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April 5, 2002

Microsoft Explores New Game-based Learning Environment On the one hand this is pretty cool: Microsoft, working in partnership with institutions such as MIT, is developing games designed to facilitate learning. " As in popular computer games, students can use different 'virtual' tools, like a crane, to help complete their quest. They can also consult virtual experts to give them pointers." On the other hand, this is a big-money big-industry investment: it costs $US 100,000 just to join the Learning Federation, the partnership founded by Microsoft to support the venture (see their website at http://www.thelearningfederation.org/). "Microsoft?s dream is to build a component like Xbox to put in schools. It would be a plug-and-play technology that teachers could use to customize and build their own lessons." By Cara Branigan, eSchool News, April 3, 2002.[Refer]

E-learning, At a Snail's Pace Sobering survey results in the U.K. show that e-learning has made its way into only a small percentage of training programs. "The CIPD survey canvasses training managers from 502 UK organisations with more than 25 employees. Only 30.5% - 153 respondents - say they used e-learning for any group of employees within their establishments." The results echo a similar survey conducted by ASTD in the U.S. And this little tidbit: "The US publishing giant McGraw-Hill decided to close Xebec McGraw-Hill, the U.K. arm of its 'lifetime learning' division, whose whole operation was devoted to supplying and designing e-learning. The US parent company forbade announcement of the closure of the UK operation near Stroud, Gloucestershire, with a loss of more than 100 jobs, and it slipped past unnoticed by the national media, said a former spokesman." By Peter Kingston, The Guardian, April 2, 2002.[Refer]

Multiple Measures The Public Education Network newsletter calls this piece a "brash analysis" (which to me is a bit condescending). And though the article is represented as an attack against standardized testing, what is more interesting about it is the way it proposes that volunteer work, activities and hobbies, and sports or teamwork also be included as criteria for graduation. By Ronald A. Wolk, Teacher Magazine, April, 2002.[Refer]

Trillian Following up on my post on instant messaging a few days ago, a reader wrote in to mention Trillian, a service that allows you to access your ICQ, AOL-IM, MSN-Messenger and Yahoo! instant messaging service all through the same interface. It took a little bit to set up (becaue I didn't have accounts on two of the four services) but now I am completely connected to the great wide world of instant messaging. By Anonymous.[Refer]

John Hibbs in Melbourne John Hibbs joins the dots: "I say the path to a better, safer, saner world runs through the classroom, not the battlefield. This is a path which now lies wide open because of marvelous new technologies from people like WebCT, applied in the classroom by people like you." By John Hibbs, WebCT Asia Pacific Conference, March 26, 2002.[Refer]

News On the Go Is a mobile tide fast approaching online media? It's already happening in Europe and Japan and while North Americans aren't yet quick to pull out their handheld for directions to a good Indian restaurant, previous experience with cellphones suggests that the transformation will occur almost overnight. This article examines what the impact means for media providers but the discussion is equally appropriate for educators. By J.D. Lasica, Online Journalism Review, April 3, 2002.[Refer]

Defining Virtual Reality: Dimensions Determining Telepresence Written by an author who along with Lou Rossetto, Howard Rheingold, and others, co-founded Wired.com, and later helped launch C/NET, this paper is a foundational document in the history of cyberspace. Yet it is not (to my perception) widely known, hence, its inclusion today. The author wrestles with three major concepts: virtual reality, which is the core of the paper, and its two component concepts, interactivity and vividness of media. I wouldn't, as Vin Crosbie does, accept Steuer's definition of interactivity as "standard" but I would say it is important: "Interactivity is defined as the extent to which users can participate in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment in real time." By Jonathan Steuer, Journal of Communication, 42(4), 73-93, Autumn, 1992.[Refer]


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