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Caccia al carnevale

Caccia al Carnevale is the second activity related to the Italian language and culture that Misy Ferraris and I organise together.

The first one was for the Italian Culture Week quiz, but this time we wanted to try something different. We liked above all to explore different ways of delivering information in a stimulating way. From our Collaborative Learning Tools we had learnt two lessons: keep it simple and, please, no long notecards.

It was the right occasion to put into practice what we learnt and try something new. In addition, since it would be during the Electronic Village Online, Graham Stanley offered to add the Carnival to the Virtualwords visits sheduled. For us it represented a wonderful occasion to test it with a large group of people and to be able to observe relatively new residents dealing with what we prepared.

As in previous occasions, we knew that very few of our participants spoke Italian, an that the focus would be on the culture/tradition rather than on the language. And as usual, we always tried to offer bilingual information and instructions.

We decided to prepare various different, short activities instead of a larger one:

a) Some boards with short description of the character and peculiarity of 4 Italian masks, to be matched with the relative images (a group activity)

b) Four easy expressions with adjectives describing the character of the 4 masks (i.e. io sono furbo: I’m shrewd), written on comic bubbles that could be worn by avatars and that, when clicked, “said” the sentence (and people were clicking so enthusiastically on them that I’m almost sure that may will never forget those sentences).

c) A scavenger hunt. We scattered around boxes with little presents and multiple choice questions on the Italian Carnival tradition. Participants had to answer correctly to the question to get the prize. We had a little problem here: the script in our inventories only gave the prize once, but our aim was that everybody could have the chance to answer the question (and doing so, learn something about the Italian Carnival). We then asked the SLED community, that helped as with its usual generosity, and in few days we had the right script and could start working.

The fact that we could run the event twice (due to different time zones of the participants) was very helpful because after the first Caccia al Carnevale we could sit down, analyse it, and make changes and improvements. For instance we saw that people did not enjoy the scavenger hunt as much as they can because the boxes were to difficult to find. My proposal was to keep the boxes all in a smaller area, but Misy Ferraris rightly observed that if we placed the boxes one near the other, the messages that the boxes were writing in chat would mix all together causing confusion. We needed to keep a certain distance between them, but she had the great idea of putting Italian flags beside the boxes: in this way participants could find it more easily and the game was more dynamic and everybody got its fair share of little prizes.

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