New Models for Teaching and Learning
Grow Up with Generation.org
MIT's Program in Comparative Media Studies
Launches Efforts to Explore the Future of Educational Media
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 27 August 2001
CONTACT: Alex Chisholm, MIT Comparative Media Studies
Phone: 617-253-6447; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- As a new generation of students heads
"back to school" -- from pre-kindergarten through
college -- broader uses of interactive technologies such
as web-based applications, DVDs, video and computer games
are becoming increasingly integral to teachining and learning.
Researchers in MIT's Program in Comparative Media Studies
today announced plans to launch three new efforts that integrate
classroom experience with web-based instruction, create
digital media archives for teaching humanities subjects,
and expand definitions of educational media to include "games-to-teach."
NEW COURSE: MEDIA,
EDUCATION, AND THE MARKETPLACE
The first venture is "Media, Education, and the Marketplace,"
a new course that explores how emerging forms of interactive
media fundamentally transform the learning process. Fuji
Xerox is providing platform and technical support for this
new couse, which integrates both classroom lectures and
on-line learning and provides a first-hand example of how
the potential of new interactive and telecommunications
media are being harnessed to support teaching and learning.
"This is one of our first attempts at integrating
theory and practice in teaching a course on educational
media," said Professor Shigeru Miyagawa, who designed
the course following his own experiences in developing several
educational media properties. "With the arrival
of broadband and other delivery platforms, educators will
have at their fingertips a broader set of tools to teach.
Our goal is to develop that toolkit," Miyagawa added.
Through Miyagawa's 14-week course, students will explore
effective media design, educational theory, and existing
and anticipated methods for distribution, as well as the
business concepts behind such issues. Star
Festival, a multimedia curriculum that encourages
users to explore issues of cultural and ethnic identity,
serves as the primary case studey for the term. Developed
by Miyagawa over the past five years, Star Festival was
adopted in 2000 by the Boston Public Schools as its first
"interactive textbook" for district-wide use.
George Takei, Liutenant Sulu from STAR TREK, narrates the
media-rich poject based on the young life of Miyagawa.
On-line lectures by business leaders, educational theorists,
and media scholars will supplement students' exploration
of Star Festival and classroom discussions. Anticipated
guest and on-line speakers include:
-- Bonnie Bracy, Advisor on Education and Digital Divide,
Clinton Administration; Lucas Fellow
-- Henry Jenkins, Director of MIT's Program in Comparative
-- Steve Lerman, Director of MIT's Center for Educational
-- Robert Metcalfe, Venture Capitalist; Founder of 3Com
-- Livia Polanyi, Senior Researcher at FX Palo Alto Laboratory,
-- John Vaille, Internet2 K-12 Team in California
-- Toby Woll, Director of e-Learning at Sloan School of
By the end of the term, students will develop a project
that shows an understanding of the types of business models
that facilitate educational technology in the classroom.
And, many students will become part of an on-going e-learning
project in Sloan School of Management, CMS, and other groups
"We're bringing together world-class thinkers and
practioners with MIT-quality students who've grown up in
an intensely rich mediascape," said Miyagawa.
"We expect the projects to chart a course for future
work in developing and producing those all-important 'killer
apps' in educational media."
NEW PROJECT: META-MEDIA
Digital technologies allow educators to create more robust
tools for teaching by integrating a wide variety of media
in a single archive. The Meta-Media Project aims to
create such media-rich archives so students can explore
broader notions of specific subject areas across media and
over time through "expanded texts." Created
by Peter Donaldson, professor of literature and director
of the Meta-Media Project, the Shakespeare Electronic Archive
was one of the first explorations in integrating images,
audio, and video clips for use in humanities education.
"We want to take what we've learned in the past few
years and apply that to the development of a larger suite
of mini-archives for use in humanities education,"
said Donaldson. "Shakespeare was a good starting
point because his work has been represented in all media
that's existed for more than 400 years."
