The More We Know, a book by Eric Klopfer and Jason Haas, describes the rise and fall of iCue, a new media experience designed to support high school social sciences teaching and learning. Both part of the MIT development team, Klopfer and Haas examine the project and what it can teach us about new media, old media, education, and the challenges of innovating in educational media.
Today’s youth, especially high school students, navigate a rich, diverse, and increasingly complicated mediascape. They often do so with ease, developing skills that extend literacy, synthesis and other traditional school skills. There are challenges however – despite an unprecedented 24-hour flow of news and information, teens typically have little awareness of or regard for news and current events; students have difficulty determining the quality of online sources; frequent use of shorthand writing styles for text or instant messaging causes some students problems when later asked to write well-developed essays.
To address some of these challenges, MIT and NBC News joined forces in developing iCue, a new media experience to support teaching and learning in AP U.S. History, AP Government and Politics – U.S., and English Language and Composition. iCue offered students and teachers access to NBC News’ coverage of important events and topics (along with the coverage of The Washington Post, The New York Times and news outlets), and reinforces students’ classroom learning by linking the media to the curricula for those classes. These stories were also used in games and social networking activities that allowed teachers and students to explore these topics in unconventional ways.
The Education Arcades’s research for this project extended our work studying the ways that games can enhance a student’s understanding and experience of learning. We worked to extend some of the principles developed by Comparative Media Studies’ New Media Literacies project (funded by the MacArthur Foundation). In a white paper, Project NML developed frameworks to help teachers and corporate media-makers provide students with rich, powerful learning experiences in more participatory contexts. Once iCue went live, Education Arcade focused on evaluating the impact iCue has on its users, as well as the impact that the users have on iCue, with a goal of providing NBC News with the data they need to improve and enhance the initial offering.