About Project IDEELS
Project IDEELS is an interdisciplinary, international collaborative project that brings together a diverse group of educators and researchers from five tertiary institutions in four European countries who share a common interest: simulations and games. Project members develop, test, evaluate and implement simulation scenarios, mathematical models, a software platform and supporting materials in an attempt to provide Europeans with an effective means of harnessing the power, creativity and richness of cultural diversity to address some of the challenges facing Europe. In short, we are applying a powerful, proven methodology to provide a cost-effective, readily- accessible environment in which Europeans can learn and work across cultural as well as geographical boundaries.
IDEELS owes much to its direct predecessor and inspirational role model, Project IDEALS, a US-based, FIPSE and NSF-funded telematics simulation project directed in the early 1990s by David Crookall at the University of Alabama, and to ICONS, an outstanding telematics simulation program with an International Relations focus directed by Jonathan Wilkenfeld at the University of Maryland. We have learned a great deal from both programs and are grateful for the help David Crookall and Beth Blake (ICONS) in particular have given us. Rather than trying to repeat a successful project like IDEALS or compete with an established, ongoing program like ICONS, IDEELS looks for ways to learn from their experience and build on their success.
Specifically, the objectives of Project IDEELS are
Through their participation in IDEELS simulations, students learn to...
The interaction of content (subject matter), skills and ergonomically designed software makes IDEELS simulation an especially effective learning environment. Through the use of personal computers and the Internet, IDEELS simulations create an international virtual laboratory in which classrooms and participants throughout Europe are linked in a collaborative learning process.
IDEELS simulations are offered in two formats; intensive, lasting 1-2 weeks and extensive, lasting 3-5 weeks; the first scenarios are set in Eutropia, a fictional world which parallels contemporary Europe in significant respects. More recently, IDEELS has introduced a Model United Nations Online series of simulations. Whether set in a fictionalized world or in the real world, each scenario provides a jumping-off point by outlining a situation based on real facts adapted to the simulation's world. IDEELS scenarios may deal with any of a variety of issues relevant to contemporary European and global realities: education (schools, tertiary education), environmental concerns (e.g. air, water and noise pollution; flood control and watershed protection), and human and socio-economic issues (e.g. the changing workplace, healthcare, migration-related issues, violence, and regional conflicts).
Once they have formulated their team's negotiating agenda in an Internal Briefing Document, participants take on the roles of national decision-makers. For example, they may be members of a Eutropian Task Force responsible for developing a plan for a model school system for the new Eutropian capital, or they may be delegates to a Special Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, developing policy recommendations on migration-related issues affecting Africa and Europe. As the negotiations proceed and initial proposals are rejected, participants are continually forced to reassess their positions, taking new information into account.
The effectiveness of distributed telematics simulations in providing an supportive, holistic learning environment is well-documented. Participants' appreciation of the complexity of international issues increases; they show "greater sensitivity to cultural and linguistic differences and a greater understanding of the different perspectives that nations bring into negotiating situations" (Wilkenfeld, 1998). For participants working in a foreign language, reading fluency and comprehension as well as writing fluency and accuracy improve significantly (Garcia-Carbonell). Participants report learning to accept responsibility for their own learning and for their team's success; moreover, they gain experience in working together to accomplish shared goals and in conflict resolution.
About Project IDEELS
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