Researchers from Germany, Portugal and the UK have developed an interactive role play game which helps children to cope with bullying at schools. Currently over 1,000 children all over Europe are part of pilot studies which aim to explore the impact that the software may have in the possible reduction of bullying among pupils.
In the specially developed computer game “FearNot!” each child takes the role of an invisible friend of the victimised character, discussing problems and exploring possible solutions and coping strategies. The advice given subsequently influences the actions of the victim.
With “FearNot!” the researchers are using a new and innovative approach to get children reflect on the sensitive topic of bullying. “This 3-D interactive virtual environment provides a safe haven for individual children, where they witness bullying scenarios without being directly involved,” says Rui Figueiredo, a scientist at the Institudo de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores in Portugal and one of the Kaleidoscope researchers involved in the project. “We use emergent narrative techniques, which enable the learner to direct the path the story should follow.”
Bullying is an often underestimated problem in the everyday life of school children. Studies show that this behaviour can be found in nearly every school and that the incidence is considered to be quite high. Bullying can take many different forms including name-calling, spreading rumours and lies, as well as threatening, blackmailing and beating up other children.
The Kaleidoscope research group involved on this project will present more of their work at the upcoming Kaleidoscope 2007 Symposium which will take place from November 26 to 27 in Berlin.The scientists who contribute to the application and the following studies are members of Kaleidoscope, a pan-European research network on technology-enhanced learning.
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