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News Update :: Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Students Better Informed Without CMS, Says Researcher

Students who receive course materials in class performed "significantly higher" on end of semester tests of their knowledge than those who received the materials via a course management system, according to a study by a researcher at Penn State. Even so, the study on the effects of three different "information distribution strategies" on student performance also found no significant differences among the three strategies on total points earned in the course or on student reactions to the learning experience.

A possible explanation for the higher scores on the knowledge test might stem from "the principle of instruction dictating that new information should be presented in logical chunks during instruction to enhance learners' motivation … and to help them focus on the learning tasks at hand," according to the research report, by Margaret Lohman, an associate professor of education at Penn State.

Reacting to the study, Scott Leslie, an education technology researcher, wrote on his EdTechPost blog that "this doesn't necessarily sound the death knell for CMS … instead one could draw the conclusion that if you want to see positive effects on pedagogy by using a CMS then use them, well, pedagogically, not as a glorified filing cabinet."

For more information, click here and here.

MIT, Wharton To Publish Collaborative Textbook by Wiki

Faculty at MIT and the Wharton School of Business have invited "thousands of authors," including scholars and business people, to participate in a project to write a collaborative online textbook on the topic of efforts to "successfully or unsuccessfully harness the power of 'community.'"

The sponsors of the project, using the motto, "We Are Smarter Than Me," says its premise is that "large groups of people can, and should, take responsibility for traditional business functions that are currently performed by companies, industries and experts."

The project will use book Wiki technology to produce a "network book," to be authored by thousands of individuals. This will allow "the book to benefit from the collective wisdom of the community."

Organizers of the project say the book will be ready this summer. The "We" team includes Thomas Malone, a professor of management at MIT; Barry Libert, CEO of Shared Insights LLC; Jon Spector, vice dean and director of Wharton's Aresty Institute of Executive Education: Tim Moore, founder of Wharton School Publishing; and Yoram Wind, a professor of marketing at Wharton.

For more information, click here.

U. Kansas Class Teaches Film Making in VR, Second Life

The University of Kansas is offering film students a new course this semester on the theory and production of films in the online environment. The course, called "New Media and Cyber Culture," will offer students "the philosophy they need if they are going to be writing, teaching, researching, or critiquing films," one of its professors, Catherine Preston, told the University Daily Kansan.

The course practices what it preaches. Office hours are being held in "Second Life," the virtual environment peopled by avatars interacting in a small town. Students will also explore using Machinima, software for shooting films in the virtual reality of a game engine. Rather than using expensive camera equipment or expensive 3D packages, Machinima creators can act out their movies within a computer game.

The theory aspect of the class focuses on concepts of net neutrality, manipulating time and space, and media reform. "People tend to look at new technology like it will create a utopia by solving all of our problems or a dystopia in that society will suffer from it. We are informing these grad students to teach it as a social and cultural tool," Preston said.

For more information, click here.

Textbook on How To Launch Tech Venture Updated

Thomas Byers, a professor at the Stanford School of Engineering, and Richard Dorf, a professor at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, have updated their how-to textbook on how to start-up a successful technology business.

The textbook, "Technology Ventures: From Idea to Enterprise, Second Edition," published by McGraw Hill Higher Education, walks students through a step by step process for launching a tech venture.

In a foreword to the book, Stanford president John Hennessy said the "role of technology entrepreneurs is paramount to getting innovation out of the lab and into the hands of people who need it. To enable this on a greater scale, universities must take the lead by making multidisciplinary entrepreneurship education a priority. I wish I could have read a book like this when I was starting my first technology company."

The second edition includes a multimedia DVD of material from, a resource site from the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), which Byers co-directs. It features video clips of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs officering advice.

For more information, click here and here.

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