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Tuesday Two.Oh! A Tool for Students of Science and Math

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Two.Oh! is not meant as an endorsement, but as an exploration of the tools that are out there. Click at your own risk. :)

Hello!  My name is Emily Brown, and I’m a Reference and Instruction Librarian for the University of Central Oklahoma.  I have the privilege of being the 2011 COIL Chair.  Participating in the revival of the COIL Blog is an honor- I’m excited to be a part of it.
Years ago, when I had more time (*sigh*), I did a weekly blog entitled brownez @ the library.  On brownez I liked to highlight 2.0 tools- and that’s what I plan to do for the COIL blog.  I hope you enjoy!

Today on Tuesday Two.Oh! we’re going to be taking a look at a tool that lets you design, edit and rearrange science and math notes.  This tool is geared towards students, teachers and organization.  This might be a stretch for those of us in library instruction- but it’s an interesting tool that has a lot of potential.  Let’s take a look at Knotebooks!

From the site: “Knotebooks is a unique approach to the open educational resource (OER) movement, providing users with the tools to create, collaborate on and share customized, self-guided physics lessons. Whether you are a student, teacher, professional or self-learner, we think you’ll really enjoy being a part of this burgeoning educational community.”

I had to think a lot about what e-tool I would highlight for my first Tuesday Two.Oh! in….calculating…..13 months (wow!).  I settled on Knotebooks because it seems like an interesting site with a whole lot of potential- and even though I am as far as you can get from a math or science geek, I thought it would be a good site to look at.

First off, the homepage is sort of plain.  There’s a sort of step 1, 2, 3 on the homepage that gives you an intro to what the site is all about.  Essentially they’re saying you can 1. Search (for content), 2. Remix (for your comfort level) and 3. Share (with other science and math loving peoples).

Fantastic.  Let’s begin!

(Just a quick note: I did a search for “astrophysics:” nothing.  The site is still amassing information).

A simple search is all it really takes to get started on this site- however you find out very soon how limited the site is on in-depth information.

So, we did a search for “chemistry.”  You end up with a results page that lists the results on the center-right and “popular topics” on the left.  You can click on anything you want to get to the actual lesson.

The lessons themselves have two basic components.  The menu bar to the left, and the actual meat of the lesson on the right.  The menu bar contains an abstract, a table of contents and links to references and comments.  Here’s what it looks like if we looked at the lesson on storms:

A user on Knotebook is able to use the drop down boxes to change the content to something simpler or something more advanced.

A user can then dictate the level of their lesson.  The interesting thing is here, in both the Storms lesson and another I randomly opened, there wasn’t enough content to change it to something simpler OR something harder.  So, I’m not really sure what the feature really does for a user at this point.

Here’s a peek at the left menu.

Now, I did find some lessons that had been heavily updated with all sorts of information.  Complete with a lecture video, this is where you can start to see the potential of the site.

I really don’t know how I feel about this site as a whole at this point.  It seems unfinished, and the tools that are advertised as the cutting edge just really don’t seem to work all that well as of yet.  I think that, with time, this site could be a really interesting way for student to find their own comfort level with scientific material.  I also think that this idea is novel and I’ve never seen anything like it- so, I think this one is sort of a wait-and-see tool.  But, I urge you to check it out and see what you think for yourselves!

As always, you comments are more than welcome!

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