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Case study: Using virtual worlds for creating comicbooks

Page history last edited by gerhilde.meissl-egghart@chello.at 6 years, 7 months ago

 

 

This case study describes a project that was undertaken in the schoolyear 2012/2013 with primary school children in an Austrian public primary school. The topic was the creation of a comic book via taking snapshots of locations, avatars and props in a virtual environment.

 

 

 

 

Pre-Course

 

The focus of this project was to find a way how primary school children could productivly use a virtual world for supporting a task of their daily curriculum - the project topic, we finally came up with, was the creation of a comic book.

This was partly inspired by the "Asterix village" that was built by the NIFLAR team in OpenSim. The decision to use Opensim was taken based on the age of the students, by the desire to reuse the existing Asterix village and the fact that there were gaul avatars, clothes and props available.

 

The participants were a whole school class of a public primary school in Vienna.

 

There were 2 main aims in the project:

  • We wanted to students to be motivated and supported in their creative tasks by doing something really fun.
  • We wanted to find out how the students of this age would get along in the virtual world and to which extent the usage of a virtual world can be meaningful in a primary school.

 

 

After considering various possibilities, including the student's age and technical expertise, we decided to

  • use a safe virtual environment, namely OpenSim
  • not let the students enter the virtual environment on their own, but only via classroom computers with predefined avatars
  • have adult coaches permanently in the class to help with technical issues and supervise what the students are doing

 

 

Implementation

 

The project followed a series of steps, some of them without usage of the virtual environment, some of them with it. However, also in those steps, were the students used the virtual environment, they only accessed it from the computers that were available in the classroom, thus they were never left "alone" but enjoyed permanent face-2-face support and surveillance. The project progressed on basis of weekly sessions with were hold by Klaus Hammerm├╝ller (from talkademy) with the whole class. The class' main teacher was only in a supporting role.

 

Steps in class WITHOUT the virtual world:

1. team building: students teamed up in groups - according to their favorite story ideas

2. decision on the story: each group developed a story for their comicbook

3. writing it down: each group wrote down their story (in text, no pictures yet)

4. thinking what is needed: each group came up with a list of characters, locations and props which they would need for their story.

5. re-writing the text into scenes

 

Steps in class WITH usage of virtual world:

6. setting up the virtual environment: students logged into OpenSim (predefined avatars), checked out locations and props and built the scenes

7. shooting: students took snapshots of the needed scenes

 

Steps in class WITHOUT the virtual world:

8. postproduction: snapshots and texts where imported into publishing software and the comicbook was created

 

 

 

Post-Course

 

There was no formal evaluation of the project done, nor was the students' work assessed or graded. However there was a "reflection session" in which students as well as the class' teacher and Klaus discussed and reflected on the project. The student's main statement was, that they liked it very much :-)

 

 

Findings and reflections

 

  • The students like it a lot (as mentioned above)
  • The creative part of the students was outstanding. The stories were all well-thought and well-written. The students were thrilled about producing a comicbook out of their story.
  • The students quickly managed to navigate around the avatar and control the camera; they also learned quickly where to find props and how to attach them to avatars (and how to position them).
  • Doing the whole "photoshooting" (including preparation of the set) for all the 3 groups was very time consuming, thus talkademy staff had to help out a lot.
  • Creating the comicbook out of the pictures was a bit too difficult for the student's current skills of handling office programs. (We used Powerpoint)
  • Next time we would try to team up an older class (maybe 12 years old?) with younger students in order to overcome younger students skill limitations.
  • Good Practice Framework's relevance: Although it was not a typical course, we carefully considered the recommondations of the Good Practice Framework to see what parts are relevant for this kind of activity. It turned out, that the checklists that are provided in the Good Practice Framework (e.g. the chapter about technical issues and support) are very helpful, as they cover "the full range" of what can possibly happen in a virtual environment. Those recommondations that are not relevant for the course at hand can easily be ignored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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