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Richard Doty
IU Media Relations
rgdoty@indiana.edu
812-855-0084

Debbie O'Leary
School of Education
devo99@indiana.edu
812-856-8031

Last modified: Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Learning Matters

News tips about education from Indiana University

Combining elements of role-playing, adventure and learning, Quest Atlantis is a Web-based community-driven meta-game built using 3D technology that allows 9-to-12-year-old children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to virtually travel to three-dimensional worlds. In order to save the civilization of Atlantis, students select engaging quests, talk with other Questers and mentors, and build virtual personas. This gaming format helps foster science as discovery through a technology-rich environment instead of using memorization as a learning tool. It also combines education, entertainment and moral dilemmas, such as social responsibility, community involvement and environmental awareness, to make the learning experience whole. The program, which was developed by School of Education Assistant Professor Sasha Barab and several graduate students, is currently being used in computer laboratories at the Bloomington Boys and Girls Club, at elementary schools in Indiana and in Miami, Fla., and in elementary schools in Australia and Denmark. The Quest Atlantis Web site is at http://atlantis.crlt.indiana.edu/. For more information, contact Barab at 812-856-8462 or sbarab@indiana.edu.

Helping teachers and education leaders develop and pilot Core 40 instruction for their students and colleagues across the state is the goal of the Teacher Quality Partnership Project. This project proposes to establish a partnership in which 47 teachers and education leaders from nine school corporations and local education agencies will work in collaboration with staff from IU's Center for Innovation in Assessment (CIA) as well as faculty from the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences on the IU Bloomington campus. The partnership will jointly develop and pilot several standards-based teaching units and other support materials related to Core 40 courses. These materials also will be adapted and supplemented to increase access for lower-ability students, students of English as a Second Language, and special-needs students. The impact of the teaching units will be assessed using pre- and post-tests comprised of appropriate classroom assessment Items and Core 40 test items developed by the Indiana Department of Education in conjunction with the CIA. After the pilot phase, all materials will be revised, edited, made available over the Internet and shared with other Indiana teachers through both local and state-wide professional development meetings. Teachers and education leaders who developed and piloted the materials will be available via e-mail to serve as mentors for other Indiana teachers wishing to use the teaching units. For more information, contact CIA director Larry Mikulecky at 812-856-8277 or mikuleck@indiana.edu.

The Banneker History Project in Bloomington is now under way as a joint effort involving the IU School of Education, local schools, city government and area residents. Associate Professor Lynne Boyle-Baise is coordinating the School of Education involvement in the community partnership. Benjamin Banneker was a prominent person in African American history because of his accomplishments as a scientist, inventor and architect. The old Banneker School and current Banneker Community Center are Bloomington facilities named after him. "The purpose of this project is to help young people learn about the history of Banneker as a school and as a community center," said Boyle-Baise. "Our two main goals are to help high school youth become informed and active citizens and to help future teachers become responsive to community concerns," she said. Assisting with the project are city officials, neighborhood representatives, the local NAACP, and officials with the Banneker Community Center. For more information, contact Boyle-Baise at 812-856-8191 or boylebai@indiana.edu.

Cultural challenges facing Asian Indian children in U.S. schools were explored in a recent research project involving M. Gail Hickey, a professor of education at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. The study through the IU Center for the Study of History and Memory incorporated oral history interviews with some 80 Asian Indians in Indianapolis, Bloomington and Fort Wayne. "We were interested in the ethnic background and expectations of Indian American parents and how these shape the parents' interactions with their children enrolled in U.S. schools," Hickey explained. "We believe this documentation of life experiences for first- and second-generation Indian Americans can help teachers and others who work with these students and their families," she said. John Bodnar, Chancellor's Professor of History and chair of the IU Bloomington History Department, coordinated the project with Hickey. IUB graduate student Amy Margolin was the principal investigator. Hickey said education in the United States was viewed as offering more opportunities and incentives for females, a wider range of academic and career choices, and a greater emphasis on individual freedom than in India. For more information, contact Hickey at 260-481-6458 or hickey@ipfw.edu, or the IU Center for the Study of History and Memory at 812-855-2856 or ohrc@indiana.edu.

Children have always loved collecting rocks. Let's Look at Rocks: Collecting and Identifying Rocks in Indiana, a new 42-page booklet published by the Indiana Geological Survey at the Bloomington campus, gives kids a new way of looking at the history on their shelves. The IGS booklet teaches children the names of different types of rocks, how they form and what criteria geologists use to classify them. Illustrations and full-color photographs show kids what equipment they need to study their rocks, how to mount a collection, and what safety precautions they should take while collecting rocks. Designed for children 9 years old and up, the book is a good reference tool for anyone who wants to learn more about the geology of Indiana. For more information or to purchase the book, call 812-855-7636 or e-mail IGSinfo@indiana.edu.