NBC Launches iCue

NBC News today unveiled iCue (http://www.icue.com), a free, online, collaborative learning community informed by MIT research that incorporates gaming, discussion and video resources in a fun and safe environment.

Created by NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, for students and lifelong learners ages 13 and up, iCue stands for Immerse, Connect, Understand and Excel, inviting users to "immerse" themselves in self directed and peer-supported active learning using hundreds of videos and other resources from the NBC News archives; "connect" with friends and peers through discussion forums, personal networks, and by sharing learning resources, comments, thoughts, and insights; deepen their "understanding" of core content through thought-provoking games and online challenges; and "excel" in coursework or personal learning goals while building critical thinking and 21st century communication skills. iCue is a dynamic and content rich experience, immersing users in EdutainNet – education, entertainment and peer networking.

"At NBC News, we have made a big commitment to working in the education space, and this project is the most substantial one yet," said NBC News President, Steve Capus. "There is tremendous opportunity to combine our vast resources of information with an audience that is hungry for it in an environment they are comfortable consuming it. That, combined with the technology of iCue which dramatically alters how video, digital content and peer networking can be used to support student learning in a safe, engaging virtual environment, makes this an incredibly exciting project."

Designed using research from the MIT Education Arcade, a research group devoted to integrating gaming and peer collaboration into traditional learning activities and environments (http://www.educationarcade.org), iCue offers an unrivaled learning platform – using patented technology of the iCue CueCard – engaging members in authentic, natural learning by incorporating both fun and education in an intuitive, safe and peer-supported environment. The CueCard is a media player, flash card, note-taking tool, and trading card. The patented "flip card" technology allows users to watch streaming videos from NBC News and then "flip" the CueCard over for additional information. Users can "snag" CueCards and store them in personal resource libraries – or CueCard Stacks – customize them using the "jot" feature to write thoughts and opinions, and exchange comments about content with their iCue friends.

MIT is conducting a study to find out how iCue can help students learn and build critical thinking and 21st century communication skills. "The new media literacies are social skills and cultural competencies which young people are acquiring informally through their engagement with games and other virtual playgrounds," said Henry Jenkins,
Co-Director, MIT Comparative Media Studies, which houses the MIT Education Arcade program. "Young people are putting their heads together, comparing notes, pooling knowledge, and tackling problems collectively that they would not be able to master individually."

Today's launch has a politically-themed collection of games and activities highlighting Decision '08. Over the summer of 2008, NBC Learn will add content and course curriculum for U.S. History, U.S. Government and Politics, and English Language and Composition. All content is aligned with the education standards for Advanced Placement courses, yet the material is appropriate for a wide range of high school and college level history, government, civics, language arts, and writing classes.

iCue content includes hundreds of NBC News videos as well as hundreds of images, letters, primary source materials, articles, cartoons, charts and graphs and other non-video resources and content partners, including The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (www.gilderlehrman.org)."Our peerless collection of American historical documents will certainly enhance this innovative learning platform," said James G. Basker, President of the Institute.

NBC News has established rigorous privacy policies that set a new, higher standard to ensure the safety and privacy of all members, especially minors ages 13-17. Unlike other networking sites, user profile information excludes full name, city, birth date, photos, or other personal details that could be used to identify members outside the iCue environment, and each user can decide with whom they want to share their profile information. Members are encouraged to participate in robust discussions and debate via the online Discussion Forums, but all communication takes place in a safe, public environment moderated by NBC News staff. Members agree to abide by Forum rules that prohibit flaming, bullying, obscenities or inappropriate topics, or exchanges of personal information.

"NBC is committed to ensuring a safe, appropriate environment for all members of iCue, including their audience of minors ages 13-17, while encouraging the development of a dynamic and supportive community of learners," said Adam Jones, Senior Vice President of Network Development and Chief Financial Officer, NBC News.