News Story

Lyceum Rocks!

Marc Eisenstadt, Thursday 30 October 2003 | Annotate
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Lyceum, the Open University's virtual classroom tool originated in KMi, is alive, kicking, serving thousands of students, and delivering high-quality end-user experiences. I'm taking my first ever OU course - LZX194: Portales (Beginner's Spanish), and using Lyceum as a student, partaking in its capabilities for multiparty audio conferencing with shared graphics. You see the world totally differently as an OU student, because you just want to "learn the stuff", not mess about with technology. But for language learning, this kind of technology is self-evidently an essential tool of the trade for distance learning students. Regarding the current generation known as Lyceum 3.5, I have to say that is *AWESOME*! It has come a long way since the original Lyceum project started here in KMi I'm consistently meeting fellow students online who have just acquired their first-ever PC (for this course!), and are total computer-novices, yet there they are in Lyceum chatting away in high quality multiparty audio .. unbelievable!!! The audio quality, room 'booking' facilities, overall scaleability, integration with the student database/authentication etc. are all fantastic. For foreign language learning, it is a sure-fire winner, as the Dept. of Languages at the Open University is clearly aware. And the story gets even better: The face-to-face (L194) and Lyceum (LZX194) variants both share First Class discussion forums under the label L(ZX)194. But some differences are emerging, as highlighted by a few messages from the "L(ZX)194 Course Discussion" forum. One student writes, "I do wish those of us doing the Face to face version could have a go with Lyceum! I'm really jealous! I'm sure we'd all find it useful for practicing... any chance of us getting access?" And another responds, "Me too. I feel really left out as they seem to get on so well, and they are practising lots before us poor L194s have even started. I think this is a pretty general feeling!" Inevitably, user-interface improvements are in the pipeline. A personal request of mine is this: The sideways-scrolling multiple 'modules' (e.g. when there are multiple whiteboards in a given room are somewhat deceptive. My suggestion is that they should instead look like other classic tabbed interfaces, and as they grow in number they can acquire left-right scroll buttons. The main thing about tabs and familiar-looking scroll buttons is their 'affordance', i.e. users tend to know straight away what to do, whereas the existing 'side-by-side boxes' can throw people... of course they can read the instructions, but clear 'affordances' win the day every time! Anyway, the above is really a minor point, the key message is this: Lyceum rocks!!! Via this story, and separate emails I've sent, I'm saying "Nice going, and congratulations to the whole Lyceum team.".

My tutor has just emailed me... I have a 1-hour Lyceum session with my cohort of 20 students (out of the many hundreds enrolled on this course with other tutors) every other Monday: 20 sessions in all for the whole course... the whole LZX194 student body is really looking forward to it... fantastic!

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Marc Eisenstadt

Emeritus Professor; KMi Co-Founder and Chief Scientist

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