Where is consuming information in an interactive and engaging way most important? School.
I’ve encouraged some of my teachers to use Qwiki in the classroom, and the results were quite incredible. For example, my history class was learning about the origins of World War II, and someone asked where exactly the Rhineland was. My teacher went to a map on the wall, but I suggested he try out Qwiki. He typed it in, and in about a minute everybody in the classroom had a better idea of where the Rhineland is and what its significance was than my teacher could have ever explained (and he’s a good teacher).
We had also been discussing the significance of the Ruhr area, and this was also mentioned in the Qwiki for Rhineland. So after we had finished watching that Qwiki, we clicked on the related link for Ruhr, and watched this.
It was just incredible. Everyone in the class was watching with interest, and then suggesting related Qwikis that we should watch. I’ve never seen a situation like this before in a classroom, where suddenly students felt empowered to take control of what we learn, and how we learn it.
But it’s more than that: everyone in the class realized that they could go home and watch the Qwikis for anything they’ve ever wanted to know about. It’s so different to the passive experience of Google, where to really get an understanding of a topic you need to click on a few links and then search through those pages to find what you want. A Wikipedia entry has a lot of information, but it’s not put into a format where you can get an understanding of something in minimal time, in an interactive and engaging way.
People have been saying that Qwiki just takes paragraphs of Wikipedia, adds images and a voice on top, and then plays it to you. And yeah, that does seem to be what it does. But that’s incredibly powerful to a student. You can learn in a fast and effective way that helps you engage with what you’re learning. On top of that, Qwiki has said that they are going to be taking suggestions from people for better content – so the “wiki” part of it will start coming into play.
If I were Qwiki, I would stress the educational uses of their platform because I think that’s where they’ll see the most success. This is something new to students, and Qwiki has the first mover advantage. In any case, it’s sure helping me and the other students I’ve seen use it.