But, I can at least try to find out the status, I suppose.