Glocalizing Quest Atlantis: Globalizing and Localizing an Interactive Digital Medium for Learning and Teaching

Project Number
OER 17/08 SZ

Project Duration
April 2009 - February 2012


The goal of this project is twofold. First, it aims to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with developing, refining, and scaling a game-based curriculum project designed to foster the development of dispositions towards critical (productive) mathematical, scientific, and technological literacy. Second, it aims to support an innovative professional development model vests teachers with agency over the process and links them to a global online community of educators. Over the last four years, Barab and a diverse team of colleagues (which includes the grant PI and collaborator Gresalfi) have successfully designed a virtual world known as Quest Atlantis (QA) for US teachers and students, which uses a 3D multi-user engine, interactive rule sets, and a socially-responsive narrative to immerse children, ages 9-12, in meaningful learning trajectories. Moreover, although QA engages students with learning outcomes aligned with MOE syllabi, its game-based participatory structures, underlying pedagogical assumptions, and reliance on new media literacies provide a necessary contrast to the foci and practices that currently dominate much of local school practice. LSL projects have already begun to investigate the transformative potential of one of QA's student-centred science curricula. A series of implementations underscore both the promise and the problems associated with learning environments driven primarily by interactive narratives that organize classroom activity and student agency around the negotiation of immersive environments and roles; perhaps one of the most fundamental insights is that short-term interventions provide students and teacher with only fleeting opportunities to explore and engage the multi-dimensional affordances of QA. These studies illuminate powerful instances of 21st century learning and teaching coupled, at other times, with an understandable reluctance to depart radically from the established rituals of classroom life. It is against this backdrop that this grant seeks to explore longer-term partnerships with teachers and to foster a virtual, global community of practice among teachers and across nations. Specifically, in this grant we will design and research: 1) professional development supports and teacher tools to influence teacher dispositions regarding what counts as effective pedagogy and help them in supporting student learning; 2) new content to foster transitional experiences that extend student experiences with mathematics, science, and technology across curricula and into students' everyday lives; 3) supports and models for scaling up the project to classrooms across Singapore; and 4) research tools and knowledge with respect to the challenges and opportunities of successfully carrying out such work. As a result of this project, Singapore students and teachers will develop new relationships to knowledge, resulting in a transformation of students' and teachers' appreciation of and interest in particular subject matter content.

Funding Source

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