This project sets out to develop and enhance the learning experience of students on the BA Early Childhood Studies who are required to examine their practice through the reflective opportunities offered on work based learning modules, EEC112, EEC205, EEC311. Some aspects of practice are difficult to facilitate for students, for example: safeguarding children and working with children with severe special needs.

The child in this story, Elliott, is 3 years old and has serious difficulties with attention deficit syndrome. He has problems sitting still, concentrating and sharing. We previously produced a similar scenario, using Flash, to teach students how to deal with a child (David) who has been physically abused.

The story is presented as a series of scenes. At the end of each scene students are presented with options to determine what they should do. They are given instant feedback on their chosen course of action and told why their decision is good or bad.

My contribution to this project was to create and animate all of the characters in Poser, apart for the narrator, and create the artwork for each scene. It was extremely time-consuming, taking the best part of three years to complete. Poser is quite complex to learn and, as it’s a 3D program, memory-hungry. As a consequence my networked, multimedia PC could be unreliable and very slow to render scenes, which I often had to leave overnight. At the time we were based in a bad working environment with light reflecting onto my screen for most of the day, making it very difficult to see the intricate parts of the animation. In addition to this I was also working on other projects, which meant I’d forget how to do things and lose my flow.

We had to buy the children models from a different supplier, which then wouldn’t work with the lip-synching editor within Poser. We then had to buy another lip-synching program, Mimic, animate the children and import them back into Poser – so not-at-all straightforward!

I’m pleased with the end result but would advise that if you want to produce something similar, get a team of animators to work on the project over a set time period with no interruptions… We are considering using Second Life for any further work in this area.

This Child with Special Needs Scenario can be accessed at http://www.edu.plymouth.ac.uk/cwsn/index.htm

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