This project has advantages for all stakeholders. For my students there is the excitement of creating in a virtual world (Trinity) using OpenSim.
The process involves developing their concepts, researching how architects approach the design process, incorporating sustainable design features and working to a theme set within Sydney circa 2050 provides a rich and deep field for exploration. As their teacher I am excited about the possibilities of what they can deliver, given the extraordinary power that OpenSim provides students in realising ideas/concepts within a space replicating their real world, yet safe from the intrusion and restrictions that occur in other “worlds”.
The WHEN2050 project is also unique in that it provides most of my students with their second foray into Trinity, having completed an installation project in 2010. This project demonstrates that the technology is the tool and students who have mastered the skills in its use, are empowered in ways never witnessed before to explore unlimited applications to problem solving and creative solution making. As their teacher, I can see major implications for teaching and learning.
This is the second year of Dulwich High School’s involvement with MacICT and I have been greatly impressed by the incorporation of suggestions made in the evaluation from the Trinity project 2010. It was apparent that as a teacher it is difficult to monitor students as well as perform other teaching responsibilities when students have only to focus on learning how to use the program. In 2011, MacICT introduced us to teacher training days. This has proved to be not only a learning experience but a highly supportive activity. There are in fact many components to the WHEN2050 project and it has been beneficial to work with Project Leader, Katy Lumkin and Researcher, Andrew Cram on exploring ways to deliver the project to the students and develop detailed objectives and outcomes that we would seek from the students. This has meant setting the standards quite high but also providing a clear path for students to follow.
I have also been impressed by the extended support that MacICT as an organisation performs. Debbie Evans as Director of MacICT and the various people within the team have been unfailing in their support and enthusiasm for the project. It is not possible to accurately convey the importance of the support that this provides the classroom teacher, except to say that projects would never have any chance of succeeding without it.
My training days have included gaining insight into MacICT and the various projects it is running with schools, re-acquainting myself with OpenSim, cyber-citizenship/safety, dissecting the project into three key strands and then determining outcomes and methods of delivery. This includes extending the scope of the project to include architect/artist, Richard Goodwin to run workshops as well as invite Millenium High School in New York to participate with us.
Students have completed lessons in basic architectural forms such as post and lintel, columns, arches, domes, surveyed futuristic architecture, considered the ramifications of sustainability in architecture, discussed the value of “Form follows Function” in architecture as well as researched the NOW+When project for themes.