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Wagner James Au, writing in Edutopoia, 2006.11.08, “The School of Second Life: Creating new avenues of pedagogy in a virtual world” writes …

For those who grew up on computer and video games over the past thirty years, it’s no surprise that games have become a full-fledged educational tool, merging play with learning in a way that speaks to the digital generation’s technical literacy. Adding heft to this development, the Federation of American Scientists recently published the results of a year-long study suggesting that games have the power to teach analytical skills, team building, and problem solving on the fly.

Among the most powerful platforms for game-based teaching is Second Life, a virtual world superficially similar to online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft or Sims Online but embedded with numerous features that can make it an ideal pedagogical resource.

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Tags: Learning, Games


Where: University of Massachusetts, Amherst

When: November 14, 2006

What: This NERCOMP workshop will consider how social software (weblogs, wikis, social networking websites, and virtual worlds) can alter and expand the dynamics of classroom and distance education interactions. Presenters will offer observations and guidance drawn from their own practice. Participants will see from example how to apply social software to particular pedagogical needs, and will learn from teachers with experience using these tools what has worked for them and what needs further thought and refinement. We will look at how social software can be used to foster both community ties and constructivist pedagogy. Well consider whether their pre-college experiences using social networking websites like MySpace make todays entering students more open to collaborative learning than were their predecessors. And well discuss some social networking opportunities that might be of interest to professionals working with educational technology.

More: For a full schedule and registration information, please go to:

To view other NERCOMP events, click here:

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) — Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has famously called high schools “obsolete” and warned about their effect on U.S. competitiveness. Now, his company has a chance to prove that it can help fix the woes of public education.
After three years of planning, the Microsoft Corp.-designed “School of the Future” opened its doors Thursday, a gleaming white modern facility looking out of place amid rows of ramshackle homes in a working-class West Philadelphia neighborhood.
The school is being touted as unlike any in the world, with not only a high-tech building — students have digital lockers and teachers use interactive “smart boards” — but also a learning process modeled on Microsoft’s management techniques.
Read entire article at: – Windows HS: Microsoft designs a school system – Sep 7, 2006

We’re just wrapping up one of our series of August events, Introduction to Adobe Photoshop Elements.
More updates to come regarding this and our other workshops, but in the meantime we’ve opened up the survey for participants of the Photoshop Elements event.
UPDATE: We also have the Endnotes workshop evaluation available.

header-eq-bottom.jpgThe perennial question “What do Students Want?” often gets asked in way that provide results that contradict expectations. Sometimes the first answer turns out to be wrong. Sarah Brittain and colleagues at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry have an interesting report in the Fall 2006 Educause Quarterly that explores audio versus video recording of course lectures.

At some point in their educations, students must learn copious amounts of information. To do this, they use a variety of well-known strategies such as study groups, note-taking services, and videotapes of lectures. In fall 2004, a group of first-year dental students at the University of Michigan (U-M) School of Dentistry asked to have all dental school lectures videotaped and recordings made available on a Web site. The students’ doubted their ability to accurately summarize in their notes the quantity of information presented in lectures. The students thought that reviewing a video recording of each lecture would help them better retain the biomedical information presented.

In response to the students’ request, the Dental Informatics group applied formative evaluation strategies to determine the ultimate solution. The group determined that podcasting (see the sidebar) audio recordings of lectures provided a better technology solution for the students’ needs than the originally requested video recordings.

From: Sarah Brittain, Pietrek Glowacki, Jared Van Ittersum, and Lynn Johnson, Formative evaluation strategies helped identify a solution to a learning dilemma,
Educause Quarterly, Fall 2003.

tutoring.jpgOn the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

Occassionally I get spam that attracts my attention. A notice from AskOnline.Net started out “We build online tutoring centers for colleges and universities where your students will work with YOUR tutors. Harvard, Duke and Berkeley College are already realizing the benefits of giving students access to tutors over the internet.”

Although systems like Blackboard, Instant Messaging, WebCT, etc, provide some of the underlying services, the online tutoring environment provides some nice administrative and support features that don’t come about with the “environmental” features to support a tutoring center. An online “tutoring” invironment might be an interesting addition to things like the CTL’s Dr is In program, the Library Reference Desk, the Writing Center, the Writing program, etc …

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typa-typa-typa.jpgEnvision this: A computer tells students that their latest literary concoction doesn’t connect ideas logically. At Warren Central High School, in Indianapolis, English teacher Kathy Paris doesn’t have to imagine. She uses Criterion, a Web service that scores essays and shoots feedback out to students within seconds.
Article source and image source: “Grade-o-Matic : The red pen goes high tech”, Cheri Lucas, Edutopia’s Technology Intrgration, May 11, 2006. Edutopia, The George Lucas Educational Foundation.
Article additional resources:
Grades That Mean Something:
Other resources:
Computer Software Grades Essays Just as Well as People, Profs Announce., University of Colorado, Boulder, 1998. (Science Blog,
Quote: “In one test, both the Intelligent Essay Assessor and faculty members graded essays from 500 psychology students at CU-Boulder. “The correlation between the two scores was very high — it was the same correlation as if two humans were reading them,” Landauer said.”

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