Edgar C. Taylor
School of Education
The University of Michigan
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 Arab-Israeli Conflict Simulation is a character playing exercise. The 50 characters represented in the current simulation are organized into 10 country teams. (Generally each team is located in a different school – all diplomatic communications are mediated via computer.) All of the roles represented in the simulation are very high level governmental or political figures. With but a very few exceptions–a few “Private Envoys”–all are also the actual individuals currently holding the offices represented. Therefore, the simulation is based on the highly dynamic, and dramatic, context of the current reality.
In addition to being participants in the domestic political and governmental affairs of their own country teams, the participants in the simulation are involved in three basic forms of activity.
First and foremost is the sending and receiving of private diplomatic “Messages.” Each participant has a subset of a half dozen or so foreign figures with whom such messages may be exchanged. This restriction serves three purposes: to help participants more closely simulate the real world, to help them focus their attention and activity, and to help distribute the diplomatic work-load among all participants on a team.
The second activity that participants are involved in is sending and receiving “Press Releases,” the medium through which they make public pronouncements.
Finally, the participants, being high level political figures, can take political, economic or military actions by means of “Action Forms.”
All of this activity is mediated in a variety of ways by a “Mentor” group located at The University of Michigan.
The purpose of the ICS Arab-Israeli simulation is to immerse participants in the complex dynamics of a highly salient, dramatic and multi-faceted international political reality. This experience is intended to help students become more sophisticated citizens with a greater appreciation of the complexity of domestic and international politics.
“(My students) are in the library, arguing about foreign policy all the time. They tell me it’s the best class they’ve ever had.” -Roberta Magid; Kimball HS, Royal Oak, MI
“The thing I like most about it is that it promotes research; so much of the learning is self-actuated…the best kind! (My students’) growth in understanding of the Middle East crisis was incredible in such a short period of time!” -William Thibodeau; Center for the Arts and Sciences, Saginaw, Michigan
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.