A virtual planet in cyberspace created by more than a thousand children
VOLCO was an evolving Virtual Online Co-Operative environment, a planet in cyberspace constructed by children and young people communicating via the Internet and making links across geographic and cultural divides. The project built on a range of communications opportunities offered by the emerging opportunities for collective creativity afforded by the Internet in the late 90’s. From 2002 a new database website enabled over a thousand young people to combine their ideas into the making of an emergent planet. VOLCO tapped into the energy of popular net culture and facilitated co-operative relationships between participants of different backgrounds and life experiences. Participants created and uploaded their own visual and written materials, enabling a new, virtual society to emerge out of their combined imaginations. Designed around principles of conflict resolution, VOLCO made use of digital technology to support young people in communicating across their differences to create this new online society. Through their joint invention of VOLCO children were able to explore new, imaginative and co-operative ways of living and gain a glimpse of how they might begin to do this for their own planet. The project was run through training teachers in twenty seven schools in London, North Carolina, Berlin, Chicago, and the Shetland Isles. It gained its widespread use through linking to subjects in the school curriculum, and was able to cover eleven different subjects in the Key Stage 2 curriculum at a time when there was lack of school arts provision in the UK and the need for a means to introduce creative ways to make use of new technologies.