CONTENTS AND CREATIVITY IN WEB 2.0 AND VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT: THE ST.ART PROJECT
The present paper will give a general overview of a new integrated learning methodology that combines Web 2.0 and 3D virtual world, learning and games and that aims at encouraging students participation as well as creative teaching and learning. It will show how this new methodology has been applied through the project ST.ART.
Nowadays students want more than the traditional lecture format; the alternative is one that blends together games and learning, while adding one ingredient that is typically absent in education – fun. Educators not only have to teach students about the content; they also have to explore ways to engage students in the learning process.
Within this context falls the ST.ART project (Street Artists in a Virtual Space, a two year project funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme) that aims at providing an innovative learning platform as a laboratory where contemporary art works can be carried out by young students of visual art schools. The ST.ART projects creates a Virtual Learning Environment that is the result of the combination between the e-learning environment and the virtual environment. The first one uses the common tools of web 2.0 inside a modular learning platform to favour students’ content sharing and learning. The second one allows to elaborate contents in a practical laboratory using the competences acquired.
At methodological level, the objective of the ST.ART project is to put the school teachers in a position to pursue a flexible teaching, using appropriate resources and completely friendly technology. The teaching is flexible if it is able to adjust better to the learning levels of students to allow them to activate a cognitive complexity appropriate to their actual potential.
In this project art forms and art education are used as a bridge to re-establish communication between young people and local community and to strengthen the sense of common ground and interest. The main aim of this project is to have students understand the difference between aesthetics, street art forms and vandalism.
In order to achieve this task the project develops two virtual learning environments:
1) an E-learning environment with a training area;
2) a virtual 3D world in the shape of a city, Metropolis, (based on the Open Sim environment) where art works are performed and a social area where students can have open discussions.
Following the active learning students are called to build their own knowledge from a learning-by-doing approach and investigation. Afterwards they participate with teachers in the online course in order to deepen their knowledge. Both the e-learning environment and the immersive environment are closed, nobody else can access them otherwise the context and the relationship between students and teachers will be altered.
The functionalities of the technological system are designed to facilitate the pedagogical model implementation in a wide range of educational settings both formal and informal. The didactic environments involve the users with user-generated contents, transforming people from content readers into publishers thus participating in the knowledge construction. The use of multimedia tools offers the possibility to use different communication codes at the same time. In conclusion the ST.ART project embraces the best of the new possibilities offered by modern technologies as a support to education in order to break down the barriers between formal and informal education.