For the past decade there was a vast educational research project taking place in classrooms on 6 continents. It was Quest Atlantis, a massively multiplayer online game integrating strong support for 21st century skills into each subject. Teachers, students, and researchers alike hoped that Quest Atlantis could grow, and other students could share the experiences they loved. Some parts of the project moved forward, but as grant funding for the multiplayer platform drew to a close, the team couldn’t keep the game ready for today’s classrooms.
As the developers of the platform that ran Quest Atlantis, we’ve always been excited to see what students were able to do, inside the game and out, and we listened when teachers told us they didn’t want to see it go. We’re working hard to bring it back for a new generation, in collaboration with members of the original Quest Atlantis team.
If you brought your students in to Quest Atlantis – or if you were a student there – you know that the community formed around reading, writing, building, sharing, and saving the world together was special. You know there was potential for much more to unfold – more for students and teachers to create, more features to make the right tools available. Make your pledge and help us bring a new Quest Atlantis to a new generation!
Visit our project support site (http://www.questatlantisreboot.org) for additional information!
Quest Atlantis was developed and evaluated with generous support from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Education, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Over 100,000 children participated in the Quest Atlantis project. They completed over 300,000 educational adventures and submitted over 200,000 reports describing - and shaping - what they learned. And they loved it!
Quest Atlantis was used regularly in 22 states and 18 countries, by over 6,000 teachers. We logged over 10 million lines of educational “chat”!
The kids built virtual personae, spent time with mentors, created “missions” of their own, and learned social responsibility. And their participation was not restricted to the classroom, many students continued their “quests" at home.
THEORY AND RESULTS
Ten years of research showed that the games students played in Quest Atlantis did enhance learning. And that kids loved them! Learning gains were demonstrated in math, science, language arts, and social studies. You can read more here.
But there is more to it. Just as important as the learning gains were the personal experiences. Teachers reported that students had increased levels of engagement and interest in pursuing issues from the curriculum outside of the classroom.
Quest Atlantis makes learning meaningful and shows kids how they can make a difference. What might look like a game really involves “transformational play”. Becoming involved and invested in an experience brings lessons to life and solidifies them in memory. You can read more here.
Games designed for transformational play...
- Transform play from passive recipient to empowered actor
- Transform content from facts to be remembered to tools to be used
- Transform context from future need to immediate relevance
- Help players invest in the consequences of their actions
THE QUEST ATLANTIS PLATFORM
- Develop their in-game character and progress in the game by completing Quests, Missions, and Units through interactive gameplay, writing, and revision
- Conduct rich inquiry-based explorations during which they learn particular standards-based content
- Develop pro-social attitudes around significant environmental and social issues
- Read, write, critique, and discuss - these skills are central to gameplay
- Build, author, share, collaborate on interest-driven projects - these skills drive engagement in and after school
- Choose from hundreds of activities supporting standards-aligned content
- Check on class-level and student-level progress at a glance Give feedback on students' formative writing and reflection within the game
- Access hundreds of pages of lesson plans, supporting materials, and game-aligned activities
- Facilitate students' engagement with content in person and online
Strong Support for 21st Century Skills:
Across the board, in every activity within Quest Atlantis, students must read, respond, write, critique, and discuss in order to meet their goals in the game. These core skills are incentivized, supported, and reinforced throughout gameplay.
- Literacies: Modeled dialogue, writing, and collaboration help students to bridge informal and academic discourse
- Communication: Students are asked to explain what they understand, to put their knowledge in a form that someone else can use. They are always communicating - with their teachers, classmates, and game characters.
- Collaboration: Students engage in structured collaboration, including peer review and co-questing, as they play through formal activities. Alongside this, there is much informal collaboration around student-driven building and authoring projects.
- Online safety and responsibility: New players complete the I-BURST training mission to prepare them to treat their fellow players with respect and their personal information with care. Player communication is also monitored, and issues are addressed immediately in a constructive way to get participation back on track.
Quest Atlantis was originally conceived as a research project. As such it was incredibly successful. It received several large grants and garnered support from teachers around the globe.
We have been working inside the QA research framework for many years. But in April 2015 the final research monies had been spent and ASU was forced to discontinue support for QA and the QA Community.
And the sun set on a beautiful world for the last time...
The next morning we started getting emails and phone calls from teachers around the globe who had come to rely on QA as a teaching tool but could no longer get in.
That's when we decided something had to be done.
Our plan began by simply keeping Quest Atlantis operational and accessible to the teachers and students enrolled. We knew it would be a big job. We purchased servers. We moved databases. We licensed the technologies needed. And now the lights are on and there are several supporting teachers helping us alpha-test.
