Re: [xmca] zopeds and virtual learning environments

From: Linda Polin (
Date: Wed Jan 03 2007 - 22:00:50 PST

200 undergrads? wow indeed. How can you teach 200 undergrads
anything? I like to matrix sample in my big classes (for me, that
would over 18 people). Maybe you can section the 200 into groups and
have them search out various communities and share notes/experiences?

Ask how many have a console with online gaming, e.g., Halo, Xbox
live. Probably quite a few. Also i bet a lot play WoW of EVE or EQ
or Lineage, etc. I know we have college undergrads in our guild. They
complain about the bandwidth in the dorms a lot. (And our univ.
network folks complain about the use of bandwidth for gaming).

The main problem with MMOs for a clas is that, as complex
communities, it takes a while (more than a semester) to get
sufficiently insider enough to "see" and experience community.

I've attached Dr. Megan Conklin's (Elon University) handout from the
first Games, Learning, Society conference, with suggestions for using
Second Life in college classes. That may be your best bet. It's much
simpler. True, there's no "game" there, but it will give them a taste
of virtual community life. Also I think Jim Gee's book or Henry
Jenkin's new Convergence Culture book would give them a pretty good

For easy-peasy and free online game communities there's also Neopets
(popular with grades 5-9 mostly) >>

As for narrative, I have found my own child (an 8th girl) to be
deeply involved with role playing boards. She is asst manager on one,
and has also created her own groups. These are spaces that were built
for uses more like xmca's listserv site, but which the kids use for
interactive story writing. in fact, it's more than just that. These
are based upon book series that the kids are obsessed with (e.g.,
Redwall, Lord of the Rings), and the kids create or recreate or
appropriate (yeah appropriate) the book culture. this is real,
intentional, culture work. and they HOURS into it. Sarah has taught
herself a great deal of html in order to make it work the way she
wants. There are hundreds of these sites; some with 20 people, some
with many, many more. They are fascinating.


Here's one of my favorite "rules" from the The Warrior Code. Is this
middle school or what, LMAO:

3. Cats can fall in love and have kits BUT don't descibe it
here's a post on this from my participation in the MacArthur site
from October:

I have been watching 12-13 year olds, mostly but not exclusively
girls, "playing" on RP (role playing)
boards. The boards are run through Yahoo groups or MSN groups
structures, which the
players have adapted for their purposes. This is play, though whether
or not it is "game,"
I'm not sure. There are most definitely rules, but the rules are
concocted by the leaders of
the individual RP boards, and are mostly about definining the inside
and outside, i.e.,
the boundaries, of legit play, often by reference to the original
culture of the books that
define the community. For instance, in the RP boards for the very
popular Warriors book
series, the rules define cat clans, naming, social hierarchies among
cats and clans, time
and location of settings, and sometimes even acceptable vocabularly
(drawn from the
books). The rules are, thus, drawn from a perceived whole, functional
world and merely
transported, with some tweakage for medium, to another location. A
huge amount of
energy goes into these rules constructions, and pretty much all the
players already know
the rules when they arrive to play, yet rule construction (and
testing) is part of the
playing. This is also trans-media work, dominated by the book series,
but appropriated
for play.

Okay, I've been having trouble with God-Moding. Some unnamed member(s)
have been making cats stronger than is possible, so here is a chart.
breaking this chart will be politely reminded, and the post in
violation will be
ignored. And keep in mind- 'Beat" does not mean "Kill," and "Can"
does not
mean "will."

At a younger age, middle elementary students can be seen on the
playground at recess
enacting elements of TV shows (eg, Teen Titans, when it was hot) and
books that are
popular. Their play at the time makes for a nice developmental
trajectory into the
networked realm of the e-community, though I seriously doubt they see
that in any way,
shape, or form. On the playground, the game may actually function
differently, as kids
work out social hierarchies. Do you get the role you coveted, or are
you relegated to the
side kick role because you are out-ranked by the other kid. Online,
playing with people
you mostly don't know, social stakes are considerably lower, and the
negotiation of
power seems based upon RP competence. Does your story line get picked
up and played,
or does it die off. In this way, the player seeking status or power
must learn how to "play"
well, to entice an audience through, in this game, clever arrangement
of story narrative
that allows many others to join in and doesn't overly constrain them.

Flintpelt puts up this starter under the title, Finding a Home

Flinteye was looking for a home, and also a bit of company. Being a
loner, Flinteye had had nearly no contact with any other cat. "I
really need to
find a spot to rest." she muttered under her breath.

and gets 109 replies within a six day span.

