Four months into the project, here's an updated version of the Learning With The Lich King presentation that focuses on the WoWinSchool Project (http://wowinschool.pbworks.com). Take a look at what
Four months into the project, here's an updated version of the Learning With The Lich King presentation that focuses on the WoWinSchool Project (http://wowinschool.pbworks.com). Take a look at what we're learning!
Where it all began... Back around 2000, a student of mine, Ryan, introduced me to the online game, Everquest. Though I’d participated in online gaming before, nothing had ever been this compelling. It was an immersive, story-driven environment, and I became enthralled. I was also fascinated by the concept of guilds and set out to form my own, the Harbingers of Ire guild. To form and maintain a guild, you need members! I’d met a few regular folks in Everquest, but my most frequent contacts were with Ryan and other students at the high school who’d begun to play. So, logically, we formed a guild. Our experiences in Everquest became the foundation for what is now, nearly a 10-year journey through MMORPGs. What did I and students do together in Everquest? Mostly, we simply played the game, but very early on, I realized opportunities to also “be the teacher.”Everquest involved lots of running over vast distances and it took time to get from point A to point B (until you were a druid of a level high enough to teleport, after which there was still a great deal of running). So, on numerous occasions, I’d be following a student from one location to another (they always new how to get places), and as I followed, I’d review Physical Science with them for an upcoming test. They could always ask me questions about what we were learning in class, too. I suppose that’s when I first started thinking of MMO’s as a potential instructional tool. Image Credits:Typical Woodelf Druid EQ 1 - http://www.everquest-online.com/content/images/gallery/albums/screenshots/eq004.sized.jpgEverquest Logo: http://lightloch.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/everquest-logo.jpgFaerie Image - http://eqbeastiary.allakhazam.com/search.shtml?id=26705EQ Box - http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/eq2/images/6/63/EverQuest_Original_Box_Art.jpg
So what is a guild? What made Harbingers of Light successful? Why did they stay?I tended to gravitate towards my “gaming” students as they did me, because we had an area of common interest. And, of course, I’d recruit them to join my guild. Our gaming experiences always gave us something to talk about during break, lunch, or before/after school. Before long, my classroom became the place where the gamers would hang out. So were my expectations in the classroom and at school different than they were online and in the guild? No. (Well, I didn’t allow swords in the classroom...) I expected certain levels of behavior: no cursing, no spamming, no begging, etc. I made clear that our guild had a positive reputation and that as long as they wore the tag above their heads, they were its representatives.But what does it mean to a student to belong to a guild?
Guilds are about being part of a community of players. You share common goals and interests. You rely on each other whether for friendship or for heals during a difficult boss fight.
A guild is about building relationships. After awhile, the bonds formed between guild members grow strong. You initially learn each others’ idiosyncrasies, and ultimately come to accept them and adapt to them. Yes, Pookha is a bit whacky. Yes, he sometimes pulls the entire dungeon on your group for laughs, but he’s a good kid, and the best mage you’ve ever grouped with.
Guilds are about being part of something bigger than yourself. They’re about investing in something and watching it grow. They’re about ownership. They’re about the wins and the losses.
When allowing students into your guild, always be aware of “teachable moments...” Have I had to deal with drama, ninja-looting, obnoxious behavior, etc.? Of course I have. But, these are some of the best opportunities to teach students about some of the most important life lessons and what some call “digital citizenship.”Ninja Looter: http://grimhalo.com/images/NinjaLooter.jpgDAoC ML 2: http://www.gamerdna.com/uimage/09u66eM/full/unwanted-harpy-rides-on-master-level-2-daoc-trials-of-atlantis.jpgNo Drama: http://hechicerosden.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/no-drama.jpg
In hindsight, one of the things that guilds are about are the stories. “Remember the time we...”
So, after nearly 10 years of playing MMORPGs with students, what sorts of things have I observed?
Overall, students are extremely engaged in these virtual environments. Games like World of Warcraft are compelling and designed to teach you “how to play” in incremental steps that start small and grow in complexity as you play. All of this takes place in a community/social environment. You’re not learning alone. What if our classrooms worked like this?
Step aside “sage on the stage!” Be prepared to be a co-learner with students. Was I ever too prideful to ask a student for advice on a quest or on a line of character specialization? No way... I wanted to improve just like they did and we could help each other achieve our goals. Students will spend hours in self-guided and initiated research about things that pertain to their character’s advancement. Again, what if they did this for your Biology class?
Anonymity can be a good or a bad thing. More often than not, I saw positive effects. Virtual environments give students the opportunity to escape the preconceived notions their peers have about them due to their race, weight, or looks. I’ve seen students who are the relatively quiet, “slip-through-the-cracks” types emerge as leaders in the virtual world...Image: Peter Steiner, page 61 of July 5, 1993 issue of The New Yorker, (Vol.69 (LXIX) no. 20)
And just who are they playing with in our guild? A member recently posed the question, “What do you do for a living?” in our online forums. The variety of career fields astounded me. And the students I teach are interacting with these folks nightly.
