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Develop a wholly integrated curriculum structured around an engaging and motivating virtual scenario.

The seemingly ubiquitous acronym STEM testifies of the recognized value of interdisciplinary and integrated education. Might it be true, then, that an entirely integrated curriculum (one that connects not just STEM related subjects, but all subjects) would be the ideal? If so, the difficult question remains: How can you unify the disparate disciplines? One way might be by creating a virtual microcosm that provides the framework for holistic student learning.

For example, you could develop a computer program that casts students as a group of people stranded on an island; in order to escape, they must build an engine-powered airplane (developing the required understandings, abilities and technologies along the way). Each student could have an avatar "on the island," and would be responsible for their individual avatar's well-being and for the collective success of the group.

This scenario would provide an engaging backdrop for education and natural motivation to learn. And because being stranded on an island is a kind of microcosm of the human experience, you could easily tie in all different subjects, allowing for an entirely integrated curriculum.

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  • Apr 25 2013: The idea of goal-based scenarios was central to the experiential software created by the Institute for Learning founded by Dr. Roger Schank. You might find the ideas in the hyperbook "Engines for Education" to be of interest. http://www.engines4ed.org/hyperbook/nodes/NODE-72-pg.html
    Your idea is a good start. There will certainly be students of any age that would find the idea interesting.You could build it with OPENSIM, Caspian Learning etc. or try a prototype in Second Life. Forget the profit motive or budget restraints. Just build it!
    Note that one need not confine oneself to computer software but could also create "educational games" along the lines of "Gaming:The Futures Language" by Richard D. Duke . In the late 1990s I checked out a ship simulator and destroyed a few docks myself. I would like to use Tractor Sim for some agricultural education work.
    You might also find R. Buckminster Fuller's "World Game" and John Hunter's "World Peace Game" interesting in terms of interdisciplinary work. (http://www.osearth.com/ws_history.shtml)

    (http://www.ted.com/talks/john_hunter_on_the_world_peace_game.html)

    I would also suggest familiarizing oneself with the ideas regarding synthetic education found in "Sparks of Genius" by Robert Scott Root-Bernstein. If you see me on Genome Island in Second Life beside a plot of black tulips, please be sure to wave!
    P.S. Gilligan says he couldn't find a jet engine on the island so I think we are out of luck. The Professor says we need to find some Elephants or boars on the island like in Gilligan's "Age of Empires" game and start chopping trees. Good thing Gilligan had solar rechargeable batteries! Mary Ann says she might have seen a fuselage in the jungle. The Skipper wants to know what's for din-din? Can you eat those red berries over there? http://www.ted.com/talks/marcin_jakubowski.html

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