Check out this youtube link to view the project teaser trailer and some snapshots recorded during the classroom lesson.
How can we engage students so that they look forward to history lessons? How can we enthused these digital natives to want to find out more about 'Singapore's past?
For the first time in Singapore schools, 250 primary school students in 7 different classes in Pasir Ris Primary School, experienced a new paradigm of learning using an integrated multimedia teaching resource. Instead of traditional classroom lessons, students discover old Singapore using 3D educational games, animation and quizzes. Students can wander around and explore a virtual environment when Singapore was only a fishing village in 1819. They encounter and are able to engage with different key historical figures like Singapore's founding father, Sir Stamford Raffles or Sultan Hussein and the Temenggong of Johore, to learn about Singapore's past. Using hyperlinks in such characters, students get to watch animation scenes and learn how Sang Nila Utama, the Prince of Palembang, survived the stormy sea in his journey to Singapore and named the island 'Singapura', the Lion City, after seeing a lion in the forest. Students playing a mini-game to locate places in a village, quickly appreciate the challenge in the past of using simple clues, like a dead tree, instead of addresses. Quizzes are also used to reinforce the learning process.
"Singapore History Alive with 3D!" is the name of this project which seeks to ignite interest in Singapore's history amongst young learners. Mr Justin Pierre Arul, principal of Pasir Ris Primary School, IM Innovations' project partner school, remarked: "It's hard for younger kids to appreciate history. With this project, history comes alive for them". This novel project, which is being developed by IM Innovations over 20 months, is supported by Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Agency and Temasek Polytechnic.
Ms Adila Ong, the Head of Department for Character and Citizenship Education, Pasir Ris Primary, gave this feedback after the school rolled out the pilot phase of this programme for their 250 students in early 2011:
"The teachers concurred and gave positive feedback that the package which leverages on 3D technology has indeed made the lessons for the Primary 4 Social Studies (SS) chapters more engaging for the students. Since the first lesson, the students have been more enthused during the SS lessons. Some students have even gone the extra mile in being motivated self-directed learners to find out more on the lessons covered in class through reading books or even surfing the web. They are more familiar with the various key characters and learning points. As the students were more engaged in their learning, very often during lesson closures, the teachers were able to elicit encouraging responses from the students about their learning that meet the lesson objective. As such, not only the students, but the teachers involved are also more convinced, encouraged and enthused in seeing the positive outcomes in their students' learning through the effective use of the package in their classrooms."
All the 3D digital assets were modelled, textured, painted, rigged and animated in CINEMA 4D. These assets are then exported via CINEMA 4D built-in FBX exporter to Unity 3D, a game development platform. There is seamless integration between CINEMA 4D and Unity 3D. Textures will automatically be applied; new animation will automatically be added; model names and structures will be maintained. Objects that are multiplied and arranged in CINEMA 4D using Instance or MoGraph Cloner object with Render Instance activated, will be recognised in Unity as placeholder for programmer to instantiate the object to populate the scene. This feature helps greatly in reducing the size and simplify complicated scenes such as houses in a village.
Vincent Ong, managing director of IM Innovations, shared that this multimedia solution is designed to address a wide range of young students, from those with low to high academic ability. It is web browser based and can run on multiple platforms like PC and Mac. It is easy to use, does not need a powerful hardware configuration and can be quickly deployed in many Singapore schools. This solution will eventually be available on iPad and iPhone as well as include stereographic features for large immersive display.