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Guest Commentators
portrait of Edith Edith K. Ackermann
Ph.D., Visiting Professor, MIT School of Architecture

Dr. Edith K. Ackermann is interested in collaborative learning, Constructive play, and creative work/design, in technology-mediated environments.She focuses on how virtual and physical spaces support people's growth and interactions, and on how people develop senses of identity and community as they meet in actual or virtual worlds. She has pursued these interests in working with technologists, students, teachers, and researchers in milieus concerned with learning and education, both formal and informal.

Dr. Ackermann was a Senior Research Scientist at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory (MERL) for 3 years, and currently teaches Design Inquiry at the MIT School of Architecture. She consults for various research and teaching institutions. Previously, she was a faculty member at the MIT Media Laboratory, as well as in the Psychology Departments at the University of Aix-Marseille, France and the University of Geneva, Switzerland. In Geneva, she collaborated with Jean Piaget at the Centre International d'Epistemologie Genetique, and with Barbel Inhelder at the Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of Education. Her research was focused on children as world-makers, tool builders, notary, playwrights, and, more recently, as mind-readers (psychologists and communicators).

portrait of MILTON Milton Chen
Ph.D., Executive Director
The George Lucas Educational Foundation

The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) is a non-profit operating foundation started by the filmmaker in 1991. It recently released Learn & Live?, a documentary film hosted by Robin Williams and a 300-page companion resource book highlighting effective educational programs throughout the country.

Prior to joining GLEF in 1998, Dr. Chen was the founding director of the KQED Center for Education & Lifelong Learning (PBS) in San Francisco, providing educational TV programming and outreach services for schools, families, and the community. Dr. Chen is the author of The Smart Parent's Guide to Kids' TV (KQED, 1994) and was the national spokesman for the Smart Parents campaign on media literacy, conducted by PBS and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 1996, he served as a co-host of the public TV special, "The Smart Parent's Guide to TV Violence,"with guest experts including First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

His career in public television spans program development and research for PBS's most prominent children's series, including Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and 3-2-1 Contact, productions of the Children's Television Workshop in New York. From 1985 to 1987, he was an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is the author of more than 30 books, chapters, and articles on educational media. He co-chairs the U. S. Department of Education Technology Expert Panel and has recently served as an advisor to the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) Awards, NHK's Japan Prize, Home Box Office and educational broadcasting agencies in South Africa, Taiwan, Hungary, and Germany.

Dr. Chen received an A.B. in social studies from Harvard College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in communication research from Stanford University. He grew up in Chicago and is the son of Chinese immigrant parents, who came to the U.S. during the postwar 1940s. He enjoys many sports (softball, jogging, golf, tennis), travel, and history. He believes in the merging of learning and enjoyment. His favorite book on the topic is "Education and Ecstasy"by George Leonard. One of his most memorable and enjoyable personal Learning experiences involved learning to speak Chinese in order to meet his relatives in China. Professionally, he has enjoyed working with very playful and talented animators, writers and filmmakers to make educational "cartoons" and songs that teach through television.

portrait of Ruth
Ruth Cox
Ph.D., Actress, Educator, Writer

Dr. Ruth Cox teaches creative expression and psychology, and facilitates online learning communities at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California, where she received her Ph.D. in 1999. Her dissertation studied 12 adult students engaged in a year-long course of psychology study via the Internet.

For more than 25 years, Dr. Cox has worked as an actress in theater, film, and television, in productions from Shakespeare to Happy Days. She is a native of northern California and attended the California Institute of the Arts, where she received a B.F.A. in 1975. Her hobbies include yoga, golf, writing poetry and reading novels. She is the daughter of a forester and a teacher, so she likes to spend time in nature and enjoys teaching children as well as adults.

This fall, she is organizing a Psychology Cyber Conference on the Internet. You are welcome to attend!

portrait of Jogi Jogi Panghaal
Architect, Design Consultant at Lifetools

Mr. Jogi Panghaal graduated in Product Design from the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India in 1977. He co-founded Lifetools in New Delhi to provide product design and communication design services to communities, both rural and urban that needed design help. Projects done include product design work with rural artisans and disabled children and communication work with rural and urban communities, particularly women in the areas of health and HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Panghaal has been a visiting teacher at NID, at Les Ateliers Paris and at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. He has research interests in the area of cultural identity and design and has conducted educational programmes on this theme. In a parallel project, he has been involved in the study of food and identity issues. In fact, both these projects have informed each other over time. Present communities and resource institutions have to establish mutually useful relationships with each other through the help of information technologies.

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