Learn, Teach Online with Grokker

SAN FRANCISCO (05/15/2000) - There's no shortage of information on the Web; the ongoing challenge is finding what you want in a clear, helpful format.

Enter Grokker from Knowledge Navigators Inc., released earlier this month as a component of its collaborative software, Bizgrokker. Bizgrokker gives you the tools and space to create adhoc communities.

Grokker lets people share their knowledge by creating online courses in a chosen topic. For example, if you are an expert in bicycle repair, you might create a grokker on how to fix a broken chain. Grokkers can contain text, Web pages, images, and links to Web pages and files.

With Bizgrokker, you can create a topic information page, discussion forum, document library, and courses. Creating a grokker is really easy. You don't need to know HTML or any other Web publishing language. To create a topic, click the My Options button and fill in the title and description text fields.

Designate what types of documents you'd like to add to the topic, including shared files, a forum, and a participant list. Once the topic is created, you can customize your grokker.

Enter a course title and description for the grokker, then add components. Each component contains a description and can support images. You have a choice of fonts, text, and background colors. A course outline will appear on the left navigation bar as you build the grokker. You can change the order of components at any time.

Currently, grokkers can be made up of only text and images. Multiple-choice and short-answer quiz functions soon will be available, according to Mark Szpakowski, Knowledge Navigators' systems architect.

Get Ready to Learn

You can access Grokker and Bizgrokker in a variety of ways. Individuals can view topics through MyLearningPlace.com, which was launched in December 1999.

Register for free, then enter your user ID and password to create and read grokkers open to the public.

Businesses can license Bizgrokker for internal use. Grokkers created in a closed business environment are not open to the public unless the topic owner decides to make them public.

Taking a course is as easy as logging into Bizgrokker or MyLearningPlace, choosing a topic, and clicking the Grokker tab. Click your way through each component. Grokker tracks your progress by placing a check mark by completed components.

Used in a private business arena, Grokker could be a highly useful collaboration and training tool. Course builders would be recognized for their expertise within the organization. It's a little more difficult to know how reliable a course is when it's posted by a member of the general public. Still, Grokker is a democratic learning tool that really enables people to share information and expertise without worrying about building or hosting their own Web site.

Wondering about the name Grokker? It's a derivative of "grok," meaning to understand fully, to really get it. Author Robert A. Heinlein coined the word in his 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Stranger Land.

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