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Curveworld @ Central Library

Indianapolis Marion County Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Chris Cairo, Director, Program and Project Development Area, ccairo@imcpl.org

Problem Statement

Prior to December 2007 children in the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) community did not have free access to the high tech tools that focus on teaching various communication skills needed to be successful in the 21st century.

Innovation

In December 2007 IMCPL began using a software application called Curveworld, designed specifically for IMCPL, which allows students to store projects they have created in various Learning Curve activities at the Central Library while playing in a virtual gaming environment. Accessed in a fun and safe environment, students also explore the creations of other children who have stored projects in the Curveworld Alphacore Gallery (see website). Participants in the Curveworld community create their own unique identity and profile and communicate with other users as they are learning how to use various tools to create media products. They earn points for participating in activities and cash in their points to enhance their virtual world experience. For instance, a child who wants to learn how to make music can come to the library and participate in activities using Mixcraft, a music recording software by Acoustica that allows new users to experience creating music in an easy-to-use interface. Once the child completes the musical recording it is stored in Curveworld where other children can comment on and chat about the merits of the recording, perhaps developing ideas about how to modify it and create their own media production all while playing the Curveworld game.

Progress

Now in its third year of introducing children to the Curveworld environment the Library hopes to continue to help children of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library community learn about technology and about how to communicate in the 21st century with a variety of media tools. There are at least 1,709 pieces of art, sound, writing, and movies in the Alphacore Gallery at the moment, the repository for all work created by kids while in CurveWorld. The acknowledgements the children receive from their peers about their media products and the other incentives that they gain while playing in the Curveworld virtual environment demonstrates the communication and technology skills they have learned that are essential for the future. The children’s virtual explorations in the Curveworld environment serve as test grounds for creating new methods of teaching and learning in a game based environment. As the children learn to explore in Curveworld they become better equipped to adapt to other new technologies that emerge.