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How can tagging serve to make training and teaching more effective?

Cloud created by:

Nuala Davis
4 April 2011

This cloud is set up to explore ideas surrounding Tagging...some of our intial question are:

  • How does tagging foster the exchange of learning, teaching ideas and design.
  • What makes a good tag?
  • Should tags form a restricted vocabularly?
  • When is it appropriate to tag?

Extra content

For those people unfamiliar with tagging here is an informative starting point provided by JISC.

Dave Martin
21:55 on 4 April 2011

Educause: 7 Things You Should Know about Social Bookmarking

Nuala Davis
17:56 on 5 April 2011

Nuala and others

I find myself still rather undecided about the whole question of tagging, let alone whether it can function in a teaching and learning context. I think i am going to have to wimp out at present, and try to master 'how to' first as an individual teacher and learner.  Then perhaps I will be able to see how it might be used more collaboratively.  I note that your 'Educase' link makes a point of mentioning it in terms of 'teaching and learning' which does rather suggest that this is a 'coming' use.  

Thanks again for your reference to the Educase link.  The  'scenario'  was perhaps the first discussion of tagging/social bookmarking which I have come across which made any kind of sense at all as to why the whole idea might be worthwhile. I recognise that first academic!


deirdre robson
16:15 on 8 April 2011 (Edited 17:54 on 8 April 2011)

Embedded Content


Nuala Davis
7:56pm 4 April 2011 (Edited 9:02pm 4 April 2011)

Do we miss out on the power of tagging for lack of consensus?

As students on this course for example we could tag useful references with an additional key word eg: "H800" but, we would then also need to agree where to store these references, or find some aggregating tool to pull them from the four corners of the cloud-o-sphere.

On Delicious there are a few tags to H800 and some use of #h800 on Twitter, nothing of particular note.

This could provide a neat knowledge inheritance to future cohorts.  Or is that too altruistic?


Stefan Install
9:12pm 4 April 2011

I'm not sure tagging has got much to do with teaching but instead a lot to do with individuals managing their own learning and sharing that with others i.e. social learning.  Tags are ways to rapidly retrieve useful snippets of information from around the web quickly and, through the adoption of common tags, for communities of practice to share those snippets with each other. This isn't teaching but self-directed learning.

Jonathan Vernon
9:44pm 4 April 2011

Not at all, I think people should pay far more attention to tags, for their own sake too. On writing something it doesn't take long to run through it selecting key words, people, events etc: that are relevant. This promotes the content and builds a foxonomy of words that a community of people see as flagging up certain topics. Tagging MAODE, or H800 is a start ... having common ways to say tag an activity would be useful, H800wk8act3 for example ... then across the H800 group, and from previous years (the last two are kept) you can see what others are doing.

errol luders
10:03pm 4 April 2011

I think it is important to observe what we think about the specific social networking site, as soon we see its tags. I think the appealing features of tags are not in the precise percentages of usage in a social online environment, but in the choice of tags, structure, and language.

In an online society , the individual is free to make choices for tagging the information, and any outcomes of these tags can be explained exclusively through the study of his/her ideas and decisions. In addition, we make these choices under circumstances given to us by the structures of the society and its language.

If we try to analyse how tagging can foster the exchange of learning, teaching ideas and design in an online environment, I think it defines the reasons of the online society’s own existence by its choices for information, structure and information. Without such a definition of the online society, exchanging any ideas and design would be very random (or would rely on a search facility such as Google ).

Terry O'Sullivan
12:14pm 5 April 2011

Nuala wrote: On Delicious there are a few tags to H800 and some use of #h800 on Twitter, nothing of particular note.

First of all, thanks for kicking this off Nuala -- I'm only going to contribute to this debate for this activity as I am such a shameless satisficer!

My question is -- Does tagging commit you to imposing on others/receiving from others all the stuff that's been tagged on a particular topic/project or whatever? One of the good things about any kind of filing system is that selection and deletion is involved. Sounds like tagging could overwhelm the user with stuff that isn't actually all that useful (aka 'nothing of particular note' above)

I make this point never having tried it -- so would be interested to hear how more experienced users deal with it.

