Quest atlantis teacher and teacher educator workshop



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QUEST ATLANTIS TEACHER AND TEACHER EDUCATOR WORKSHOP
Bronwyn Stuckey

Quest Atlantis, Indiana University

bestucke@indiana.edu

Abstract

In Australia a number of teachers have undertaken training and moved to implement the conceptual play space Quest Atlantis (http://www.questatlantis.org) into the curriculum in their schools. This workshop offers participants practical and hands-on insight into the value of Quest Atlantis, a 3D multi-user virtual world developed by the Learning Sciences team at Indiana University. With foci varying from gifted and talented education, mainstream teaching and learning, motivating students and pastoral care, and in the presence of teachers practicing in the program, participants will see how this virtual world has the potential to transform what we understand a school-based learning.


Workshop objectives are to:


  • offer participants full teacher accounts and resources for use in Quest Atlantis

  • demonstrate the capability of the Quest Atlantis virtual world

  • allow participants to explore the environments from three relevant perspectives; student, teacher and community.

  • Share cases and anecdotes from implementation of Quest Atlantis in classes across Australia in 2007 and 2008 and to envision and discuss how the program might best fit in their own teaching and learning environments.

  • offer participants the opportunity to integrate Quest Atlantis in their classrooms having in this session completed half of the required teacher professional development

  • facilitate teacher access to the online professional development after the conference to complete their training cycle.



The intended audience (experience level and pre-requisites)
Classroom teachers, educational system administrators, tertiary educators (pre-service and postgraduate) teacher education who have responsibility for school students in the range of 9-14 years of age are invited to attend this workshop. No prior online experience is required indeed this session will focus on hands-on explorations for those new to virtual worlds.

The proposed duration of the workshop
3 hours would be preferred to give participants a quality experience in exploring both the technology, pedagogy and classroom application of Quest Atlantis. A 90 minute version can be run but would only complete ¼ of the teacher professional development cycle offered online.

An outline the Quest Atlantis program

In Australia a growing number of teachers in primary and secondary have undertaken training and moved to implement Quest Atlantis into the curriculum planning in their schools. This workshop session offers hands-on exploration of Quest Atlantis. The training session will count towards full qualification for participants to use the program in their schools. The presenters will highlight the motivational, curricular and transformative value of learning within this rich 3D virtual world and a diverse global community. Participants will have the opportunity to explore quests, missions, units of work and games within the virtual world.

‘The people of Atlantis face an impending disaster: and despite their technological development, their world is slowly being destroyed. In an effort to save their civilization, the Council developed the OTAK - a virtual environment that serves as a technological portal between Atlantis and other worlds’. This is the scenario that students are drawn into as they enter Quest Atlantis. This OTAK features two key components, a personalized online portfolio and a virtual 3D space. It is considered that today's youth with their adventurous optimism can especially contribute the sort of knowledge that the Council seeks. Students are invited to become a Quester and to help save Atlantis!

Figure 1. Screen capture of the Quest Atlantis 3D interface.

Take a look at the legend video to get a feel for how this scenario is established http://atlantis.crlt.indiana.edu/public/qa_legend.mov . The legend is presented more fully through a novel and graphic novel, giving a clear literacy anchor to Quest Atlantis in the school curriculum.

As an international learning and teaching project Quest Atlantis uses a 3D multi-user environment designed to immerse children, ages 9-15, in rich and diverse educational tasks. It has been developed by a team in the Learning Sciences group at the Indiana University (http://www.questatlantis.org) with the assistance of grant funding for the original design from the National Science Foundation and funding for scaling to globally from the Macarthur Foundation. The program was introduced to a pilot group of schools in Australia some 4 years ago, and in 2007 with the advent of online teacher professional development has been able to reach out and gain broader acceptance across our country and around the world. The program is fully moderated and all communication takes place behind stringent security has well developed norms and protocols. Quest Atlantis is not commercially operated and access for schools and is offered at no financial cost. All it takes is a commitment from schools for an integrated approach to implementation of Quest Atlantis and for teachers to be trained in the programs rich capabilities. The schools and teachers showcased in this symposium are exemplar of that commitment and a highly professional approach to integrating virtual worlds into the curriculum. All the panelists in this symposium trained in their own time online over 2006/7 and through that professional development and the virtual community itself have developed close ties.

