Quest Atlantis Project


Computer and video games have had a pervasive influence on American society and culture in a relatively short period of time (K.  Squire, 2003).  According to recent data, approximately sixty-nine percent of all Americans play computer/video games which have sales topping $7 billion (Buckley & Anderson, 2006). Additionally, researchers at Michigan State University (2004) found that children play video games as much or more than they watch television.

Because of findings like these, educators are beginning to look at how the motivating aspects of video games can be utilized to help facilitate student learning in the classroom (K.  Squire, 2003).  While computer/video games have perpetuated negative images of women and promoted violence in the past (E.F. Provenzo, 1991), others view these games as powerful digital environments that can be harnessed as motivational components and implemented in instructional settings (Bracey, 1992). For these games to be effective in educational settings, they must be meaningful to the students, engaging them through multiple goal structures and scoring mechanisms, varying degrees of difficulty levels, random elements of surprise and an emotionally appealing fantasy or back story that can be related back to game skills ( K.  Squire, 2003).  The power of current computer and video games is their ability, to use these aforementioned mechanisms, to place users in states of “flow;” players are thrown into an optimal experience and become so engaged that self-consciousness and time disappear, allowing for pure engagement in complex, goal directed activity (Csikzentmihalyi, 1990).  Computer and video games can be utilized as models to improve the learning environment by implementing clear goals and challenging students to collaborate and gain control of their own learning process.

Quest Atlantis (QA) is a learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-12, in educational tasks. Building on strategies from online role-playing games, 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. Each Quest is connected to local academic standards and to our team's commitments. Completing Quests requires that members participate in real-world, socially and academically meaningful activities, such as conducting environmental studies, researching other cultures, calculating frequency distributions, analyzing newspaper articles, interviewing community members, and developing action plans.

We have been involved in the development of the water quality units found in the Ecology World. There are currently two parts in this region, The Taiga Quests (3) and Cinder Creek. Taiga involves a issues with a declining fish population due to the current uses of the National Park while Cinder Creek is an urban water quality unit. Using pre and post tests as well as authentic assessments, we are hoping to look at the engagement of students, with a particular focus on gender.




Quest Atlantis Papers, Presentations, and Professional Development
Quest Atlantis Papers, Presentations, and Professional Development
2010

       Anderson, J. (April 2010). Games and the Development of Students’ Civic Engagement and Ecological Stewardship. In Zemliansky, P. & Wilcox, D. (Eds.) Design and Implementation of Educational Games: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives. IGI Global.

Anderson, J. (2010). The impact of using video games and / or virtual worlds in pre-service elementary teacher education. Paper to be presented at the International Conference of Learning Sciences. Chicago, IL, June/July 2010.


Anderson, J. (2010). Developing ecological stewardship and civic engagement through student participation in virtual worlds. Paper presented at the International Conference of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO, May 2010.

Anderson, J. (2010). Developing ecological stewardship in elementary school through student participation in virtual worlds. Poster presented at the International Conference of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, March 2010.

2009

Anderson, J. (2009). Real Conversations in Virtual Worlds: The impact of student conversations on understanding science knowledge in elementary classrooms. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. April 13-17, 2009. San Diego, California.

Anderson, J. (2009). Real Conversations in Virtual Worlds: The impact of student conversations on understanding science knowledge in elementary classrooms. Paper presented at the International Annual Conference of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching. April 18-21, 2009. Garden Grove, California.

2008

Anderson, J., Jong, C. & Barnett, M. (2008). Virtual Worlds, Real Impact: Gender and the Use of a 3D Virtual World to Teach Concepts Around Water Quality. Paper Presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. March 24-28, 2008, New York City, New York.

Anderson, J., Jong, C. & Barnett, M. (2008). Virtual Worlds, Real Impact: Gender and the Use of a 3D Virtual World to Teach Concepts Around Water Quality. Paper Presented at the International Annual Conference of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching. March 30-April 2, 2008, Baltimore, MD.

2007

Anderson, J. & Barnett, M. (2007). The Kids Got Game: Using Quest Atlantis, a 3D Virtual Computer Game to Develop Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills in Middle School Science Classrooms.  Paper Presented at the International Annual Conference of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching. April 2007, New Orleans, LA.

Anderson, J. & Barnett, M. (2007). The Kids Got Game: Using Quest Atlantis, a 3D Virtual Computer Game to Develop Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills in Middle School Science Classrooms.  Paper Presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting. April, 2007. Chicago, Illinois

Anderson, J., Barnett, M. & Bergin J. (2007). Quest Atlantis: Using computer gaming technology to teach problem solving surrounding water quality and environmental issues. Workshop presented at the National Science Teachers Association, March 2007, St. Louis, Missouri.
Boston Globe
Allston Brighton Tab
Waltham Paper
Garfield Article