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Virtual Campus’ Virtual City Encourages Engineering Learning

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eCity project, funded by the European Union and under GILT (Games, Interaction and Learning Technologies) coordination, resulted in the development of an innovative, learning methodology: a city-development simulation engine targeted towards the solution of engineering problems.

The study of Science and Technology subjects raises difficulties to students. All around Europe there have been made efforts to counter this trend in such a way that nowadays eCity is already an official learning software in Greece and Turkey and it is also part of Scientix –  the EU Science and Educational community.

Based on PBL (Problem Based Learning), the priority of this project was to create a game based on a simulation mechanism, that was able to increase interest in the engineering world, while teaching in a fun way. “eCity has two main group targets: engineering students that want to deepen their engineering knowledge; and high school students, so they can have a realistic idea of what engineering is”, said GILT researcher and ISEP professor, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho.

eCity has more than 75,000 downloads and it’s available free of charge to anyone who is interested. The platform allows individual and group work, curricular activities, extracurricular competitions, as well as the development of small or large projects. Available in many languages – Portuguese, English, Italian, Spanish, Turkish and Greek – the game has a variety of tools, focusing on solving  pollution problems, natural disasters or addressing issues like a city’s basic goods, such as water and energy.

“The project ended in December 2015, so it is still recent. But, immediately after that, we launched the 1.5 version, which features a new editing program that allows teachers and users to create their own problems”, states Carlos Vaz de Carvalho, adding: “Presently, and outside the project scope, a 2.0 version is being developed and it will specially reach the tablet market. Overall, it’s a evolution of eCity, in which changes will be noticed at a functional and conceptual level”.

In Portugal, “the product has already been used in some schools. Across borders, the curiosity over the project is such, that there is already a Youtube group that creates tutorial videos to show how the game works”, declares the GILT researcher. “Moreover, some guidelines to teachers have already been created, in order to explain how can they use the game to motivate their students”.

In eCity project were also involved the following partners: Virtual Campus (Portugal); University of Thessaly (Greece); Universidad de Vigo Universitat de València (Spain); Fondazione Ikaros (Italy) e Aya Naime Ali Karatas Cok Programli Lisesi (Turkey).