Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Whyville Halloween!

This "enhanced learning opportunity" invited us to attend and report on the Whyville Halloween party.

The very first challenge was obtaining the secret code. There were several ways you could do this. The first was to invite another person to join Whyville and if they were active enough, you would be sent the code. So, I sort of cheated. I invited myself (using another email address) and received a Ymail with the code. Here is the email.

Halloween Party Secret Word
Since robinweb, one of your Halloween Party invitees signed up for Whyville, you get to hear the special Halloween Party Secret Word. It's 'corpse' spelled backwards: 'esproc'. During the Halloween Party on October 30 from 1 PM to 8 PM Whyville Time, visit Dr. Leila's house and say that word in chat. You'll be instantly transported to the party!

The other way was to chat and see if someone would share the secret word with you. The first time I tried this I was told “ymmum” was the secret word but later found out that was last years. The second time I tried it, before reading Ymail, I found it that it was “esproc”. That’s great but dmwraight & I still had trouble getting into the party. Why? We kept saying the secret code and then walking through Dr. Leila’s front door. Instead you had to say the secret code and hit ENTER! That was not intuitive. I actually figured it out by accident because I was getting frustrated and hit ENTER without even thinking about it.

The other early step was to get a costume. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of clams left so I couldn’t buy much. I bought a pumpkin face for only 10 clams. So, here I am in Whyville:
Here I am in costume:
Once at the party, the first thing you see is a whole ton of people in front of Hauntington Mansion.
It took a while to figure out what else there was to do. It was a big help going to the party together with dmwraight because we both were figuring it out together and sharing what we learned using Facebook chat. She discovered the clicking on the ghost would provide information on the different activities:

Then, clicking on the door the haunted house brought you to the lobby where there were different scary things to observe (spiders moving, paintings looking at you, etc…).

I was intrigued by the staircase so I clicked at the top and it took me to a staircase to nowhere.

This staircase had two views and went on and on and on. I followed it up at least 6 levels but then gave up. Someone told me I could catapult things off the side and I tried it but apparently had nothing to catapult. I went back down the staircases, back to the lobby of the haunted house and then entered the other doorway. This led me to the dining room.

In the dining room, you could see if a reflection of yourself in the mirror if you were in the right place. I couldn’t figure it out though. In this picture it looks like I am in “eyeball soup”. dmwraight is at the bottom left of the table. The only way out of the house is by clicking on the crow on the branch at the back window. I then went to the graveyard to explore.

The graveyard was just another place to chat with your fellow partygoers. The tree on the left had eyes that kept blinking at you. I perused around about and discovered that you could enter a secret portion of the graveyard by clicking on the grey tombstone by the right tree. I pinged dmwraight so she could join me.
This is where the witch’s brew was that the ghost told us about. You could drink the brew and the avatar responded “yuck”. I then went to the Ghoul Shed where apparently avatars could create private party rooms at the Whyville Halloween party.

I attended sloane5’s party but no one was there.

The last activity was that you could vote on avatar’s costumes. You voted by saying “vote avatarname” when you were in the room with that avatar. You could see which avatars were in the lead by clicking on vote tally.
To reflect on this experience, I would say that it’s definitely geared towards participants of a younger age. While it was interesting to explore, I found it a little bit disappointing. There was so much more they could have done (more interactive activities for example). Again, it’s obviously not an activity that a visually-impaired student could participate in even those with limited sight because it’s so busy on the screen and there is a ton of movement to follow. However, for those with physical disabilities it might serve as a way for them to “attend a Halloween party” that they could not attend, or may feel uncomfortable attending, in real life. I think this would fill more a social need than an educational one. Other than learning about the holiday of Halloween and perhaps the concept of voting and citizenship (loosely) there aren’t too many educational outcomes that the party would provide to students with or without disabilities.

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