Giving your students a toolbelt

UMW has put together a tools section for incoming freshmen and new faculty. The idea is to present to them six free low-threshold tools which will be their tools of the trade for the years to come.

The tools are:

Firefox, WordPress,, Google Docs, Google Reader, and Flickr.

As much as I like to tell people the task of choosing tools never ends, this idea of a standard toolbelt is incredibly powerful, and it’s made even more powerful by presenting it to incoming students. While the specific tools chosen here are perhaps replaceable, the technologies represented are not. The key concepts of modern information literacy are all here: tagging, category-based navigation, syndication, conversational media, trackbacks, collaborative workspaces and loosely coupled media.

And it’s important for kids to know (and for the college to tell them) that a person who does not understand these concepts is as illiterate today as a person who couldn’t operate a card catalog or an subject index years ago.

It’s perhaps even more important to tell students that they will meet many challenges in the coming years, but that a good deal of these challenges can be met using these tools. The power is, after all, with them.

One thought on “Giving your students a toolbelt

  1. There’s probably a future post to be written about these tools as extensions of the will of the STUDENT rather than extensions of the will of the SYSTEM — in presenting these tools, instead of a CMS, the message about technology is clear and humane… but as I said, perhaps in a later post…

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