2011-2012 Bert Church - Thinking Worlds 3D Learning Environments

Innovative Technology Grant Proposal Thinking Worlds 3D Learning Environments


Prepared by: Derek Keenan, Teacher September 28, 2011

Prepared for: Technology Department Rocky View Schools

Objective - To assess the possibilities and benefits of new educational platforms, particularly in distance education and online instructional design in using an instructional gaming platform.

Goals - 1. To use a mobile development platform to develop an online learning environment capable of delivering online instruction in to a class of students. 2. To learn and then showcase the possibilities of gaming platforms in transforming educational process and reaching 21st century learning objectives and ISTE standards.

Proposal - To purchase of software and provide release time for the learning toward and development of a 3D immersive learning environment based on the Thinking Worlds game design framework. Using a half time of quarter time release schedule for second semester of the 2011-2012 school year, I would learn the software and construct online learning spaces and resources for students in High School English and possibly Social Studies.

The time provided by this project will be spent in two key areas: research and development. In researching existing developments in online gaming, and connecting with current users of educational design software, I hope to attain a high level of initial learning and skill development, while avoiding common pitfalls previous educators have identified in this area. With a solid knowledge of the intricacies of this segment of education, I will be able to better assess the possibilities of the software and design my instruction to best use the capabilities effectively. Once development has started, my first goal will be to re-create an educational experience that students would engage in within my current room, and then use the framework I have developed to scale that learning episode to other students in the school. Once I have been able to create a current educational situation, I will then modify it according to the research and technology available to enhance the educational outcomes that episode is able to reach. Thus I will be able to show with carefully designed examples the benefits that teachers would experience in using this technology. In addition, the Thinking Worlds software allows for game export to iOS devices, meaning that these learning experiences will be available to our students as they learn using the iPads and iPods already present in our building.

This project ties into many of the RVS three year plan goals, including Outcome 1.2 Learning is universally acceptable, 2.1 Learners direct and feel ownership for their learning, 2.2 Learners demonstrate 21st century competencies, 3.1 Learning occurs any time, any place, any path, any pace, 3.2 Instructional design engages each learner, 3.1 Instructional design enriches the learning experience, 3.4 Instructional practices empower learners, 4.1 Learners use digital technologies to enhance learning, Accelerate innovation, research and organizational development to achieve operational efficiencies, and 4.3 Learning is generative, responsive, and multi-dimensional. More specifically in my personal learning goals, it expands my knowledge of emerging technologies and their implications for student learning.


Implications and Expected Outcomes of this Proposal

Referenced in the 2011 Horizon Report as a 2-3 year horizon technology, some of the benefits of this growing segment of education are seen to be “gaming is deemed significant as a conceptual practice with outcomes that enable students to gain skills needed specifically in an information-based culture. The second path finds relevance in specific gaming content, which can overlap with course content, helping students learn material in an innovative way.” It is my hope that my current skills in achieving effective learning outcomes using technology will be highly transferrable to this new skill set, enabling me to create highly engaging and educationally relevant learning experiences that will be scalable within Rocky View Schools, and outside our division as well. The beneift of the Thinking Worlds platform is the existence of a pre-existing online support community, downloadable packages with objects and characters, and an active user base for collaborative support.

By engaging in this research and skill-building at this time in education, Rocky View Schools may position itself as a leader in 3D online learning environments as they become part of mainstream education. There is a possibility to create revenue from the sale of developed learning environments, both online and on Apple’s iOS system. Our research will also allow us to identify the possibilities these platforms open, and realize the limitations they may have in providing effective learning experiences.

Tangible outcomes of this project will include the two online learning activities (with more to follow as time allows) in which a current learning activity is replicated, and then another version provided that is enhanced to reach additional outcomes for learners. In additional to students being able to access learning activities at any time, students can download the free software to complete design work on any machine, personal or division owned, costs only relate to final publishing, which can be done through a divisional license once ready. If we are able to create a student course harnessing this development, there may be scalable results for the entire division.

Costs of the Proposal - This proposal will require a combination of software, hardware and time investments. Software investments would include a full license of the Thinking Worlds software including publishing rights (desktop and iOS) for approximately $1000, release time for myself for research and development, ideally at a half-time release but possibly a quarter-time dependent on funding. (cost approximately $12-24,000) and an iMac computer for graphics and video processing at approximately $1700. Total cost of this project would be $27,000 fully funded at half time for second semester, or $15,000 at a quarter time release for second semester.

In Closing - Thank You for the opportunity to submit this project for consideration. I am excited by the possibility of enhancing my innovative approach to learning for my students and furthering our school's use of innovative technology to support our 21st century learning environment. I would appreciate any feedback that you may have, and if you have any questions or require clarification, please call or email me directly.

Derek Keenan Teacher, AISI Lead, Bert Church High School

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