Edgar C. Taylor
School of Education
The University of Michigan Street
610 E. University, Room 4208
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259 USA
v: (313) 763-6716
f: (313) 763-1229
Innovative or improved ways of doing things ; More equitable access to technology or electronic information ; Creation of new ideas, products, or services
Supporting Documentation (contact author for more information):
The Interactive Communications & Simulations (ICS) program at The University of Michigan’s School of Education has offered a set of computer-mediated exercises for over a decade. Many thousands of students – Gifted & Talented, Special Education, Continuing Education, “At Risk,” and of course regular – in over 400 schools (urban, suburban, small town and rural; public and private) in 34 states, 4 Canadian provinces, and 21 countries overseas have been involved in many dozens of separate exercises.
ICS seeks to immerse participants in the complex dynamics of particular subject matters. Participation integrates students via the medium of computer conferencing and telecommunications into daily participation in global classrooms.
The 1990’s Earth Odysseys is an interdisciplinary program that has two principal intents: to provide participating students with an engaging form of vicarious travel, and to use that travel to create an environment in which participants can examine the world in which they live. To accomplish these purposes each individual Odysseys exercise takes participants on a dramatic voyage of discovery while at the same time providing them with a set of curricular activities in the areas of the environmental sciences and social studies. The end result is that students become more knowledgeable about the world, about its geographical and ecological diversity, and the rich and varied cultural expressions of its people.
“Eastern Europe in Flux” centers on a varied group of people from the United States, Canada, and Germany who undertook a three month trip through a dozen countries of Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe during the late winter and early spring of 1991.
“Columbus in Perspective”, centers on a group of people who retraced the route of the initial Columbus voyage of 1492. They send in the “logs” of their trip as they proceed. A recent translation and modernization of the actual log of Columbus is also posted for participants on a daily basis.
During the course of an Odyssey, each traveler, or “correspondent,” files on a regular basis Reports of what s/he has been experiencing. The intention is for participants to be exposed to as broad an array as possible of the phenomena that one can encounter when traveling.
Curricular activities in the social studies and environmental sciences are provided for each Odyssey – activities that have been designed with Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School students in mind. Topics addressed include: societal diversity, political boundaries, clothing and mores, European expansion, material culture, transportation, plant and animal migration, water, scientific discovery and technology, recycling, and others. Participating groups select from among the curricular units offered, and from the several activities that may be undertaken under each unit. The Odysseys exercise has been designed to provide flexibility to allow each school to tailor its participation to its own particular needs.
“This (offers) an excellent opportunity to stave off provincialism in students by opening a window on the world electronically. Comparing the time allotment and access to a professional educational staff to other programs offered by large communications programs, this is wonderful.” -Bill Hurst; Hull HS, Hull, Massachusetts
“I learned more about the countries around the world in 95 days (than) I have ever learned in the whole time I’ve been living.” -Navneet D., a student at Darcel Avenue Public School; Mississuaga, Ontario, Canada
The University provides documentation on all aspects of ICS and its various exercises: substantive, technical and structural. In addition, it maintains the computer conferencing system on which ICS is run; directs, manages and “mentors” the various exercises; and provides a variety of technical support services.