VirtuKnowHow: Blooks, JetPaks & Pod Squads for Education

Whether via Blooks, JetPaks or Pod squads, increasing numbers of people and networks of the like-minded are getting a handle on the nearly limitless capacities of the virtual world. These products, unlike past generations of less collaborative tools, do more than just allow users to view cyber space. They actually package and direct the knowledge of the vast unknown in readily understandable capsules of knowledge.

In their own way, each of these gathers together large and small elements of information by the common factors associated with their substance. As such, if you wanted to know about the subject of dictionaries, for example, you no longer needed to Google the word and review 43,700,000 hits to understand the breadth of your interest-particularly if you have a 2-page homework assignment due in about 3 hours.

JETPAKS DO RUSSIAN: If your search hits upon a JetPak, one successful click can show you a package of information of definitions, active links to an unlimited number of specific examples, words of wisdom from other seekers of the same knowledge, and even images of what versions of the leading reference resource covers look like-so you can judge the books by their cover if you want to. A JetPak of Russian Dictionaries at, for example, includes five active links to various versions of printed and online books, notes on these and other resources and graphic representations of a Russian keyboard and a scanned sheet showing actual penmanship.

BLOOKs & BLOGS: For those into more interactive understandings, Blooks can connect you in even more democratic ways. A blook can be either a book serialized on a blog site, or more commonly these days, a printed book whose content originated on a blog and grew accordingly with direction from the masses. The first such book of this type is thought to be one published by Tony Pierce (entitled Blook), following the coining of the term by Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine for an entry in Wikipedia. The full scope and potential of these products are only now beginning to be understood and appreciated, as shall be explored in later postings here., a self-publishing site of some acclaim, is credited with being one of the earliest sites to invite authors and wannabe authors to explore these domains. They are currently including them in their list of interesting gifts for the holiday seasons.

EDUCASTING: The concept of EduCasting, however, is not so new and has found a home among digitally comfortable educators. It is seen as a way of posting for students (formally enrolled or extracurricular learners) such useful tools as actual class assignment materials, recordings of lectures, background materials, reaction pieces, Web addresses and links and even substantially more advanced investigations of topics that may be too broad (or too controversial) to use in a school classroom setting.

Http:// is one of the recognized leaders and thinkers in this area. On her site she also quotes others who are exploring the concept. Once such person is Steve Sloan ( who proffers these ideas for exploration:

�· for distance learning
�· to facilitate self-paced learning
�· for re-mediation of slower learners
�· to allow faculty to offer advanced and or highly motivated learners extra content
�· for helping students with reading and/or other disabilities
�· for multi-lingual education
�· to provide the ability for educators to feature guest speakers from remote locations
�· to allow guest speakers the ability to present once to many sections and classes
�· to allow educators to escape the tedium of lecturing
�· to offer a richer learning environment

Future versions of VirtuKnowHow will delve into this challenge as we seek to find ways to put these kinds of tools into action. Please send your suggestions to

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