Monday, May 25, 2009

The Alice Project

The authors state that in the first phase of disruption of the instructional system, the software likely will be complicated and expensive to build. They go on to hypothesize that within a few years two critical factors will have fallen into place: platforms that facilitate the creation of user generated content and the emergence of a user network. "The tools of the software platform will make it so simple to develop online learning products that students will be able to build products that help them teach other students. "

I recently read about Randy Pausch's work at Carnegie Mellon in human/computer interaction and particularly the Alice project which appears to be a platform that could facilitate creation of user generated content. Alice is a free computer application that teaches kids to program while giving them the impression that they are simply creating animated stories. See and and

From some quick research, it appears Alice is being used to teach other subjects, including English as a Second Language. An ESL teacher created a 3d model of his classroom with the exact seating arrangements. His program generates conversation bubbles with key English words which students must form into sentences when the bubble is over their virtual seat. More extensive research might show that students are already using Alice to build products to teach other students. There are a number of blogs associated with Alice that suggest a user network is emerging.


  1. thanks for making this connection; I will definitely check out the Alice Project and think about how to utilize it...very exciting

  2. I have worked with the Alice program and found it be promising. I think a better place to start is with MIT's Scratch. The challenge is to bring this application out of the computer lab. If we formally embrace and value "problem-solving", then such programs as Alice and Scratch will become tools of curricula. In our K-8 world, we still are in need of giving ourselves permission to experiment with such approaches.