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USING SOCIAL BOOKMARKING TO ENHANCE CRITICAL THINKING IN HIGHER EDUCATION

S. Spiranec, M. Banek Zorica

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (CROATIA)
Web 2.0 and its abundant and ever increasing number of services represent a shifting pedagogical paradigm. Many of the very words that describe Web 2.0 phenomenon’s – communication, critiquing, collaboration, sharing ideas —are in the heart of education and bear the capacity to transform it. Although discussions regarding the use of Web 2.0 services in the educational domain are rather optimistic, it is important to incorporate these services and tools in meaningful ways by taking pedagogical considerations and educational frameworks as a point of departure instead of attractiveness and popularity.
A core aim and key learning outcome that has defined university education from its beginning is critical thinking. Students should be able to think critically about the subjects they have studied; they are expected to develop inventories of activities and capacities, such as the ability to ask valid questions, to gather and analyze information, to appraise and improve original ideas, to pursue ideas from genesis to proof and arguments.
The purpose of the paper is twofold:
• to demonstrate that Web 2.0 features have the potential to support core principles and ideas of education but only when the application of these innovative services is informed and initiated by pedagogical needs and aims
• to present the potentials of social bookmarking in teaching strategies aimed at development of critical thinking by describing benefits, outcomes and problematic issues encountered in several university courses.
The first part of the paper will focus on the correlation between critical thinking and one of the Web 2.0 services, namely social bookmarking. The authors will use theoretical frameworks from Information Sciences which are based on the premise that learners are involved in the discovery of knowledge and are constantly interacting with complex information environments. It is exactly during the process of connecting, interacting, evaluating and utilizing information that learning processes happen, but only if the interaction happens in a meaningful way and the student critically questions and interprets information.
In the second part of the paper, the authors will present how they use social bookmarking systems in their teaching. Within the courses, students are not only actively participating in the provision of content but also annotate, organize and index (or tag) it, which creates an effective framework for fostering critical thinking. After presenting the course rationale and the structure of course assignments, learning outcomes and results facilitated by using social bookmarking applications (e.g. Del.icio.us, Diigo etc.) will be discussed.
It will be demonstrated how, by using social bookmarking, students are motivated to think about the quality of information and how information is structured. Furthermore, students are encouraged to judge, rank and assess the relevance of information and organize it into categories while creating a coherent picture of disciplines, theories and ideas. The authors will conclude that social bookmarking and tagging provide a truly usable, effective and efficient framework for enhancing critical thinking in the context of higher education.