Sheila showed me Schmoop today. Silly name, but serious about the business of learning in today’s mobile-wired world. The learning guides (and lots more) are comprehensive and worth a look online. Still, the most exciting thing about this service is there cross-medial committment. Currently, our 10th grade English students are getting ready to study The Great Gatsby (kick off in the LMC with “The Gatsby Files”) and I appreciate the opportunity to brush up on what the kids will be discussing in the classroom. I was able to download a “schmoop” guide to my iPhone and a copy of the guide to my Kindle (for a small fee). The guides are also available in PDF format (free) and for the Nook. This is a great example of getting the tools/media where the kids will “get it”…in their hands, outside of the classroom.
Still, what is with the silly name?
This visual/concept based Wiki strives to “make arguements on all sides of any public debate freely available to all and continuously open to challenge and improvement by all.” More than an interesting application of Web 2.0 technology, this tool actually engages students in the behavior it takes to critically think! The tool would be great for students who want to prepare for debate, forensics, or even classroom discussion. When users “create and reshape debates, make new points, and rate/filter arguements,” a community develops around them that encourages deeper level thinking. As the site notes, this creative commons project promises to
increase the transparency and rigor of public debate everywhere—by making the collective insight and intelligence of the global community freely available to all and filtering out the noise….[enabling] us to visualise and deepen our understanding of the ways in which different debates are semantically interrelated, and ways in which these interrelated debates shape, and are shaped by, each other.