Southern Worlds 2010 Conference

This year, I was fortunate enough to participate in an online session about Quest Atlantis as part of the Southern Worlds 2010 Conference.  The session was called, “Quest Atlantis: Fab Tales from the Classroom” and was a wonderful opportunity to share special memories about working with our own Questers and hear the experiences of others.  A number of Quest Atlantis teachers have shared their stories on the Quest Atlantis Teaching Wiki.  We were excited to hear from teachers like Steven Caldwell, who is currently on a study trip in the United States related to the use of Quest Atlantis.  Steven’s blog, Milarepa’s Musings, documents his travels and includes posts about a number of innovative educators.  I was also excited to hear from Janine McGrath, as she spoke about a wonderful collaborative Summer Camp Project using QA and centred around the BP Oil Spill.

Moments in Quest Atlantis I will not forget…

We started our Quest Atlantis journey at the end of 2008. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience for our teachers and opened our eyes to the wonderful opportunities that virtual worlds can offer our students.

Part of my role involves assisting teachers with the implementation of new ICT related projects. This is my 20th year working in education (I only just realised that now whilst writing this!) and, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in many wonderful projects but, I have to say, none have been more rewarding that my involvement with QA and virtual worlds.

When I first joined QA, virtual worlds were still so new to me. I was nervous, excited and, most of the time, completely lost! I will never forget the wonderful students I met from around the world who “took me under their wing” and happily shared their thoughts about how much they loved QA.
As we introduced our first group of students to QA they were mesmerised by this new way of learning. Their gratitude was so touching. When I visited their classes they would thank me for QA – they realised that they were part of something very special, an opportunity that most students would never have in their time at school.

When the very first student, Cleo, luminated for the first time, it was like someone had found a rare and priceless treasure. The entire class gathered around Cleo’s computer and did a countdown before she clicked the “LUMINATE” button! They waited with baited breath whilst Cleo followed the instructions and watched as the huge shard flower rose out of the water. Cleo wrote about her experience, “I pulled down the lever and a massive shard flower full of colour, with all the petals luminated and shining, came out of the water. It was amazing and beautiful. I got down from the ledge and refreshed by page and then…the moment I had waited for…my shard flower appeared behind my head with the social responsibility petal lit up!”

There have also been some sad moments during our QA journey. I will never forget one of our youngest Questers coming to me quite distressed. I wondered what had upset her so much, not thinking for one moment that it had anything to do with QA. “I lost my house…” she said, through her tears. The student had not been in QA for some time and, when she returned, found that she could no longer access her plot of land as she had not paid her rent. For me, this was the moment when I realised just how important QA is to our students. Tess had worked hard to complete the building course in QA, ensured that she could pay her rent by doing in-world jobs to earn extra lumins and painstakingly built and furnished her buildings.

I wonder if our students would speak so passionately and feel so deeply about a workbook containing their answers to questions from a textbook?