I first stumbled on to Zotero when we did our group Digital Divide project, but didn’t truly understand the depth of its abilities. So when this project came up I was totally stoked!
This week we really delved into Zotero. For those of you wondering just what Zotero is, it is an awesome Open Source application that becomes your personal research assistant. It captures all things digital from online PDF documents to audio files. It allows you to upload files from your computer, or save documents from the Internet, and then generates formatted citations. Best yet….Zotero goes wherever you go. In this aspect it is similar to Google Documents, but its purpose is as a research tool, not a filing cabinet or productivity suite. If you want you may also download an app for your Mozilla browser and for your word processor. These applications sync with your Zotero account online, so your information is read and waiting wherever you are.
For Week 9 I choose to find articles on Open Source Software in education, not realizing that just about every application I was using was open source: my browser – Mozilla, Learning Management System – Moodle, search engine – Google, citation generator -Zotero, and since I was using my laptop and not my desktop my word processor – Libre Office. As I found more and more articles, and really started reading them, I was amazed at how many open source applications are out there, and the impact they have on education.
For Week 10 we used another component of Zotero – the group library. This feature allows multiple users to share information in a group folder. Since Zotero has a note option, group members can not only view the documents and notes contributed by the other users, they can add to them. It simplifies research collaboration. If you want to see what our group has come up with, go check out our library: https://www.zotero.org/groups/edtech_501-4173_spring_2012
In the future I can see using Zotero not just for this graduate program, but in my professional and personal life as well. I have already shown several colleagues this amazing tool. I think that students will really benefit from this application, especially since our servers are not set up to have individualized student logins or server space. By having students use Zotero, they will have all of their research information with them wherever they have Internet connectivity. They will no longer be chained to a specific computer, or be at the mercy of the computer’s hard drive and other students users.