Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Schools eyeing virtual campuses

Agence France-Presse

AN INTERNET fantasy universe teeming with faux worlds devoted to socializing and video games is expanding to include virtual classrooms and universities.

A new trend in online education involves students acting through animated characters called "avatars" mingling in simulated school settings and even rocketing off, via the Internet, on quests for knowledge.

San Jose State University in the heart of Silicon Valley has built a campus at Second Life, the popular virtual world created by Linden Lab in San Francisco.

The virtual university spans 16 digital acres dotted with school buildings that Library Sciences Department students use for classes and experiments.

"When I teach with Second Life, I think of it as an experience generator," university professor Jeremy Kemp told AFP.

"I can send a student in to have an experience in an unstructured environment, and then come out and have a conversation about it."

Thirty students signed-up for Kemp's 15-week virtual-world class, which includes learning about the application driving the Second Life program.

"I ask them to volunteer on (an in-world) reference desk, or take a tour of Second Life with snapshots," he said.

"Students can even design a library program with a speaker and invite the public."

Kemp is trying to simulate real world experiences by building virtual buildings and audiences so students can learn in realistic, but safe and controlled, settings.

"We're experimenting with using Second Life to prep students to face the terror of public speaking," Kemp said. "That's very difficult to do in any other way."

While Kemp's class simulations are unconventional, industry analysts say his methods are not unique.

"Second Life is just one of those technologies that allow you to have a more robust classroom experience," said Sloan Consortium survey director Jeff Seaman, who researches education trends.

The catch, according to Seaman, is that while teachers are interested in this technology, it is a challenge finding constructive ways to use it.

"I know schools that bought their own land in Second Life to figure out what it was, but never used it," Seaman told AFP.

The University of Phoenix specializes in long-distance learning in the United States and is among schools that invested in virtual property without developing it, according to Provost Adam Honea.

"It's not that we don't think Second Life is good, it's that we can't fit what we've already done into it," Honea said.

Instead, the University of Pheonix has created its own immersive environments, such as a fictitious company websites that contain realistic documents for business students to analyze.

"Most of our systems are proprietary, so it's easier for us to create our own immersive environments than to use commercial products," Honea said.

Only a tiny fraction of the more than 3.5 million people in the United States that took online classes last year did so in virtual worlds, according to the Sloan Consortium.

"I think that it is going to take plenty of time for groups and communities to realize the affordances and limitations of Second Life," said Coye Cheshire, an assistant professor at University of California at Berkeley school of information.

The University of California at Berkeley doesn't have a Second Life campus, but it makes some courses available via webcasts and podcasts, enabling students to stream lectures to their computers or listen on iPods or other MP3 players.

The pace of academic institutions moving into virtual worlds such as Second Life promises to build as students growing up with the technology become educators themselves, according to Kemp.

"This is an adolescent technology that's lurching and pushing in different directions and getting a sense of itself," he said.

"The things we're learning from Second Life will eventually help distance educators do their work. It's very promising."

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APAC ICT center mulls training for RP gov’t heads

By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

A United Nations-funded information and communications technology training (ICT) center in the Asia Pacific is planning to introduce a training program for government executives, policymakers and educators, an official told INQUIRER.net.

The Asia and Pacific Training Center for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT) is now in discussions with local partners to roll out an eight-module program, dubbed “Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders “ in the country, said Hyeun-Suk Rhee, director of the APCICT, in an interview.

Hyeun-Suk was in Manila to attend an international symposium on emerging trends in ICT education. The symposium was organized by the Colombo Plan Staff College for Technician Education, an intergovernmental organization for human resource development established in 1973.

Hyeun-Suk said the APCICT, a center based in South Korea, plans to bring the training program in the Philippines through a national institute in the Philippines.

The training module was developed by various experts in ICT education, including former Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) commissioner Emmanuel Lallana, the APCICT director said.

Hyeun-Suk said the training program, developed a year ago, is set to be launched during the OECD Ministerial Meeting in South Korea next month.

She said the APCICT is going to work with CICT in the rollout of the training program in the Philippines.

The training program deals mainly with e-governance. It includes modules on project management and using ICT for socio-economic development.

The APCICT is involved in efforts targeting member-countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), specifically in projects using ICT in socioeconomic development through building the human and institutional capacity for ICT.

Hyeun-Suk said the APCICT targets policymakers and educational institutions in UNESCAP member countries, which includes the Philippines.

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Don’t confuse ICT education with ICT tools--educators

By Erwin Oliva - INQUIRER.net

Information and communications technology (ICT) education is not only about providing ICT tools to teachers, an educator told INQUIRER.net.

Shyamal Majumdar, director general of the Colombo Plan Staff College for Technician Education (CPSC), said ICT education has to be integrated in the learning process in schools.

"We should emphasize the pedagogical process in ICT education," Majumdar said. "Sometimes, ICT education is confused with ICT tools."

In a paper he presented during an international symposium on "Emerging Trends in ICT Education" organized by the CPSC in collaboration with other organizations, Majumdar showed that there are various stages of integrating ICT in education.

He said there are at least four stages: emerging, applying, infusing and transforming.

He said that the emerging stage means that teachers are just becoming aware of the potentials of ICT in education. The applying stage is when teachers are starting to learn how to use ICT for teaching and learning. The infusing stage is when a host of ICT tools are used and integrated into the curriculum. Finally, the transforming stage involves the development of new ways of teaching and learning using ICT to explore real-world problems through innovative learning.

"Learning is not a transfer of knowledge, rather it is an active construction," he said. "Technology and teachers’ professional development in its use are best introduced in the context of broader education reform which embraces a shift away from teacher-centered, lecture-oriented training toward learner-centered, interactive and constructive learning environment," he said.

CPSC is an inter-governmental organization for human resources and development, established in 1973 by 26 participating countries including the Philippines. The CPSC aims to help member-countries in enhancing technician education systems.

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PNP cracks down on cybersex in schools

By: Alfred P. Dalizon - Journal online

A SENIOR Philippine National Police official yesterday said more policemen will inspect internet cafes near schools and universities amid complaints they allow young students to engage in cyber-sex crimes.

“We will see to it that all city and municipal ordinances will be implemented to the hilt particularly on establishments including internet cafes located near schools and universities,” Director Silverio D. Alarcio Jr., PNP director for operations, told the Talakayan sa Isyung Pulis or T.S.I.P.

Dr. Corazon Rubio, deputy superintendent of the Quezon City schools division, earlier expressed alarm over the presence of internet cafes reportedly allowing students to view pornographic sites.

Rubio also asked the PNP to address the problem of fraternities, drugs and other petty crimes near their schools.

The school official said they need a much stronger police presence on school premises since most public schools don’t have the capability to hire their own security guards.

PNP chief Director General Avelino I. Razon Jr. said police will tightly secure schools and universities as millions of students return to school on June 10.

Razon asked for a dialogue with school authorities so that their concerns can be immediately acted upon by the “Mamang Pulis.”

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