Yesterday, several students met Lore Keepers. Who are the Lore Keepers? They are characters that the teachers in this project have created that will give assignments to the students. Yesterday was my first attempt at using them to interact with the students. First off, you should understand the setup. The lab where we’re playing has a sort of side-by-side U-shaped arrangement of computers. I was not playing in the same “U” that the students were, though I was sitting right across from some of them. I logged in Weyr, leader of the Lore Keepers and began contacting students via private messages (/w).
Observation #1 – Students are either not reading or are ignoring WoW’s chat system. (Considering trade chat, this could be a blessing!) It took me sending five or more messages to about four different students playing Night Elves before I got any response. Craig who was actively helping students, finally had to point it out to our first group to get them to respond. Keep in mind, the students had no idea it was me.
Observation #2 – Most students have little to no concept of online chat etiquette much less roleplay. No surprise, really, because that’s one of the goals of the project is focusing on digital citizenship. Our kids desperately need this. For those of you who are ever on X-Box Live, you know the kids I’m referring to! Again, for all the students knew, I was some other player (and some thought I was the game itself). Several of them communicated in very broken street-slang, text message style in their responses. I even had one student use foul language. Eventually, they decided to take my “quest,” though were quite reluctant.
Observation #3 – So far, they are not good at working collaboratively in game. My initial quest was to simply have them form a group and bring me bean soup. The soup was sold by a vendor in a building about 100 yards North of my position. I promised a handsome reward and each of them had to give me at least one bowl. This took the first group nearly 45 minutes to complete, and then, only two of them followed instructions and received a reward. One girl, who was actually polite and encouraged her male counterparts to be polite received two rewards.
Observation #4 – Giving a new player a Netherweave Bag as a reward is like your grandmother giving you socks for Christmas. They simply didn’t understand the value this early into their experience. Noted.
At the end of the day’s session we closed with a chat and I reiterated our behavioral expectations. As word spreads, there are students lining up to get into this program and I only have 15 slots and the students are aware of this. Today, we’re taking an approach that will be a big turn-off to many of them: silent play. No, I’m not one of those teachers. The idea here is to allow them to communicate all they like as long as they are using in-game chat. We’re also using a seating chart today.
Their first real challenge is coming soon: Deadmines. Deadmines will be their first, grouped, dungeon experience, and to be successful, they’ll need to begin to work cohesively and in balanced groups.
For now, the Lore Keepers will continue to interact with the students. Some will get rewarded, others will not. I don’t think any of them are reading my blog, so my “secret identity” is safe for now. Let’s see what happens.