iCue Combines Gaming, Multimedia, Collaboration for Education


NBC Learn, the education arm of NBC News, this week launched a new collaborative learning site that combines gaming and multimedia for students aged 13 and up. Called iCue ("Immerse, Connect, Understand, and Excel"), the service builds on research out of MIT's Education Arcade, housed at MIT's Comparative Media Studies, to integrate traditional learning activities with new technologies.

iCue was conceived initially as a resource for AP students (with course outlines based on AP course outlines) but is also designed to be useful for a wide range of students, from middle school through college. It provides politically themed games and activities targeted toward social sciences and English, including language and composition, with a special focus on the 2008 elections. Content and curricula will be expanded this summer, according to NBC.

Some of the site's current features include:

  • Hundreds of NBC News videos;
  • Images, articles, historical documents, graphs, and other multimedia materials;
  • Online discussion forums moderated by NBC News staff; and
  • Privacy features for minors using the system.

For playing videos, iCue uses a Flash-based media player called CueCard, which allows users to view video, access transcripts, flag material with keywords, and take notes, all on the fly. The media player can also be "flipped" to access additional information about the content being viewed.

MIT's Education Arcade group is also conducting a study on iCue to "find out how iCue can help students learn and build critical thinking and 21st century communication skills," according to NBC.

"The new media literacies are social skills and cultural competencies which young people are acquiring informally through their engagement with games and other virtual playgrounds," said MIT Comparative Media Studies Co-Director Henry Jenkins in a prepared statement released this week. "Young people are putting their heads together, comparing notes, pooling knowledge, and tackling problems collectively that they would not be able to master individually."

Further information about iCue can be found at the site's tour page here.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director, education for 1105 Media's Public Sector Media Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal. A 22-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

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