Zotero – an academic bookmarking tool

I went to visit an Academic Skills Tutor today who introduced me to Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh].

In it’s simplest form Zotero is a bookmarking tool that has been specifically designed for academic use, therefore the free web based software can be used as an aid to help students collect, organize, cite, and share research sources. As their website explains ‘Zotero collects all your research in a single, searchable interface. You can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages, and really anything else. Zotero automatically indexes the full-text content of your library, enabling you to find exactly what you’re looking for with just a few keystrokes.’

I have only just started to use the software but it certainly seems like it will be a useful addition to the assistance technology that I am using for the #mscmmel.

A lesson on student finance 2012/2013

Now that the deadline for university applications has passed the time has come to begin delivering sessions on the ins and outs of applying for student finance. I have sourced most of my resources from the Direct Gov website which has a wealth of pre-prepared lesson materials including YouTube videos, a ppt and a quiz.

I’m going to use one of the video at the start of the lesson to introduce the facts about student finance and to promote discussion within the group.

I am then going to talk through the PPT to re-enforce what has already been introduced in the video whilst adding additional details.

At the end of the lesson I am going to use the quiz  to test students knowledge and to create one final chance to dispel any misconceptions the applicants may have about how much money they are entitled to and how they will have to pay it back.

*Social bookmarking???

*Social bookmarking is a way for Internet users to share, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web resources.


Action Research

For this semesters MSc assignment I have been asked to undertake a small-scale action research project.The project will involve designing and introducing into my practice an instructional strategy, activity or technique and analysing its effect on improving student learning.

My initial idea is to analyse the effectiveness of social bookmarking as a way of sharing infomation with sixth form students. During my PGCE and MSc I have often been directed to the social bookmarking sites of university academics and have often wondered how effective these sites really are with regards to sharing information with students. This is mainly because it has taken two years of the Academic Skills Tutor plugging her site before I was motivated to visit it, despite it containing lots of useful links. I am also aware that my tutor groups only see me once a week and as sixth formers there’s a wealth of information and useful links that I have that I can share with these students therefore if I can get it to work a social bookmarking site could become an invaluable tool.

I was originally thinking of setting up a Diigo site for my students however the site has no facility to track web traffic so instead I am going to create a WordPress site and organise the links by creating different pages such as UCAS, volunteering and study skills. I am unsure of whether to create a small-scale version of the site for this assignment and focus on sharing university related links with the A2 students whilst waiting until the dissertation module to develop the site fully or whether to completely go for it this time and work on another idea for my dissertation?

Any comments about the merits or limitations of this action research project are greatly welcomed.


New job

From the photo below (which also happens to be the view from my new desk) you can see that the sun has now set on the first week in my new job.

I no longer teach basic numeracy and literacy so the focus of this blog will change over the coming weeks and months. I now work in a sixth form environment in a pastoral focused role. Instead of teaching numeracy and literacy my teaching topics are designed around the areas that my students need to work on for example time management skills, study skills, target setting and how to choose and apply for university. I will continue to update this blog regularly with lesson ideas and resources so I’m positive that there will still be lots of ideas and resources that you will find useful. I will also continue to post about my MSc and am about to start a research project into the effectiveness of social bookmarking.