Quest Atlantis has been built to support constructivist and constructionist pedagogies supporting students to take on management of their own learning trajectory. QA combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. The 3D space contains the different worlds created by the Council, and each world features several villages. It allows users to travel to virtual places to perform educational activities (known as Quests), talk with other users and mentors, and build virtual personae. Through the OTAK, people from other planets can help the Council by engaging in quests and sharing their experience, wisdom, and hope. Students also take on roles, responsibilities and leadership as part of an online community and can develop design and building skills as they design and build environments in the 3D world.

Underlying the development of QA learning tasks, QA unit plans, and the experience of Quest Atlantis more generally is a participatory framework that emphasizes action and reflection as vital components to the learning process. This notion of an active learner engaged in real-world activities is central to the child-centred, experientially-focused, and inquiry-based learning environments promoted in academic research, and is consistent with current frameworks and plans for educational reform. The framework is also underpinned by serious considerations for student safety and understanding of requirements for norms and mores in online virtual spaces. Quest Atlantis staff have negotiated and documented customizations that allow this program to operate compatibly within most Australian school firewalls and the program infrastructures confidently address systemic and departmental concerns about duty of care and student safety .
You can view a Game Play Video that shows a Quester navigating through some of these different virtual worlds. Worlds reflect various themes (e.g., urban ecology, water quality, astronomy, and weather) usually aligned with particular subject matters, and include a purpose built spectrum of challenges (Quests and missions). These Quests and missions involve students in a range of tasks from simulation to application problems with varying levels of complexity.

The challenge has been to provide an adaptive entity that is not simply about playing yet remains engaging, is not a lesson yet fosters learning, and is not evangelical yet still promotes a social agenda. The research agenda focuses on understanding the pedagogical and motivational impact of the medium, differences among genders and from different socio-economic backgrounds, the relationship between play and learning, the challenges in maintaining and participating in a globally-distributed online community, how to best facilitate the meaningful crossing of multiple life worlds, and how different design features of the project impact children's participation.


A summary of the instructor’s qualifications and experience
Instructor: Dr Bronwyn Stuckey

Postdoctoral Fellow & International Liaison

Quest Atlantis, Indiana University

Bloomington, IN, USA

& Sydney, NSW Australia
Bronwyn Stuckey has a doctorate in education focusing on the development of Internet-mediated communities of practice and has worked with the Learning Sciences program at Indiana University Education Faculty as a visiting scholar and postdoctoral fellow for the last 5 years. She has operated in the role of International liaison and teacher trainer for the past 3 years while doing research on social network analysis and identity building in virtual world communities. Bronwyn will be accompanied in this training session by teachers who have implemented Quest Atlantis in mainstream teaching environments across Australia. We will also be joined in the session by teachers across the globe (time zones permitting) who have also implemented Quest Atlantis in their schools.


Requirements for the workshop

Lab requirements

The session will be all hands-on and will require one Internet connected computer per participant.



It will be most effectively delivered in a PC Lab.
Software requirements
Quest Atlantis will need to be installed on each computer in the lab and may require testing of the access to ports and compatibility with any firewalls. There is a standard configuration file that is readily edited to work within network firewalls and will likely need to be edited in this case. Bronwyn may need to work with a site network officer to ensure this is made available and readily accessible.

Expectation you have for Internet use
This session will require use of the Internet for all participants and will require that software has been preloaded onto the lab and presentation machines in a way that is compatible with firewalls and network preclusions. The presenter will need to have access to the lab before the day of the workshop to establish configurations compatible with the venue firewalls and proxies.
NB: This workshop session is a companion to a panel session Learning In Virtual Worlds: Case Studies Of Quest Atlantis In Australian Schools also proposed for this conference. It is hoped that teachers who attend the panel session will be motivated to join the workshop after hearing the stories of real world implementation in schools very similar to their own.


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