Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Journal, Track and Visualize Search

Last week at Alan November's very fabulous BLC12 conference in Boston, I listened to Mike Pennington and Garth Holman in a session about designing 21st century assignments.  They absolutely rocked!  When a 'false' fire alarm went off instructing patrons to leave the hotel, nobody moved and audible groans were heard not because of the inconvenience of the alarm but because session participants were so completely engaged, no one wanted to leave their seats.  We learned about how their students have collaborated on a wiki to write their own textbook.  (I had heard Alan November interview them two years earlier about this and since then, they have grown and become even more dynamic.)  The curious thing is that these incredible teachers are not in the same school.  They collaborate from a distance with an ever-present skype camera always turned on so that students in either class can see what is happening in the other class.  Thanks to their generosity and ethic of sharing,  you can look at their slide deck and resources here.

Among the great resources they shared was this gem: Instagrok - a search engine that records your search, provides interactive multi-media content and a visual interface so students can see what  ideas are connected to their search query, much like Google's extinct Wonder Wheel.

Students can adjust the level of difficult of the search by adjusting this small scale. 

Teachers can choose from a variety of multi-media resources and use the quizzes Instagrok offers to check prior knowledge before beginning research.  

I can hardly wait to try it out with my students!  From an initial encounter, I think the journal feature is what I will value most.  Instagrok keep a journal of the search and students can share their search results with classmates, archive it for themselves or even present it as evidence of learning for the teacher.  This looks like a keeper to me.  

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