I Dig Zambia

A report on "Soft-Modding" in GK's I-Dig Zambia program 


The International Journal of Learning and Media has just released a report on I-Dig Zambia, funded by a grant we received from the MacArthur Foundation to understand virtual worlds in education. Soft Modding in Two Out-of-School Virtual Worlds-Based Programs provides an in depth look at how learning in virtual worlds can support youth to develop the emotional intelligence and social skills (collaboration, civic engagement) they will need to succeed as 21st century learners and citizens.

View the article on IJLM here.

[press] MacArthur Spotlight Blog Features "I Dig Science" Program 

The MacArthur Foundation's Spotlight blog recently featured a video story on the "I Dig Science" program conducted by Global Kids and the Field Museum of Chicago this past summer. Produced by Benjamin Wolff.

See the complete video on the MacArthur Spotlight Blog.

One of the other recent MacArthur Foundation Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning posts, highlights a video about the I Dig Science Programs that Global Kids ran in partnership with the Field Museum in Chicago.

You can watch the video below or view the original post here.


I Dig from Spotlight on Vimeo.


Chris at final exhibit area for IDZLast Friday was the conclusion of the "I Dig Zambia" virtual summer camp, co-organized by the Field Museum and Global Kids. I Dig Zambia was a two-week camp that brought together 19 teens from Chicago and New York to learn about paleontology, biology, and Zambian culture and politics in the virtual world of Teen Second Life.

Now that our teens have solidified their Second Life skills and learned how to work with their teams across cities during the first week, we ramped up our activities to be more intensive and collaborative.  It was by no means an easy week for our virtual campers, but I think it was engaging, surprising, and often fun.

This blog entry follows up on my previous post about Week One of IDZ. What follows is a recap of some of the main activities during Week Two of I Dig Zambia and an overall summary of IDZ. Read on...

Fossil Exhibit Creation and Presentations

Chicago Reflections on I Dig Zambia! 

IDZ Chicago!
I came on as the Chicago facilitator for I Dig Zambia after hearing so much about the I Dig Tanzania program. When I first heard about I Dig Tanzania I was elated. Kids that get to virtually dig for fossils while interacting with paleontologists on an actual dig?!? Why wasn’t this happening when I was a kid! Looking at it through my educator glasses I could instantly see that the possibilities to engage kids with science were endless. I was more than excited to facilitate for this program.

Reflection of the IDZ Program 

When starting I Dig Zambia (IDZ), I had no idea what to expect. I did not feel confident in my ability to facilitate on a virtual world to which I had only just been introduced. However, when students arrived, I was inspired by how excited our students were about IDZ however perplexed at how little they knew about it.

When starting I Dig Zambia (IDZ), I had no idea what to expect. I did not feel confident in my ability to facilitate on a virtual world to which I had only just been introduced. However, when students arrived, I was inspired by how excited our students were about IDZ however perplexed at how little they knew about it.

Overall I was glad to see the infusion of science into the Global Kids curriculum as a main component to a program. It was great to go to the fossil library at the Natural History Museum and watch students ask questions and reflect on the entire process of fossil excavation. Our students were clearly excited about the museum visit, and were interested in many of the key biological concepts they had to learn throughout the program. Finally, our students discussion of global warming from a scientific perspective was wonderful, as it is a rarity within Global Kids programs.

[IDZ/Teen] July 16th 

I never really knew much about fossils. I was able to get familiar with some of the animal names and the types of animals there are. Also, I learned about how the Field Museum prepares fossils. I never knew that it required so many man hours to just prepare a single fossil. The third thing I learned was that fossil diggers sometimes have a doctor with them. It never really occurred to me that paleontologists could get severely hurt on digs.

My favorite experience was the skits and plays we did. It was fun to act out on the spot with very little time to prepare. I think it really united us as a group because we had to work together to get our message across. In second life I enjoyed the fossil digging as I learned how tedious of a task it was to dig up fossils.

A new skill I learned over the past two weeks was to use Second Life as a tool to unite two "classrooms". I didn't think it was possible to successfully accomplish the task but it was done with rather ease, despite the internet connectivity issues. In the future I could see actual schools using Second Life in order to get a teacher's message across more easily and to unite different classrooms around the world.

[IDZ Teen] July 16tth 

Since I have always been extremely interested the field of paleontology, I have obtained a great deal of knowledge of the subject prior to my participation here in “I Dig Zambia” this summer, but I did learn more exclusively about the early Permian and some of the specific therapsids in which our scientists are recovering from Zambia from that period. Looking back over these past two weeks in BioSync, I would still have to say my favorite experience here has to have been going behind the scenes and observing first hand what goes into making the museum and all its expeditions work.

Personally, I deeply believe that every ounce of knowledge is of value and I know that everything I have picked up while attending this camp will be of further use to me at some point in my life, possibly even in the near future, whether that be the computer skills from Second Life, or the scientific information that motivated me to come back for more in the first place. I would definitely say that learning on Second Life is- by far- one of the most interesting ways I've had the chance to study the fields of science and paleontology, even when compared to the many other learning experiences I have been involved with in the Field Museum.

[IDZ/Teen] July 16th 

I learned that fossils are useless without their information, that it doesn't matter if a fossil breaks because you can just glue it back together, and that it takes a very long time to prepare fossils and remove the rock that they are sometimes incased in.

I really enjoyed the behind the scenes tour of the museum, because there were so many interesting things to observe and learn about that you normally wouldn't have the opportunity to see.

I learned how to use Second Life! I don't know yet if this will be useful to me in the future, but I had a good time using it.

It's good that people dressed up like The Joker can't barge into your classroom!

I think one of the pros is being able to interact with people all over the world in real time. One of the cons is that sometimes it almost feels like there's a language barrier, even though you're both speaking the same language.

[IDZ/Teen] July 16th 

I learned that scientists don't completely take out their fossils in the field. I learned that it takes hundreds, if not thousands of hours to prepare a fossil. The final thing I learned was about the culture of the Zambian people, and that it ha been influenced by the British from when they imperialized Zambia in the 1900s.

My favorite experience in IDZ in SL had to be the dressing up to suit a specific environment. I thought that everyone would enjoy the snow man that I originally wanted to be, and they did. I also liked the dancing in SL as well.

Other than building in Second Life, I learned more on how to think from someone else's perspective. For example, if I said something to someone, I would try to imagine myself in their shoes, with someone saying that to me. It gets complicated, but it'll get better.