Gretchen Regehr, Preston Gales, & Su-Tuan Lulee



Overview | Instructional Objective | Learners | Context | Motivation | Avatars & Roles
Objects & Locations | Game Goal | Play by Play| References | EDTEC Assignment Home


The village of Gao Kou Kou Seigi in rural Niger (map of Niger) has barely been touched by modern civilization.  Gao Kou Kou Seigi (translated as the Tall Gao Tree Over the Hill) is on the edge of the Sahara desert, approximately 100 km north of Niamey, the Capital city. The only access to technology in the village is a radio.  There is no electricity, no running water, very little use of money and hardly any wild life.  It is a very harsh existence, yet it is a vibrant village, filled with people, who in spite of their many hardships and constant struggle with subsistance living, are warm, happy, generous and friendly. 
Using the simulation and interactive possibilities in Second Life, learners will have the opportunity to experience many elements of life in this rural village in order to familiarize themselves with the culture, language, animals, housing, food and inhabitants of a typical rural village in Niger.

Instructional Objective

The "Village Life in Rural Niger" simulation will address the following instructional objectives: 
After having completed all of the learning activities in the simulation,

  • Learners will be able to state 3-5 facts about village life in Niger
  • Learners will be able to interact with local inhabitants using a few common greetings and other key words. 
  • Learners will be able to demonstrate an understanding of traditions around food preparation and sharing meals with Nigeriens.
  • Learners will be able to demonstrate gestures both appropriate and inappropriate in this society.


The primary audience for this simulation is adult, English-speaking volunteers who will be going to Niger in a volunteer, humanitarian capacity. They are not likely to be familiar with the local language, cultural traditions or lifestyle, and need to acquire a basic understanding and knowledge in these areas in order to be well received upon arrival in the village.

Context of Use

Unfortunately, some organizations send volunteers into situations and lifestyles that are extremely different from their own with very little preparation. Pre-arrival learning opportunities or education which might lessen the culture shock on the part of the volunteer, and improve the first impression that the volunteer makes when arriving in the village can go a long ways towards making the overall experience successful from both the volunteer's perspective, as well as that of the local culture. Knowing how to say "hello" or "thank you", being familiar with appropriate and inappropriate gestures, and understanding the importance of observance of customs around eating and sharing meals can make a considerable difference in preparing the volunteer for a very positive first few days.
This simulation is intended for volunteers who will be going to live in Niger, and who have not previously been to Niger or West Africa. It is designed for those who have not experienced a first-hand look at subsistence living in a West African village, so that they can be better prepared for real life arrival, and reception by the local culture by having developed the knowledge of the environment, an understanding of some of the most basic cultural traditions, and learned some basic communication skills.

Participants in the simulation will experience elements of local culture including familiarization with local greetings, avoidance of inappropriate gestures or behaviors, and customs and norms around meal preparation and sharing.


This MUVE simulation will be designed based on Malone’s intrinsic motivation theory (Malone, 1987). We intend to intrigue learners’ intrinsic motivation to learn by finding learning sources and rewards through their own exercise. We will build an environment that would challenge learners’ curiosity and fantasy. Moreover, from the first second they step into African Village, we will give each learner the power to take control over where they go, what they practice and when they move on when they have gained what they need.  
Our design is also guided by Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory that emphasizes building an environment in which learners can become involved in the activities that attract them so much that they are willing to do it for its own sake. In this case, the learners are motivated, knowing that this opportunity is a critical one before being in Niger in order to gain and practice skills that are unlikely to be available elsewhere prior to in-country training. The idea that flow is a balance between anxiety and skill can be demonstrated in this simulation in the learning activity of the gestures that will be gained and learned (described in detail in the play-by-play). The learners will be provided with a variety of gestures, both appropriate and inappropriate. The learning is straighforward, however the culminating assessment with the chief provides an opportunity to be able to act on the knowledge gained, and possibly choose the wrong gestures, representing failure in the assessment. This activity demonstrates Csikszentmihalyi’s explanation of flow as a "merging of action and awareness" as an exciting, although potentially stressful act.  

Using Roger Caillois’ scheme, the game falls into what is defined as Mimicry class where alternative realities are created to make learners feel as though they are more than what they actually are through fantasy, pretense, and disguise. (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990)

Avatars and Roles

The avatars will be acting as themselves and will be wearing their own clothes. They will have the point of view of a freshly arrived volunteer who will be spending an extended period of time in a rural Niger village. 

