Sort of Social Bookmarking

I think I can officially take social bookmarking off my list of new Web 2.0 things to talk about in presentations. Here's a sign that it has gone from being a hot buzz topic to an accepted practice: Blackboard, the big gorilla in course management systems these days, has introduced its own social bookmarking site.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. There are still plenty of people who aren't using older services like to bookmark sites that they like and then sharing them with others.

Blackboard calls their beta site Scholar (I'm impressed that they got the URL I wonder what that cost?) The audience appears to be Blackboard customers (including the pre-merger WebCT customers like NJIT? see below). The rest of the free world can search & find links and subscribe to collections, but (Hello, Web 1.0!) not contribute. This is the first "property" (their term) from the Blackboard Beyond Initiative that is they say is supposed to embrace the "principles of Web 2.0... a series of innovative,
centrally-hosted web properties, delivering rich, user-driven tools. The
services will be designed to achieve e-Learning 2.0."

Why not just use the other services? According to the Blackboard blog, it's to create a safe place and keep things within the CMS:

Pretty much all students and instructors do web research as part of their academic work. When they find resources that they want to keep around, tagging them makes them easier to find later. Since they're students and teachers, we know that it's likely that they are saving the resources for a particular course, or for research in their discipline, specialty or major. So we created special tags that let users tag for disciplines or specific courses really
easily. We make it extra easy by using the integration with the Learning System to automatically generate your course tags based on your courses enrollments in Blackboard. You won't see any course tags when you browse the public site because we're protecting student privacy by not disclosing users' course enrollments.

I haven't spent a lot of time on the site. I tried finding a way to create an account but it says:

Access to Scholar is delivered through a Blackboard Building Block/PowerLink
that is installed by the system administrator of your institution's Blackboard
Learning Systemâ„¢ server. Talk to your system administrator or help desk about
getting access to Scholar.

I think that knocks NJIT - with its WebCT CE4 - out of the game.

One of the attractions of sites like is that the world is also collaborating on tagging sites with you. Yes, that's also one of the distractions - you will end with some trash being tagged. That's why YouTube, Google Video, Flickr, Digg and all the rest of the 2.0 gang have some really great stuff and some junk. But that's what it' all about.

This semester my grad students are tagging sites related to our course with a unique tag so that the rest of us can see them. Next semester, a new group will add more and so on.

I'm sure this will get blogger attention in the higher ed sphere (Karine Joly at beat me to it late yesterday in her post). Let's keep an eye on Blackboard's Scholar and their Initiative and see where it goes. So far it seems social in the way that lunch table with the cheerleaders was back in high school - I didn't get to join that clique either.


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