We’ve heard it so many times that it’s become cliché: The power of the internet, limitless information at our fingertips, etc. Now the danger is getting lost in a sea of too much information. A new service called Qwiki understands this and seeks not to provide more information, but to present it in a more compelling way.
Like any web reference, Qwiki begins with a search box on its main page. But instead of an article on a topic, Qwiki offers what it calls an “information experience.” The topic is explained by an automated voice while pictures, maps, and statistics appear to complement the spoken facts. It’s a revolutionary approach and I found myself more engaged in a topic by watching it on Qwiki than by researching it traditionally.
There are, however, a few things educators should know before diving in. First and foremost, Qwiki is only in its alpha release, which means it’s incomplete and possibly full of errors. You should also be aware that Qwiki’s main source is Wikipedia. The information read by the smooth voice comes directly from a topic’s Wikipedia article, as do most of the pictures.
In a school setting Qwiki would be appropriate for giving a brief introduction to a topic rather than for serious research. It could also serve as a great example of effective multimedia. Despite its current limitations, Qwiki is a promising project and could very well represent “the future of information” as its founders claim.