Red Balloon - Red Balloon of the Air
Red Balloon of the Air student reflects on the pilot so far...
An introduction to Red Balloon of the Air
By Jack C, RBAir pilot student
An online school. It’s a unique concept, and one that might seem difficult, even unworkable to set up. But after just over 4 weeks of schooling this way I’m surprised this method isn’t standard, let alone untested.
Most of the actual schooling takes place in either Google’s tools (email, instant messaging, document making, etc) or the 3D world made in OpenSim, a construction tool for virtual terrain and other items and buildings. The 3D world is used for meeting up virtually using representations of the users called “avatars”, as well as making models for use in learning (such as models of atoms). This is more understandable and easier to learn from - after all, it’s much easier to understand actual three dimensional models rather than a 2D diagram.
Another reason I found RBAir more educational is because it’s more enjoyable - this might sound strange but schooling from home with a laptop and a glass of water on hand is more educational than the classroom method because I find it much more enjoyable. Also since I have influence in the lessons I get education in the subjects I will use in later life, as opposed to several lessons of PE, design tech and foreign languages a week.
RBAir’s strengths lie in its flexibility. For example, if I have a lot of appointments one week my lessons can be scheduled around that instead of missing the best part of a week of schoolwork and having to spend the following week catching up. Likewise, if a student is unable to complete a session one week it can easily be moved to the next.
If I had to choose the thing I enjoy most about RBAir it would probably be the ability to build items at will, and the scope of building possibilities. Given enough time and knowledge of the OpenSim engine one can make anything from a birthday cake (as was made by one of the staff for the birthday of one of the other students) to a post - apocalyptic shack made from pieces of scavenged rusted metal held in place by large nails (an unfinished project of mine). As we are able to create and download textures, the “skins” of a 3d shape, it is possible to create a replica of quite literally anything.
Building things in the 3d world isn’t just for entertainment value, however. Since this is a new project we’re still working on building rooms for school purposes such as models, which students are allowed to help with, giving a feeling of responsibility and ownership.
Since students do not have to face or speak to a teacher at any point RBAir is ideal for children who find it hard or even impossible to socialise and/or do not live close enough to a Red Balloon. Aside from that, like regular Red Balloon schools it has a very large amount of advantages over regular school. I myself have found it more enjoyable and educational than mainstream school, and I suspect that this style of teaching will eventually become a competitor to the classroom method.
-- Posted by Red Balloon - Red Balloon of the Air on 13th April 2011 --