“The H2O project is building an interlocking collection of communities based on the free creation and exchange of ideas.”
seems to be all the rage these days in Boston. It is somewhat predictable that the most effective electronic learning enhancement systems have been embarrassingly simplistic. For example, I used Mark Guzdial's SWIKI
down at Georgia Tech
and found it pretty effective despite the fact that it basically consists of a text area for changing the text on a web page (backed by RCS so that you can remove the occasional “I 0wn j00” comment). It turns out that the simplicity and lack of form in the discussion prompts a learner to organize his/her thoughts, which results in a process like textual mind mapping
. This depresses the software developer in me who insists that a decision tree should be somewhere in the mix.
Of course, the MIT open courseware project is something slightly different, a repository of course materials. I'm sure it is backed with a tool (or human resource) for entering all that information without having professors working in HTML. Which is a good thing, trust me (the color spectrum is richer than cyan and magenta). I suspect projects like this will eventually be the death of the print encyclopedia market. Where I once grabbed an encyclopedia to figure out where to find information on a topic, I now google (so far copyright law permits