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Outlines and learning

I am exploring specific uses for the new Fargo outliner. For example:

–I have an annual report that is easier to complete in January when I always have a convenient note-taking tool available on the different computers I use. But now, having a single file, updated automatically, no matter which machine I use is, is great.

–Because it lives online, this outliner works very well for research notes involving linked, online sources. And again, one file, different machines, auto-update is a real step forward for a person with less than perfect organizing skills, like me.

But the thing that made me want to jot down some ideas here in this blog post is this one, which I hadn’t imagined until today:

–As a teacher, I can use Fargo’s Reader to publish class notes that students can use as a skeleton or grid for their own in-class note-taking or out-of-class studying. I can guide their efforts with the grid of ideas or questions contained in the outline.

–As semesters go by, I can easily continue to improve the outlines for a course.

–Furthermore, students could fill out the details from an outline and share it as a learning resource for classmates in a course. [Any team of people could also do that in a workplace, building a reference or training manual for key elements of their work.]

–if I asked students to fill out the details of an outline as we work on a course topic, I will see what they understand and where they are struggling. While any course assignment does this, an outline gives structure to the content, so it might be easier to see areas of strength and weakness.

–My favorite of these last few ideas is this: School has enough wasted motion, enough going-nowhere assignments. But if students build outlines of course content, they can pass those along to the next semester’s students, who can use and refine them, then pass them on again. They make something that serves a living purpose, which feels good and is unlike the feeling one gets from too much of school anyway.

It’s fun to think about uses for a writing tool that helps to foreground (at lightning speed) the structure of content. That structural aspect seems very positive for clear thinking and efficient learning.

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