Flight to Freedom is a web-based role-playing game simulating the experience of fugitive slaves in the antebellum United States. Players assume the persona of an actual historical figure and move about a map of the nineteenth-century United States in attempt to escape north to Canada. Players are confronted with events taken from fugitive slave narratives as they try to collect family members and avoid detection. The simulation will tailor the players experience to that of the character being played.
Bowdoin College undergraduates created the historical content for the simulation and designed websites providing historical background for the period. High school students are the target audience for this project.
Type of Material:
Simulation events are drawn from primary and secondary resources, but no source material is directly accessable unless site users follow hyperlinks provided on a separate "Resources" page. Approximately 50 ancillary resource web sites are provided. Those provided are generally quite good. Balancing the quality of these ancillary resource web sites is the fact that almost one third of the hyperlinks lead to dead ends/non-extant web sites.
This site can be used not only to teach students about the challenges and dangers faced by fugitve slaves.
Netscape 4.x/IE5 or higher.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
1. To explore and understand the challenges and difficulties that confronted fugitive slaves; 2. To evaluate alternative decisions that could affect fugitive slaves.
Target Student Population:
While high school students are the stated target audeince, the site's simplicity and ease of use could also target it to junior high school students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
A basic knowledge of American slavery is presumed. Basic knowledge of the game personas would certainly make the simulation more enjoyable for the players.
This site provides to students powerful, concrete details about the cruel ways in which masters disciplined and controlled slaves, the impact of that cruelty upon slaves, the barriers to escape, the precariousness of life in the North, and the ways in which slaves and former slaves tried to help each other. The resources section also provides links to other good sites on issues related to slavery, African-American history, and the underground railroad.
Perhaps a bit more background on each of the historical personas, or maybe an introduction into the basics of slaves' escape attemtps (ex., why Canada?)...someone who's had no/only minimal exposure to the instutiton of antebellum American slavery may have difficulty following the simulation
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Pedagogically, it supports the concept of granting the student greater agency in their learning. It's certainly capable of piquing a student's interest through direct involvement and the wide variety of game outcomes. Such a wide variety of possiblities and skill levels helps make it useful to students of various skill levels and also assures that the simulation will not grow stale with repetitive use.
While its ability to engage students is strong, it gives only a superficial overview of each case study and of the inherent dangers and problems associated with a salve's escape attempt.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Simple point-and-click game play makes it very easy to operate/play. Commentary that accompanies each move/turn of play is short and direct and engaging.
Not as intuitive as I'd expect (maybe a bit clearer directions/instructions are needed?) but relatively easy to figure out after a few minutes.
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