Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

`Indiana Jones' Creator Mixes Fun and Lessons in Classroom Software Series: WORLD MEDIA EDUCATION. Part 3. in the Last of 3 Special Reports, Writers for the World Media Newspaper Network Peer into the Future of Education, Especially the Effects of Computers, and They Contrast the Ways in Which Two World Leaders - the US and Japan - Have Structured Their Systems of Learning. the Preceding Parts Appeared Sept. 8 and Sept. 15 (World Edition, Sept. 10-16 and Sept. 17-23). Fourth of 5 Articles Appearing Today

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

`Indiana Jones' Creator Mixes Fun and Lessons in Classroom Software Series: WORLD MEDIA EDUCATION. Part 3. in the Last of 3 Special Reports, Writers for the World Media Newspaper Network Peer into the Future of Education, Especially the Effects of Computers, and They Contrast the Ways in Which Two World Leaders - the US and Japan - Have Structured Their Systems of Learning. the Preceding Parts Appeared Sept. 8 and Sept. 15 (World Edition, Sept. 10-16 and Sept. 17-23). Fourth of 5 Articles Appearing Today

Article excerpt

CEDRICK WASHINGTON and a small group of other 11-year-olds stare intently at a computer screen as a giant green snake goddess kidnaps a young boy.

Cedrick manipulates the computer mouse to defeat the snake and find the boy. But this is no video-game arcade; it's a Spanish class in an inner-city school near San Francisco.

Cedrick is playing with an innovative, interactive computer program designed to teach Spanish to fifth graders. The snake goddess and all the other characters speak Spanish, and their lines simultaneously appear on the screen as Spanish subtitles.

The snake goddess looks as if it came out of a George Lucas "Indiana Jones" film - hardly a coincidence since Mr. Lucas's company developed the software.

"Indiana Jones is one of my favorite movies," Cedrick says. "The game is like watching one of his adventures."

For the past four years, Lucas Arts and Entertainment has been working with schools and other institutions to develop educational computer software.

Sue Susserman, a spokeswoman for the company, says Lucas has two passions in life: films and education. The software programs allow Lucas "to bring his film heritage and resources" to the classroom," she says.

Sherilyn Rawson teaches Cedrick and other eager fifth graders at Stege Elementary School here in Richmond, Calif. The 29-year-old PhD candidate works in this experimental program using personal computers, video cameras, and TV monitors to teach Spanish.

The Lucas software program "Night of the Living Statues" is being tested in her classroom before general release to other schools.

"It's the most popular program we have," Ms. Rawson says. "You can always tell when Mertseger the snake goddess comes out; that part of the classroom explodes in noise." She says the program's adventure format grabs student attention, but will need more fine-tuning before release. The vocabulary is too sophisticated, she says, and its audiovisual dictionary needs expanding. …

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