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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Innovate - August/September Issue

A couple of items here related to K-12 and online learning.

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A message from James L Morrison (morrison@unc.edu ).

Innovate, a bimonthly, refereed, open access, e-journal, is published as a public service by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. The August/September issue explores the theoretical and practical implications of a distinctive mode of instruction known as "ee-learning"--a combination of information technologies associated with electronic learning and the pedagogical principles associated with experiential learning. As the authors in this issue suggest, this approach to instruction holds much promise for revitalizing many sectors of education, from K-12 to higher education, governmental, and corporate settings.

The issue begins with Chad Trevitte’s interview with guest editor Steve Eskow, who describes the role of ee-learning as an ideal means of bridging the gap between theory and practice, as well as a vital alternative to the model of the traditional campus classroom to the self-enclosed space of instruction represented by traditional classrooms. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=502 )

In turn, Jack Nilles situates ee-learning within the recent history of telecommuter-based education, and he applies lessons learned from the latter in addressing the challenges that will need to be met for the long-term growth of ee-learning programs in the future. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=346 )

Our next two features offer illustrations of ee-learning practice--first on an institutional level, and then in the form of a unique program for K-12 students. Eric Riedel, Leilani Endicott, Anna Wasescha, and Brandy Goldston stress the links between ee-learning and the educational philosophy of John Dewey, and they describe how their institution has integrated a range of ee-learning goals, methods, and strategies within the structure of all its online programs. In doing so, they offer a revealing perspective of how such an approach can be implemented on a broad scale. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=352 )

Aaron Doering then introduces readers to "adventure learning," a particular approach to ee-learning implemented by the organizers of a special program called Arctic Transect (AT) 2004 that K-12 students in remote classrooms to follow the progress of an arctic expedition in real time while they consult with expedition members to achieve a range of cross-disciplinary learning goals. With an impressive array of satellite video feeds, online chats with academic experts, and customized course materials for classroom instructors, the AT 2004 program offers a compelling case of innovative practice that is sure to capture the interest of all readers. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=342 )

Can the technologies and design principles associated with online gaming support valid forms of ee-learning? Our next two features indicate that they can. In their case study, Joey Lee and Christopher Hoadley describe how educators in a summer technology enrichment camp employed two massively multiplayer online games to educate their students about cultural stereotypes, design principles, and how technology can serve as a mediator for different cultures. When the students adopted the identities of online characters with genders and characteristics different than their own, they experienced life as "the other" and soon discovered themselves receiving significantly different treatment from others in unanticipated ways. This eye-opening experience left the students with a more nuanced, less essentialist perspective of diversity, and they drew upon this perspective to design a series of Web sites and projects designed to promote cross-cultural understanding. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=348 )

Michael Begg, Rachel Ellaway, David Dewhurst, and Hamish Macleod then address the role of virtual patient (VP) scenarios as a means of supporting effective instruction in the healthcare professions. In particular, they compare two online systems at the University of Edinburgh--EROS and Labyrinth--to illustrate how the multi-branched narrative design of online games offers a valuable model for the creation of complex, engaging, and cognitively-rich scenarios for healthcare interns. While noting that virtual models cannot fully replicate the sensorial richness of applied medical practice, the authors maintain that such models can help prepare students for many of the decisions they can expect to make in their professional careers. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=419 )

In our final feature, Linda Chisholm offers a commentary on the positive role that service-based ee-learning can play in the social, moral, and professional enrichment of students. Noting that many larger university campuses may no longer provide students the ideal path to adulthood, Chisholm argues that the combination of service learning and information technology can become a catalyst for renewal and reform in higher education. After making her case for this approach, Chisholm offers a series of recommendations for institutional leaders as they begin to implement new programs. (See http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=414 )

We hope that you enjoy this issue of Innovate. Please use the discussion board within each article to raise questions or provide additional commentary; your comments will be sent to authors for their response, which will become part of the record for their article. Also, please ask your organizational librarian to include Innovate in their section for open-access journals. Finally, please forward this announcement to colleagues who wish to enhance their work via effective use of information technology.


James L Morrison
Editor-in-Chief, Innovate
Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership
UNC-Chapel Hill

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