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Release: Immediate

UI gets $18,000 for multimedia curricula on Mississippi River

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Middle school students of the future will be able to take "virtual" tours of the Mississippi River as they study mathematics, science, social studies and language arts, thanks to a multimedia curriculum being designed, in part, by graduate students in the University of Iowa College of Education this fall.

The Instructional Design and Technology program has received an $18,000 grant from Iowa Public Television's Educational Telecommunications department to develop prototype lessons for fifth-, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders that revolve around America's fabled waterway.

The partnership is part of a larger grant, called "The Mississippi Heritage Project," that the Educational Telecommunications department of IPTV has been awarded through the Star Schools program of the U.S. Department of Education.

Students in the "Advanced Computer Assisted Instruction" class of the Instructional Design and Technology program are designing lessons can be delivered using CD-ROMs, World Wide Websites, video technology, as well as traditional paper materials.

Steve Alessi, associate professor in the Division of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations who teaches the class, says the goal is to use new technologies to help engage students in lessons that use a multidisciplinary approach.

The project will also give instructional design and technology students first-hand experience in applying the skills they're learning in the program, Alessi says.

"All around, it's going to be a wonderful educational opportunity for our students," Alessi says. "And it's going to help create an exciting curriculum that Iowa Public Television and future middle school teachers can use to teach their students important educational skills."

Luiz Lobo, design/creative director for InteractiveMedia at Iowa Public Television and project manager for the Mississippi Heritage Project, says more than 40 people, including instructional designers, media specialists, writers, teachers, and content matter experts, are working on the overall project.

A similar project on the Loess Hills of western Iowa will be sent to Iowa schools this fall. Projects are evaluated to meet national curriculum standards.

"While the overall theme of The Mississippi Heritage Project is the river and its impact on American life and history, one of the big goals is for students to learn skills in the four areas of mathematics, science, social science and language arts," Lobo says.

Students and faculty in the Instructional Design and Technology program learn and do research on more effective ways to develop instructional materials and integrate them into educational environments. Students interested in careers in human resources, business and industry training, and the application of new technologies to education at all levels study instructional design to improve the quality of instructional materials and their delivery.

For the Mississippi River project, the students in the class have divided into three groups. One is working on a language arts component, including the literature of Mark Twain and riverboats; one is working on a component involving the Native Americans of the Mississippi River; and one is working on a component for the arts and music of the river.

The $18,000 will support state-of-the-art computer and video equipment for the students to put their projects together. Students will design materials and a prototype CD-ROM by the end of the fall semester.

Lobo says the new curriculum is scheduled to be ready for use by students and teachers in the fall of 1998.


EDITORS NOTE: For questions about "The Mississippi River Heritage Project," contact Luiz Lobo, Luiz A. Lobo, Design/Creative Director, InteractiveMedia, Iowa Public Television, 6450 Corporate Drive, Johnston, IA 50131; (515) 242-3194 (VOICE); (515) 242-3155 (FAX);;