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Mississippi Home to Wiki for Teachers

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 10 Aug 2011 10:44am | comments
"The Water Cycle Rap" from Bill Nye the Science Guy by Discovery

 

Teachers across the country are using a new digital classroom tool, one developed in Mississippi. MPB's Education Reporter, Annie Gilbertson, explains how one Mississippi tech non-profit is helping teachers enter the world of wiki.

Music Intro:

"It all starts with the sun

Evaporated oceans and lakes

We are here to tell you about

Rain, rain"

This is the Water Cycle Rap from the Discovery show Bill Nye the Science Guy.  It's one of tens of thousands of videos already posted on WatchKnowLearn.org (that's know spelled K-N-O-W).

The site allows teachers to post instructional videos, and explain how to use the media in a lesson plan.  WatchKnowLearn CEO Joe Thomas says the idea for his non-profit company is home grown.

Thomas: I’m always going to be proud of the fact that this is a Mississippi-based organization, even though we have users from all over the world.  I think it gives us a launching point.  We want to focus on the Delta. We want to focus on Mississippi. But we can’t keep it a secret much longer.

To help get the word out, Thomas is taking his family on the road where they will live in the WatchKnowLearn motor coach for a year. 

Thomas: “The front of the motor coach is blue and then what really jumps out on the side, what I like is the picture of the kids.  And there is a big WatchKnowLearn logo on the side with our tagline – Educational Videos. Organized.”

While it may sound like Thomas is going the extra mile for WatchKnowLearn, it's because the competition is steep. Most of his competitors are for-profit, which enables them to pay contributors. 

Clinton Jr. High science teacher Jason Woodcock uses similar sites pretty consistently in his classroom. In addition to online video, his students rely on other web-based learning materials as well.

Woodcock: “It’s all inclusive.  It covers everything from magazines to articles to encyclopedia materials, websites.”

WatchKnowLearn is also funded locally.  Claiborne Barksdale of the Barksdale Reading Institute in North Mississippi, explained why his organization chose to back the project.

Barksdale: “There’s a lot of online classroom instruction going on right now. A lot of money, a lot of thought being put into this.  It is an avenue to give everyone access to excellent instruction.”

Barkesdale believes sites like WatchKnowLearn are only part of the equation.  While episodes of Bill Nye can be engaging, Barksdale points out no amount of video is going to ease the shortage of qualified teachers in Mississippi, science or otherwise.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.

Images

"The Water Cycle Rap" from Bill Nye the Science Guy by Discovery


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