As discussed last week, ICAN! is based upon the idea of creating successful collaborative teams and individual virtual world projects that are meaningful to someone inside AND outside the 3D classroom.
The First Principle: The Ignite Component
This component emphasizes imaginative brainstorming and visualizing what can be. Students light and ignite the fires of creative ideas and thoughts to get projects off the ground. The modern workplace demands proficiency in these skills, yet historically students have been taught to simply extract knowledge from texts and answer questions. The creative aspect has disappeared from the process, especially in distance learning settings.
Creative thinking involves creating something new or original. It involves the skills of flexibility, originality, elaboration, brainstorming, modification, and imagery. The aim of creative thinking is to stimulate curiosity and promote new thinking. The use of strong imagery, keywords and topic interlinking supports visual, linguistic, logical and auditory learning.
The Second Principle: The Create Component
This component makes learning a creative, purposeful activity. Students have to define the project (problem domain) and focus their efforts on application of ideas to a specific context. Conducting their own 3D projects and virtual worlds is much more interesting to students than reading through sterile textbooks.
And because they get to define the nature of the virtual world project (even if they don’t choose the topic), they have a sense of control over their learning which is absent in traditional classroom instruction.
The Third Principle: The “Audience” Component
This component stresses the value of making a useful contribution while learning and “knowing” that there will be an audience seeing your work. Ideally each virtual world project has an outside “viewer” that the virtual world is being conducted for. The viewer/participant could be a classmate, whole school viewing, teacher assessment, or peers.
In many cases, the projects are directly related to core concepts being taught in the regular classroom curricula. The authentic learning context of the project increases student motivation and satisfaction. This principle is consistent with the emphasis on having an audience for your work and creates both motivation and self-awareness that the product being created will be ‘seen’ and in many cases played by other end users.
The Fourth Principle: The “New” Component
The fourth and final principle stresses addressing high order thinking and coming up with new and novel uses for concepts learned. This creative approach to learning prompts students’ pursuit of connections among ideas and concepts. Students who frame questions and issues and then go about answering and analyzing them take responsibility for their own learning and become problem solvers and, perhaps more importantly, problem finders.