Much of today’s web-based
educational content is based on re-purposed materials (“putting your course
notes online”) and traditional instructional models of lectures augmented by
sections and laboratory sessions. Educational
content is also typically designed to run on lowest common denominator computer
platforms to encourage the widest possible adoption.
At the same time, the bloom is a bit off the rose with respect to over-hyped online
Universities replacing traditional universities, based on web-based content and
both synchronous and asynchronous (distance) learning.
Nonetheless, there is still
an enormous and largely unrealized opportunity to rethink both content and
delivery mechanisms that will take proper advantage of the new capabilities made
available by modern, high-performance platforms in a variety of form factors and
by high-bandwidth communications networks.
For his talk at HICSS-36, Dr. van Dam wove together several related themes that attempt to look a bit further out than what is being delivered today.
Among these will be:
* an Immersive Virtual Reality research project with the University of North Carolina’s Graphics Group to build an immersive electronic book for teaching surgery,
a development strategy for next-generation electronic books that is based
largely on families of “clip models,”
interactive simulation-based learning
objects that can serve as playgrounds or virtual laboratories. For any
given domain topic, a single clip
model doesn’t suffice; instead we need a family of related ones to address the
changing needs of learners of different ages, interests, backgrounds, and
learning styles. A key question is
how one can assemble collections of related clip models so that they
inter-operate, even though they may function at different levels of abstraction
a proposal for a funding organization, tentatively called the Learning
Federation, to support the long-term basic research in learning science and
technology necessary to fuel genuinely compelling and effective next-generation
educational content, such as the projects
van Dam was the first chairman of
the Computer Science Department at Brown University, and is currently Thomas J.
Watson, Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education and Professor of
Computer Science. He has also just become Brown's first Vice President for
Research. His own research has concerned computer graphics, text processing and
hypermedia systems, and he is the co-author of several well-known textbooks in
computer graphics. He has worked
for over thirty years on systems for creating and reading electronic books with
interactive illustrations for use in teaching and research. http://www.cs.brown.edu/people/avd/