In Spring 2010 MissionV created a private and secure virtual world for a primary school in Co. Carlow. This ‘deserted island’ was quickly peopled with avatars and architectural structures created by a group of five exceptionally able students from the Gaelscoil Eoghan Uí Thuarisc under the guidance of their learning support teacher Brid Uí Mhaoluala.
Brid has been teaching small groups of exceptionally able children for the past number of years at the school and was interested in using this type of technology to provide enrichment material for her current group of students.
“I am fortunate that we have a very supportive principal and staff and that my Learning Support colleagues have worked with me to create some time for the exceptionally able children. Of course, time is always the enemy and we worked the MissionV project for two periods a week in school, but the children continued to work on the project at home. A special word of thanks must go to the parents of our five participants who were more than willing to let their children get involved and to support them at home.”
“In the past few years, our exceptionally able students have done things as diverse as building a Morse code machine, creating PowerPoint presentations on the Famine, written their own novels and researched and demonstrated scientific experiments to their classmates. Sometimes, I felt the children were doing projects or tasks almost to please me, rather than for themselves. I was delighted to be included in this pilot where the children could work on what they wanted and on something truly challenging. I am not a techno-wizard, I don’t even have an ECDL, so by taking this on, I felt I would be able to say to any teacher that if I could do it, anyone could. James was always on hand to help and advice.”
After some initial training the students quickly got to grips with the software and soon built a 3D world based on a number of local structures such as the Castledermot high crosses. Prior to starting their 3D virtual world building project, the students made a site visit, mapped out the terrain and took digital photos which they then uploaded to their computers, so that these “textures” could be imported into the programme and used to create the right effects for stonework, etc.
But this was just the beginning of an ambitious building project that soon veered skywards to their “City in the Sky”, including a huge chess board in the town square. The students also enjoyed a virtual visit by award winning children’s author, Bob Burke with a lively Q&A session.
The students access MissionV both at home and at school and interact via their avatars with the virtual environment and with each other. Parental agreement was sought to facilitate home access.
MissionV stretched my students in ways I could not, it was pupil driven rather than driven by me, it allowed us to integrate subject areas – e.g. local history with construction and it improved team work and social skills. As I was leaving school yesterday, they wanted to know if they could continue to build during the summer!” – Brid Uí Mhaoluala
What the Students Say
“I built a fort and have almost completed a house. My friend built a sky scraper. It’s fun to be on; you can build modern houses or a medieval castle . . . owning our own island is cool!” – Odhrán
“I think MissionV is fun and a great way to let your imagination run wild in your own virtual world. I would definitely recommend it for children age 10-14. You can create anything from a castle to a shopping centre. Interacting on site with other users in class or at home is what I enjoy most.” – Síobhra
“I like MissionV, because you can build and design on your own island. You can build and create anything at all and make it as complicated as you want. The way you can talk to your friends on it is a great idea because if you are building anything big it helps, as you can plan and build together and get to know other people if the island is “opened up.” I like the idea that when a building is not built properly it will fall down.” – Niamh
“MissionV is a hobby and a tool. When such a programme, granting the ability to create anything and the chance to interact with other people, is used in the education of children the possibilities are massive. The programme allows children to understand architecture. The control of the land is excellent. Not only can buildings be erected but looking out on the horizon we can see mountains, lakes and valleys of our own creation. In creating replicas of true buildings we gain a deeper knowledge of the processes, toils and triumphs used in building. The programme is enjoyable to use and is a fascinating meeting place for classmates.” – Conor