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 perfect...you stand to keep people more engaged