Activeworlds virtual worlds have been in use for education since 1995. The most successful examples are the Quest Atlantis program (Indiana University) and the River City project (Arizona State University/Harvard University). Over the last five years, more than 65,000 children on five continents have participated in the Quest Atlantis project.
Over the last two years, the Ministry of Education and North Island Distance Education School(NIDES) have partnered to develop a simulation world called West Coast Quest (WCQ) for Grade 4-7 distributed learning students. NIDES is also a user of the Quest Atlantis program, now called Atlantis Remixed (ARX).
Other schools in the province that are also involved with immersive learning include Lochiel U-Connect, Heritage Christian Online School, L'Ecole Banting Middle School (SD43), and Citadel Middle School (SD43).
As this CEET group shows, there is growing interest among BC educators in using immersive learning in their teaching practise. To support and grow this interest, capitalize on collaboration and shared efforts, and demonstrate the concept, the Ministry will acquire an Activeworlds universe server license and make a small number of virtual worlds available to BC K-12 educators, free of charge. World owners must be willing to share access to their worlds with other project participants and their students at negotiated times.
The main benefits of a local instance of the virtual world server, rather than having Activeworlds.com host BC’s educational worlds (as is now the case with WCQ), are a safer, more secure environment for students, and less risk of loss of work should the company cease to do business.
Virtual worlds are especially well suited for personalized learning. They are highly engaging and allow students to determine their own learning paths and goals, according to their needs, abilities, and interests. Students can represent their learning by building areas of the virtual world that include links to photos, videos, and webpages.
Virtual worlds also support the development of 21st Century competencies such as communication, creativity, innovation, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving.
The 2007, 2009, and 2011 NMC Horizon reports all listed virtual worlds as an important emerging technology for education.
What do you think?
Wonderful news Mark. I'd urge anyone who can to take advantage of this opportunity. Will there also be worlds for sale Mark? I may have some sites that could be cloned for use...Canada (all terra formed and mapped out for use). I will try to contact you at the first opportunity.
Way to go. I know that this has been a dream of yours for some time. Things are moving very quickly in this field. We are lucky to have you as a champion of this methodology.
I'm interested in your Canada world: I have one that is a sim of downtown Vancouver, and Alissa Pratt has West Coast Quest, a sim of the west coast: perhaps there is an opportunity to tie them all together.
The world that will be the "gate" of the universe features a hub of islands with a cylindrical "pavilion" on each. One of them features Canada, with six portals inside that are intended to link to the six main regions of Canada. It would be cool if they could link to areas inside your Canada world.
Our Canada world is an interesting creature. It has been altered so that it's size reflects historical content rather than geographical size. It's still clearly recognizable, but the lower 25% takes up 50% of the space, and the extreme northern parts of Canada did not make the cut.
I currently have one student building the parliament buildings in Ottawa, and another in Victoria. These will be "anatomically correct" with the goal of permitting class tours with my students as the guides. Another student is rebuilding the CP Railway across Canada. Each station the train stops at will require passengers to disembark and take another train. These stations will become museums, holding the histories of their locale.
Another is working on the Battle of Batoche. We are short on the avatars one would hope to have for these kinds of builds, but the research and enthusiasm that goes into these projects is more than enough to justify them.
We'd like to begin on some War of 1812 and Plains of Abraham projects, but the lack of resources is somewhat crippling. What amazing things could be accomplished if the ministry would see fit to hire some 3D modeler(s) to create what our schools needed. Perhaps we can find a college somewhere with students who would do this for credit and/or an honorarium??? Let me know.
OK, have to save some of the good stuff for one of my tours, so I'd better leave it at that, but I think linking up may carry some security issues. Again, cloning worlds might be the way to go.
HI Mark -- where does one apply to get one of those worlds? I'm a former Surrey teacher (now in early retirement) and I'd like to see what I could do with one.
Hi, Sue: technically, only teachers with students are eligible, but if you would like to submit a proposal anyway that's fine. There might be a spare world we could make available to you. Or perhaps you could use your former connections in Surrey to identify a teacher who would like to partner with you?
I sent out the application instructions to all the members of this group, so I'm assuming that at least a couple of you never received that message. In short, it said that teachers interested in a free world should submit a brief proposal and timeline for what they would do with it...by end of day Fri. Oct. 14. I hope you can make that deadline. If not, let's talk. Same goes for you, Rob Wahl. :o)
Email your proposal to Mark(dot)Hawkes(at)gov(dot)bc(dot)ca
are there still openings for joining the BC worlds server.
I am working with the Eslha7an Learning Centre in North Vancouver. The Centre is a joint venture between the Squamish nation and SD#44
See my reply to Sue, above.
Gord, would love a tour of your virtual world project at some point, and a bit of a tutorial seeing as we've received the Activeworlds grant go-ahead (thanks, Mark, by the way!).
It's official: the BC Learning NEXUS is a go! We have a team of intrepid teacher-adventurers who have volunteered for this mission (demonstration project) and I've begun the process of purchasing and setting-up the Activeworlds U2000 uniserver, which will be hosted by LearnNow BC. We are aiming to open for business by mid-January.
I'll keep you updated on our progress as we go along...except for the two weeks in mid-December when I'll be sipping Mai Tai's in Hawaii, of course! ;o)