Nuala Davis
6:47pm 5 April 2011 (Edited 6:50pm 5 April 2011)

Hi Terry, thankfully the answer to your question is no! It's more to do with defining search terms so that, as Stefan says, information can be shared easily among a community.  So, if you are interested in Open Education Resources and the UK JISC project you could could search for posts with the tag ukoer - as Errol points out the languge choice is important.

errol luders
9:27pm 5 April 2011 (Edited 9:30pm 5 April 2011)

 Hi Stef and Jonathan,

I agree with Jonathan's point, because:

Let’s assume that we have following learning outcomes in a module/course for teaching purposes:

1.  Encourage students to “add to”; the body of knowledge in a course and share with each other.

2.  Enhance faculty productivity, discipline searching/sharing, and course resource integration on web.

3.  Improve collaboration for groups, teams, research groups, committees to share and categorise resources.

4.  Increase awareness for individuals/groups in using tagging to easily store, access, collect, share, discover, tag, classify, and sort resources.

I would ask the students to select a subject and discuss it in a discussion forum. Then, I would also direct them to create a group social booking account (i.e. delicious) and populate their online resources in this delicious account collectively. The challenges are as follows:

  • The group must reach an agreement  in the discussion forum and their group account must reflect this agreement in terms online evidence collection
  • They must tag the resources   
  • These tags must reflect the relevant key words for the subject and must be meaningful in the society

 I think this part of the activity might cover most of the outcomes above.

 Moreover, if there is another cohort of students for the same subject, I would ask the new cohort (s) to assess this delicious account so that they can access/assess the previous cohort’s learning.

I think one of the obstacles for discussion boards in university modules/courses (such as H800) is the fact that we cannot access the previous cohorts’ discussion boards or even compare our group learning results with theirs. On the other hand, it might be beneficial to see what kind of resources the other cohorts had created and how they had tagged their information and resources for the subject. During a module, students’ research creates valuable sources of information and I believe such resources can enhance faculty productivity, discipline searching/sharing, and course resource integration for the new cohorts.

I believe social bookmarking can be used for different learning outcomes and tagging can become an effective tool for teaching purposes.

We have tried this activity before in the College, and it works. (Especially if you can not publish previous semesters’ discussion boards and their resources in the new cohort due to IPR and privacy concerns).

Also, if I take it further in FE level of teaching  (not necessarily in HE), I can also say that tagging improves the students computer literacy as well as information literacy. Therefore, it can be used in teaching in FE sector.


Elke StJohn
7:39am 6 April 2011

Thanks to Errol's scenario and the information posted above under 'Extra content' I think I understand tagging now and yes I can see how it can also be used in teaching. However,  I imagine though that it could be almost cumbersome to agree on a certain code, e.g. OER for 'Open Educational Resources' you use capitals. Is it best to always use capitals?

Angela Rizzo
10:00am 6 April 2011

Hi all, nice to be up here eventually...

After reading  Instructions (!)  here's my contribution to How do I create a Unique tag?

Can you let me know what you think about "TAGGING" acronym for

Taxonomizing A Grounded-Gram Insight Neatly Groupable

for our group to use  as our  project identifier?

I Google-checked and "Taxonomizing A Grounded-Gram Insight Neatly Groupable" seems unique enough..


steven greenland
11:30pm 6 April 2011

Hi all

Following on from Terry's earlier point - "Sounds like tagging could overwhelm the user with stuff that isn't actually all that useful" and relating to the question - What makes a good tag?

The source of the tag will be important and might help students from becoming overwhelmed ... On H800 if we all tagged every article that we looked at in relation to assignments, then the key sources would end up hidden in an information haystack.

Applying Collaborative Tagging to E-Learning (Bateman and Brusilovsky 2007) raises questions such as "Do learners prefer expert-created tags"  & "Does the quality of student ... affect the quality or fitness of purpose of a given set of tags?"



Terry O'Sullivan
2:13pm 7 April 2011

In response to Angela -- nice acronym, but I'm not sure what 'Grounded-Gram' means. Sounds intriguing!

