University of Calabria (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 6088-6095
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Over the past three decades, the use of ICT played a key role in the teaching and learning processes, redefining strategies, concepts and training paradigms (Frydrychova, 2013), throughout the educational systems in the world.

Universities started to exploit the potentials of new technologies, offering “virtual courses” in Second Life, on line courses by video-lessons followed by millions of students (as happened for the Artificial Life course, at the MIT), virtual tutors interacting from all over the world. Teachers and students have created strong learning / teaching communities, with a dramatic improvement of the students achievements (Boulos et al., 2007; Zhu et al., 2007; Brown et al., 2008, Chaua et al., 2013), both from cognitive and practical points of view.

In this paper, we present an advanced virtual environment in which both learners and teachers are actively engaged in the process of skills development (Bertacchini et al, 2011; Bertacchini et al, 2012). The purpose is of creating a Serious Game on biological evolution, using the metaphor of Darwin and his journey to the Galapagos Islands on the Beagle. The game recreates the trip around the world, starting from Plymouth in 1831. Darwin collected much of the data on which he based his theory on, especially during his stay at the Galapagos Islands. We would like to provide the opportunity to begin a fantastic and imaginary journey through an edutainment environment, where entertainment (virtual reality) and education (scientific topics) will be joined to guide the user in changing the brain frame.

Three scenarios, that offer to the users different forms of edutainment have been developed, where the user can navigate easily inside the virtual islands, without any physical constraints. This allows students to switch between different learning activities more quickly and hence engage in more educational activities and cultural exchange.

The first scenario is devoted to Art and Science through of the interactive museum of Chaos Theory; the second one is devoted to the Robotics field and the last one shows a virtual Charles Darwin Research Station. In all these interfaces, with the support of Moodle platform (Paragină et al., 2011), many activities are focused in the teaching of new and complex theories, showing the fun side of science.
Virtual environments, edutainment, virtual worlds, complex scientific contents, knowledge.