But more needs to be done.
To keep Quest Atlantis viable we need to do a few more things - and we need your help financing these.
- We need to finish upgrading the 3D software to the most recent version.
- The support platform for teachers and students need to be put in place.
- The teacher toolkit which allows teachers and students to build their own games inside QA needs to be tested, launched and supported.
- The game sharing sandbox that will allow for peer review and sharing of curriculum based content needs to be tested, launched and supported.
- We need inspirational teachers to bring their ideas to the new QA and fill this world with content that will teach and motivate!
The next stage is to REBOOT Quest Atlantis.
MORE TOOLS FOR CREATING AND SHARING
We saw how motivated students were to build and share experiences for each other in Q-Ville. They mastered a legacy building system and taught others to do the same, creating environments and sequences for others to follow even without the access to the game engine we used as designers.
We thought amazing things might happen if we could open our game authoring system up to students - and teachers. So that's what we're doing!
MORE COMPATIBILITY, STABILITY, AND SECURITY
We've done a lot of work to make sure you'll be able to run the new Quest Atlantis in compliance with your school's safety and security policies.
- It works with low bandwidth.
- It works through firewalls.
- It works on low-end computers.
- It works on tablets.
- It can run inside castle walls. As secure or open as you decide.
- Continuing chat review, adult mediation, and account policies
- Legacy code has been replaced to achieve high system stability
MORE TOOLS FOR TEACHERS
The new platform enables classroom-ready game environments along with management and reporting systems and tools they need to build and share their own trajectories. All in an easy to use cloud-based system designed by educators.
Teachers can assign activities, create new ones of their own, or arrange to have them created by a content provider.
And - the activities and resources a teacher creates can be shared with other teachers and their students.
These tools allow very rapid content creation and delivery. Teachers and students contribute game content that fits into the overarching game structure so that other players can jump right in.
Working with our platform we have already started creating some compelling new games. The big idea though is to make this tool available to teachers and students who want to create their own games and share them with a global community. Here is a rough introduction of what the system we have developed includes:
Are you interested in making your own educational game with your students? Here are a few ideas we are working on. We can help you bring your own ideas to life. Imagination is your only limit!Our development team has already begun the process of "rebooting" one of the original QA games “Saving the Rhino”, a nine mission simulation staged in a fictional wildlife reserve in Africa. read more here.
"Saving the Rhino" :
Each of the nine missions contain key lessons to explore during a class period. In these exercises students discover that real-life issues of science, ecology and habitat are often inseparable from other issues of society, politics and economics.
New Functionality and New Content
Students learning about electricity discover what they need to make ther own. They scavenge to find the parts, and then tinker to build a windmill to power their village in East Africa. Since each windmill is built from different found parts each maker has to find the correct combination of parts and values to produce a measurable conclusion.
We are in the process of integrating new set of student building tools. These tools allow students to create their own unique solutions to complex problems. read more here
"1666 - Plague":
Students travel back to the year 1666 to see the disease vectors and containment strategies of the Black Plague of London. Then the compare these with strategies used by epidemiologists in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. read more here
Space Asteroid Unit Upgrade
Students track and respond to a NEO (Near Earth Object) read more here
New Functionality and Content
Students are stranded on Mars, and the only way home is to learn to program key computer systems. They will be able to design, test, and refine code instruction sets. That code can then be "uploaded" to real world external devices for execution. read more here
Interface with Hardware. Program motors, LEDs, speakers and more. We are currently integrating a creative exciting set of technology that will enable the integration of external devices via USB and BlueTooth.
We are a group of programmers, artists and educators who worked to develop the core platform underlying the Quest Atlantis project. We saw the results and the enthusiasm of the players. And when the research came to a close we were determined to keep the project going.
Risks and challenges
What are the risks?
The risk is not that we will be unable to reboot this project, the risk is what will happen if we do not. Anyone who has used QA in the past surely remembers it not as a virtual world, but as a real place. A place where some students astonished you with newfound engagement. A valued tool that can benefit others.
A project like this requires financial support to survive, but money alone does not bring a world alive.
It needs interactive teachers who want to make a difference.
It needs content creators who can help us build.
It needs educators who can bring a curriculum to life.
If we raise our minimum funding goal, we do not anticipate ANY significant challenges or risks in completing the project.
As with all Kickstarter projects, there is always a risk of delay in delivering some of the rewards, but we've been careful to give ourselves MORE time than we think we'll need – so we hope we'll have some, or all, of the rewards out SOONER than listed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)