On the subject of names for tags, I have to admit that, just as I am a terrible filer in the 'real' world because I have difficulty deciding what to file things under, and so can't find them later on, I think I will have problems with developing meaningful tag names. I have just opened a delicious account so with luck, and practice, I will get the point of this and begin to come up with (or join in with) transparent and appropriate tagging practice. I certainly feel the need for it after this fortnight's emphasis on discovering and compiling web-based resources!

Thanks to Steve for the B & B reference -- is that an article or did they manage to write a book about it!!!???

I think I would probably like to fall into line with expert-created tags (just as in a research project it's good to build on existing theories rather than try to forge completely new ones, in my view) and I am sure that the quality of student would affect the quality of tag (and many other aspects of that student's output) -- though clearly we could debate the nature of 'quality' in this context.

Best wishes,



Debbi Weaver
12:04am 8 April 2011 (Edited 12:04am 8 April 2011)

Phew!  Found you all at last! 

I'm with Stefan on this one - I see tagging (or using Keywords) as an organisational strategy, to help me find things later, rather than a teaching tool.  Mostly, I'm doing this for personal use, so the tags / keywords have to have some personal meaning to me (I sympathise with Terry regarding filing abilitiy!), but generally, the terms I use for myself would be fairly intuitive for others as well, so would work in a group setting.

Why not see for yourself?  I have hardly any bookmarks in Delicious, but I'm sure you can work out what my tags mean:


Angela Rizzo
2:59pm 8 April 2011

I am going to borrow Jonathan's words "This promotes the content and builds a foxonomy of words that a community of people see" to agree on the importance of tagging.

I see  "promoting the content" happening through  an exercise of Reading skills: Skimming, scanning, extensive and intensive reading. Flowing into  the decision making point. Assessment  of whether the decision was correct should be visible through the facility with which infos is then collected by unknown users. Is this what you meant with information literacy, Errol? I very much like the cohort versus cohort! Competition as a tool/resource  fuelling  "creativity" is quite appealing to me!

Stef, I see Tagging  would not be self-directed learning if it was agreed within a tutored group as part of more complex task: i.e. writing an article.

Terry: Grounded-gram.  I played with words a bit here ..Grounded as based on facts. Gram as 1. something written, drawn or otherwise recorded, 2. small unit of measure, 3. played with the idea of  speed, thinking of telegram... 

Steve, when you say as H800 students we could tag all the articles we read we'd end up having a haystack you made me feel as if I missed out something so obviously within reach... As a learner I would prefer to try and decide tags by myself, quality students are every teacher's dream/nightmare!

Elke, I would not know about it anything to do with how capital letters would be seen first simply because they're bigger? a bit like bolding words?

Debbie: will follow your url... after postig this ;-)

Nuala, I'd love to use the inheritable myself before thinking of leaving it for others to use!!! ...Where are the emoticons??!! :-)))))


Roger Adams
5:49pm 9 April 2011


‘The searchable catalogue of the Open University's EPD activities’ reveals the following information when ‘tagging’ is typed into the search function. ‘Metadata is the data we use to describe, structure, process and manage information.’ reading on I find that the OU, have or are engaged in using metadata as a student-facing resource – Unfortunately like many postings this lacks a discrete date. However, all the same it does suggest a step forward in structured self-learning. If, as the OU state in the article, metadata will enhance the sharing of best pedagogic practices. This would create an indexed cause and effect resource which educationalist can both give to and take from effectively. What is apparent is that where there is a large volume of information and ideas, which are not structured, de facto people tend to ignore it based upon how they perceive the benefit against the effort to search. So perhaps ‘tagging’ is more of a social interface tool, where as metadata may be the pedagogic ‘tagging’ tool?



Whitelaw, L., and Potter, L. ‘Learn about Metadata’ The searchable catalogue of the Open University's EPD activities Available online

Daniela Signor
7:23am 12 April 2011

I am still investigating tagging and how it can be used best for educational purposes, but I thought I would add a resource site for a software that can assist.

Diigo -

A software that allows you to bookmark your sites with tags, that can then be shared with others if you choose.


Angela Rizzo
3:35pm 11 May 2011

Hi all,

just having a pre TMAO2  tour of the on line tools, no sign of further will blogging end up the same?


errol luders
12:19am 18 May 2011

Hi Angela,

I dont think blogging will end up the same, since the varying uses of blogs  as added value will keep it going


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