Here at Pora Ora HQ, we’re exceptionally proud of the friendly learning relationships that have formed amongst the players. It is heart-warming and affirming for the Pora Ora team to see children help each other out within the game; and more importantly to see that they are not ashamed to ask for help when they need it – a value that is too often stigmatised as a sign of weakness in real life.
From the outset, the team has logged in as ‘helpers’, offering their assistance to players; steering users in the right direction and complimenting achievements, big and small. This has now spread wider, with the Pora Ora community itself becoming their own helpers. The main player on this scene is Pora Ora Help Team member, dougal, who logs in daily and has become one of the most popular Pora Orians! He not only sends internal mails and messages to children who are having difficulty, but also helps players solve problems in-world by chatting to them face to face and physically undertaking quests and activities with them in the 3D world.
“The Camron Case” is one which especially highlights this concept of peer coaching within Pora Ora. camron, a Pora Ora novice, was in need of some additional, individual guidance. dougal spent hours in-game giving him step by step advice and assistance, but always made sure to encourage him to keep going and to figure things out on his own; “Follow me”, “Well done!”, “I knew you could do it!”, “Are you ready for the next part?”. Today, camron has become the master, and offers his own assistance to other players who are lost and in need of a friendly helping hand; “camron will show you how!”, “I know some place where you can find treasure – dig here”, ”Follow me!”. Such a turn-around is extremely gratifying to the Pora Ora team.
There are three basic ways that children can interact with one another as they learn; they can compete to see who is best, work individualistically toward a goal without paying attention to others, or they can work cooperatively with a vested interest in each other’s learning as well as their own.
Within the school setting, competition and individualistic methods have been, and remain, the most dominant. However, cooperative learning is in many ways the most beneficial, particularly for primary school aged children, where peers have increasing importance in terms of social and emotional support and influence. This is where Pora Ora comes in. We’ve designed the platform to offer a cooperative portal in which children can bounce ideas off each other, providing children with the opportunities and experiences they need to understand the nature of cooperation and friendship.
(*Draws from the Educational Psychology of: Bandura, 1994; Johnson and Johnson, 1992; Slavin, 1995; Yager et al., 1986; Vygotsky, 1962)