Educational Technology System Awarded Patent

Posted: May 15, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

The university’s sixth patent was recently awarded for “A System for Instructional Thinking Skills,” invented by Lynn Fontana and Ward Cates, both former faculty of the Graduate School of Education. The patent is the university’s first in the area of educational technology, says Jennifer Murphy, director of Technology Transfer.

Covering methods and systems for teaching thinking skills, it is often referred to as Multimedia Thinking Skills (MMTS) software and has been in development since1995. “MMTS covers a range of thinking and problem-solving activities performed in an electronic or web-based environment. It’s designed to provide a scaffold for learners as they learn to solve complex problems that require them to look at a lot of data in different formats,” Fontana explains.

MMTS has applications in both a K-12 and an adult learning environment, Fontana says. The system provides shell software; a content expert then supplies the content. MMTS can work in both a closed environment, in which the resources are supplied, or an open environment in which learners search the Web to find information. In either case, Fontana says, the software scaffold helps learners analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information themselves. At completion, the information can be linked to a presentation platform, such as PowerPoint. Fontana terms MMTS “a new kind of electronic curriculum engine.”

“We expect that educational technology will emerge as one of the strengths of our total technology transfer program and are very excited about the Fontana-Ward patent issuance,” Murphy says.

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