It is designed for students 4th to 8th grade, and as a teacher allows a very comprehensive online way of managing students progress. Students are engaged in ‘questing’ activities. Teachers may be aware of the work of Bernie Dodge in ‘webquests’. QA has elements of online learning applications, webquests and gaming. It is a great balance of fun activities, learning to communicate and work with others and teaching social and ethical values.
To become a QA teacher, there is a great professional development course, that includes in world and skype based activity, held after school (AEST). The plan is to roll out a number of quests to a limited number of students in Term 4 2008, as there are 3 teachers at my school also doing the course. I have to thank Angela Cooke and Al Upton for the motivation to explore QA, and already I am thinking of how adding some QA type structures into Skoolaborate would work. I do like the way students submit their work to the ‘council’ online. I am thinking about how I can get that to work in Skoolaborate using Google Docs already.
The graphics animation is great in QA, and students get to try their hand at building. I know Westley Field at MLC uses QA are a fore-runner to Skoolaborate, and the lessons learned in QA would make for very productive students in Skoolaborate, so I am really thinking about how I can get students and teachers to use QA in the classroom.
One constant feeling I have is that schools need people to undertake this kind of professional development. Students benefit from activities that are out of the normal structures, and I really enjoy working with groups of kids what I don’t directly have any real tenure. Being able to offer things like QA at the whole school level, and then to support the teacher via technology is something that I see a growing role. EduTech is something that many EduBloggers and advocates talk about – the need to have a specialist, who can navigate the ‘tech’ aspects of Web2.0/MUVE/MMORPGs and support teachers in delivering the syllabus content in engaging ways.
I’ve buddied up with Jeff, a teacher from Great Falls, Montana. We have 3 other teachers in my school doing QA, so working with Jeff who is a middle school teacher, will give me a better insight into 7th and 8th grade learning, which is not to be honest my ‘home’ territory. It will be great to have both QA and Skoolaborate as part of the core desktop in school, meaning that our students are connected to many other teachers and students than ever before. I have no problem with them talking with other teachers or students in QA or Skoolaborate – as both are safe, secure and supportive worlds – and open 24/7, so kids can use both at home as well as school.
Can’t wait to graduate!