stu.dicio.us: a social, note-taking tool

Scott Leslie of EdTechPost reports on a new web2.0 tool: stu.dicio.us.

stu.dicio.us, while still in beta, is an incredibly simple student-focused tool that currently supports note taking and scheduling, with file storage and self grade-tracking coming soon. There are three things about it that are really beautiful:

- it is REALLY simple, and yet quite useful. ...

- all class notes are shared (you have to agree to this to use the system). ...

- based on the amazingly simple interface....

As Scott notes, this tool produces "an ecology of class notes for individual classes" but can also be used to find notes in similar classes around the world, simply by searching via keywords. I'm not sure how this tool might affect attendance, but imagine students reading other students' notes, seeing differences between their notes and others, and expanding and re-organizing their own notes. The importance of reviewing notes has been posited in research. Jeff Beecher's "Note-Taking: What Do We Know About The Benefits?" (ERIC Digest) covers this topic. Here's an excerpt:

The importance of reviewing notes was mentioned briefly by Crawford in 1925. In 1973, Fisher and Harris concluded that "note taking serves both an encoding function and an external memory function reviewing, with the latter being the more important." (p. 324) Kiewra (1983) found that reorganizing notes while reviewing led to higher test achievement. The Cornell system of note-taking encourages this practice (King et al., 1984).

In a report on their study which allowed students to review their notes immediately before a test, Carter and Van Matre (1975) argued that the benefit of note-taking appeared to be derived from the review rather than from the act of note-taking itself. They even went so far as to suggest that reviewing notes may actually cue the student to reconstruct parts of the lecture not initially recorded in the notes. An interesting study by Kiewra (1985) also endorsed the value of review--but not of student notes. He suggested that "Teachers should be aware of students' relatively incomplete note-taking behaviours, and therefore, encouraged to provide learners with adequate notes for review." (p. 77 ...)

Whether it's note-taking or reviewing that helps, stu.dicio.us would seem to accomplish both. Plus, it should help students complete their "relatively incomplete" notes and more fully understand a topic as they attempt to resolve differences, or contradictions, between their notes and others. In addition, it facilitates the building of networks outside of class that can support learning, along with the social-relatedness and autonomy elements of motivation (see self-determination theory).