NMC Focus Area Initiatives
Focus area initiatives allow the NMC to deeply explore an area of interest. From time to time, new focus area initiatives may be added or existing ones retired.
How can we make activities that bring people together around knowledge and the exchange of ideas more engaging? How might we also remove or lessen barriers of time, distance, and culture?
Under the umbrella of this initiative, the NMC sponsors research and projects that focus on ways the engagement of games and virtual spaces can be applied to learning and online interactions, and on activities that stimulate the use and experimentation of these technologies. Examples include the design of virtual learning experiences and spaces; traditional and experimental meetings, symposia and conferences, in both online and face-to-face contexts; experimental and proof-of-concept events hosted in the virtual world of Second Life; and NMC Virtual Worlds, a suite of development services that support the development of and educational uses for virtual worlds.
How has the growth and acceptance of new media opened new opportunities for learning, scholarship, and creative expression?
At the core of this initiative is a focus on how communication, art, learning, and technology are converging. A major goal is to stimulate ideas about how to use emerging media forms more effectively. Activities have included an international summit of thought leaders in this arena, conferences on visual literacy and other topics related to new media and learning, alliances with groups like the Marcus Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, and publications such as A Global Imperative.
How are the processes and products of scholarship changing? What does this mean for the academy?
This initiative, the NMC’s newest, focuses on understanding the ways the practice of scholarship is changing, and on highlighting new forms of scholarly production. Included are efforts aimed at identifying how to assess the contributions of emerging forms of scholarship, supporting experimentation with new methods of expression and ways of visualizing information, and stimulating awareness of the value of these forms. Activities under this umbrella to date have included face-to-face and online conferences, new alliances with other groups working in this space, and experimentation with dialog-rich approaches to writing that have produced six volumes of work as part of the MacArthur Series on Digital Media and Learning.
How can we help people and institutions create media-rich digital stories about their work and passions?
The Pachyderm project is addressing this question in two ways: with a multi-million dollar open-source authoring platform built by and for museum and university scholars and staff; and with a series of workshops and curricula that focus on the development of skills related to digital storytelling and an understanding of how to best use digital media. Since the release of the Pachyderm platform in October 2005, the focus of this initiative has been on building and supporting the community of Pachyderm users, encouraging its use in museums and higher education, and stimulating adoption of the tool and the materials created with it. The Edward and Betty Marcus Digital Education Project for Texas Art Museums is a major outreach activity under this initiative. The Pachyderm Project, actually part of both the New Media & Learning (NMLI) and New Collaborations Initiatives, is such a large project that it is held to the same standards as an NMC initiative.
Are there systemic and more efficient solutions that can make creating effective web-based learning easier?
This initiative, now retired, focused on stimulating and supporting the authoring of learning objects. At the time, the theoretical work that informed the software to house learning objects (repositories) was well established, but it was very difficult to author effective, engaging learning objects. The Pachyderm Project has its roots in this initiative, and several historically important events and publications supported work in this area, including the Learning Object Summit and the NMC monograph, Guidelines for Authors of Learning Objects.
For a complete description of all NMC initiatives both past and present, including core initiatives, please use the links at the left.