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Saint Paul College Prepares For the Future With Web 2.0 Degrees

Warren Sheaffer is Saint Paul College's Computer Science Department chair, and he has some big ideas -- not least of which is the importance of Web 2.0, a piece of technology that has been dominating modern web use. According to Finance and Commerce, Sheaffer is preparing students well for the future of computing, with several new courses and a very special partnership that puts the college at the cutting edge of classroom technology.

One of Saint Paul College's new courses is a web development program called the Web 2.0 Certificate. This certificate is "designed to prepare students to help develop advanced Web applications using the set of technologies that are common to Web 2.0," in other words applications relevant to Facebook, Wikipedia, and other such hot spots in the changing and increasingly collaborative world of the web. Also among those hot spots is Linden Labs' virtual reality sandbox Second Life, and Sheaffer is leading his department into a Second Life Revolution.

This charge into Web 2.0 technologies requires help from some heavy-hitting friends, and this vocational school found that in Silicon Valley superstars Sun Microsystems. The company partnered with the college to help develop curriculum in 3D graphics and programming, plus a groundbreaking virtual classroom setting. The school launched the Sun Microsystems Center of Excellence to "help create a next-generation 'mixed-reality' teaching and learning laboratory." It uses a mix of classroom activities and new virtual worlds, and brings together students in the physical realm and distance learning students alike. "We believe," says Sheaffer, "it's the first of its kind at an educational institution in this country."

Two new associate degree programs are offered through the virtual reality world of the Center of Excellence: the Metaverse Application Design program is a graphic design degree that develops skills in 3D rendering and animation, whereas the Metaverse Application Development program more closely resembles a computer science degree with a focus on Java and other similar programs. By knocking down barriers with the virtual nature of the Center and the courses, Saint Paul College has high hopes for educating people across the country and around the world.

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