Blending Classroom Activities with Multi-User Virtual Environment for At-Risk Primary School Students in an After-School Program: A Case Study

Blending Classroom Activities with Multi-User Virtual Environment for At-Risk Primary School Students in an After-School Program: A Case Study

Lee Yong Tay (Beacon Primary School, Singapore) and Cher Ping Lim (Edith Cowan University, Western Australia)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-852-9.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter documents how a group of 14 academically at-risk Primary 5 students have been engaged in academic related tasks in an after-school program mediated by a game-like 3D multi-user virtual environment (MUVE), Quest Atlantis (QA). The case study explores the possibilities and potentials of using the game-like 3D MUVE for the re-engagement of this group of academically at-risk students. From the observation notes, interviews with the students and students’ activities in the MUVE, the two main elements in the MUVE that have been found to engage the students are: ‘play and fun’ and ‘recognition and affirmation of performance.’ However, these engaging elements alone could not purposefully engage these students. Non-ICT activities such as orientation tasks, support by teachers, and the careful selection of authentic assignments are necessary to further enhance their engagement with their learning.
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Literature Review

Quest Atlantis – Multi-User Virtual Environment

Quest Atlantis (QA) is a 3-D virtual learning environment developed by the Center for Research on Learning and Technology (CRLT) at Indiana University. The Center is committed to explore and develop appropriate applications of ICT to improve teaching and learning in diverse settings. This environment is built for students, ages of 8 to 12, who have given up on themselves as learners. It is the belief of CRLT that QA with its deep content and challenging game-like activities will motivate these academically at-risk students. Students explore and move around freely in the 3D virtual world as questers with their own avatars. There is also an online synchronous chat for students to discuss topics of interest and collaborative works. On the right hand side of this environment, students can access their emails, forums, view their accumulated points and lumins, quests, as well as update their personal information.

QA allows students to travel to various virtual spaces and carry out educational activities known as quests. Each quest is a curricular task designed to be entertaining and yet educational in nature. In order to complete these quests, students have to complete real world activities that are socially and academically meaningful. All quests involve both content-area findings and personal reflection by the student. This is done with the aim of fostering critical thinking and meta-cognition. Developers of QA believe that students learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process, with an emphasis on inquiring into domain-related problems. The basic philosophy of inquiry-based learning is to make learning more meaningful, more transferable to various situations out of a specific context, and more conducive to self-directed life-long learning (Lim, Nonis, & Hedberg, 2006).

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