As part of our Computer Science portfolio, my students had to analyze a Web 2.0 app. There are several exciting new (free) services out there that can really help students.
The first one I want to bring to your attention is studybuddy.info. If you have a student who is struggling with SAT words, this is where to send them.
One of my students reviewed this in her portfolio and she simply did an incredible job. She did a great job reviewing the site, so I suggest you read her whole review. In her review, Kyli writes:
Goodbye paper notecards! Studybuddy offers an easy and effective way to study without the use of paper notecards. It also offers a way to test yourself using “notecards.”
To begin you have stacks, which are stacks of virtual notecards. You can create as many stacks as you need. To add notecards to the stack you click on the stack name, and then click on new card. When you click to create a note card, you then go to the card editor. The card editor allows you to create a notecard by typing a question and answer. Once you have made all your notecards, studybuddy provides a variety of ways to test yourself.
They include the review mode, the classic mode, the printable mode, the direct answer mode, and the multiple choice mode. The review mode is good for reviewing or farmiliarizing yourself with the information. The classic mode displays you the question and then requires you to “flip” the card, revealing the anwser. The Printable mode allows you to print your note cards. The Direct Answer mode displays you the question and requires you to type in the anwser. The Multiple Choice mode displays the question, and then provides four possible anwsers for you to choose from.
With all these options learning the information should be easy, but Studybuddy still offers you 8 reasons to use their virtual notecards.
Intuitive Learning and Analysis
I am so impressed at her and the other student's abilities to analyze, review, and understand new technology. It is vital that they learn how to become intuitive learners. Notice that I did not “show” her how to use this website. She selected it from a list that I approved. Then, she had to set it up, use it, and analyze it.
It is so important in computers that we move away from scripting all of the answers and clicks and that we direct students to learn and teach themselves. I am very impressed with the outcome of this method of teaching and know that I have covered the subject more thoroughly than in my prior years of covering computer science. The use of wikis and blogs to discuss, summarize, and synthesize information is a very powerful tool.
No more “black hole” of post-grade assignments
The most exciting thing is that now, Kyli's hard work can benefit students around the world. No longer is knowledge lost in a knowledge “black hole” of already graded assignments. This work continues to exist and can be updated by others as more information comes to light!
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I’m amazed of these innovative teaching practices. Finally something that fits with our new reality.
Regarding the “black hole”: This is essential. A gigantic amount of knowledge and unique viewpoints is being trown away each day. If instead this would be posted online, this could be a catalyst for learning. It will also give lots of data for studying how students learn, develop their opinions, etc. Also, I don’t think adults neccesarily have a ‘better’ understanding of topics than children, especially on technology topics.
I think the real challenge is to make the information not only public, but also findable, connected to other stuff. Maybe you can teach your students tagging their posts and social bookmarking?
They have learned about folksonomy, tagging, and many of them do have social bookmarking accounts. As for a meaningful uniform methodology of bookmarking, we’re not there yet. I believe the 8th graders that have been introduced to blogging this year will certainly make it. I find that as we create a knowledge base in our students that we have to build on it.
We’ve just mastered wikis and blogs and we will be moving to the next step.
Class blogmeister automatically creates tag clouds for each post so we don’t have to necessarily teach tagging in that environment. Think.com doesn’t let them do it.
I have given those that blog in the “regular blogosphere” my post on 10 habits of bloggers that win and they are moving through that.
The folks at StudyTag.com have many of the same features as StudyBuddy but have taken a much more aggressive approach to the Web 2.0 side of the equation. You may want to check them out. Note how you can earn “trophies” that are displayed in a “trophy room.” Very cute. I’ve used StudyTag to learn all of the US Presidents!
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