Grad students craft digital look at civil rights history
Graduate students in Indiana University of Pennsylvania's communications media program have brought the American civil rights movement to life in Second Life, an online, digital world.
Dr. Allen Partridge, a professor of communications media, developed the project with students in his Simulation of Games doctoral class.
Small groups of students in the 19-member class were charged with coming up with game topic proposals. Following presentations of proposed topics, the class chose "Civil Rights Movement Comes of Age in Second Life."
An overview of the project is available on YouTube at http://bit.ly/faoIxz.
The simulation allows participants to experience the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the 1963 March on Washington, the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School Movement and the 1965 Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.
"This project has several outstanding points: first, the topic choice was most impressive, as the students gained an understanding of how a game simulation could educate people on a very important topic in a new way," Partridge said.
"Students did a very good job on deciding what content could be delivered well in this venue.
Students in this class did not necessarily have any background in game simulation -- most have education and communications media backgrounds -- so while they were developing the game and learning that technology, they also were thinking and writing about the theory and pedagogy behind the project, and discussing if this venue can be a valuable one for educators."
The Second Life game has a video overview, called a machinima, also developed by the students.
This two-minute video combines archival footage from 1960's civic rights events with video from the Second Life civil rights-simulated world.
Partridge has worked at IUP for the past six years and his teaching focus is on games, animation course, e-learning and multimedia. He is the author of "Creating Casual Games for Profit and Fun," which was published in 2007, and "Real-Time Interactive 3D Games" in 2002.
He also is the co-author of "Blacklist: Investigating the Life of Canada Lee," an independent film selected for presentation at the Angelika Film Center's Independent Feature Project Market in 2008.
He has developed nine computer games, some distributed nationally, including "Battle Ball," an interactive 3-D intelligence simulation.
He has a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Briar Cliff College; a master's in theater arts from Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University); and his Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies-fine arts from Texas Tech University.
During his sabbatical last semester, he worked with Adobe Corporation as an eLearning Evangelist.