I’m working with some colleagues to think about the design of a unique summer learning institute for 6th graders. One of the ideas on the table is to structure the institute around scientific thinking. The kids would spend the summer investigating “how to do things” and reporting in various ways on what they’ve learned to different — and authentic — audiences.
When I read this idea, I immediately thought of Google’s Knol — a very cool repository of multimedia “how to” articles. When I went to the site, however, I discovered that Knol, which never made it out of Beta, is being discontinued this spring. Bummer. It’s not that I went there often, but I certainly did appreciate it as a resource when I was wondering about something. Plus, I found its potential as a place where students could publish precisely this kind of thing — what they had learned about how to do something — really compelling.
Knol isn’t going away entirely — it is being replaced by Annotum — which, so far as I can tell is a WordPress-based platform for the publication of scholarly articles. Ostensibly, Annotum builds specific formatting features into WordPress so that researchers can easily publish their articles immediately to the Web. It also permits co-authoring. Hmmm…
For my own purposes, this is certainly an application I’ll be exploring in the coming months. I’ll miss Knol, however, when it’s gone.