Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This Video Game in my classrooms

Quest-Atlantis is the best educational video game for grades 3-7 that I have ever seen. It encompasses social action, with content area knowledge, with cultural diversity, compassion and citizenship in a 3D virtual environment. It encourages critical thinking and artistic license in the same space.

I was introduced to QA about 2 years ago at a district level showcase of technology. At that time, it was already an internationally used game, small in nature, basic in its look. However in the time since I first viewed the game until now the evolution has been extraordinary. The game is now a polished looking 3D interactive game with high level visuals and a deep storyline. While these qualities make the game look like many of the high level, popular games on the market, QA has an edge.

The Edge that I am talking about is "EDUCATION". The QA team, housed at the University of Indiana has infused solid pedegogy into its quests. Students will participate in a huge array of single quests or integrated missions and units that will take them through an adventure in science, math, social studies, literature or any other number of content areas. All of this is done by the student making choices, reading, writing and communicating with characters in the game and other players. This is a huge amount to pack into a game, but the QA team does this with finesse!

Now, this all might sound very good, but the question that comes to my mind and the minds of many others is, "what about security"? QA is a closed space that is open only for students and their "trained" teachers. Before students can log in, teachers must go through a training with a QA team member and all students must have a permission slip signed by a parent. Once this is done, students can log in and use the game by participating and completing an introductory mission that will familiarize them with the game and the purpose for them being there.

I have used this game first hand, and recommend it higher than other similar educational video games. The QA team is constantly pushing the envelope of what is possible in the game and always encouraging the evolution of the game itself. You can find me in the QA world as jepstein. Hope to see you there!

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