Please help us change education with virtual worlds technology. Learning can be engaging, transformational and FUN!
Please help us change education with virtual worlds technology. Learning can be engaging, transformational and FUN!
Please watch the video above - 4th and 5th grade students at Coal Mountain Elementary School discuss their experiences with NOBLE Adventures.
What are NOBLE Adventures?
It is a learning model that enables all students, with a diverse range of personality traits and learning styles, to be successful by using virtual worlds technology as a means for engaging with the real world and constructing their own knowledge within a shared space.
In NOBLE Adventures the emphasis is less on "doing" assignments and more on "being" in a role. Students (through their avatars) will be scientists who do experiments to solve a problem, engineers who use math concepts to construct a bridge, and graphic designers who use color theory to design a business logo.
Virtual world learning goes beyond traditional online learning -- even game-based learning (which is always pre-set and calculated). In our view, the virtual world allows for more unexpectedness, spontaneity, and teachable moments that make learning and teaching enjoyable. At the heart of it, avatars in a virtual world are real people interacting with real people.
Our KickStarter Proposal
The Association of Virtual World Educators, Inc. (AVWE) , a non-profit organization, is seeking $54,750.00 to develop twelve (12) NOBLE Adventures for the OpenSim virtual world platform. We will make these learning adventures publicly available at no cost to any teacher or school.
Designed to be a turn-key operation (a lesson-in-box), each NOBLE Adventure includes the terrain file, 3D objects, avatar costumes and accessories, lesson plans, worksheets/lab reports, assessments, and a teacher’s guide. The only thing not included in a NOBLE Adventure package is a server connection but schools have several low cost options available to meet this requirement (see the Technology section below).
The Project Scope and Timeframe
The project will develop twelve (12) NOBLE Adventures - six (6) for social studies and six (6) for science. Each NOBLE Adventure roughly corresponds to a traditional unit of study; that is to say they will require two to three weeks of instructional class time
Each NOBLE Adventure for social studies and science will embed the National Core Standards in math and language arts so that students receive authentic application in these vital basic skills.
We have scheduled to roll out twelve (12) NOBLE Adventures at an rate of one per month starting in January 2013 and ending in December 2013.
- 6th Grade Social Studies (1st semester topic)
- 7th Grade Social Studies (1st semester topic)
- 8th Grade Social Studies (1st semester topic )
- 6th Grade Science (1st semester topic)
- 7th Grade Science (1st semester topic)
- 8th Grade Science (1st semester topic )
- 6th Grade Social Studies (2nd semester topic)
- 7th Grade Social Studies (2nd semester topic)
- 8th Grade Social Studies (2nd semester topic )
- 6th Grade Science (2nd semester topic)
- 7th Grade Science (2nd semester topic)
- 8th Grade Science (2nd semester topic )
Although schools will need little or no money to implement our NOBLE Adventures, we need funding from Kickstarter to develop the instructional materials that we will give away. Specifically, the funding will cover the following expenses:
- Virtual World Developer - responsible for terraforming the virtual land, building the 3D objects, animation, scripting, costumes/props and scripts.
- Curriculum Specialist -responsible for the actual learning activities/assessments, aligning those items to the National Core Standards and for addressing different learning styles within the instruction
- Creative Director - responsible for the narrative and game elements for the archetypal journey and the teachable moments. The Creative Director will also serve as the Project Manager.
- Project Expenses - cost of rewards, regular shipping, etc.
To keep cost low we will use independent contractors and make use of public domain and Creative Commons material when possible.
Any additional funding raised would be applied towards producing additional units of instruction until a complete middle school curriculum emerges.
(Skip this section if your eyes start glazing over.)
“New Opportunities for Better Learning Environments” (NOBLE) is a concept in which project-based learning activities are developed using social-constructive principles and the analytical psychology of Carl Jung.
