Session 3 of our trial at St Mary Redcliffe was pretty easy on us – the Year 9s have all been asked to use our model’s environment as a platform from which to show 16 Year 7s (between them operating 8 avatars) about Roman domestic life – so the session was entirely given over to the four groups’ planning, with Nic offering guidance on the possible affordances (and limitations) of the environment.

This was a challenging task for them – we were asking them not only to choose and research a topic, research it but also to create any additional resource for display in-world (predominantly billboards) and think creatively about an engaging activity. The task was really enlightening for us because it allows us to observe just how much they have taken on board about content in terms of Roman social history but also about mode of delivery – to see what they have grasped and how they apply the uses of the online environment. It also allows them to put into practice some of the more discussions we had in week 2 about the presentation of history to different audiences.

As the groups worked together (4 groups of 4), we circulated to help guide them and answer questions but essentially left them to it. Whilst they did need help scaling the scope of grand plans, they organised themselves remarkably swiftly and we’ve ended with quite a spread of topics – domestic art and interior decoration; Roman social status; Roman food and finally Roman weddings. What’s also interesting is the spread of planned activities – the first group are relying mostly on our visualisation of the house’s mosaics, the second on asking year 7s to ‘interview’ our ‘bots, the third group are mainly about billboards whilst the last group are planning to model their group on our dinner party challenge.

The idea of ending with this sort of presentation was actually Jo and Mary’s rather than ours but it’s clear it’s a great idea and one to take elsewhere – rather than evaluating their learning by asking the students to reflect directly on what they’ve learned, here we can actually see how they are able to apply what we have covered and observe the parts of the model with which they seem most actively engaged. Allowing them to create billboards etc gives the students some ownership of the environment and also generates ideas and materials around which we can develop further learning activities.


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