June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Continuing Professional Development
13.46.1 - 13.46.8
A Guided Tour of the Future of Education
Introduction As an instructor have you ever found your self exasperated by students who sit passively in class despite your best efforts at engaging them? From the other side of the desk, there are enumerable students desperately wishing the instructor would find a way to teach that wasn’t just lecture with PowerPoint or equations on a white board. If a classroom existed that required active participation of all students and instructors and there was immediate and meaningful feedback based on the students’ ability to demonstrate what was learned, would you use it?
Not today and not next year, but during the professional career of most of today’s educators, this classroom will exist. A prototype of this environment exists and is being used by millions of students and a growing number of educators. Actually it is not one prototype but several that go under the names of wikis, social networks, and virtual environments.
Wiki A wiki is a piece of software that resides on a server and permits individuals to create and edit content of web pages using a web browser. They support hyperlinks and generally incorporate a simple mechanism for creating new pages and links between internal pages. In addition to adding and modifying content, individuals may also be able to change the organization of the content. The first wiki – wikiwikiweb – was developed by Ward Cunningham in 1994. (1)
The key value of a wiki is that multiple users can easily add, edit, and amend a collective pool of knowledge, all while preserving a record of how, when, and by whom the information was added. This “history” mechanism of the wiki page allows the co-authors to analyze and debate revisions, revert to previous versions, and provide a measure of accountability and/or achievement by identifying each contributor to the knowledge base. Many wikis also allow the incorporation of various kinds of media, including images, graphs, and audio/video content, that allow for the development of media rich content repositories. Perhaps the best known application of a wiki is the Wikipedia project, “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” (2), but wikis are also being used by businesses for knowledge management, by researchers to document progress and findings, and by educators to allow for collaborative creation of content.
Virtual Environments Characteristics often attributed to virtual environments include (adapted from Dillenbourg (3)): • The information space has been specifically designed and includes an explicit representation • Interactions occur in the information space • Users of the information space are able to construct elements of that space
These characteristics transform an information space into an environment that facilitates interaction and creation of content.
An important subset of virtual environments are referred to as MUVEs, multi-user virtual environments. These typically support three dimensional graphics, allow for many simultaneous
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