A new program created by WebCT founder Murray Goldberg may find its way onto Mount Royal computers in the near future. Goldberg’s WebCT software was bought out in 2006 by Blackboard, the program either loved or loathed by Mount Royal students and staff.
Brainify allows students to search the web for information pertaining to different courses with more detail than a search engine like Google as well as communicating with one another.
Mount Royal’s manager of technology services Dwight Lemky said Brainify is much like Google but, “given that it was just announced last month, it may take awhile to get up and fully operating like a Google.”
He added, “I think the concept is great but Mount Royal has so many diverse academic departments, each of the areas will currently have their specific Listserv, Wikipedia, Google locations that a single site like Brainify may not have collect all of the data about a specific subject area (yet).
“My first thought is that it sounds pretty good,” said Diana Fletcher, lead biology instructor, continuing education at Mount Royal.
“It sounds like a good way to set up global communication and some good networking for students.”
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Todd Nickle of Mount Royal’s Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences also added his thoughts on Brainify’s potential. “Anything that encourages investigation and reflection on the discipline is welcome,” he said.
“I’m not sure it will prove to be particularly efficient or useful, but for what it’s worth, I thought the same thing about Facebook.” While there is agreement Brainify would have its positives there’s also agreement on some potential negatives.
“I guess the points that would make me hesitate would include worrying that students might start asking someone else to do their homework instead of doing their own work,” said Fletcher.
“I think that you learn more when you do your own work than when you just copy someone else’s response.”
“I’d worry that someone might spend hours trying to get a simpler answer to a concept using this tool, rather than spending 45 minutes reading the text and taking notes,” said Nickle. He also brought up the idea of a “simple information literacy problem.”
“How do you know that the person who answered your question knows what he or she is talking about? There’s sometimes the temptation to go online and pass along your wisdom, particularly if you’ve convinced yourself you’re adept,” he said. “Misinformation is easily passed — either accidentally or maliciously — and and it’s hard to recognize the deficit unless you already know a lot about the content.”