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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Apture the Experience

I recently learned of a great new tool called Apture from the Weblogg-Ed blog, a fine blog that I follow regularly. I was intrigued by what I read so I decided to look at Apture myself. At first glance it seemed to be quite similar to Snap Shots, which I use on this Blog and a Wiki I maintain. Like Snap Shots, Apture allows you to link to other content and display that content in thumbnail preview windows. Snap Shots, and other services like it, automatically provides a snap shot (thus the name) of any webpage you may link to on your website or blog. Apture takes this process about 15 steps further. You can link to websites, news articles, images, videos, audio and even files such as PDFs. In addition, you can have multiple content sources linked to a single topic.

As I watched the tutorial video on the Apture site I couldn't help but think about how I consumed content and information as a child. We would read books in a very linear fashion. After all, books don't make much sense if you randomly jump around from page to page and paragraph to paragraph. But the nature of the Internet has blown that idea out of the water and Apture is a perfect example of this because it allows you to access content from so many different sources and in so many different formats. I think this has the potential to provide students with a much richer learning and research experience as readers of information but I also think it has huge potential for them as writers of online content. They can have the experience of weeding through content and deciding what they want to link to in order to augment their text and tell the story they are sharing. It's a lot like writing a traditional research paper where you have to find references to support your claims but instead of just citing relevant quotes you can share a huge array of multimedia content and really bring your writing to life.

The way Apture works is that you write your content first and then go back and add your links afterwards. Of course, it is web-based, multiplatform and free to use so I can't think of a single reason why you shouldn't at least try it out. I have put it to use in this posting so you can start to get a sense of what it can do. The list of topics below is simply to give you an idea of the different kinds of links and media that can be added. I want to add this to my UMD EdTech Wiki but that process is still underway at this point.

  • Grand Canyon
  • Civil Rights
  • Global Warming
Now that I've had a chance to work with Apture a bit I thought I'd add a few more comments about this tool. I found it relatively easy to use but it was necessary to refresh my browser on several occasions when adding links. It is still in Beta so there are probably a few kinks to work out but I enjoyed using it. The other thing I noticed was that when I had Snap Shots and Apture enabled it was almost overload with all the pop-up thumbnail windows flying all over the screen so I just turned off Snap Shots.

1 comment:

apture said...

Hi Stein,

Tristan here from Apture. I just wanted to welcome you to the Apture community, and thanks for your feedback on the platform.

What you wrote about regarding the non-linearity of reading books as a child is spot on. We are effectively trying to invent a new medium, not constrained by the limits of flat pages with links as the only way to access more information. There is something richer, more intuitive, and more natural than that.

I can't wait to see how you use it on your blog, and feel free to email us any time with your thoughts @