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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: MMORPG in ICT Education

During my recent conference in San Francisco (shown above), Gordon Snyder, Jr. the Executive Director and Principal Investigator of the National Center for Telecommunication Technologies (NCTT) gave a great presentation on MMORPGS and how they can be used in community colleges and training programs.

He mentioned a number of uses of Second Life and how it can be used to help teach math and science concepts. During the subseqent discussion, someone mentioned that she did not like avatars or see the point of learning in an environment of avatars.

In some ways, I agree.(yes, frequent readers might be shocked but read on).

Having a bunch of people virtually sitting in a classroom is not the best use of Second Life or any other metaverse. The real power of the metaverse concept is when we use the platform to do things we could not otherwise do in a classroom.

Here are some examples of the power of a metaverse.:
  • Shrink down and walk through the human body
  • Fly above a cityscape to see patterns or green space
  • Become another gender or race
  • Manipulate financial markets and observe the outcome.

These are innovative uses for a metaverse. As educators, we can't simply reproduce the classroom virtually (like many e-learning courses attempted to do), we need to construct educational environments that reach beyond our current classrooms into the student's or trainee's imaginations. We need to reach beyond our current paradigms into new educational frontiers.


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Unknown said...

I can't see much point in using Second Life for didactic instruction. It does however present a lot of opportunity for creativity and the attendant learning.

“The computer is a medium of human expression and if it has not yet had its Shakespeares, its Michelangelos or its Einsteins, it will. …. We have scarcely begun to grasp its human and social implications.”
Computer Criticism vs. Technocentric Thinking By Seymour Papert

Karl Kapp said...


I agree 100%, we need to get away from our pre-existing educational paradigms (didactic models)and creatively expand our horizons. Great quote...and I agree our "master of computer art" has not yet been found.

Anonymous said...

I unfortunately end up with similar requests from our faculty who don't quite understand the space. "Can you build me a virtual classroom that allows me to import powerpoint slides and display them on a screen?"

Well, yes. But why would I want to do that?

One unique use I found for Second Life relates to historical settings. A walk through of the ancient pyramds of Egypt. Examining the arhitecture of the Coliseum. An archealogical dig Brazil. These are things that you can't do in a classroom, as an instructor (well, maybe the coliseum example is doable).

Change is difficult I guess, and some instructors feel comfortable re-creating their classroom virtually. I'm hoping I can help them see beyond that...quickly.