What it is: Have you seen Wall-E? Remember the scene when the captain finally starts taking charge and goes to his wall of computers to learn about Earth? He tells his computer to “define Earth” and a wall of images of Earth pop up complete with computer narration. In the definition of Earth he hears about the sea and interrupts the explanation so that he can have the sea defined. This concept of information presentation is a reality…or nearly a reality. There is a new way of information searching called Qwiki. Search using Qwiki and instead of coming up with a list of links to websites, images, and videos, a slide show of images and videos begins complete with computer voice narration. It is truly an incredible experience. Why are we still using textbooks again?
Qwiki is currently in Alpha which means that you have to request an invitation to get the full version of Qwiki, flaws and all. It is worth requesting an invitation; it is jaw dropping! Even without an invitation, you can head over to Qwiki and get an idea of what it does. There are a few preloaded Qwiki searches that you can check out. Qwiki believes that “just because data is stored by machines doesn’t mean it should be presented as a machine-readable list.” Qwiki has transformed the search into a story.
How to integrate Qwiki into your curriculum: Qwiki is limited in its search capabilities right now (in that it won’t necessarily come up with a result for EVERYTHING you want to search), but the current Alpha version of Qwiki gives you more than enough great material to start using it in your classrooms. I have searched everything from mitosis to the solar system to rational numbers to Romeo and Juliet to Shiba Inu to Google and World War 2. Each had fantastic content, images and information. Qwiki is going to revolutionize the way that we search and receive information. The way that it pares a search down into a story is brilliant.
Use Qwiki on classroom computers as part of a center activity, students can dig deeper into science, math, history, geography, or literature using Qwiki to search. Your students can learn more about any topic by searching related topics. Use Qwiki to introduce new concepts to your students using a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard for whole class learning and discussion. Do you have reluctant or struggling readers? Allow them to read along with Qwiki on their favorite topic or subject. Teach older students? Involve them on conversation about the implications of making our searches “more human” while relying on a computer. What could this type of searching mean for Google? Does this type of searching change their views on learning? Does this type of search feel too much like entertainment without offering enough information? What would they change or add to Qwiki?
Tips: Qwiki is currently in Alpha, that means if you would like to access the full version, you will have to request an invite. I got my invite within 5 minutes of requesting. As you run across features that you wish Qwiki had (the ability to slow down the narration, the ability to change voices) be sure to let them know. If you run across glitches, report those. When a product is in Alpha, it gets better and better when people use it and comment on their experience.
What do you think? Are you as bowled over as I am? What implications do you see a tool like Qwiki having for education? How will you use it in your classroom? Leave a comment!