Teaching with Zotero Groups


I searched and found a few old threads about Zotero in the Tech Forum, but they are mostly about installation and related issues---all useful, of course, but I thought it might be time to start a thread in this forum for those of us using Zotero in the classroom.  It would be great to share tips, tricks, links, and problems.

For the past year I've been promoting Zotero in my classes, but not requiring its use, mostly because I am still learning how it works myself (longtime endnote user). Around twenty students in the last year did adopt it and reported to me how much it helped them structure their research projects, keep track of all their notes and ideas, and format citations.

This spring I am teaching a seminar (12 seniors enrolled) for which I will require them to use Zotero (either installed in their Firefox browser or as the standalone version), and they must register with the site and join a private group I started last spring for any students in my college who want to join.  The class subject is simultaneously focused and broad: the history of non-western flax-fiber basketweaving, so they all will do their projects (both a paper and a technical presentation) about flax-fiber basketweaving, but in drastically different cultural and historical contexts.

Right now I am trying to sort out how to structure/assess the level of sharing and collaboration between students for the annotated bibliography assignment. They are likely to use just a few of the same resources, with many more that are specific to their own project. My objective is to create a very visible pool of resources and material that everyone can feel comfortable sharing, though I'll confess a bit of anxiety about keeping the boundaries between the students' contributions clear.

Has anyone incorporated student collaboration through Zotero? Are there basic considerations to keep in mind when creating an open, collaborative environment?

I haven't done this, but am bookmarking the thread for updates.

Just thought I'd post an update.

Before spring term began, I was able to meet with several librarians and get them on board with at least considering the inclusion of Zotero as part of our libraries' supported platforms in the future. A few of them had already been working towards this anyway, so I have some good allies in this project.

I was able to procure a library classroom, so we have a seminar-style set-up, with wifi and projector. All of the students have a laptop and, as directed via early email, arrived with firefox and zotero installed. Two students had incompatibility problems: Mac OS 10.5 does not support the latest Firefox, which is required for the Zotero add-on. I have been in touch with our IT office to help them upgrade their systems affordably.

My objective in the course is for students to share their working bibliographies eventually via Zotero Groups. However, I think the groups functionality is a bit too complex for them to absorb at the beginning, while they are learning the basics about how Zotero itself works. Thus, I have scheduled their advancement through the features in stages:

-week 1: installation, registering with the site so they can sync (i.e.backup); adding items to their library
-week 2: building libraries of references, organizing collections, using tags
-week 3: printing bibliographies, citation styles, annotations
-week 4: join the Course Group
-week 5: share a preliminary bibliography

Class meets twice a week for 1 1/2 hours, and we will spend the first 20 minutes or so discussing practical research tools and methods, alongside Zotero demos/explanations and troubleshooting. The remainder of time will be for their discussion of the material. Admittedly, I have cut back on course content to make room for all of this, but I think (I hope!) that it will be worthwhile in the end.  Will report back in a few weeks.

Has anyone else tried Zotero yet?

I use Zotero at the graduate level. Basically, students just send and swap Zotero libraries using the import and export features.

I have students upload to the master database one by one on a workshop day. Students must check/verify the complete citation needed for correct APA style, provide the doi or stable url, and the note must indicate the type of note first: Abstract, Summary, Results/Findings, Variables and their Definitions, Quote.


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