Columbia Interactive, the first Web portal of its kind to link the University community and the general public with a majority of Columbia's digital content, has been named a gold winner in the Horizon Interactive Awards, a new international competition that recognizes excellence in interactive media production by small interactive media firms.
This is the third time that Columbia Interactive (CI) has been recognized among new media industry leaders. Earlier this year, CI was a finalist at SXSW Interactive 2002, an annual competition that recognizes the year's innovative Internet destinations, and in February, Yahoo! News selected Columbia Interactive as a "new and notable" Web site.
"We are very pleased to again be recognized for innovative and effective communication of our rich educational material," said G. Todd Hardy, executive director and president of Columbia DKV, the creators of CI. "It is gratifying to know that our efforts to use this interactive medium to extend the reach of our educational resources are well received and honored among industry leaders."
According to Mike Sauce, president of Horizon Interactive Awards, the recent economic downturn and subsequent shakeout among digital media firms has put smaller businesses and freelancers (those that earn less than $5 million in annual revenue) in a good position to compete with larger multi-media firms. It is these smaller firms that are creating more innovative, cost-effective multi-media solutions for themselves and their clients.
CI received a near perfect score, 48 out of 50 points, for its clean and logical organization of a large volume of information, "contributing to an effective user experience," its pleasant design, and online learning elements that are " a unique and effective way to communicate information," said Sauce.
In addition to links to e-seminars, class Web sites, video of events, faculty interviews, e-zines, learning tools and centers and institutes, CI provides general access to dozens of new cutting-edge interactive learning tools created for e-seminars.
One such digital learning tool is an interactive map of the Middle East produced for an e-seminar series on the culture and politics of Iran featuring Gary Sick, acting director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia. By clicking on one of 17 Middle Eastern countries, users can zoom to a view of the country, learn about its leadership, suffrage and religious composition, and at any point take an interactive quiz on the world's Muslim population to test their knowledge.
Virtually all of the content on CI is free to Internet users worldwide. All e-seminars premiered on CI are free to Columbia students, faculty and staff, and are available to the general public for $45. Columbia Interactive was developed by Columbia Digital Knowledge Ventures (Columbia DKV), an organization that interfaces with Columbia faculty in the creation and dissemination of new kinds of online learning, to provide easier access to the wealth of content created by the University's schools, departments and faculty.