When I look at the playground play of Warriors and then to the online
board play of
Warriors, one outstanding distinction is persistence of past moves,
made possible by
reification of the action through chronologically organized text.
Though, I'd have to say
even on the playground, girls will sometimes refer to what happened
yesterday, and have
been seen carrying a storyline over time, though MUCH less so than on
RP boards. THis
difference in dynamism and flow versus fixity and persistence is also
apparent in
characterization. When you kill off a character on the RP board,
that's it. S/he is dead; the
'rules' of the world don't include miraculous resurrections. On the
playground you can
switch out characters faster, and revive the dead, though with
perhaps more negotiation,
than online.

On Jan 3, 2007, at 4:46 PM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Lots of great info there, Linda.
> Noah Wardrip-Frumin has taught WOW etc in a smallish GRAD class,
> but how
> does one
> make the movement to 200 undergrads?
> I will be having 40 undergrads play FACADE (1.2 gigs, about) as
> part of the
> same class that
> will be involved with narrative earlier, for two weeks of the
> class, but we
> have no facility we can
> get that students have access to in general that will handle more
> students
> than that and even then
> it is 2 students to a computer.
> The issues of language, content, etc. are even more complex for
> undergrads
> and when we get to
> school-age kids such as Donna is working with......??
> Lots of interest in this set of issues. MAdison seems a great place
> for the
> Conf. Too by I can only
> deal with such a limited supply of lifetimes!!
> mike
> On 1/3/07, Linda Polin <> wrote:
>> Hi Mike.
>> Linden Labs (Second Life) gave me a semester free trial for the whole
>> class. I eventually just sucked it up and bought an island (very
>> expensive, but I run the doctoral program and buried the cost for the
>> initial set-up and coaxed the masters degree program into splitting
>> the monthlies). Since then, the grad. biz school (not to be outdone
>> by Harvard) has decided it wants to look at using Second Life because
>> of all the RMT stuff, I think (real money transactions). I asked them
>> if they'd pony up so we could buy a bigger island. Membership in SL
>> is free, but to build you need land, and land costs money (clever).
>> Perhaps we could be more consortium-oriented in our dealings and
>> invite other institutions as well. How about an XMCA island? Our
>> Masters students recently had Daniel Pink come visit to view the
>> projects they had constructed in response to his book, A Whole New
>> Mind. My doctoral class had the pleasure of a visit last semester, in
>> SL, with MIchele Knoble and Colin Lankshear, as we were finishing up
>> their text, New literacies: Changing knowledge and classroom
>> learning.
>> Because SL can be quite raunchy, and because I'm at an extremely
>> conservative institution, I decided to keep the island "off the grid"
>> so to speak. You have to be invited there. Students can always roam
>> about anywhere in SL they wish, of course. I've only formally taken
>> them out to the New Media Consortium site during the wonderful couple
>> of weeks of invited speakers and clever activities they sponsored
>> last semester.
>> Now...MMOs...a little different story. WoW (World of Warcraft) is
>> $48 start up for an account (think: lab fee), I think, and $16/mo
>> roughly (less than the cost of a movie date once a month). I "m not
>> above requiring that, but I don't require it, partly because I'm not
>> willing to take heat from my institution just yet. I have a subset of
>> doctoral students interested in gaming, specifically MMO type games,
>> and they have chosen to join me into WoW. We hve been there more than
>> a year now. Some were already EVE or Everquest veterans. Of course,
>> one of my doc students totally decimated my safe haven when he shared
>> in class, the famous YouTube video of the Onyxia wipe (a large group
>> effort gone bad) in which the raid master uses the F word about every
>> other word. =sigh= Oh well, I"m tenured.
>> I have been talking with Sasha about jumping a class into Quest
>> Atlantis, which Sasha bills as an MMO, but which is an explicitly
>> educational framework, as is Whyville. I think that makes it
>> different.
>> Constance et al have a researcher guild on a PVP WoW server. Doctoral
>> students and researchers can join by nomination. There is an
>> associated private blog/site that often (not always) is about theory,
>> research, and observations about learning in WoW and to some extent
>> other games.
>> In the MacArthur web portal there is a terrific thread of discussion,
>> still available I believe, on gaming, led by Katie Salen. It is
