Diigo, Twitter, and Ning in the Classroom

What is Diigo?

Diigo is an online bookmarking tool which allows you to archive, highlight and annotate online materials for both your own scholarship or that of your students, and can facilitate collaboration on webtexts created by you or your students.

My Library

Diigo’s three buzzwords are annotate, archive, and organize. And when it comes to online research materials, boy do they mean it. You can archive any online materials you’ve found on your Diigo page. Then, highlight materials you’ve archived and add sticky notes to the annotations. These notes and annotations will stay on the page when you revisit and are part of your online archive. You can also bookmark pages, where you have the ability to upload the page and capture a snapshot—giving you a direct picture of what you can find on the webtext you left. You can archive other file formats as well, so you don’t have to worry about losing materials. You can also add tags to your bookmarks, so that they are easy to find. The list feature allows you to share and organize your bookmarks for yourself and others—publish a slideshow or report for others. The search function can also help you find materials you might have archived earlier but don’t remember location. Your data is saved both onsite and off, to protect it from changes or broken links.

My Network

Build a personal learning network to share work and facilitate conversation between you and your colleagues. You can keep things private or share publicly what you have bookmarked via tags, widgets, or RSS feeds.

My Groups

Link up with other users, find other researchers, or create a classroom Diigo repository for all gathered research.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online social networking application which functions as a micro-blogger. Twitter subscribers send “tweets” (short, 140 character messages) to their “followers” (individuals subscribing to their networks).


Tweeting can be used by students outside or inside of the class to ask questions, post observations, and interact with both instructors and students. The short messages are perfect for quick snapshots of activity and allow the entire class to interact with material both inside and outside the academy as they go about their daily life.

What is NING?

Much like Facebook, NING is a social networking site that enables you to design your own page, post photos, links, videos, blog, and comment on other people’s pages. Unlike Facebook, however, NING allows you to create your own social networks that are completely secured from external users. What does this mean? It means that we can create sites for English 111 and 112 at Miami University that can be used and viewed ONLY by our students.

Each student will be responsible for appropriately maintaining his/her NING page, as well as a blog which functions as a digital journal. The cool thing? You’ll be able to view pages and blogs by, as well as communicate with, students in classes other than your own, if they belong to your NING page! This enables us to create a community of writers and critical thinkers that extends beyond a singular classroom.

Besides blogs and pages, NING has the capability to post links and videos. Feel free to access episodes of television shows, films, and other online resources, making them available to others.

Your Page

Each student can be responsible for maintaining a NING page. They can design their own page “theme,” add (appropriate!) photos, and introduce themselves using the textbox next to their photos. You can also have them blog frequently, post their own items, and read and respond to other students’ blogs. You can also create assignments in/with NING.

You can also send e-mails via NING to class members as well as other NING linked instructors, and you can comment on people’s walls (exactly like Facebook).


NING also has a discussion forum where you will be able to read a thread of posts by everyone within the network. The forums can also be used to post questions and/or ideas/feelers about certain assignments and or papers. NING’s forum may be a great research tool for you.


NING has administrator capabilities which allow the instructor to set the limits of NING interaction for the course. There are several different apps and uses.

1 Response to “Diigo, Twitter, and Ning in the Classroom”

  1. 1 heidimckee October 13, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    And here is the email I sent to COMP TALK with my summary of the TEA

    Hi, Everyone,

    Yesterday Rachel Seiler, Alyssa Straight, and Ashley Watson facilitated a fantastic tea on using a variety of social networking sites in composition classrooms. Handouts, links, assignment prompts etc. from their presentations are available on the DWC Blog (https://dwcblog.wordpress.com). Below is a summary of the presentations and the discussion.

    Ashley opened the session by talking about an assignment she asked 111 students to complete that she called Spatial Memory: Using Twitter to spot opportunities for Universal Design. Students went around campus and tweeted in when they found places/spaces that were not (or were) designed with issues of access, etc. in mind. Then, using Google Maps, the students mapped those locations to make a visual representation of campus in relation to Universal Design. Cool stuff that I hope they shared with the Office of Disabilities (which has battled for a long time to try to make Miami’s campus more accessible).

    Ashley also showed us http://www.twitterfall.com which enables users to search and receive tweets from twitter about specific subjects. Ashley had searched “Obama” and as she talked tweets about Obama from anyone using twitter kept rolling by. Really interesting site to use for textual analysis, particularly thinking for next semester with the emphasis on cultural and historical analyses.

    Then, Ashley briefly showed http://www.diigo.com. This social networking site enables users to create databases of research (other websites, articles, etc.) they find on the web. But besides simply bookmarking them and tagging them (the way you can with, say, Delicious), diigo also enables users to actually take notes on web sites—highlight key passages, apply floating sticky notes, etc. You simply have to download the diigo plug-in/toolbar. AND, better yet, diigo enables groups of users to see each other’s sources, notes, and sticky notes and add their own. This looks like a fantastic resource for group research projects.

    Whew, okay, that was only the first 15 minutes of the Tea!

    Alyssa and Rachel then shared their experiences using Ning in the classroom. http://www.ning.com is a social network that is like Facebook, but, in my view, better! Ning (well, its interface) enables users to upload video, images, keep blogs, post comments, send messages, chat etc. So far much like FB but Ning also allows for documents such as pdf and .doc files to be uploaded. And, because an instructor (speaking from the teaching frame here) can create a social network for the class that’s private and not open on the web, students’ writing on Ning (and those spontaneously uploaded documents) are not searchable, visible (as I understand it). Students have individual Ning accounts that they use, but their individual stuff does not port into the other networks they belong unless they tell it too. So while Ning enables connectivity across students’ various online selves, it is not required. Ning’s interface is also customizable—users can change the display and design of pages (a la Word Press) and users can add a ton of free apps (or purchase apps too). One drawback is, as with Facebook, there are commercials on the right div of the pages.

    Alyssa and Rachel are using Ning in interesting ways—having students use the blog and comment feature to brainstorm for projects and to provide feedback to each other, having them use the chats to communicate, and having them communicate with students in the other sections, so all 60+ of their students are on the same site sharing their work etc. As Rachel said, Ning “expands classroom boundaries of time and space” enabling more sharing too of “out-of-the-classroom-classroom moments” (a great phrase you’ll have to ask Rachel about). Alyssa and Rachel surveyed their students and found that while ALL of them disliked Bb, finding it clunky and a turn-off to use, whereas all but two really liked Ning.

    During discussion we talked about various ways to use the applications in the classroom. If anyone has any questions about the social networking sites discussed or their pedagogical possibilities, please contact Rachel, Alyssa, or Ashley (or Aurora or me, although the two of us can talk the pedagogy, we don’t know those sites as well). And remember the resources are on the blog too!

    Thanks, and sorry for the long email, but for those who couldn’t attend, I thought you’d be interested.

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