Turned onto Trailfire by Dr. Kevin Oliver at NC State University, I have come to really like Trailfire as more than just bookmarking.  Intended to be used as a social bookmarking site, Trailfire allows you to collect bookmarks into a category, or "trail."  The trail is then linked linearly with navigation buttons.  You can include comments or annotation on each of the Web pages that are part of your trail. 

For me, this was a great opportunity for preservice teachers to create a self-instructional unit for students to follow.  A teacher collect a series of Web sites to be included in her trail.  Then the annotations are instruction and directions to the student.  These annotations may include critical thinking questions, notes to pay particular attention to a diagram or animation or directions to perform a task as a result of visiting the page, such as create a list or summarize a statement.

Another reason I really like Trailfire is its ease.  Students have real success with using Trailfire, and I don't have to spend a lot of time teaching them how to use it.  The support on the site is straightforward and well done. I find "it just works."  I also find because it just works, the emphasis then becomes on locating the best sources of information possible and not on learning the tool.  Another emphasis is placed on creating instruction that is meaningful and age appropriate. 

At my Jumptags, I have bookmarked a number of examples of student products created with Trailfire.  I've also located a great trail about how to use Trailfire that was created by aprilpc as part of her presentation for the K12 Online Conference.  Here's a few for you to peruse:
    • Magnetic Materials by George Richardson
    • Native Americans by Kimberly Boyd
    • World Religions by Lauren Weber

Have you used Trailfire?  If so, how?  What do you like about it?  What would you like to see improved? Here's a short tutorial on how to use Trailfire.