Academic journal article American Journal of Play

The More We Know: NBC News, Educational Innovation, and Learning from Failure

Academic journal article American Journal of Play

The More We Know: NBC News, Educational Innovation, and Learning from Failure

Article excerpt

The More We Know: NBC News, Educational Innovation, and Learning from Failure Eric Klopfer and Jason Haas Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2012. Foreword, preface, references, index, images, charts, tables. 205 pp. $27.95 paper. ISBN: 9780262017947

The More We Know tells the story of a partnership between NBC News and Mas- sachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in their attempt to revolutionize the way young people view network news and learn U.S. history in schools. NBC News desperately needed a way to connect to a younger demographic, and scholars at MIT were looking for opportunities to bring their innovations in using games and social media in education to a wider audience. By all appearances, it seemed to be an excellent match, and they partnered to create iCue, described on the book flap as "an interactive learning venture that combined social networking, online video, and gaming in one multimedia educational site." Despite what seemed like auspicious circumstances, iCue failed to establish a regular audience, and NBC pulled the plug on the site after less than three years. So what went wrong?

This is the central question pursued in The More We Know. Authors Klopfer and Haas, both MIT members of the iCue development team, chart the project's rise and fall and describe the lessons learned in an accessible and engaging fashion. The opening chapters provide background to the project and introduce some of the key players like MIT's education visionary Alex Chisholm and the newly installed CFO of NBC Universal Adam Iones, a man who understood the dire need for his corpora- tion to join the digital revolution already well underway. The two parties' interests converged on the vast repository of the NBC News archive, an unused but rich cache of nearly a century of news stories that existed only on decaying media such as film and magnetic tape. Iones needed a compelling reason to digitize the archive, and Chisholm gave it to him with his con- cept of letting students access multimedia "cue cards" of news stories that they could order and organize as a means of drawing connections between historical events.

While the outcome is never in ques- tion (the authors state from the start that this is a study of a failed project), much of what makes The More We Know such a compelling read is that iCue, with its promise to combine media, games, and participatory culture for educational purposes, seems like a sure bet. …

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