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An Innovative Program for Graduates of Orphanages

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HOPE worldwide – Russia and the Center of Innovative Educational Technology of Lomonosov Moscow State University started a new charitable program dedicated to educational readiness for senior school students living in orphanages.

The main problem of children from orphanages is their lack of preparedness for the difficult situations that they face in their independent lives right after their graduation.

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Role-playing games are presented as a basic educational technology to help orphans succeed in their adult lives. In 2010-2011 the Center of Innovative Educational Technology of Lomonosov Moscow State University and HOPE worldwide – Russia conducted two role-playing games for 9th grade students from Orphanage #48 in Moscow. As a result of these two games, educators identified the main problems facing students who graduate from the orphanages, and they decided to continue using these educational games in other orphanages.

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The Center of Innovative Educational Technology of Lomonosov Moscow State University was established in 2008 and has many years’ experience of conducting role-playing games. The head of the center is D.I. Zemtsov who is also part-time Vice Pro-rector of Moscow State University in Additional Education and a head of the Moscow State University Commission of Modern Educational Methods. Participants of this center are graduates of Moscow State University and other leading institutes in Russia who have pedagogical experience along with more than 10 years of role-playing game experience in schools and higher education institutions.

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The main purposes of the Center of Educational Technology are:

- Acceleration of professional competence of the students via implementation of innovative technology for the educational process;

- Development and integration of innovative, action-oriented educational technology in the learning process;

- Theoretical and methodological research in active learning;

- Development of innovative activities and collaboration with scientific and educational institutions, funds and other organizations in order to find a joint solution for actual scientific and educational issues.

The main feature of the role-playing games is the opportunity for the orphans to act freely and independently in a pre-arranged complex situation. In this way, they gain experience practicing real life challenges, and scientists are able to understand what kind of knowlege they are missing and identify where students lack understanding. The role-playing game puts paticipants into situations where they have to ask questions, make personal choices, and face confrontations. The game also operates on an emotional level, bringing students not only knowledge but fun as they interact with other people in the game.

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An important characteristic of the proposed role-playing games is the chance for students to use the knowledge that they receive in school without being able to put it into practice in real life. Any skill like solving math, understanding paticular physical models or knowing history can be integrated into the game for the children to test themselves to see what knowledge they are missing. Coordination with teachers and tutors is required to embed the game into the educational process completely.

The proposed program consists of a consecutive series of role-playing games that are connected with a common scenario or story. Currently the children are involved in the preparational process for the role-playing games, to build their motivation, to examine similar tasks from different perspectives, and to make increasing levels of knowledge easier.

The program uses a series of works by B. and A. Strugatskih connected with common stories, such as: „Noon XXII century“, „Faraway Rainbow“, „Hard to be God“, „Try to escape“, ect.

The program designed for 8th, 9th and 10th grade students. One or more new role-playing game with a new story is run for each group of students every three months. Preparatory classes, fellowship among the children, along with chatting on a special website, are organized between the games. 11th grade students are welcomed into the game as the organizers’ assistants.

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