Museums and the Web

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WolfQuest Online Community


Conference: 
MW2008
Institution: 
Minnesota Zoo
Designer: 
eduweb (www.eduweb.com)
Why: 

WolfQuest is a 3-D wildife simulation game created by the Minnesota Zoo with funding from the National Science Foundation. To create WolfQuest, the Zoo has partnered with eduweb, one of the leading developers of digital learning experiences. WolfQuest merges the natural mystery and charisma of wolves with the immersive, compelling drama and action of video games to create a new model for informal science learning. Designed for teens and pre-teens, WolfQuest teaches wolf behavior and ecology through exciting 3D gameplay and intense social interactions both in the game and through the WolfQuest website (www.wolfquest.org) . One of the most exciting aspects of the WolfQuest project has been the vibrant and thriving community that has formed around the game to discuss wolves and wolf issues. The WolfQuest forum launched in July 2007 and has quickly become the central hub for fans of WolfQuest. Actively managed by the WolfQuest project coordinator, this forum has grown with the game launch and now has over 4400 registered users (visitors must register if they want to submit a comment – they don’t have to register to read the forum) and 81,000 posts. Over 40% of these posts have occurred since the launch of the WolfQuest game on December 20, 2007. We are currently averaging over 340 posts a day. Along with helping players find solutions to technical problems, the forum has quietly become WolfQuest’s most direct educational tool allowing visitors to ask questions about wolves and to dialogue with other forum users about wolf issues. Current discussions include: wolves being removed off the endangered species list, wolf pack hierarchy, wolf reintroductions and the appropriateness of keeping wolves as pets. These discussions are primarily forum user generated and managed – with our project coordinator and wolf experts stepping in when appropriate to provide information. Wolf experts from the Minnesota Zoo, the Phoenix Zoo, the National Zoo and the International Wolf Center provide content and expertise to the website and community. Other user generated content includes a vibrant wolf art and literature section of the website where users can submit their artistic interpretations of wolves (while maintaining a scientific "naturalistic" focus). This has been a very popular section of the site with over 170 art submissions. Additionally, we hold occasional contests for the community, including our current YouTube video contest (the winner wins a trip for two to Ely, MN to howl with wild wolves at the International Wolf Center). In summary, the WolfQuest online community has proven an invaluable tool for accomplishing many of the educational goals of the WolfQuest project. A vibrant online community has formed that generates and fosters safe, open discussions about topics that help connect WolfQuest players in a more meaningful way with the real world of wolves and wolf conservation.

Nominated By: 
Year: 
2008