One of our main goals with Quest Atlantis is to position students to be actively engaged in the learning process and not just passive recipients. This still requires quite a bit of intervention and scaffolding from our part and the teachers’; but students still have one place where they have free reign – QVille. And the best lesson we can learn from QVille is that even when left completely to their own devices, students will still try to actively make sense of the world around them.
QVille started as a world where students could explore 3D building and play a little, but by the time I came to QA in 2008 it had already evolved beyond that. Students are able to rent a plot of land for six cols (QA’s currency) a month. Since this is the equivalent of 2-3 solid essays for the teacher a month, the price was often too steep for some children to get a lot or maintain it for long. In response, those children who had the extra cols would rent lots and build hotels. Students wanting an area of their own could then rent a room from the original builder at a more affordable price of one col a month. The students with more than six rooms in their hotels found a way to turn a profit.
By 2011, a simple hotel is just old hat. Students are wanting more out of the QVille experience and even more of a profit. Now, hotels and other business have the option to join the QVille Stock Market or a company. I know the first time I saw kids talking about the stock exchange, I was skeptical – can elementary school kids really understand the complexities of the stock exchange? It would appear so. When buying stock, you give the business a certain amount of money depending on how well it is doing when you buy your stock. Each “stock” is equivalent to one percent of the company, and at the end of the month you are entitled to one percent of the profits in addition to being allowed to make decisions about the business. If the company is doing really well and others want to buy the stock you can sell it at the new price. This is not the NYSE, these are the rules of the QVille Stock Exchange.
With all this money and investment going on, students are now more responsible for the continuation of their hotels and businesses. You now have the option to enter your business in a partnership with a Qville “company,” which resembles a conglomerate in the real world. Multiple business, including restaurants, hotels, arenas, and karaoke bars, enter into these companies in order to help one another by advertising the others or giving building advice. As part of the company, students are required to maintain company standards in the quality of their buildings, follow company protocol which could even include a uniform, and attend meetings.
Now that money and regulations are involved, laws must be enacted, right? Students are working on a Qville Supreme Court with judges, lawyers, and police. The chat excerpt below shows two students working to set a legal norm.