A Flashlight for Learning

We’re constantly meeting with potential partners and one of the things we hear pretty consistently is the need for tools that aid learning, not education.  This is not semantic; there are fundamental differences in the way we design and build curriculum and the tools to support that content.

Education tools are designed for a fixed universe of content to be consumed in specific sequence.  It’s an active experience for the presenter, passive for the student or employee.  Think universities and traditional LMS tools. 

Learning supports self-directed consumption that is active for the student and requires an entirely new set of tools.  Syllabi and textbooks give way to a much more fluid toolbox.  That’s really where we focus at Sailminder and the inspiration for our Flashlight feature rolling out next week.

 Those who have seen our demo know we’ve developed a way to take web content saved by a user and assign each piece an “address” using a neural network inspired self-organizing map.  This gives us a landscape of neighborhoods made up of clusters of content.  

These clusters are key for researches as they work in teams to browse the web, discover content, and build a customized curriculum.  Imagining, then, looking down on this landscape of documents comprised of new articles, blog posts, scholarly articles, etc.  

Flashlight now gives users the ability the control the field of vision by widening or narrowing the beam or radius of relevant content.  Novices may want only the core central documents related to a topic while experts may want to expand the beam and see a broader collection of documents.

 Flashlight gives you control to determine what you discover and learn.  

 Stay tuned for more as we roll out this latest feature.