Effective Tagging Practices for Online Learning Environments: An Exploratory Study of Tag Approach and Accuracy





social bookmarking, tagging, online knowledge base, higher education, folksonomy


This exploratory study examines student tagging activity within a five-week social bookmarking unit. Students in six sections of a course were tasked with locating, tagging, and then highlighting and discussing course-related materials using Diigo, a social bookmarking tool. Three different tagging approaches were tested: dictionary only, freestyle only, and dictionary + freestyle. Analysis focused on accuracy and rates of student tagging, popularity of different tag types  Findings show that most students were able to tag with high rates of accuracy after a single brief lesson. The dictionary-only approach led to fewer tags overall as well as fewer single-use tags than freestyle tagging. It also resulted in students applying useful classes of tags, such as type of content, that did not emerge within the freestyle tag groups’ folksonomies. However, freestyle tagging was not without its merits, and provided opportunities for students to include tags that reflect relevant interests and more specific topics that were not addressed in the tag dictionary. The combined approach, if carefully taught and applied, appears to have the greatest potential for supporting student information literacy skills. 


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2018 OLC Conference Special Issue