News Update :: Tuesday, October 24, 2006


MacArthur Foundation Quests for Secrets to Digital Learning

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation said it would donate $50 million for projects that will help understand “the impact of the widespread use of digital media on our youth and how they learn.” The Foundation announced that the research will test the theory that digital youth are different because they use digital tools to “assimilate knowledge, play, communicate, and create social networks” in new and different ways.

“This is the first generation to grow up digital – coming of age in a world where computers, the Internet, video games, and cell phones are common, and where expressing themselves through these tools is the norm,” said MacArthur president Jonathan Fanton. “Given how present these technologies are in their lives, do young people act, think, and learn differently today? And what are the implications for education and for society?”

The funding will support an array of projects in 2007, including:

-- A donation of $2 million annually for research and creation of a Web-based hub for information on digital media and learning.

-- MacArthur will publish six books 2007, online and in print, on topics will include credibility, civic engagement, and the ecology of games, as well as identity and digital media.

-- A University of California-Berkeley and the University of Southern California project to develop a large-scale ethnography of young people to find out how technology influences their learning.

-- The Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in developing “Game Designer.” The software is designed to help young people create games to learn about ethical judgment, aesthetic design, and collaborative problem solving...

For more information, click here.

Scientists, Developers Tout Video Games in Education

The venerable Federation of American Scientists (FAS), formed by alumni of the Manhattan Project atomic bomb team, issued a report calling on government, educators, and businesses to use video game technology to strengthen U.S. education and workforce training.

Joining hands with the Entertainment Software Association, FAS has produced an action plan for a “strategy to take advantage of the features of video games to address the rising demand for high quality education and training and to help students and workers attain globally competitive skills.”

In its report, FAS called on education and training institutions to:

-- Create incentives for innovative approaches in education through better tests and metrics.”

-- Redesign instructional practices and formal learning environments to take advantage of exploration, interactivity, and collaboration encouraged by digital games and simulations.

-- Create new training materials to make game-based learning “an integral part of new and incumbent teacher training.”

-- Develop new and revamp old pedagogy to take advantage of these new educational tools.

“Many recent reports warning about declining U.S. competitiveness point to an urgent need to improve workforce skills and our system of education,” said Henry Kelly, FAS president. “Video games are engaging and can teach higher order skills, and they are especially attractive to today’s young digital natives who have grown up with digital technology.”...

For more information, click here.

Higher Ed-Industry Consortium to Explore Military Tech

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory and United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence have picked an IBM-led consortium of American and European universities and high tech firms to explore advanced technologies for secure wireless and sensor networks.

The International Technology Alliance (ITA) in network and information sciences will include Carnegie Mellon University; the City University of New York; Columbia University; the University of Maryland; the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Pennsylvania State University; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and University of California, Los Angeles.

The ITA will receive potential funding of $135.8 million over 10 years to collaborate on “solving military technology challenges central to future coalition military operations,” IBM said in a statement. “Successful future military operations will depend on the capability of coalition forces to quickly gather, interpret and share battlefield information to coordinate actions, so the research will enable interoperability and communications across disparate military units, allowing them to operate more effectively.”

Thomas H. Killion, the U.S. Army’s chief scientist, said the alliance “is really as much about partnering with our closest ally as it is about addressing critical research challenges in network and information sciences that will enable us to foster next generation tactical mobile networks.”...

For more information, click here.

Stanford to Study Role of Internet in Diabetes Self-Care

Stanford’s School of Medicine will launch a two-year study of type-2 diabetes sufferers to determine how effective the Internet can be in helping people learn skills to manage their illness. One of the goals of the research, to be managed by Stanford Med’s Patient Education Research Center, will be to improve blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight of the study participants. Investigators will also look for improvements in quality of life, including exercise and depression.

The participants will join a six-week online workshop run by two facilitators who also have diabetes. Participants will be asked to log on two or three times each week for a total of less than two hours weekly. Sessions will be highly interactive through e-mail, messaging, and online discussion boards, but participants do not need to log on at the same time.

Kate Lorig, a professor of medicine and a nurse who has been involved in developing and monitoring patient self-management programs, is the principal investigator on the study.

Lorig said that diabetes patients often do not get enough help from their primary healthcare provider. The workshops are intended to complement instructions from patients’ physicians. By teaching self-management skills to an online audience, researchers are aiming to reach people who are unable to attend community classes or who might not be interested in in-person gatherings...

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MIT Awards High Schools $10K Inventor’s Grants

MIT awarded student teams at 20 U.S. high schools grants of up to $10,000 each to invent “practical solutions to real world problems of their choosing.” The grants are part of MIT’s Lemelson-MIT “InvenTeams” grants program.

The grants are designed to induce teens to work collaboratively to invent a solution to a need or problem they have identified. Recipients are encouraged to work with mentors from their communities. “We were astounded with the ingenuity and sophistication of the InvenTeams’ proposed inventions,” said Joshua Schuler, the grants officer for the Lemelson-MIT Program’s InvenTeams grants officer.

Some of the projects include:

-- A regenerative braking system for recharging batteries in consumer electronics devices by Divine Child High School, in Dearborn, Mich.

-- A tactile graphing calculator for the blind by Westview High School in Beaverton, Ore.

-- A portable, solar-charged traffic signal from George T. Baker Aviation School in Miami, Fla...

For more information, click here.

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