Visit at Ritaharju School

Yesterday me and Essi visited the Ritaharju School to plan our version of Castle Story with the teachers. Ritaharju is very technology-driven school so it was no surprise that our approach was warmly welcomed. In fact, we got ideas beyond the scope of CoCreat.

Essi and Tommi in the Ritaharju lobby.

Compared to our partner’s case in Sweden, we don’t have that nice castle. Luckily we have an great alternative so that I don’t have to start to arrange construction site for CoCreat Castle… although that would have been cool. So, our plan is to take 5th and 7th grade pupils to Kierikki Stone Age Center.

We are going to move with this collaborative space in quite fast pace. Our aim is to implement “Stone Age Day” in October. Next meeting with the teachers of Ritaharju will be in two weeks so better get down to business and start planning and arranging.

// Tommi Inkilä, University of Oulu, Finland

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WP3/WP11 Meeting in Second Life

In the 16th of June, a group of project partners from Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences (KUAS), University of Oulu (UO), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Tallinn University (TU) took a tour to the virtual world Second Life.

Second Life is one of the most popular and most populated 3D multiuser virtual worlds, where users control avatars to interact with each other and with various virtual objects. To get started in Second Life, you need only to register at http://secondlife.com/ and download a client, which is free. However, you need to pay if you want to own a piece of land (often called an island) for any project. One of the most interesting facts about Second Life is that almost all the content in the world is built by the users.

The tour started on the “KyAMK MAMK” island (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/KyAMK%20MAMK/) of Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences (KUAS). Matti Strengell (Magel Larkham in Second Life) guided the group through the different locations on the island, including few discussion- and meeting places, a sandbox, underground theater and an underwater auditorium. In addition, some SLOODLE tools were demonstrated.

a screenshot from KUAS island in Second Life

The tour continued on the “NTNU1” and “NTNU2” islands of the virtual campus of Norwegian University of Science and Technology (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/NTNU/). Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland (Amaritis Miranda in Second Life) and Mikhail Fominykh (Mihail Palace in Second Life) led the group through the authentically reconstructed buildings of the campus and demonstrated the virtual campus infrastructure that includes an auditorium and a workshop with a library of resources and tutorials. In addition, some examples of 3D visualization projects were explored by the group. Examples included student projects on different topics that were made in Second Life in the past years and Virtual Research Arena pavilions presenting research projects.

a screenshot from NTNU island in Second Life

// Mikhail Fominykh, NTNU, Norway

Sinaia Story

As planned, it came the moment to organize the CoCreat meeting in April. Beside several options for organizing around Targoviste, Sinaia was chosen for its brilliant mountain scenery and sunny atmosphere. The city is located just at 60 km distance from Targoviste and took its name from the 17th-century monastery built by a Romanian nobleman after undertaking a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai, Egypt. Known as “the Carpathian Pearl”, Sinaia is in fact, one of the most famous and oldest mountain tourist resorts in Romania and hosted the Romanian Royal family during the last part of the XIX and the first part of the XX centuries past summers. However this residence – the Peles Castle – is one of the best-preserved royal palaces in Europe. It was the King Carol I attempt to imitate the styles of his former homeland, creating a Bavarian setting in the mountains of Romania. The Palace is ornately decorated, both the interior and the exterior, with intricate wood carvings and paintings of scenes from Wagner operas…

The CoCreat Team – consisted of 9 participants – had the chance to see both the monastery and the castle, even the last one was the target of an outdoor trip. Anyway, that short excursion was planned during the limited free time we had in Sinaia due to the fact that the discussions and interventions – having as central objective to start and plan the designing and implementing of the Collaborative Space for University Students (CS2), as a result of the third Project WorkPackage – were too dense in report with the time allocated by the project work plan. Practically, the Agenda was condensed in one day and a half, all the sessions being held at Rowa Dany Hotel.

After the warm welcome, the hosts started the presentation sessions with aspects, trends and developments of Valahia University Targoviste. Then it came the general presentation and overview of WorkPackage 3, clear interventions being made by Finnish experts (pedagogical model and solutions), Norwegian colleague (technological solutions – proposed applications: SecondLife, Moodle and Sloodle), Romanian team (learning materials and proposals for scheduling the work with students) and Estonian experts (methods for feedback collection).  Finally, the partners agreed to design the course during spring 2012 (135 hours, weeks 6-18), having a strong pedagogical background (the project-based learning, collaborative learning and playful learning), an important level of technology to be considered (Flash-Meeting, Adobe ConnectPro / Skype, Moodle, SecondLife, Sloodle, WordPress) and a clear calendar, with tasks and responsibilities included. Finally some aspects of the Dissemination process were discussed, having in view that this is an important matter for maximizing the impact of activities undertaken under CoCreat project.

What about the mountain beauty or the great panoramas that can be got from the peaks of the Bucegi plateau, at an altitude of about 2000m? Well, this will be put in practice with the following occasion, by sure! Anyway, the CoCreat team agreed that Sinaia is one of the best places to mix the work and the entertainment, mostly when you have the sun, the mountains and good colleagues and friends together!

// Gabriel Gorghiu, Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania

Project Kick-off Meeting

The project meeting started excitingly in cold weather, nearly -30 degrees, but fortunately that was outside the conference building. There was a lot of things to go through in two days. We started the meeting by getting to know each other in person. We had to move in fast pace so we started to go through all the practical matters related to the project before lunch to ensure that all the necessary things will be discussed.

The first day was used for finance, evaluation and dissemination issues. After thorough presentation of financial issues we moved on discuss about what are the possibilities to approach evaluation of the project and it’s goals or even smaller components. In short, evaluation method depends on what we are evaluating and the approach should be carefully chosen depending on the subject. In dissemination discussion we went through the target groups of the project and how to reach them. Since it doesn’t make sense to do projects and not to tell about them to anyone, the matter of dissemination was emphasized and we decided to prepone all the dissemination material.

During the day, one of the key questions of this project raised up, “what is creative collaboration?”. There is a lot of research related to creativity and its variants but what comes to creativity and collaboration, there isn’t much yet. Concepts like playful learning, creating something new, innovativeness, support of the group, spontaneity etc. were mentioned. They are close to what we are looking for but they do not capture all the aspects we’d like. So for this project, there is the foundation but the house needs to be build. And we all can imagine how much work there is to build a house by yourself. It’s better to collaborate.

The discussion about creative collaboration was a good preparation for second day’s work. We divided into groups where we discussed and exchanged ideas (between people and groups) about pedagogical and research approaches and about the activities that support the work done in the project. In the core of the project there are five collaborative spaces and it was pretty evident that creative collaboration might surface on them in different ways. That’s why the definition of creative collaboration is so important and on the other hand it can’t be that strict. Before the flights back home were leaving there was quite much achieved and the plan for first project year became clear.

All in all, those two days was full of work without forgetting fun. Good, inspired team is necessary for good project, and dare I say, for creative collaboration?

// Tommi Inkilä, University of Oulu, Finland