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SMART CLASSROOMS: Virtual reality helping to solve real world issues

November 2009

Virtual learning ... a screenshot from a Queensland Academy for Health Sciences project that asked students to build a utopian world online.

Virtual learning ... a screenshot from a Queensland Academy for Health Sciences project that asked students to build a utopian world online.

A group of Queensland students is working on ways to make the world a better and safer place by building a virtual world online.

Inspired by the Year of Creativity, the Queensland Academy for Health Sciences (QAHS) on the Gold Coast created a project that requires students to create a utopian world online and solve a series of social and environmental issues.

The academy's Lissa Hodson oversaw the QAHS Creative Challenge and said it offered a unique learning opportunity for students.

'They worked extremely well together and really thought about what they believed would create an ideal world,' Ms Hodson said.

'What they developed was absolutely amazing.'

Led by 15 Year 10 academy students studying Theory for Knowledge, the project focused on the State Government's Toward Q2 themes of green, smart, healthy, strong and fair.

In total 150 students from a number of local schools took part, creating customised avatars of themselves to enter the 'Brain Sanctuary' - the entry point to the project's virtual world.

The students then used virtual message boards to communicate their ideas for the project before creating their world.

'The message board was a great collaborative space and gave everyone the chance to discuss the reasoning behind their vision,' Ms Hodson said.

'When one student participating in the green challenge built an airport it prompted other students to question if this mode of transport was necessary and suggest alternatives.'

Ms Hodson said students participated in one of the five themes and created their world based on the area's social and environmental problems.

'Children involved in the smart challenge built a language centre that developed cultural experiences using images, sounds and videos,' she said.

'As a part of the strong area, students built a system of government and ways of maintaining transport infrastructure.

'It was great to see students owning the process and mentoring their peers through the challenge.'

For video and screen shots from the project and more information visit the QAHS website external page (will open in a new window)