Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Tools and the Use of Thinking Skills

Today,Wes Fryer shares his experiences in writing his doctoral thesis using web tools. So, with a little time on my hands I've given Jump Knowledge a try. Here's a sample: (scroll down a bit if you check this out)

Click here to view an annotation of Weblogg-ed

There are other tools that function similarly to Jump Knowledge. One of them is Diigo. I've been using Diigo for a while. I like that I can highlight whole chunks of text then annotate them. I also like that I can go back to my Diigo account to see the chunks with the annotations associated with them. You can then extract the highlights so that you print a page containing your highlighted chunks of text along with the annotations you made. I think this is perfect for student research and for bloggers as well as for creating conversations among groups that you create in Diigo.

Jump Knowledge, on the other hand, seems to only let you print the annotations alone. Without the text that the annotation refers to, I'm not sure how much I might use this tool. If I'm doing research I find it more beneficial to have the original text together with the annotations - for me, this helps to preserve the text and experience based connections that I found while reading.

As I think about writing this blog post, I think about how we use the power of technology for learning. The use of technology is most powerful when we can use the tools to gather and organize the information we need in order to apply thinking skills. While writing this posting, I've used my blog, my email, Jump Knowledge and Diigo but, in order to really improve my learning about these types of tools, I've also used (in this case a very limited) comparison, which is one of the most effective instructional strategies we can use with students and a skill that helps us to process information in order to retain that knowledge for long periods of time. So, it's not just about the tools - it's about the learning that the tools support and the instructional practices we use.

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