Quest Atlantis (QA) is an international learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-16, in educational tasks (visit QuestAtlantis.Org to learn more. QA combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. It allows users to travel to virtual places to perform educational activities (known as Quests), talk with other users and mentors, and build virtual personae. The project is intended to engage children ages 9–16 in a form of transformational play comprising both online and off-line learning activities, with a storyline inspiring a disposition towards social action. Explore our site and learn more about this exciting project.
Over the last four years, more than 20,000 children on five continents have participated in the project. We have demonstrated learning gains in science, language arts, and social studies, and students have completed literally thousands of Quests, some of which were assigned by teachers and many of which were chosen by students to complete in their free time. Equally important have been reported personal experiences, with teachers and students reporting increased levels of engagement and interest in pursuing the curricular issues outside of school. Students and teachers conduct rich inquiry-based explorations through which they learn particular standards-based content, and at the same time develop pro-social attitudes regarding significant environmental and social issues.
Rather than just placing work and play side-by-side, QA strives to make learning fun and to show kids how they can make a difference. At the core of student activity with QA is the completion of Quests. 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. Through these activities, we hope that children will not only learn to use technology, but will also develop standards-based academic and communication skills as well.
All of the academic activities are embedded in a secure online gaming context where children explore our 3D virtual environment, “chat” online with other students and teachers using QA, and take part in the story of Atlantis – a complex civilization on a faraway planet that is similar to our own and in need of help. Building on strategies from online role-playing games, QA combines features used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. More than just a game, Quest Atlantis offers weblogs (or “blogs”) written by Atlantians, novels, comic books, cards, and a host of social opportunities. QA is about community.
We should note that a professional development course is mandatory for all new Quest Atlantis teachers. While there has been very high demand by interested teachers and schools, the technology is complex and requires committed teachers. One of the early challenges with scaling our project has been supporting teachers around the globe in effectively using such a technologically-advanced and pedagogically challenging curriculum. We believe our online professional development module allows teachers to effectively integrate this innovative curriculum into their classrooms. Through our QA-PD we familiarize teachers the technology and wide range of opportunities in QA, as well as with the inquiry-based pedagogical approaches which are most likely to lead to successful, exciting implementation. Rather than being prescriptive, we see our PD as a learning opportunity which gives teachers the tools to get the most out of a very flexible, fun curriculum.
We are hopeful that the Quest Atlantis Project has captured your interest. We think that QA offers an innovative, academically sound, and highly motivating curriculum.
The Quest Atlantis Team