Just before the end of the school year I was able to check out an iPad from our RESA Assistive Technology lending library and test a few different apps with students. One of the apps I felt had great potential in the classroom was Qwiki. Qwiki compiles reference information from sites like wikipedia, images, videos, and maps to create an immersive information experience. But the most unique feature is the text-to-speech narration that accompanies every Qwiki. Captioning at the bottom of the screen is read by the text-to-speech engine giving the user the option to listen or read along. In essence, Qwiki turns your searches into movies.
In the short video clip above, students used Qwiki to research elements from the periodic table for a science project. I was impressed by the engagement level I saw, but also noted that the students using the Qwiki app were jotting down notes for their projects and reviewed their Qwiki search multiple times before moving on to the related searches presented at the end of the presentation. Because we were testing in an open environment without headphones other students paused to watch as well and even started discussing some of the qualities of the element being shown. This was vastly different from the disinterested search process that I had witnessed before I introduced the app.
It is worth noting that Qwiki is not just an iPad app. Their website http://www.qwiki.com offers an identical experience minus the intuitive touch screen interface. I'd love to see Qwiki develop some editing features that would allow students to curate their own resources and create dynamic presentations that could be shared.
Have you used Qwiki in your classroom? Please share your thoughts on how you think this website and app might support struggling learners or help increase engagement.