Social-constructivism is the belief that student construct their own knowledge from their own experiences and that these experience are colored by social context. Given this, the main function of school should be to provide varied experiences within varied social settings. However, the traditional schools cannot send a group of students to France to tour Paris, another group to the moon to work in collaborative teams and yet another group to fashion school to create their own dress designs and have them back before the bell. Virtual worlds can.
Along with social-constructivism, a fully-rendered NOBLE Adventure applies three concepts from Jungian psychology:
- Psychological Traits - Jungian psychological types are used as a basis for promoting individualization through learning styles (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, True Colors, etc.). Technology inside the NOBLE Learning Adventure monitors student responses/interactions and adapts the instructional materials in two ways: (1) to deliver difficult content in modalities that are best suitable to a particular individual learner, and (2) to deliver less difficult content in modalities in which a particular learner needs to develop.
- Archetypal Journeys - Jungian archetypes (e.g.: as manifested in Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” ) are used as a curriculum template or pathway that promotes personal growth. The employment of gaming techniques inside virtual worlds engage students as they move through a transformational journey. Students are not the same at the end of the journey as they were at the beginning -- not only have they learned the content material but they have had personal growth in terms of self-actualization as well.
- Synchronicity - The Jungian concept of synchronicity is used to create random teachable moments. This means that the technology introduces random material into the adventure so that “hooks” and “spin-offs” appear. Thus the learner is given opportunities to fall through a “rabbit-hole” into a topic that may become his or her life’s passion. After all, it is not possible to seize the day if one never receives a “call to adventure.”
To us, the best use of instructional technology is: "To Do That Which Cannot be Done in Any Other Way." The NOBLE Adventures meet this directive exceedingly well. Educators are no longer limited by the constraints of time, space and physical resources. If we can think it, we can do it in virtual worlds.
There are several virtual world technology systems available. We have chosen OpenSim technology as our platform because (1) it is free - an important consideration for schools, (2) it is fairly stable, and (3) as an open source clone of Second Life (the world‘s largest and most successful virtual world), much of the scripting from Second Life can easily be ported over to OpenSim. Since the technology has already been developed, we can concentrate on creating the instruction.
Schools who want to use our NOBLE Adventures will need to have OpenSim running on a server -- either on their own network or on a hosting service or through a process known as Sim-on-a-Stick. With Sim-on-a-Stick, it is possible to run an OpenSim virtual world on a flash drive. While there are difficulties with networking with Sim-on-a-Stick, students can work in pairs using just one avatar. Another valid technique to use with Sim-on-a-Stick is for students to create 3D objects in Sim-on-a-Stick and then import the objects they made into a network environment. The teacher’s guide will cover each method - school server, hosting service or flash drive.
Learning Adventures in Classroom Use
We have already developed and implemented many NOBLE Adventures. Although they are at various levels of development, we have long passed the proof of concept stage -- we know this stuff works!
- The Berlin Wall (5th Grade) - Students explore a scale model of a section of the Berlin Wall, role-play family members separated by the wall, research historical figures of the period and display the research at the Virtual Berlin Wall Museum. They also role-play being an assistant book editor at a company that plans to publish a book on the Berlin Wall. The author has given many facts and figures and the assistant book editors have to verify the author's statements using their math skills. Lastly, students build a way for them to escape over the Berlin Wall (glider, ladders, hot air balloon, etc).
- American Indian Village Tour (4th Grade) - Student build 3D models of the dwellings of various American Indian tribes. They then set up a walking tour with kiosks that display information about the different Indian cultures.
- Turtle Island (5th Grade) - Students explore and identify over twenty (20) geographical features on Turtle Island and determine which areas are suited for what species of turtle. They participate in a Turtle Race and interact with Abominable Snow Turtle - a mythical creature who can chat with students via an ALICE artificial intelligence system.
- The Regions of Georgia Amusement Park (8th Grade) - Teams of students are assigned a geographical region of Georgia. Each team designs and builds an amusement ride reflective of their particular area (i.e., a roller coaster for the mountain region, a manatee ride for the coastal region).