Donaldson and other researchers, including Dr. Kurt Fendt,
who developed the language and culture teaching archive
'Berliner sehen,' will collaborate with other MIT faculty
in literature, writing and humanistic studies, foreign languages
and literature, anthropology, music, and comparative media
studies to develop archives for use at the secondary school
and undergraduate levels. Although the first projects
have yet to be identified, researchers are considering a
broad range of topics, including:
-- The Evolution of the Declaration of Independence
-- The Detective across Media
-- Chaplin, Montage and the Poetic Image
-- Billy Budd: Manuscripts and Film
-- Virginia Woolf and Contemporary Theater and Film
-- Marlowe's Edward II, Texts, Film and History
-- Utopian Visions of the Future City
-- Teaching Hong Kong Cinema
-- Interfaces for Communication
-- Tools for Teaching Writing
-- Fundamentals of Music Composition
-- Theories of Evolution
"We plan to look at not just what information and
media go into a subject area, but how to exploit the potentials
of interactivity and expand both pedagogies and models for
collaboration," Donaldson added. He and his colleagues
hope to have the first modules deployed in classes at MIT
as early as this fall and spring.
The Meta-Media Project is funded in part by a grant from
the Alex and Brit d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in
NEW PROJECT: GAMES-TO-TEACH
The third major initiative involves an interdisciplinary
collaboration of faculty, staff, and students across the
humanities, sciences, and engineering that will develop
a series of conceptual prototypes for "games-to-teach"
science and engineering subjects at the advanced high school
and introductory college level. As part of Microsoft
i-Campus, a five-year research alliance between MIT and
Microsoft, the Games-to-Teach Project intends to explore
best practices in game design and production, current educational
theory, and emerging technological platforms and to apply
such understanding to new models for presenting and exploring
educational content in computer and video games.
"Until now we've seen so-called 'edutainment' that
has all of the entertainment value of a bad lecture and
the educational value of a bad game," said Henry Jenkins,
director of Comparative Media Studies and principal investigator
on the project. "Our goal is to reverse that
polarity by combining MIT-quality science and engineering
subjects with state-of-the-art game design."
Jenkins and his colleagues believe computer and video games
are emerging as a powerful new teaching medium that enables
robust interactivity, providing for new pedagogical models
and stronger collaborations across disciplines. Pointing
to an industry that this year will report domestic sales
totals that are roughly equivalent to Hollywood's take at
the box office and a battery of new creative products, Jenkins
sees an industry that has finally begun to understand its
basic building blocks and is now stretching out on new directions,
experimenting with new forms, and diversifying audiences.
"Teachers need to take notice of such industry changes
and explore ways to leverage this new medium in their teaching
strategies, thus allowing for new learning exeriences among
a broad range of student abilities and media literacies,"
Through weekly lab seminars and creative development workshops,
Jenkins and his team plan to explore the "best practices"
of interactive teaching tools, define corresponding pedagogical
models, and begin to test assumptions through the development
of a dozen conceptual prototypes that will focus on subjects
from biology to physics, from mechanical engineering to
chemical engineering, and from applied mathematics to materials
"As humanists at one of the world's leading technological
institutions, we're in a unique position to think about
the intersection of science and culture," said Jenkins.
"The challenge of the Games-to-Teach Project will be
to create science and engineering content in a compelling
narrative form that students want to engage with, where
they want to explore, and where they can experiment with
Jenkins hopes the conceptual prototypes developed within
the project provide the games industry and government agencies
with the blueprints for exploring full-scale development,
production, and release of "games to teach" in
COMPARATIVE MEDIA STUDIES
Comparative Media Studies is the humanistic and social scientific
examination of media technologies and their cultural, social,
aesthetic, political, ethical, legal, and economic implications.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students in
the program are trained to think critically about the unique
properties of different media and about the shared properties
and functions of media more generally. More than 30
faculty from a wide variety of disciplines in the School
of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences aim to teach the
next generation of leaders in industry, journalism, government,
the arts, and the academy to think across media and investigate
issues central to the role of media in today's world: current
research topics include, interactivity, narrative, and hypertextuality;
childhood and adolescence in a mediated culture; informed
citizenry and cultures of democarcy; and, media in transition.