I just finished writing a post to explain to participants of the evo2006 ELT Podcasting group why we have decided to use del.icio.us, and realised that it was probably worth sharing with people here too:
Its use is not as obvious at first, but I find del.icio.us to be such a useful tool. I am going to try here to attempt to write a tailor-made explanation of why we're using this site:
1) Basically, the best way to approach it at first is as an online bookmarks/favourites space. Sign up for an account and you can store all your favourite links here instead of them being tied to your own computer (this is especially useful if you work in different places, or use several different computers)
2) But, this is only part of the story of why this site is so good. It's called 'social bookmarking' software and that gives us a clue to its real strength, especially for educators:
- Del.icio.us uses tags (key words). Saving links with a unique tag (podcasting_elt, for example) means you can share a body of links with a specific group of people.
3) Del.icio.us is perfect for finding out what the latest 'hot' links are - search on a specific tag (try 'podcasting', for example) and you'll find it works as search engine, the difference being that all of the results were selected by (usually savvy) Web users. Once again, perfect for keeping abreast of what's really new on the Web, without having to wade through irrelevant sites picked up by Search Site bots.
4) Finally, del.icio.us offers a way of people not only reading what you are writing, but also what you are reading. Stick a link to your del.icio.us account on your website or weblog, and people can see the interesting things you come across. Do this on a site aimed at students, with a unique tag and you have an easy way of providing them with up-to-date content relevant to their needs.
5) The easiest way to keep track of our http://del.icio.us/tag/podcasting_elt
links is to add the RSS feed of this into a newsreader (also known as an aggregator). This will let you keep track of everything without having to constantly revisit the site to find out what's new. If you don't have an aggregator, try http://www.bloglines.com, which is an online aggregator/news reader.
6) Make things really easy and download a del.icio.us toolbar to your browser : http://del.icio.us/toolbar/ (this is for the Firefox browser)