Monday, November 23, 2009

Next Installment on Diigo

I have been delaying writing this post because I had hoped to be able to work things out and have more to offer. But I haven't, and as a result, I have temporarily suspended my students' Diigo work until I have time to get to the bottom of the issues.

Our work started out well. We read in class a section of Antigone, and that night, they annotated spots where they saw characters developing moral dilemmas (these dilemmas are our entry point into the play -- we will eventually write compare/contrast essays on modern moral dilemmas and what we can learn from ancient dilemmas -- more on that later!). Here is an example of one of their comment threads (with their typos and all!) on this quote from Antigone to Ismene, "Yes, I'll do my duty to my brother -- / and your as well, if you're not prepared to. / I won't be caught betraying him."

  • I believe that this is an example of a moral delima, Antigone is going against what they king has said in order to honor her brother. She also puts her sister Ismene in a moral delima, Ismene doesnt want to tell anyone that her sister plans on diobeying the king, but her sister says that if she doesnt tell the people that she will hate her even more. Ismene is the one that is faced with the true moral delima, whether to protect her sister, or tell the king.

  • Alex on 2009-11-18

  • Indeed, the moral dilema here is paying respects to Antigone's brother and being stoned, or leaving him to be eaten by birds in the desert. If he was not buried then according to Greek customs he would not be able to cross over into the underworld and have to wander Earth for the remainder of time, the greatest dishonor.

This is only one example of many where they read each other's ideas and built their own thoughts on them. I was thrilled. We started class the next day just skimming the play -- I asked them to notice who had a moral dilemma so far just by looking at where the annotations were. They could SEE that every character so far had some kind of dilemma. We were on a roll ...

Then came that day's work. They were to annotate for character development after our in-class reading. I intended to use these character annotations the next day when they got into acting companies to perform the parts we had read so far -- they would have insight into the characters right there on the play itself. But the wheels came off, and I have not figured out how to get them back on. I was getting email after email as the group manager telling me annotations were being put on, but I could not see them. I got to my first class, and I learned none of them could see them either, even their own annotations. Out of 25 students, only four of them had annotations that could be seen. They were anxious because this was their homework -- I was at least able to assure them that I could tell from the email notices they had done what they were to do.

My tech director, Susan Carter Morgan, and I have been trying to get to the bottom of the issue. Here is what we think we know:
  • The Antigone website I chose is a page that loads slowly, so this might be why it is glitchy. Note to self for future: be sure the site we are working on is fast without Diigo since Diigo does add another layer.
  • Diigo itself seems to be having problems. Susan has Twitter friends who have commented on having annotations disappear this past week. Susan and I have both emailed Diigo directly (in fact, I think Susan has emailed them more than once), but we have gotten no response. I am disappointed by this because if there is not strong customer service, we end up with an insolvable problem.
On the bright side, my history colleague did not have these issues last week. She was able to complete a really neat cross-curricular test with the students using Diigo. They had been learning about Greek culture plus studying primary texts. She told them their test would be annotating for Greek culture on a primary source document. When they got to class, they learned that the primary source was the section of Antigone I had read with them the day before. They made very insightful comments, and even better, all of their comments appeared right away. This was the same day my Diigo group had become totally non-functioning, so she was very relieved hers still worked. Here is an example of one of their cultural connections:

Isabel on 2009-11-18

This is an indirect example of the social inequality of Athenian life. Women did not have a large role in Athenian life outside of the home. Ismene does not know of what is going on in the outside world because her place is in the home, away from the news of the city. Because women were not valued no one has a priority to tell women what is going on.

Great thinking! The history teacher had put the play section onto her class's wiki, so she was not working from the same slow-loading page I was. This could be a great answer for how to use text you really want to use (I like the translation of Antigone that is on this slow page the best) but not have to use the slow page.

So, my students and I will finish reading Antigone without annotating, and that is fine. I hope to be able to truly know what all is going wrong by January when we start our next genre: poetry. Collaborative annotating of poetry has such possibilities! So, I am not giving up, and I will keep you posted.

1 comment:

  1. What about MemCatch ( Allows for the aggregation/webclipping side of things like these other apps, but focuses on the sharing of this knowledge across social networks. It just launched last month, so fairly new to the scene and only web based. But the iPhone app, desktop client (for all platforms), and integration with Twitter, LinkedIn, & Facebook are coming out in the next couple months. It also doesn't stop at web clippings, will soon include: email integration (syncs with emails and lets you flag the ones you want to keep directly to your knowledge base), learning management system integration (for students), and RSS feed integration.

    Peter Sabbagh