As the old saying goes, “Nature abhors a vacuum,” the same could be said of leadership in an MMORPG. Students are driven to push their characters to the highest levels and to obtain the best gear, too. To do this, they need the assistance of other players, and they’ll organize and lead groups as large as 40+ to accomplish this goal. Talk about 21st-Century Skills!
So, what’s next? WoWinSchool...http://wowinschool.pbworks.com
After awhile, I finally decided to begin collecting some of the ideas I had about using World of Warcraft for instructional purposes with middle or high school students.
Student drop-outs are a huge problem. Many students drop out simply because they don’t have something to “anchor” them in school. If they’re not involved in sports, clubs, or student government, for example, why keep going back? Image Credit: http://earlycollegeofalaska.org
Will leaders emerge? How will they handle the challenges of managing a socially (and geographically) diverse group?
What if these students, who largely go unnoticed, were suddenly recognized for their accomplishments. What if we share their writing, their videos, the achievements with the world?
What if students from different schools in different states or even countries game together?So far, we have two schools participating: Cape Fear Middle and Suffern Middle. The interactions between students are fascinating.
What if students from different schools in different states or even countries game together?
The best way to get involved is to simply jump in! Already researchers from universities, teachers, college students, and even high school students are getting involved. Helga Brown from Elizabeth City, NC has written some incredible lessons. We need more! We need them aligned to state standards. We need folks to discuss logistics, funding, and more! Since May, the wiki has had 3,806 visits came from 69 countries. 28 registered authors contributing, supporting research, funding ideas, logistics info., and most importantly lessons.
Are you an educator looking to play WoW with other educators? Are you looking for a very helpful and non-threatening community in which to “learn the ropes?” Cognitive Dissonance is the guild for you. Cognitive Dissonance is made up primarily of educators and game researchers who simply play together and help each other out. Find out more at: http://cognitivedissonanceguild.guildportal.com.
Lucas Gillispie @PCSTech and @wowinschool #ncties
“...the designers of many good games have hit on profoundly good methods of getting people to learn and to enjoy learning.” -James Paul Gee, University of Madison Wisconsin
Learning works best when new challenges are “pleasantly frustrating” in the sense of being felt by learners to be at the outer edge of, but within their “regime of competence”. That is, these challenges feel hard, but doable (Gee, 2007, p. 36).-James Paul Gee
“...within games, there are in fact multitudes of literacy practices – games are full of text, she asserted, to say nothing of the entirely text-based fandom communities online that take place in forums, blogs and social networks.” -Constance Steinkhueler, FuturePlay 2007, Toronto
“Today's game designers have figured out something today's educators are still searching for: how to make learning engaging for today's kids. It would be a shame not to employ this knowledge in our classrooms.” -Marc Prensky
“Oh, he’s just in there playing somegame.” -Parent
Our students are learning “21st-Century Skills” whether we teach them or not.
College Student Who Are They Playing With? They are collaborating, online, with people from all over the world. Differences in race, age, gender, and nationality are no longer an issue. Protestant Minister Director of IT Researcher http://www.ljplus.ru/img4/j/i/jibo/pir2.JPG Quality Assurance Supervisor University Admissions Representative Stay-at-home Mom Business Analyst Ph.D. Candidate Teacher Editor for the Canadian Senate Business Owner Technology Engineer Water/Sewer Technician K-12Instructional Technology Coordinator County Sheriff Network Administrator Produce Clerk Source: http://www.harbingersoflight.com
Students Emerging AsLeaders Students are leading people from around the world (often 40 or more) to accomplish collective goals. These events take planning, coordination, and decision-making skills.
What is the WoWinSchool Project? A collaborative project that aims to use World of Warcraft in an after-school program, targeting at-risk or “fringe” students, and focusing on literacy, writing, mathematics, 21st-century skills, and digital citizenship.
Fan Fiction: Holiadore. It is a name of honor and pride. He has not yet lived up to the dream, but this night elf will train and train in the ways of the druid until he achieves his ultimate goal- to be as good as his father. His father never had pride in him so Holiadore ran away from home as a child and has practiced the ways of the druid ever since. He uses the skins of his foes to craft armor to use against stronger foes. He goes through many perils to do the bidding of the townspeople. He, in doing so, trains his abilities until they can increase no more. And when he reaches his ultimate goal, he will return to the place where he was raised, the place that, once, his family lived. And he will place flowers upon his father's grave, and continue in his practices. This is the story of Holiadore.