AUTOTOPSY is a free, education simulation web site that takes Problem Based Learning to a whole new level.
A recent report claimed that 25% of American students drop out of school before graduation. One of the reasons cited was “engagement”, or lack there of. Students did not feel the stuff they were learning was either interesting or important. As someone who has spent close to 20 years in a classroom before joining the online world, I know how hard it is to come up interesting and captivating lessons, projects, assignments, presentations, etc., day after day after day, especially for kids of the digital generation.
If teachers are to engage and motivate today’s students, it will probably require some changes in areas of pedagogy, educational philosophy, assessment, best practices and, killer curriculum like today’s site – AUTOTOPSY.
AUTOTOPSY is a simulation in which students have to figure out how a car accident occurred based on facts and evidence they uncover. Students take on the role of “Jimmy Burns”, accident investigator for an insurance company. The simulation opens with Jimmy arriving on the scene of a horrific accident (it’s made to look a lot worse than it actually is). Jimmy’s task is to determine how the accident occurred and who/what caused it. There are various ways and means to gather facts and find clues. In the end, students must pull together all the data and make an educated guess as to what occurred. Naturally, there’s a lot more to it then just collecting clues, but that’s what really makes AUTOTOPSY engaging and compelling. There is no “right answer”, no back or white. It also provides a brief glimpse into the world of virtual education if companies like EA or Nintendo developed curriculum.
Bottom line? AUTOTOPSY is awesome! It taps into the whole CSI milieu that seems to predominate the air waves (cable waves?) these days – the gathering of facts and evidence to reach a conclusion. The graphics and visuals are first rate, better then many commercial games and the simulation scenario has enough twists and turns to keep the interest of even hard core gamers.
Finally, a tip of the hat to jam3 Media and Whizbang Files two of the companies (Both Canadian, by the way. And, I should also mention the two main financial organizations, Bell Fund and the Canadian Television Fund) involved in creating this site.
The site is free to use and no log-in is required.
You can take a look by going to
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