Shelley

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Ok, so nearly there – and we are so exhausted! In between classes we’ve been crashing about trying to finish all the materials, get them loaded, get instructions to Tommy and set up in Open Sim. This week’s class (which if you’ll remember is actually session 4 because we’re a week behind ourselves is ultra-complicated. It’s a class about experiencing daily life in Pompeii through the eyes of different characters so that students can explore how status and gender differences were manifested in Roman society. The main activity was an ‘Apprentice’ style challenge which students undertook in three groups. The student avatars in each time were this time all transformed into Romans of different status and between them they had to spend their budget of sesterces on the menu and entertainment for an important dinner party as well as draw up the seating plan. The challenge was issued by the Paterfamilias, Gaius Sallustius, (the students had already met him as robot charcater but this time he was inhabited by Nic who voiced him through skype).

To avoid any chance of overload we didn’t let everyone log on at a time – only a few avatars from each team could come in. In order to get the ‘right’ answer, they had to travel round teh isalnd finding what was on offer in the ‘shops’ (info boards set up around the landscape) and then interview the household. The trick was that the robots would respond differently to different student characters, so no one student avatar could get a full set of information. It was great fun observing this class from within Open Sim and lisatening via skype – the students engaged with the class and all made sensible choices. There was clearly active team working and the students responded very well to the game-based nature of the activity. At the end of the class Tommy asked each team to present their choices, added up the points they had scored and Nic as Gaius announced the consequences. Students won’t know it but these consequences will affect their avatar’s ability to escape the eruption we have planned for this week.

This week was such a triumph. As we didn’t have ebverybody logged in at once it still wasn’t exactly as we’d like it but this was an ambitious class with lots of different elements and it was fantastic to see it all working and, more importantly, the students engaging with it so positively.

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