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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


We frequently receive e-mails from different companies that are doing something new or interesting in the digital course materials space. A while back, I received one such message from a website called Shmoop.com. The site offers homework/study tools (for free) to students for subjects such as history and literature. The site’s intent is to make learning more fun and relevant for students in the digital environment. From Beowulf and Shakespeare, to Twilight, they offer students summaries, analysis, and interactive tools to help students with homework and better relate to history, literature, and poetry. The site is still in beta, but shows promise. The combination of social networking with content that is written and vetted by field experts should provide both interest and credibility. I have not had a chance yet to compare their capabilities to some of the other “study guide” companies out there. This type of interactive learning is increasingly common though, and part of what many major textbook providers are attempting to develop – tools that engage students in the content matter, and that are interactive – moving beyond simple text. I do not know that Shmoop is all that new, per se, in terms of capability or approach, but they are a good example of where some learning tools are headed now and in the near-term future from a digital perspective.

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