News

New this fall: Free, popular digital tools

By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor, @eSN_Meris
September 24th, 2013

A new global tool expands “brains,” and PBS offers free digital tools

tools-digital-wiki-brains

A new beta tool called Wikibrains is making global waves among innovative students as it encourages out-of-the-box thinking. The online, digital brainstorming platform lets users connect with ideas from around the world on specific topics.

For instance, type in the word “literacy” and the map takes you to multiple topics related to literacy, such as “new literacies,” “Common Core,” and “Unesco Confucius prize for literacy.” After choosing “digital literacy,” the tool then takes you to more ideas specifically on digital literacy, such as the “digital divide.”

Throughout the process, Wikibrains suggests relevant and current articles and videos that go along with the topic—resources chosen by other users around the world interested in the same topic.

Other examples for “digital literacy” include everything from the Wikipedia definition to Cornell University’s digital literacy resources. The company is also working with the Harvard Library to make its online resources available to users.

The mission, according to Wikibrains, is to create an “online brain that will spark creativity and out-of-the-box thinking through collaboration.” Their “larger goal is to promote multi-cultural understanding for an abundant future.”

So far, the brainstorming platform has 100,000 contributions from 10,000 active students since its launch in January 2013. The company is intent on helping students with research assignments, and is currently doing a pilot with Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, where students are using WikiBrains for a course on digital innovation in education.

“Every topical association is based on what other students have looked at,” said co-founder and CEO, Jishai Evers. “As a result, interesting connections may arise. A search for ‘Middle East,’ he says, can return connections to topics as diverse as falafels and the Yom Kippur War.”

Co-founder Leon Markovitz  explained to edSurge that Wikibrains—currently in beta—wants to create a “dynamic meeting point where creative minds find, share, and collaborate on the topics they care about… Every mind has different perspectives and views, and we leverage it for the collective benefit.” He added that “as more mind maps are added, the platform uses ‘a smart data structure to provide a growing database of semantically linked information and knowledge.’”

(Next page: An example of digital literacy resources)