Be Yourself - Stand Out with Edutagger
Feb 14, 2008
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Judy O'Connell points today to edutagger, a social bookmarking service intended for K-12 teachers. She doesn't cite her source (tsk tsk) but it could be Marian Thacher or Tech4Teachers, which cites from an unreferenced announcement by founder Mark Schumann from the MITIE usergroup (the MITIE links provided here are unresponsive). But I didn't know this when I read the O'Connell post; it sends me only to the edutagger site itself, which aroused my curiosity by not containing any information about the site's owners or motivations.


A whois lookup led me to Mark Schumann, which in turn led me to the other sites. It also led me to Schumann's extensive campaign to publicize the site, which included announcements at the Moodle Forum, TeacherFocus, and Academic Commons, as well as word-of-mouth on 4teachers, Jaiku and Twitter.


Of course, sites like this for educators have been launched before, such as edbloggernews, which essentially collapsed into a pit of irrelevance. Another recent initiative is edtags, which is a Harvard research project. You can follow the edtags blog to keep up. More here.


The difficulty with such sites is that it's very hard to keep them focused on education. They are quickly overwhelmed by advertising or politics or whatever. And so I discovered as I tried to track down Mark Schumann. His home page is a set of recent edutagger links, but these are links to some very questionable search topics (content warning!!). I think that if edutagger wants to serve the K-12 market, it needs to keep a much closer watch on its own content and to be much more forthcoming about its ownership and intentions. Total: 18
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Comments

Re: Be Yourself - Stand Out with Edutagger

Lord, you are right Stephen. Late night blogging, and for the first time I missed this. Going back to correct this immediately. Thanks for the reminder. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Be Yourself - Stand Out with Edutagger

Hi Stephen, it's Mark Schumann here. I'd just like to comment on your feedback, you raise some interesting and valuable concerns.

Edutagger was actually released very late last year using the open source software known as "Scuttle", which is very similar to del.icio.us in its design and implementation. Unfortunately, Scuttle was underdeveloped and could be very easily controlled by spammers. In fact, Edutagger was overwhelmed by spammers within a week of it becoming available, and it forced me to shut it down and look at other options. Edtags is in fact a heavy modification of Scuttle, with some further spamming protection.

As a result, over the Christmas period I redeveloped Edutagger and based it on "Pligg", another open source product with similarities closer to Digg.com. The advantage of this was that it was much easier to control spam, and "bad" links did not make the front page unless the userbase wanted them to. So long as the community is focussed on K-12 education, those sorts of links will never make it to the front page, and can be "buried" (just like Digg) by users who see them as spam. It's so much easier to manage, and the content is much more user-friendly now.

As for markschumann.com, I had completely forgotten about that, thanks for pointing it out. I actually just use it to host my email, but must have installed an old version of edutagger (using Scuttle) for testing. As you can see, it's been completely overwhelmed by spammers. I'll certainly be removing that asap.

Thanks again for your comments, please contact me if there's any other clarifications or questions you may have. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Be Yourself - Stand Out with Edutagger

Mark here again, the best way to contact me is via the Edutagger contact form, or email me at mschumann at gmail.com. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Be Yourself - Stand Out with Edutagger

I heard about it in an email from Mark, so I did not have to do all the research. Just have not been quite as fast to blog about it. [Comment] [Permalink]



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