I recently watched this video about a medical reference database called epocrates. It’s a database of information concerning Drug Dosing, Drug Interactions, Retail Pricing, Safety/Monitoring and Adverse Reactions of over 3300 brand name and generic drugs. The purpose is to inform and to make this information available to anyone.
There seems to be a potential for education here. In traditional classrooms, many hours are spent introducing facts and trying to get students to memorize information relating to important curricular concepts. In the study of mathematics, it could be formulas and calculations. In science, it could be theories and laws of nature. In history, it could be names and dates of events. In language, it could be grammar rules and stages of writing. Any way you slice it, much time is spent teaching this reference material because it is important. Well how about if this reference material is always available to students on an iPod? What could a teacher do with all the time that was freed up as a result? In this scenario, a teacher would have much more time to engage students in knowledge creation and construction and less on knowledge retention and memorization. At the end of the day, it is the skills that the students take with them as memorized facts are often only retained until the test is written.
I’ve never heard of anyone actually compiling this information and making it available digitally. I know that students and teachers around the world have paper versions of these databases but imagine students had digital versions of entire databases that they could access at any point in their learn at the beginning of the school year!