It is with great pleasure that we can announce that through project Real Life, supported by Erasmus Plus programme, we have created a blended learning platform – my-real.life – that can now be used by many more countries to educate people in correctional facilities.
A few years ago we started with project Real Life, based on the believe that prisoners are not ‘bad’ people, but rather at some point in their lives ended up in a ‘bad’ situation that made them end up in prison. Therefore, we should support them in their lifelong learning process to be able to find their place (back) in society. The initial idea of project Real Life was that prisoners could train skills through virtual reality and/or serious gaming. Although we have not created one game that addresses all of our initial ideas or all 21st century skills, we believe we have achieved much more than that!
As a team we could have made the decision to focus on creating one serious game in which prisoners could practice several of one 21st century skills. However, research shows that the best way to transfer skills practiced from game to reality is to focus on one very specific skill and situation. However, our goal was to create something for the largest group in prison that rarely get attention, short-term prisoners. This would mean that we would have to create one game for each prisoner, if we wanted to have a real impact.
So, instead of letting go our initial vision of creating one game that could support all prisoners, we have created a blended learning platform, My-real.life, that could support all prisoners. And we have not created one game, but four games and a virtual reality game! Moreover, early in the project we found that if we were to create a game, many prisons would not even be able to offer the game to prisoners, because the digital infrastructure (access to internet) is not there yet in most prisons. Therefore, we decided to create a blended learning platform where we would not only offer our game but also collect the games from all over the world that could support prisoners in their life long learning and reintegration process. And this is exactly what we did. And although we still have many aspirations for the blended learning platform we are proud that we have been able to develop a good basis with the platform. My-real.life can be used as a tool for talks with correctional institutions about the importance of education but also the use of digitalization in the reintegration process.
One of the things that we express with the idea of ‘blended’ learning is our strong believe in the importance that digitalization should always go hand in hand with real life support of a person, so a mentor, case-manager that supports the prisoner in his life-long learning process. Without this, a digital platform would be empty.
The blended learning platform My-real.life is an open source platform. I welcome you all to start to start with piloting in your countries. There have been pilots already in Italy, Lithuania, Turkey and Netherlands. You can have access to the material and the website in several languages. Please contact the team for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
A final note for the European Union through the Erasmus Plus programme and especially CINOP, the organization that gave us their continuous support through great feedback every step of the way. We would like to thank CINOP and EU for giving us the opportunity to do this project, initially based on a vision that ended up to become a real platform. Without them, this could never have become reality, at least not now in a time where ideas about prisons focus more on retribution rather than education. So again, we cannot thank them enough for this opportunity!
We thank you and invite you all to start using the platform!
Real Life team
Hendrik-Jan Trooster en Alice Erens – Click F1
Veronique Achoui – CHAINS
Ed Santman – Changes & Chances
Roberto Righi – STEPS
Mustafa Ginesar – Kocaeli Open Correctional Institution
Vilma Ferrari – VSI Hiteco
Nick Shopland – Nottingham Trent University