WOW! I’m learning so much! Where to start? I can break it down into what I’m learning about WOW and what I’m learning about learning in WOW and other massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG).
First the game, I jumped up over 20 levels this week mostly due to dungeon play (with SKYPE coaching) and some friendly assists on quests. After trying for over an hour to complete a quest (I died on every attempt), I shared the quest with my friend (aka, my daughter boyfriend) so that he could show me “how it’s done!” According to my friend (okay, his name is Kyle), part of my problem was that I wasn't using the mouse to move around and I clicked on spells with my mouse versus using key strokes. Also, I was using the wrong spells in the wrong order. But, even after getting everything set up properly (Kyle came over to the house and set up my action bars and showed me how to use my mouse for moving my dwarf) I was still finding this one quest in the Western Plaguelands really challenging (to the point of being discouraging). I told Kyle about the quest and he had me share it with him. Then, I stood back and watched Kyle effortlessly work his way through this quest that was kicking my butt. I just followed along, casting a few lightning bolts here and there and picking up loot as he plowed through the quest. Then, we ran into three building (I NEVER got as far as the buildings) and he did something and I got credit. WOW! One person did all the work and I got credit. In academia, that's called “social loafing” or the “free rider effect.” Outside of academic circles it’s called "networking" or "working smart."
This leads me to the topic of how WOW and other MMORPGs can be used in teaching. What I have discovered in playing WOW these past three weeks, others have already figured out (and more). Much has already been written about gaming and teaching. Just Google “gaming and teaching” and you’ll get 33 million results in 0.18 seconds. Through taking this course (Learning & Teaching in Virtual Worlds); my eyes have been open to the potential application of gaming to teaching. I would go so far as to say that gaming will radically alter educational content and delivery in the future (and for the better). We (educators) need to borrow from the gaming world the principles that make gaming so enticing, motivating, challenging, and fun!
Considering that I have been involved in education as a student or a teacher for over 40 years, I find it amazing that my learning muscles are being significantly stretched as a result of playing WOW. WOW is long, hard, and complex – kind of like life – and you can’t master the game without using other resources – kind of like life – and you learn the game by playing the game – just like life.
Next week I will talk about how all of this can influence my teaching.