NBC’s iCue About To Go Up

By Chris Ariens 

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After two years and $15 million, NBC News is ready to go back to school with their latest education initiative. Launching tomorrow, iCue, or Immerse, Connect, Understand, Excel, is a 21st century learning tool that taps into the vast resources of NBC News while informing the next generation of NBC viewers.

NBC News CFO Adam Jones calls iCue “the most technologically advanced product” in the division’s nascent education arena. NBC worked with researchers at MIT’s Education Arcade to develop the site which includes patented technology, including the cue card, what Jones calls “the currency of the site.”

TVNewser took a test drive of the site’s functionality on Friday. Among the highlights: the proprietary cue card which allows users to access a video player, populated with NBC News archival clips. When flipped, the card includes a transcript of the video, associated keywords, an area to take notes, comment, and the ability to trade with friends. “The power of community is leveraged so they can help each other,” says Jones.

Jones says the future of learning is in video adding that the textbook industry “is a monopoly” and “a dying business model.” He says iCue will be “fun and engaging” due in part to the gaming advances of the MIT researchers.

iCue is free, but Jones says the company is reaching out to sponsors and does not rule out an ad supported model to pay for it. NBC has 60 producers working on the project. “We certainly wouldn’t have ads during the school day,” Jones says. “We are not entering this as a commercial endeavor, immediately,” he added.