The learners will acquire scripts in order to practice and learn local gestures, will interact with objects, view images, and will have the opportunity to utilize voice chat, will gather notecards and can listen to scripted objects which will pronounce words in the local language, Zarma.

Objects and Locations

This simulation requires that the learner is in Second Life and is teleported to the Village Life in Rural Niger location. The area is dry, with sparse grass and basic huts. This simulation will require a headset and sound capability as well as chat. Objects that the learners will interact with and see are: 

  • Welcome sign-When first arriving in the village, the learner will be able to click on the sign to collect the first notecard listing the objectives and goal of the simulation.

welcome sign

  • School House and cutout of teacher -Here the learner will interact with the teacher, represented by a scripted "flat avatar" who will respond with a greeting and offer a notecard with information on local village life and facts on Niger.

school house

  • School House Board and Sound Objects-This board lists key words and greetings in the local language, Zarma. By clicking on the scripted objects next to the board, the learner can hear the proper pronunciation of these words.


  • Cutout of school children-This image provides a folder with gestures that can be saved. Additionally, there is a notecard in it explaining the gestures and their appropriate or inappropriate use.

school children

  • Cutout of Village women-The learner can click on the cutout of village women to collect a notecard that explains food preparation and meal sharing traditions.
  • Mortar and Pestle-The learner should click on this object to learn more about preparing millet, a staple in the Nigerien diet.
  • Photo wall-Behind the well, the learner can observe a series of photos that loop repeatedly illustrating various elements of village life.
  • Photo wall-a second photo wall highlights animals of the region. The learner can click on the object for more information. Additionally, a notecard can be collected here with further detail on local wildlife.

baby camel

  • Concession door-The learner should collect the notecard from the door of the concession before proceeding to the final activity of interacting with the chief.

concession door

Additionally, the learners will interact with a live avatar representing the village chief. The chief will interact with the learners and assess their learning with a very basic rubric.  


Game Goal

The goal of this simulation is simply to provide the learners with the basic knowledge of customs, norms, gestures and words that allow a visitor to be well received in the village. The learners need to go to each simulation area to gather all of the information that they need to meet with the village chief to demonstrate some of their new knowledge and skills.

Play by Play

The simulation should last approximately 30 minutes. The learners will teleport to the entry of the village.  They will first come across a sign welcoming them to the village of Gao Kou Kou Seigi in rural Niger. The sign is scripted to provide learners with the first notecard listing the objectives and goal of the simulation.

  • Addtionally, learners can click to see a map of Niger.
  • Next to the sign is a board. The learners should click on this board to see a rotating photo display of village scenes.

The notecard will provide the following information:

  1. Welcome
  2. The objectives for participants in this simulation
  3. A description of what is to take place
    Notecard Detail:


In each case the learner will collect informative notecards from the cutout figures at each of these activity areas. Additionally, the learner should click on objects to learn more about life in the village. Once having completed the activities in all of the interaction areas, the learner will go to meet with the village chief to demonstrate skills and understanding in these areas.

To begin the 3 learning activities-the learner will proceed to the school teacher at the school, the school children inside the school or to the women preparing meals.

The learners can complete the three simulation activities in any order, but all three must be completed before meeting with the village chief.

ACTIVITY 1: Meeting the School Teacher - Life in the Village and Learning a Few Key Words

ACTIVITY 2: Interacting with local children - learning appropriate and inappropriate gestures 

ACTIVITY 3: Meeting the Village Women - Meal Customs

Final Activity: Meeting the chief and testing your skills


The Chief will be using a simple rubric for assessing the skills-see below (Preston I'll email this so you don't have to recreate)





Questions about village life-including meal sharing 

All questions were answered completely with good detail.  

All questions were answered but with little detail.  

All questions were not answered completed or correctly.  


All areas of the gestures were addressed and handled with a high degree of sophistication.  

At least one area of the gestures was not addressed or was incorrect. 

At least two areas of the gestures were not addressed or were incorrect.  

Key words-comprehension 

All of the words were correctly translated.  

Most of the words were correctly translated. 

Few of the words were correctly translated. 

Key words- Pronunciation  

All of the words were pronounced well. 

Most of the words were pronounced well. 

Few of the words were pronounced well. 



Books & Journals

  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row. Chapter 4: The conditions of flow   

  • Malone, T. W., & Lepper, M. R. (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In R. E. Snow & M. J. Farr (Eds.). Aptitude, learning and instruction. Volume 3: Conative and affective process analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Electronic Resources

Return to the MUVE Project Table of Contents

Last updated November 04, 2007