What is all this about a BioBook learning system for the iPad?

We use wikipedia a lot to get a quick answer about a system or place a client name drops. It’s a great resource because it is maintained by people around the world and is updated as soon as anything changes around that same world. For good or bad, it is best suited to us, the street user. For education purposes, it is just a resource tool that has gotten a few folks in trouble if the information isn’t perfect. Also, the sharing of information is more of a bulk overview with high detail as available. It is a collaboration but not as a student needs.

The BioBook program is a similar gathering of information but it is geared completely towards educating. The information is assembled through content written by students and made available through a common database.

Students do not access the information like a book, where information is layer out end-to-end. Instead, think of it as an outline you created, where there are branches and leaves spreading out from the core in many different directions.

Part of why you are hearing about it now is because the Gates Foundation gave Odigia a $249,000 grant to further the system’s common database. The system uses the open source Moodle (Web based learning management system) that has a history with teachers creating online lessons. The actual ‘BioBook’ resides on the student’s iPads, notebooks and desktop computers.

Students throughout the year add content which is associated with other content called Connection Nodes. All of which is shared across all that can access the system. A student can ask a question or let the system ‘guide’ them through the many branches of a subject. “Proving non-linear, collaborative interaction increases both learning and student engagement.”

We where excited about this as we too saw the need and the vision of a very similar system based on data grouping and relationships to guide students to a final answer. Rather than just handing out solutions and answers, the thought was to build a person’s observation and research abilities by opening the doors but not pointing at the finish line.

For more info on the BioBook, visit Wake Forest University’s post on BioBook – etext evolved.

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