Digital Research Tools: Diigo Reviewed

The Education Techie reviews tech tools that can help students and teachers. This week, the Techie is taking a look at online research tools. Today's review: Diigo.

diigo logo

What Is It?

Most of the actions you take with Diigo can be initiated or completed in your web browser. The three main functions of the program are bookmarking, highlighting, and noting with 'sticky notes.' You can install a Diigo toolbar in Firefox and Internet Explorer, and a Diigo extension for Chrome. These options both allow a lot of functionality - you can perform many of the program's functions with the toolbar or extension. If you don't have any of those browsers, you can drop the Diigolet bookmark in your bookmarks toolbar, allowing you to bookmark sites. There are also mobile apps for Andriod and iOS devices.

When you bookmark something, you can tag it so it will be grouped with similar articles, or other pages you will need for a specific project. If you aren't going to be using or reading the page at the moment of bookmarking, you can mark it to be read later. You can also archive websites in their current form, in case they change and information you need is altered. Though you can share your bookmarks, either with other Diigo users or through Twitter, you can also opt to keep them private.

Highlighting allows users to mark certain parts of digital text - on a webpage, for example - in much the same way that a traditional highlighter works. You choose from several colors, so you can make different kinds of highlights on one page. With sticky notes, you can add your own thoughts and information to whatever page you're looking at. There are several other little tools that users can take advantage of, but I think these are probably the most relevant for academic uses.

Diigo also has networking and collaboration capabilities. You can share your bookmarks and notes with other users. This could be useful for a class project or other collaborative academic situations.

What Are Its Pros and Cons?

Unlike some of the other research tools I looked at, Diigo is cloud-based, so you don't need to worry about syncing the program on different devices. Whatever you save while using one device will automatically show up in your account in another, because everything is stored in one place. I think Diigo is also one of the more versatile programs I looked at. It's available across a wide range of operating systems and is compatible with most major browsers, like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari.

In addition to being available to a wide range of users, I think the program itself has some of the most creative and handy tools. I like its visual notation options. Instead of just attaching a note to something, you can physically mark it, not only with highlights and sticky notes, but with notations in different shapes and colors. Diigo is also simple to use, and the site has plenty of video tutorials and written help.

The major drawback here is that Diigo's premium features aren't free, and the free version offers limited usage. One of the coolest things about this program, though, is that there is a version available to K-12 teachers and college professors. This version provides education-specific upgrades, like the ability to create a Diigo account for a class. This enables the teacher to make accounts for each student, and in turn, students can share information with each other. Special privacy and ad-filtering considerations are made for educator accounts.

This is the fourth review in a series about academic research tools. Previously, the Techie reviewed Dropbox, Mendeley and Zotero. Stay tuned for more of these reviews this week!

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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