This is a reflection on the synchronous and collaborative activity that took place within Second Life.
The mission started off fairly simple. Spyker and his team were experimenting with a newly discovered power-source on the space station Isis Tempus. Things went bad, and their reactor cores are going to explode in around 2 hours. Our class mission is to extract Spyker (maybe some of his team), shut down the reactor, and return to the Prometheus. As part of the flight team, our job was to transport the security and command team to the Tempus so they can complete their goals (shutting down the reactor and rescuing Spyker).
The flight team met in the hanger on the Prometheus at the beginning of the mission. We got news from command that we should split up; one team use the Arrows to take out bad droids and one team use shuttles to transport security. This was interesting because at first, no one knew how to split the teams up. It took a second, but then we started talking about our strengths as pilots. Myself and Josh were decent at flight mode (shooting), so we took the arrows. Other members had flying down, so they decided to be transport.
Upon entering the “black orb”, where the Tempus is located, the Arrow pilots were greeted by two small droid on the top and bottom of the station. Josh and I took the bottom droid and another member took the top robot. The droids are small, but not weak! It took probably at least a half an hour to destroy the bottom droid. Josh and I worked together to shoot the droid, but it’s HP would barely deplete. Luckily, one of the security members (who were transported by flight to the Tempus) found a better handheld gun. Once the security member exited and station and helped Josh and I, the droid finally was defeated. I think this is how the upper droid was defeated also – a collaboration between flight and security forces.
After the droids were defeated, flight took on what I called the “professional chauffeur” part of the job – we waited. After that, we waited some more. To pass the time, we flew around the station and where there were windows, we observed. People were jumping and running around like crazy. What were they doing in there? And what was science doing back on the Prometheus? Our questions needed answered, so I jumped into the security and science chat rooms. Security was looking for Spyker (who I think was acting a little unstable). The science chat seemed chaotic as they were trying to piece together clues, so I promptly jumped out and back into the flight chat. At least everyone else seemed to be working towards the goal.
It wasn’t long before we got news that security retrieved Spyker, so flight transported him back to the Prometheus. There was a slight mishap (Spyker fell out of the ship), but eventually we made it back safely. Once back in the med-bay, I started mentally reflecting on all that had happened.
First, it felt great to be part of a successful team. My part seemed quick, but I knew it was essential. It was also manageable. I wasn’t overwhelmed with the unknowns or the scale of the overall mission. I could just concentrate on fighting droids. I also realized the creativity the Arrow pilots experimented with while fighting the droids. At one point, I tried distracting a droid, while another pilot shot it from behind (I’m not sure if that improved our damage, but it was fun). I learned that this wasn’t simply a jig-saw type activity, but rather a group mission where each team has it’s own goals and is also reliant on the other teams. If one team wasn’t successful, the mission would be a failure. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and the night ended with Spyker safely on the Prometheus.
The name of the mission was also discussed. Admittedly, I seemed to forget about the name, “Ticking Time Bomb”, as I was engrossed in the tasks at hand, but others felt a sense of pressure just because of the name. This opens up an interesting discussion on influencing expectations and emotions just by naming an activity. If my goal is to elicit a certain emotion, say relaxation, I could name my activity appropriately, even if it’s not reflective of the activity. Another student mentioned that an actual time limit, or ticking clock, would add immersion to the experience. I could see this going two ways. First, it would add a sense of immersion and immediacy to the experience and the teams might work more efficiently. Or, it could hamper the time spent creatively solving and absorbing the problems and just add stress to the experience.
Overall, this was a good team relient experience that gives me some creative starting points for designing activities in my classroom. I’m curious if there will be more activities like this in the future. The main takeaways were: jigsaw with reliance on teams, creatively solving problems through constructive collaboration, and influencing emotions based on expectations.