Like many tools, technology tools found on this site, and other sites, are only useful if the user understands how to get the most work done from the least amount of effort. The Fresh Links page is one of those tools which was introduced, but not properly explained (shame on me), so I thought I’d take some time to explain how the Fresh Links work. The links themselves are selected by moderators from the forum and I (if you’d like to get more involved with the site and can donate 20 to 30 minutes a week please feel free to contact me about being a moderator). Once we’ve found the links we go to www.jots.com, a very useful web site that lets you save your bookmarks online under your own account. It saves them the same way you save your favorites or bookmarks in your web browser, but since they’re online you have access to them at any Internet enabled computer, not just your teacher or home machine (very handy for conferences and visiting other teachers).
The really nice feature of Jots is the ability to “tag” your bookmarks. Once logged in you can post a web site to your favorites and include helpful little words (tags) that aid in finding the bookmark again. For anyone that’s ever tried to reorganize their sprawling list of bookmarks or favorites at home, you’ll understand the frustration of not being able to find that one great site about place value among the other 30 math sites you have bookmarked. Jots lets you add those little words (tags) so that you, and other users, can search your bookmarks using the folksonomy of tags you’ve provided. For instance, on the recent web site I posted about Microscope Images I included two tags of “science” and “cells.” I could have included more such as “cellular_functions” or “microscopes” to help even more, but I’m pretty sure I can find it again by remembering the word cells. While you don’t see the tags on the Fresh Links page, when you click on the Fresh Links Archive you’ll find the list of all of tags on the right hand side. If you’re looking for web sites about space you simple click on “space” or type in space in the search box. Or if you prefer, you could type in “space +planets” to see if the community here has bookmarked any great web sites about the planets.
I know that I haven’t done the Jots web site justice (or the other similar web sites that provide free online bookmarking), so I’ll write up a longer, more detailed post in the forum. I just wanted to get the basics of the Fresh Link tool out so that people might get a better understanding of how to use it, and why it might be useful in the future.