A variety of researchers briefly explained their research in and around the game, World of Warcraft. Afterwards, we broke to mingle with the researchers to get a better idea of their research. There were some interesting discussions:
Academics are no longer simply researching the games externally, but now immersing themselves in it. There has possibly been a “chaging of the guard” due to the fact that many researchers today have grown up playing video games.
Social capital is important.
When explaining research results, there are sometimes problems resulting from an audiences lack of experience or knowledge of games like MMOs. Find analogs to help explain to non-gamers!
Quest logs are learning management systems!
A video explaining MMOs ground up and targeted to teachers or academics who’ve had no experience with MMOs is needed.
Several educators presented this morning from a variety of levels, elementary to community college. Each of them have unique ways in which they’ve integrated gaming into their respective curricula. Kevin Jarrett described his work with teens in Second Life working with Peggy Sheehy’s kids on Ramapo Island on the Teen Grid. During the session, Peggy was able to give me a brief tour of some of the kids’ projects that had been imported into the main grid… Awesome! Kevin Jarrett’s blog is available at http://www.storyofmysecondlife.com/
Candace Barriteau Phaire showed her work with students in mathematics using popular sports games like Madden 08. Students studied athlete statistics, formed their teams, played their teams against each other and studied the underlying math. What a great integration!
Maggie Hommel explained her work with the Park Ridge Public Library in Illinois. One of the most interesting things they did is that they began to check out games for consoles like the XBox. Their board feared that book checkouts would decline and in fact, they increased. Libraries seem a promising place to integrate gaming in after school programs.
Dona Cady explained her work with community college students using World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Active Worlds to supplement her English Composition courses. Students wrote stories from the perspective of their characters. Very cool.
Tripp Robbins and Bill Chamberlain outlined their proposal for a virtual world development environment while they also demoed their work with Neverwinter Nights Two. “We can’t keep trying to fit square pegs into round holes,” Tripp said, referring to our attempts to use existing development environments like NWN2 for educational purposes. Though they do work, the man-hours needed for development and the learning curve are daunting. They’re prosing a new project at: http://newnexus.org. Great idea! Hope it flies!
The USeIT Poster Presentation at the Games, Learning, and Society Conference for 2008 went exceptionally well. Many visitors came by to see the work that students and teachers were doing in Squeak as part of the NSF-funded project. There seemed to be a great interest in the results of the project to date and curiosity about how Squeak will be utilized in the high schools next year. Students’ work was a hit!