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MOO:

The Collaborative Website as Learning Environment

John Gruber-Miller

Cornell College

Coe-Cornell Technology Workshop, June 1-4, 1999


TECHNOLOGIES FOR COLLABORATION

THE MOO AS A COLLABORATIVE ENVIRONMENT

THE VROMA PROJECT

1. VRoma is collection of Internet resources, including texts, commentaries, images, maps, and other materials. These resources are extendable and customizable for a variety of reading levels and curricula.

2. As an on-line virtual space, VRoma contextualizes and situates linguistic and cultural information within a simulated space, a virtual "city" containing historical places (a simulation of the city of Rome circa 150 CE) and non-historical places (simulations of various types of spaces that imaginatively evoke ancient life). It is a place where can students can visit and take tours of the ancient city or where they can participate in building projects in special Project Rooms set up for specific courses.

3. As an on-line "place," VRoma is a place where students and teachers can interact both synchronously and asynchronously. Students can have discussions, role play, or re-enact historical events. They can respond to the people, places, and artifacts of the ancient world through discussion with their fellow time-travelers.

4. Most importantly, VRoma is a community of teachers and learners. The project brings people together--pre-college and college, faculty and students--to collaborate for entire courses or specific projects. It also includes teacher training (through summer workshops) and community building (through follow-up mentoring and ongoing reflective conversation).

GETTING STARTED ON A MOO

PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS

Internet Tools and Online Learning Environments
Advantages Disadvantages
Appeal Access
Flexibility Learning curve
Interactivity Time
Requirement of precision Scheduling (for synchronous activities)
Wide distribution and inexpensive publication Cost

1. The combination of information and communication technology within a virtual space reaches more students and their various learning styles than a traditional classroom presentation alone. See VRoma Pedagogical Objectives.

2. Tremendous potential of computers, particularly internet technology, to improve educational practice in the direction of more project-based, student-centered learning.

3. Collaboration is more likely to be the norm. Knowledge is more likely identified with community. And cognitive skills to produce consensus in a collaborative process of knowledge-building become valued.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Barbara McManus, VRoma Project Assessment Director

Barbette Spaeth, Tulane University


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January 7, 2000