- The Water Quality Project (4th Grade) - Dr. Aquarius Garcon, the famous inventor of the WaterBouy Water Monitoring Device has disappeared while conducting a water survey in Small Town. Students, role-playing hydrologists, go to Small Town to finish the survey and to discover what happened to their leader. They collect data from eleven different water quality tests and use mean, median and mode averaging to develop a Water Quality Index to help them identify the major source of pollution. The results of their findings determines the fate of Dr. Aquarius Garcon.
- The Presidential Campaign (8th Grade and HS Government) - Students register for voting, form political parties, develop party platforms, design and create political campaign materials (flyers, yard signs, bill-boards and radio ads), conduct a mock debate and vote for the avatar of their choice.
- Project AJAX (7th grade) - Student reenact the 1953 CIA overthrow of the Iranian government by role-playing CIA agents who go undercover as professors of Middle East Studies. In order to pass as professors as they move through the progressive stages of the coup the students must learn the Middle East history, the different ethnic groups, the similarities and differences of the three major religions, the goods and products used in trade and commerce, the importance and influence of oil, etc.
- The Happy-Ever-After Shopping Mall (4th Grade) - students design and manage their own retail shops in a Mother Goose theme mall. Student learn to manage a budget as they buy and sell their wares to each other using the built-in money system in OpenSim. From the Sleeping Beauty Mattresses Store to Piggy Brothers’ Building Supplies to Jack‘s Bean Shop, the Ever-Happy-After Shopping Mall is your one-stop shop for all of your avatar needs.
NOBLE Adventures Currently in Development
We are currently working with the University of North Georgia to develop the following NOBLE Adventures that will be delivered to 4th and 5th graders by interns in their student teaching program:
- Anne Frank’s House - student will explore a 3D model of the house to better understand the living conditions of the Frank family while they were in hiding..
- Hitler on Trial - Can Hitler make a viable defense? You be the judge. Go to the courthouse and listen to each side make their case.
- The Lost Colony of Roanoke - The build will include the fort, an Indian village the visiting ships of Sir Francis Drake and the Giant Sassafras Tree (one reason Sir Raleigh sent the colonists to the New World was to gather sassafras which was in demand as a medicine in Europe). Students will research and then reenact their own version of the fate of the lost colonists.
- Return to Turtle Island? - Who or what is killing the turtles? The avatars return to Turtle Island to investigate why the turtles are dying. The results are surprising - this is no shell game.
- Hooverville - Student experience the Great Depression through their avatars. Build includes a shantytown with a soup kitchen, railroad tracks with a hobo camp, and a “Daddy Warbucks” mansion. The sun WILL come up tomorrow!
To Be Developed with KickStarter Funding
- 2 - Sixth Grade Social Studies
- 2 - Seventh Grade Social Studies
- 2 - Eighth Grade Social Studies
- 2 - Sixth Grade Science
- 2 - Seventh Grade Science
- 2 - Eighth Grade Science
About the Rewards
We have some cool rewards but please contribute out of the goodness of your heart -- you know, surely you know, we MUST transform education and THAT will be your biggest reward.
NOBLE Adventures will be FREE downloads for everyone!
Risks and challenges
LITTLE RISK - Due to unforeseen circumstances, a NOBLE Adventure might have a later release date than we had hoped but each adventure will be completed. We will have regular updates on our website.
BIG CHALLENGE - Changing mindsets. Unfortunately, too many educators assume the solutions to real problems are found on bubble answer sheets.
DOOMESDAY - We fail to reform school for the 21st century. As a result, western civilization topples to its knees as an inept and uneducated work force is increasingly unable to solve problems and think creatively.
WHAT WILL KEEP US UP AT NIGHT - praying that you over-fund this project. Imagine the Algebra course we could develop if given the funding of just one First Person Shooter!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (34 days)