Serious Games in Education: Quest Atlantis

Trying to get some of the heavy hitters out of the way early in this series of posts.

Our school has been using Quest Atlantis for a couple of years now.  I received the initial training, but our school has primarily used the program with sixth graders as it’s geared toward 9 – 12 year olds.  My 12, turning 13 year olds and some 14 year olds are really on the upper end of who QA is geared toward.

Quest Atlantis is a Multi-User Virtual Environment modeled after Second Life and World of Warcraft.  In the game, students control an avatar who travels through the world and attempts Quests.  According to the QA website:

A Quest is an engaging curricular task designed to be educational and entertaining. In completing Quests, students are required to participate in simulated and real world activities that are socially and academically meaningful, such as environmental studies, researching other cultures, interviewing community members, and developing action plans.

Quests are also tied to one of seven “Social Commitments”:

  • Social Responsibility
  • Compassionate Wisdom
  • Creative Expression
  • Diversity Affirmation
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Healthy Communitites
  • Personal Agency

How well a student does on a Quest is determined by their teacher. The teacher can accept a student response or request that they dig deeper into the task in order to recieve credit for completing the Quest.  Completion of Quests earns the student “Cols” and “Lumins” in the game which correspond to currency and experience towards a higher rating in the game.

Quest Atlantis is divided into multiple worlds, 11 at the moment, which each have a distinct theme.  Worlds are divided into 3 Villages, each with approximately 20 to 25 Quests.  This equates to over 600 available Quests for students to attempt in order to build their character. Many of the Quests involve students going out and conducting some brief online research and coming back to the game to prepare an answer to the question. Missions are longer, usually involving multiple Quests.

A brief overview of gameplay is shown in this video by Tony Forster:

The game is very reading intensive. The conversations between non-player controlled characters and your student’s avatar are text based instead of spoken. There is also a chat area where students can interact with their classmates and other Questers all over the world. There is currently a very strong group of classes using QA in Australia. Additional reading can take place in either of two novellas that describe the world of Atlantis, it’s history, and some of the on-going challenges faced by the Atlanteans. There is also a short graphic novel that discusses the history of Atlantis. All of these things combine to make Quest Atlantis a wonderful supplement to regular reading, science, and social studies instruction.

Quest Atlantis was developed by Sasha Barab at the University of Indiana as a research study in the use of 3D virtual environments for educational purposes.

To get involved with Quest Atlantis, visit:
http://atlantis.crlt.indiana.edu/

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