The Haunted Garage: Interactive Online Space using Mozilla Hubs

Chris Lambert, the Learning Resources Coordinator at the USask Language Centre (USLC), works with international students, studying remotely and F2F. As part of what she calls “Free-Range Fridays” Chris designed a Mozilla Hubs interactive space for students to learn more about the tradition of celebrating Halloween. With a mix of language students from all levels and diverse backgrounds the Free-Range Friday activities allow for mixing the students up, meeting other students who are not in their class, etc.  Keep reading to find out how Chris used Mozilla Hubs to create an interactive online space for students to explore and interact with together for a little Halloween fun!

By Chris Lambert, Learning Resources Coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan Language Centre (USLC)

I work with international students, some of whom are studying remotely and some F2F.  Each day, I meet with a different level at 10 am on specific topics.  On Fridays I hold what I call “Free Range Fridays”, in which all levels are invited to participate (mixing the students up, meeting other students who are not in their class, etc.).  In other words, not specifically planned to support the curriculum, and more interactive.

For Halloween, on Friday Oct 29, I directed students to a website using Mozilla Hubs.  In this site, I used a pre-designed “Haunted Garage” scene.  The students met me first in our Learning Resources zoom room, where I explained what we were going to do.  Then in the Zoom chat I sent the link to the specific room I created using the “Haunted Garage” scene.  I then explained to everyone in the garage room how to navigate using Q,E, WASD on their keyboards, introducing the gamification of learning.  The Haunted Garage scene had some interactivity – students could move around the house, yard, into the garage, backyard, etc but could not take/move/interact with objects – and experience different typical Halloween icons – hand reaching out of grave, headstones, skeletons, spooky sounds at the front door and in the garage, etc.  From inside the Halloween scene, I created a movie screen attached to the fence of the yard, then shared my other desktop monitor screen and played a couple of short videos (each only about 3 minutes long) from YouTube with closed captioning and played at 0.75% normal speed, outlining the history of Halloween.  This led to a discussion about whether the students celebrated Halloween in their country of origin, or if they lived here, what they understood about Halloween and how it was celebrated in their household.  Several teachers participated also, and it was an opportunity for them to learn about gamifying the classroom without having to download a third party application and/or reveal personal information (both in alignment with LTE Principles).

This was followed up with a module in my Canvas Course of photographs of past celebrations of Halloween at the USLC, where we traditionally have costume contests and karaoke among the levels.  All USLC students and teachers can access my course, which is designed to support the entire USLC student experience, from registration to graduation, regardless of level.

I believe this project allowed students to tie in their listening, speaking and reading skills, all of which are also part of my course (I provide extra resources that are useful for students, free, web-based and no-account required, thereby adding value to their learning).

If you’d like to be a member of my Canvas course to see what ties in, just let me know – it is not populated through Banner, I do it manually, because it’s not a credit course.

After the session, one of the teachers told me that the students F2F in his classroom were having a hoot exploring the virtual environment.  All the teachers present thought it was a pretty cool idea, and it has opened up thinking about how to apply interactive, virtual worlds to new programs (very beginner students for example, who do not yet have the vocabulary to read the instructions in English Canvas courses).