>> accessible for viewing. I think the discussion has officially closed.
>> I would direct you to our research blog, but the guild in which my
>> students and I play (*not* a researcher guild, mostly JPFs) is in the
>> midst of some "guild emo" (drama, emo = emotion) and the language is
>> not PG rated as we all reflect on the situation we see going on (yet
>> again). Talk about communities and tension...whew...makes the
>> butchers, midwives, doctors, and artifical intell workers look civil
>> and tame. LOL.
>> Mike, come to Games, Learning, & Society in Madison in June. It's a
>> great high touch conference.
>> Perhaps we should all get our classes or doc'l students together
>> virtually, if not IRL (in real life).
>> Hope the jargon isn't too thick in this posting. I'm rushing because
>> I"m still finishing the syllabus for the class that starts tomorrow.
>> =grin=
>> Linda
>> ps - the games/literacy class will next occur in Fall '07.
>> On Jan 3, 2007, at 3:27 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
>> > Linda & Jay--
>> >
>> > What do you do about teaching using costly mmogs to large classes?
>> > Its a practical question we face and I assume others do as well.
>> >
>> > Donna is using Second Life. Same question!!
>> > mike
>> >
>> > On 1/3/07, Linda Polin <> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Funny, last term I had revised a class similarly. (Are you
>> playing in
>> >> Terror Nova, Jay?). Anyhow...I would also recommend the last
>> third of
>> >> TL Taylor's book, Play Between Worlds.
>> >>
>> >> On Jan 3, 2007, at 2:51 PM, Jay Lemke wrote:
>> >>
>> >> >
>> >> > I have been away for a while, and too busy to participate
>> much in
>> >> > xmca lately, but noticed this message today. You might have a
>> look
>> >> > at a draft of a research proposal on my website
>> >> > [click on New Additions to get to the
>> >> link]
>> >> >
>> >> > It proposes comparing learning affordances and their uptake by
>> >> > users in commercial computer games and in educational software.
>> >> > There are references to several projects currently trying to
>> make
>> >> > virtual learning environments in the mold of multiplayer
>> games, and
>> >> > there is great promise in a social approach (guilds in online
>> >> > gameworlds, studied by Steinkuehler at Wisconsin; Whyville,
>> studied
>> >> > by Yasmin Kafai at UCLA, etc.).
>> >> >
>> >> > I am giving a new course this term on new media literacies,
>> >> > identity, and learning. The syllabus and readings should be
>> on my
>> >> > website in a week. Of course it's a big subject, from
>> asynchronous
>> >> > e-learning, to emergent collective intelligence, to new learning
>> >> > environments and media.
>> >> >
>> >> > Steinkuehler's work in particular shows an apprenticeship model
>> >> > (with reciprocal learning by the mentor) as it turns up in an
>> >> > online gameworld. It's very zoped-like, and she is exploring
>> >> > as a theoretical model in her wider work.
>> >> >
>> >> > JAY.
>> >> >
>> >> >
>> >> > At 05:14 PM 1/3/2007, you wrote:
>> >> >> Why not? Sounds like a good idea to me.
>> >> >>
>> >> >> Eirik.
>> >> >>
>> >> >> --------------------
>> >> >> > Could virtual learning environments be organized more like
>> >> social
>> >> >> > virtual environments (my space, you tube, etc)??
>> >> >> > Ana
>> >> >> >
>> >> >> > Eirik Knutsson wrote:
>> >> >> >> I agree with Mike here: Judging from my experience as a
>> >> >> student, online
>> >> >> >> courses enable participation of usually more silent students
>> >> >> becoming
>> >> >> >> relatively more active and visible.
>> >> >> >>
>> >> >> >> I also agree that virtual environments now available offer a
>> >> >> lot of new
>> >> >> >> and interesting potentials for creating environments were
>> >> >> students can
>> >> >> >> be
>> >> >> >> more active, more individualistic learners.
>> >> >> >>
>> >> >> >> Who are these "silent students"? If they are contemplative,
>> >> >> introvert
>> >> >> >> individualists - as opposed to consensus-oriented, extrovert
>> >> >> >> "collectivists" - I think there is good reason to believe
>> that
>> >> >> they have
>> >> >> >> a
>> >> >> >> lot to gain from these new virtual learning environments.
>> >> >> >>
>> >> >> >>
>> >> >> >> Eirik
>> >> >> >>
>> >> >>
>> >> >>
>> >> >> _______________________________________________
>> >> >> xmca mailing list
>> >> >>
>> >> >>
>> >> >
>> >> >
>> >> > Jay Lemke
>> >> > Professor
>> >> > University of Michigan
>> >> > School of Education
>> >> > 610 East University
>> >> > Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>> >> >
>> >> > Tel. 734-763-9276
>> >> > Email.
>> >> > Website. <>
>> ~jaylemke
>> >> > _______________________________________________
>> >> > xmca mailing list
>> >> >
>> >> >
>> >>
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