NBC Launches Edutainment Online Network

Note: Cross-posted on Cliotech.

eSchoolNews reported that NBC News has launched an edutainment-based social network for teenagers.

The network, iCue, stands for Immerse. Connect. Understand. Excel.

The FAQs page contains a ton of information. Much of the content is dedicated to user privacy and security – which is understandable considering the intended audience of this network.

Here are some highlights:

What is iCue?
iCue is a free, online, collaborative learning environment for students and lifelong learners ages 13 and up. It includes discussion forums, fun games and activities, and hundreds of current and historic videos from NBC News. Whether you are joining to improve your grades, connect with friends, or just learn new things, iCue gives you a safe, fun environment for discussion and learning.

What makes iCue different from other educational websites?
iCue is designed to support natural learning in a fun, safe environment based on gaming and peer discussion. iCue gives you access to hundreds of historic video resources that have never been made available to students, along with games, activities, and a network of friends for discussion and support. It is not a “test prep” program full of boring study drills, and it is not an “edutainment” site full of flashy games but little actual learning. In iCue, YOU — the learner — are in control of how you want to learn, how much time you want to spend, and the activities in which you want to participate.

Who is iCue for?
iCue is for students ages 13 and up, and anyone else interested in learning new things in a supportive, collaborative environment.

What makes the iCue Friends Network safer than other websites?
Because a large percentage of our community will include minors ages 13-17, NBC News has made every effort to ensure the safety and privacy of all of our members. iCue is primarily a learning environment, not a social networking website. We encourage interaction between our members on the public discussion boards and through our voluntary Friends Network. However, members do not share personally identifiable information about themselves on the site such as real names, photos and hometowns. We also monitor our Discussion Forums to make sure that we are maintaining a safe, secure environment for all of our members.
Privacy Policy

The What is iCue? page contains a short Flash video that overviews the site. A more extensive guided overview is provided on the Take the Tour page. I am quite impressed with the 3D interactive multimedia Cue Cards. The Cue Cards are less like a flash card than like an interactive video player. Users can customize existing cards, add them to their content by “snagging,” and share them with other users in their Friends Network.

iCue has some terrific resources for the 2008 Presidential election as well as for past elections. As a former social studies teacher, I would have LOVED to use this site with my 9th graders. The site offers writing prompts and game challenges. Users can review media and respond through the challenges, polls, and/or forums. It is highly engaging and interactive.

iCue also offers moderated forums that range in topic from the online games to the daily news to other topical issues. The fact that the forums are moderated make it a terrific option for teachers looking for online extensions. The forums pages also publishes an RSS feed. This would be a great feed to use to model subscribing to RSS feeds.

Overall, I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with iCue. I would be very interested to hear from teachers who have used it with their students.

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