SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, January 31, 2007

News & Product Updates

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."...

Read more here and 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....

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