Becoming a Quest Atlantis teacher is no easy task. I recently began my work as a buoy, training new teachers in how to utilize Quest Atlantis (QA) in their classrooms. I created a dummy new teacher account, so I could review the things I went through two years ago when I first started the training and, man, is there some good resources in the initial professional development missions. However, the initial tasks can be time-consuming, even for someone familiar with operating an avatar and navigating through virtual worlds.
For fear of frightening new teachers away, I found myself minimizing the amount of preparation and work it takes to become a QA teacher for the participants at my recent workshop. The first question many teachers seem to ask about learning new ways to teach is, “How much of my time is this going to take?” Instead of answering, as I did, “Oh, not too much, we should get through the training pretty quickly,” I should have responded, “It can be very time consuming and seem like a thankless task at times. You will fight battles with tech people in your district. Figuring out how to get QA loaded on computers and get them working is a job in itself. Coordinating the permission slips across five states and understanding all the various features in the teacher toolkit can be daunting as well. The learning curve is very steep for QA, but I hope you will stick with it because the benefits of being a QA Teacher far outweigh the drawbacks.”
I have been reflecting as I am preparing for my first group of teachers second meeting, and I have been asking myself, why have I invested the amount of time and energy in this new educational technology. What exactly have been the “benefits” of using Quest Atlantis with my students? For my students I believe there have been many. I have heard many different questers say things like “This is SOOOOO cool!” on several occasions as they work their way through various tasks. QA engages my students in a way that nothing else seems to be able to. They learn self-direction and have fun when they are in Quest Atlantis. They are learning to interact, communicate, and collaborate with others in an on-line, teacher-monitored, safe environment. They are investigating Social Commitments and how to treat others respectfully. All the while being invested in a standards based curriculum. The more I see kids work with Quest Atlantis, and as I become increasingly efficient at teaching with it, the more I believe that MUVEs like it definitely hold a very strong place in the future of education.
Those are some benefits for my students, but what about me? I have spent all this time in QA and learned how to use it. How have I benefited? I believe in several different ways. I have become adept at interacting with others GLOBALLY through the trainings that Quest Atlantis and Bronwyn Stuckey have offered. Not only are my students learning how to interact with others in on-line environments, but I am as well. My PLN has grown stronger through the connections I have made with teachers who also use Quest Atlantis. I am on the cutting edge of new technologies, which is something I have always wanted to be, and I continue to learn how these new technologies can be utilized in my classroom. And finally, I KNOW and have professional and social relationships with people ALL OVER THE WORLD, as a result of my work in QA. Regardless of what happens in the future for Quest Atlantis, I believe those relationships have made my time working and learning there (in QA) worth way more than any of the time and energy I have spent learning how to use it.