Thursday, February 17, 2005

More Lifestyle Learning

Is Yourself Fitness a game, a simulation, or one of the most interesting e-learning applications I've heard of yet? It runs on the Xbox, but it's different than the usual game or simulation -- there's no storyline or environment to explore. Perhaps it's most like an instructional video on huge digital steroids, complete with a gorgeous virtual personal trainer (Maya fan club, anyone?) who learns about you, teaches you how to do new exercises and customizes your workout each time to keep you progressing, focusing on different areas and staying motivated. You choose the visual background and music for the workout.

Before this becomes a nauseating ad for software I've never actually used, I should say a bit about why this interests me:
  • it seems like a great example of "lifestyle learning" using technology to achieve specific self-directed goals -- informal learning, but meaningful and integrated into peoples' lives
  • running it on a gaming console stretches our idea of what they're for -- why shouldn't the Xbox go beyond games to be a music system, DVD player, personal trainer, digital storage device, communications center, etc?
  • Maya is a virtual teacher of one very specific subject area, but couldn't she guide people through almost any kind of learning activity in a way that took the learner's needs into account? Inviting users to participate in different ways, both within virtual environments and in their homes or schools? Connecting learners to experts or each other? Taking advantage of webquest-like research activities?
  • educational CD ROMs were supposed to be the next big thing 15 years ago, but the technology has come a long way since then. Production values matter -- if the graphics are fabulous, the characters compelling and the music rocks and the pacing is stand to keep people more engaged
Thanks to Gwen for the link.

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