Marie Duncan holds a masters degree from the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at Florida State University and is currently a Ph.D. student at Utah State University. Marie is a graduate assistant in the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning at USU, and is leading a project focused on the building 3D environments to experience learning theory and foundations through interactions within virtual communities. Marie participated in the design and development of the Voices of Spoon River instructional game.
Voices of Spoon River
Every cemetery has a plot, a series of secrets that some would prefer stayed buried.
You see ghosts. It's kind of a gift. You don't know how or why you have this power, but you know that many of those who have left this life, live on. Some have found peace, others still search. Many of those who have left this life can only hope that someone like you is willing to help. That is why on this particular chilly night, when others are tucked away safely in their homes and beds, you are alone, in the middle of the Spoon River cemetery.
As you walk past the fountain, you hear a very strange sound behind you. When you turn around your heart jumps and adrenaline rushes through your body as you catch a glimpse of movement. Were your eyes deceiving you?
"Hello!" you yell into the moonlit shadows. The stillness rings into the night as you wait silently for a response. Is someone following you?
To your horror the head of the statue in the middle of the fountain turns to look in your direction. After several moments of terrified silence, he begins to speak.
"Welcome to the Spoon River Graveyard. I am Edgar Lee Masters. Walk carefully tonight as the spirits are restless. Ease their pain and you shall be rewarded. You may TALK TO the spirits, but don't always expect them to see you as you are still in the world of the living."
Armed with nothing more than wits and courage, it is your mission to find those souls who suffer, and show them the way to eternal rest....
Voices of Spoon River is a grassroots instructional game of text adventure using interactive fiction to teach 9th grade English students.
VOSR introduces students to the works of early American poetry, while at the same time, provides an opportunity to solve puzzles, talk to ghosts, and engages the player in a computer-based reading adventure."
Our main goal for this interactive environment is to allow students to explore the world the Edgar Lee Masters first wrote about in his Spoon River Anthology, while using the exact text from his work. Based on instructional game design theory, we wanted to create a graveyard environment where students would have access to the actual epitaph text, a supportive framework to augment the students' grasp of the material, and puzzles and challenges that primarily forced students to critically examine the relationships and problems that were expressed in the SRA epitaphs.
We want students to walk away from their experience with an understanding of the relationships and problems of the specific epitaphs including an increased awareness and aptitude in exploring additional epitaphs, an increased appreciation for poetry, a sense of accomplishment and a smile. Secondary learning goals include problem solving, orientation and map generation, and confidence.