News Update :: Tuesday, August 22, 2006

News

Stanford to Open Online High School for Gifted Students

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that Stanford University will open the nation’s first online high school for the gifted this fall. University administrators say that the high school grew out of a summer school for advanced students, as well as existing Internet courses offered by Stanford’s Education Program for Gifted Youth.

“We want to set high expectations and push these kids,” said Ray Ravaglia, academic research and program officer for the program. “They will be happiest in an environment where they can realize their full potential.”

Annual tuition for a full-time student is $12,000, although the school will offer financial aid. One teenager that plans to enroll is Matthew Bunday, a 14-year-old student from Minnesota who had a perfect SAT math score at age 11. Bunday told the Chronicle he could have gone to college long ago, but his parents did not want to send him. “You can get classes that you wouldn’t be able to get in a high school,” he said. “You can go any speed you want.”

The program, which has offered individual online courses since 1990 and a summer program since 2000, d'esn’t just benefit gifted students and their families. Stanford can discover some of the best minds and develop them early. “This is a way of finding really good kids early and getting them to understand what Stanford has to offer,” said Ravaglia. “That’s not lost on the university.”

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Games 1: UNC Develops Play-for-Credit Econ Video Game

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s online division has developed a video game that covers the lessons of second-level economics that students can take – or play – for credit. Called ECON 201, the game teaches micr'economics by following an alien species that must learn how to survive after crash-landing on a futuristic, post-apocalyptic earth.

Robert Brown, dean of the UNCG Division of Continual Learning, said that, “regardless of how skilled the instructor, it can be a challenge to teach complex concepts in a traditional classroom using standard lecture techniques. That’s certainly true of economics, which is a highly theoretical subject. Online gaming techniques can bring that theory to life.”

The course game, which fulfills a social sciences credit, covers economic principles that range from scarcity to sustainable growth. Its developers say it also integrates interdisciplinary subjects that go beyond economics, such as biology, history, and anthropology. For example, students must make ethical decisions as they play the game. They face disease outbreak. They review historical examples of how the earth faced similar problems before.

“Ultimately we teach that economics is a way of thinking,” said Jeff Sarbaum, an economics instructor and academic advisor for the course. “We know that today’s students live in a multimedia world, so ECON 201 is also designed to provide the visual excitement and intrigue to keep them engaged. I’ve used gaming modules in my face-to-face classes, and I’ve found that those are the days that students seem to enjoy the most and also learn the most.”

For more information, click here.

Games 2: Wharton to Develop New Gaming Executive Program

The executive education division of the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton business school is developing an education program for “gaming executives.” The Wharton Program for Gaming Executives, which will run February 18-23, will feature Wharton faculty teaching the core concepts of business as they apply to the challenges of the gaming industry. Among themes to be explored at the program will be leadership, strategy, marketing, operations, finance, strategies that can be used to manage casinos, and other gaming enterprises.

The program is being developed jointly by Wharton Executive Education and Cory Morowitz, who was named industry director of The Wharton Program for Gaming Executives. He runs Morowitz Gaming Advisors, a leading provider of training and consulting services to the gaming industry.

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U. Texas Grants Bonanza for Engineering, Tech Infrastructure

The University of Texas Board of Regents endorsed an unprecedented investment of $2.56 billion to boost its competitiveness in key scientific areas. The board voted unanimously to approve 22 capital construction projects totaling $1.52 billion for fiscal year 2007 to bolster the UT system’s science, technology, engineering, and health infrastructure.

The projects are in addition to 22 others approved by the regents since August 2005, totaling $954,395,000. The additional investments, together with faculty recruitment and smaller campus renovation projects for science and technology, brings the total investment by the UT System to $2.56 billion in the current and next fiscal years.

“This investment is the largest commitment to science and technology infrastructure that has been made by a higher education system in the country since the National Academies’ recent call for a comprehensive effort to bolster U.S. competitiveness in its report, ‘Rising Above the Gathering Storm,’” said UT System chancellor Mark Yudof.

The projects are focused on providing the UT System academic and health institutions with state-of-the-art equipment, facilities, and start-up packages designed to recruit research scientists and faculty. Examples of new investments include $27 million for a new math, science, and engineering teaching-learning facility at UT Dallas; $80.4 million for a new engineering research building at UT Arlington; and $150 million for a new 200,000-square-foot South Texas Research Facility at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

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Microsoft, CMU Fund Entertainment Tech Grant for Minorities

Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft Corp. funded a scholarship for minorities and women pursuing careers in the entertainment industry as graphic artists, game designers, and computer programmers. The Microsoft Entertainment and Technology Diversity Scholarship will support graduate study at the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon.

The Carnegie Mellon ETC offers the only masters of entertainment technology (MET) degree, which combines fine arts with computer science to help students learn processes and resources for storytelling and entertainment in digital form. Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division includes the popular Xbox 360 system.

A recent report by the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology shows that African-Americans account for 6.2 percent of those in information technology professions; Latinos represent 5.3 percent. Don Marinelli, executive producer of Carnegie Mellon’s ETC said in the past year, “ETC has significantly increased the number of women and minorities seeking the master of entertainment technology degree,” pledging to “continue to work to diversify our program.”

For more information, click here.

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