ELearning Awards intro

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The Schome Park Project

Welcome to the introductory page for judges of the eLearning Awards. This page gives a quick overview of the Schome Park Project and provides links to specific sections of the wiki and forum.

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The Schome Park Project is part of the activity being undertaken by the Schome community (Schommunity) to develop our thinking about what our education system should look like in the 21st Century.

not school - not home - schome - the education system for the information age

Find out more about what schome is all about ...


The Schome Park Project started in the planning stages late in 2006, where the staff came together to come up with ideas for the project. The initial pilot project started in March 2007 and the main Schome Park Project started in May 2007, and since then the students (and staff) have been having great fun. Originally, the pilot was funded by the National Association for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY) and The Innovation Unit. Becta are helping to fund the main project. The main goals of the project are:

  • To explore the educational potential and pitfalls of Teen Second Life
  • To develop the knowledge-age skills of participants, specifically: communication, confidence, creativity, leadership, motivation, problem solving and teamwork.
  • To try out alternative approaches to supporting learning to inform our thinking about visions for schome (the education system for the information age)

Students are called SParkers, and the staff work closely with them to provide challenging activities,including unusual ones, such as volcano sumo and the flying carpet challenge.

The project environment is split into four parts, the Wiki, the forum, the island (SPii) and The SLog, (a tool created by one of our staff, allowing us to send messages to a web page from inside Second Life).

Learning through gaming

Schome Park addresses many subject areas through strands run by staff and students. These include:

  • Artificial Intelligence (student run) Students were provided with a chatbot script devised and distributed by Ken Schweller in his work with his AI and first year programming students on the adult grid of Second Life. The script, which can be embedded in any built object in the virtual world, draws on the editable Pandorabot database. Staff ran a session in Schome Park to demonstrate the chatbot concept, where each student had the opportunity to engage in conversation with the chatbot and, as a group, discuss potential uses for the script. Each student was given a copy of the script with some basic instructions. Students were then able to apply and develop the concept as they chose, which resulted in a great variety of social and service bots.
  • Ethics and Philosophy (staff run) A popular strand in the early stage of the project that continues to develop with facilitated discussions on a wide range of topicsmany events
  • Physics (originally staff run - now run by students)
  • Language Lovers (student run sessions teaching German and Latin)
  • Media and Design (staff and student run)
  • Readers and Writers (student run)
  • Research (staff run)
  • SchomeTech (student-run project which includes an in-world radio station).
  • Archaeology (staff run) Activities and discussion about museums and archaeology including a blog from a field trip in Turkey

As the project has developed, it has become clear that the greatest development of knowledge age skills takes place when the students are involved in 'games' which they have initiated and organised. These have included:

  • Chess One student began work on developing a chess set in world, developing programming and building skills. He was joined by other students, in world and in the wiki and the forum, who worked together over several weeks to design the board and the chessmen and to program their moves. Finally, students were able to meet in world to play chess together on the finished board, using instant messaging channels to work in gruops discussing strategy, tactics and moves.
  • Regatta Students worked together to hold a regatta in world. This involved: reshaping the island to provide enough water for the course, moving buildings out of the way, designing boats and course markers, producing a map of the island with courses clearly marked, organising events and teams, ensuring that the races were fair, co-ordinating the three-day event, organising a prize-giving ceremony, and reporting on the event afterwards. This successful event is held six-monthly, with the second regatta taking place in October 2007.
    Faji regatta crash.jpg

  • Theme Park - Wiki Page
  • Machinima I know it's not a game, but I think we could get it in this section on the basis of its being play acting. Also Faz's CSI project
  • Wedding Two students declared their intentions to wed their avatars in-world. The community swung into action and created a full wedding chapel, invitations, wedding car, outfits for bride, bridesmaids and guests (groom was, at that time, a brain in a jar so somewhat sartorially limited), wedding cake and reception area fully equiped with food and dance facilities. The service took place as advertised on the wiki and through in-world invitations and a happy event was had by all. Unfortunately bridge and groom are no longer together, as the grooms avatar became corrupted and was retired and replaced. The student behind this then organised a murder mystery evening to investigate his own demise!

Why this project is a fabulous eLearning arena!

The project uses four media: a Teen Second Life island, a wiki, a forum and the SLOG tool. Exploring the wiki and forum as you like will show numerous examples of the fantastic activities that have been taking place in and around the island of Schome Park since March 2007. It's a dynamic and creative environment that changes every time you look at it! We have created an index page specifically to help you find your way around (cos we know that it is all a bit daunting to begin with!)

We believe that in many respects - and with some mistakes along the way - we are trying out some of the ways in which we hope our future schools will be places of:

  • creativity
  • collaboration
  • team-building
  • leadership
  • excellent communication skills
  • - and places where everyone is a learner!

We don't always spend a lot of time quoting the UK government:-), but we did take seriously the encouragement to:

“develop the skills you need for participating fully in a technology-rich society. ... spending more time learning in groups, working with other learners, being creative, learning through challenging, game-like activities and materials ... and with clear personal goals that you help to set.” Department for Education and Skills (2005).p. 11

Pedagogical innovation (promotion of active learning, evidence of collaboration)

The project is innovative in a number of ways:

  • we are using Web 2.0 technologies to extend our thinking about what our education system for the future should be like - specifically the wiki, forum, SLog and Teen Second Life.
  • the design of the project is based on the eSIR Reference Statement (Twining et al 2006 Appendix 1), which was developed as part of a major evaluation of the impact of the DfES e-strategy in 2005
  • student voice is central to the project
    • we are giving young people control of and responsibility for their own learning within the project
  • we use the technology to free students from the baggage of their physical identities

Technical performance and innovation

Usage statistics for the wiki and forum demonstrate that the Schommunity is actively engaging with Schome - the majority of this activity is directly linked with the Schome Park Project.

Wiki stats

Period of time Average number of page views per month Average number of posts per month
April 06 to February 07

Before we started using Schome Park

16,736 470
March 07 to October 07

After we started using Schome Park

118,650 1,832

Forum stats

Period of time Average number of page views per month Average number of posts per month
September 06 to February 07

Before we started using Schome Park

14,708 294
March 07 to October 07

After we started using Schome Park

174,266 3,624

Transferability to other countries and schools

The Schome Park Project already involves students from all over England, as well as from a school in the USA. The potential exists for learners globally to become involved in this project.

Our work is extending our thinking about what schome might be like (the education system for the information age) - helping us to break free of the constraints of our prior experiences of existing education systems (eg school). This has direct relevance to all education systems around the world.

SPii 07-09-29 002.jpg

Machinima Poster.jpg