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aVataR@School project

Asociatia Project Wolf
- 2009-Jan-13 -
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Conflicts in school include problems like social exclusion, school bullying and violence, racism, absenteeism, vandalism, problems with multiracial and gender integration. The present project utilizes the School Peer Mediation approach to deal with school conflicts in a consensual way.

aVataR@School is a project that explores new ways of conflict resolution based on the use of virtual role plays by means of peer mediation techniques. A Second Life-like environment (www.opensimulator.org) allows virtual interactions between its players.

The aVataR@School project\'s main target groups are pupils, teachers and mediators that are involved in a variety of conflict situations in secondary schools, with an emphasis on pupils or teachers involved in or trained as mediators within their schools.

The role-plays are supervised by an external moderator and aim at helping the players explore possible ways of resolving the given conflict scenario, either alone or by involving a mediator. Following each role-play the experiences are discussed in an evaluation session. All role-plays sessions are video recorded and these materials are used to create movies (machinima) useful both in the evaluetion phase and as players’ introductory for following role plays. The aVataR@School project is an EU-funded project with partners from Italy, Germany, Romania, Spain und the UK.

In January, the Association Project Wolf successfully completes an international EU funded project (Minerva, 229817-CP-1-2006-1-IT-MINERVA-M), whose overall goal was the exploring of a new way for conflict resolutions based on the use of virtual role plays and a playful and cooperative approach. The aVataR@School project aimed to establish virtual role plays (VRPs) in which pupils, teachers and others try out strategies for conflict resolution by means of the School Peer Mediation approach.

The teams from the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain and Romania have been developing an internet-based virtual three-dimensional environment (OpenSim) for pupils in schools throughout Europe where they can cooperatively practice to deal with school bullying and victimisation. Using tools developed from this project, it is possible for pupils to interact and exchange ideas through virtual role-plays with other pupils in Romania or in other parts of Europe.

In the virtual environment the students find given scenarios and characters (avatars), whose reactions, feelings and needs are similar to the ones they may have as a young person. The participants meet young people like themselves, peers who will encourage them to talk and to help find a solution to some of their conflicts, through peer mediation. These exercises help them to acquire information and skills which will help them deal with conflictual situations in the real life.

The role-plays are supervised by an external moderator, experts from the aVataR@school project, and aim at helping the players explore possible ways of resolving the given conflict scenario, either alone or by involving a mediator. The roles of the bullies, victims, bystanders, teachers and mediators are played by pupils of the participating schools. Following each role-play the experiences are discussed in an evaluation session.

It should be underlined that any phase of the game takes place in a safe environment, a platform accessible only to participants and administrators, thereby protecting students from the intrusion of third parties and any related risk.

During 2008, 24 students from Liceul Teoretic Nicolae Titulescu Brasov, Colegiul National Dr. Ioan Mesota Brasov and Liceul Teoretic George Moroianu Sacele were involved in virtual role plays with their peers from Romania and Europe. These activities resulted in creating and improving the peer mediation skills. The benefits of the project are all the more important as, at this moment, Romania is far behind most of the European countries, where one can find mediation centres and mediation experts both inside the schools and outside The Avatar@school Project touched a very sensible subject, still unexplored in our schools. The students reaction showed that the virtual role plays were both fun and a good way to work on the difficult matters of the violence and bullying in schools.

Even if the projects ends at the 15th of January 2009, OpenSim platform will continue to be available for at least one more year for any school or organization which intends to use it as a tool for developing the mediation skills. For this, the Romanian experts from Avatar@School project are able to provide to any interested school/organization (at its request) information upon mediation and conflict resolution (guides package developed in the project), but also detailed instructions on how to access and use the virtual environment created in the aVataR@school project

For further details regarding this project, please see our website www.avataratschool.eu or e-mail east@avataratschool.eu or playwithus@avataratschool.eu

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latest comment:

Barbu Dana
Buna ziua, sunt kinetoterapeut la CSEI brasov si as dori sa stiu cum pot intra in posesia acestei carti. Va multumesc anticipat. Cu stima Dana Barbu

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