Saturday, June 23, 2012


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.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

WOW again...

It’s blog time!  This week I spent most of my time in WOW (and a little time building in SL).  I found a friend [a real life (RL) friend] that is an experienced player and he took me into my first dungeon play.  I felt like a kindergartener in a PH.D program -talk about totally sensory overload! Between the chatting, and the killing, and being killed (repeatedly), and trying to find my way back into the dungeon, any finding and using my healing spell on myself and others, and knowing what loot to take and pass on (I made some big mistakes on that one) – I only survived being kicked out of the group because my friend’s vote saved me!  I certainly learned a lot and earned enough XP (that stands for experience points) to be able to ride a horse – well a ram because dwarfs can't ride horses, only rams.  But I got a nice ram and it’s a lot more fun to ride than walk (presence).  I found myself thinking less about teaching and more just enjoying playing.  So this week I am going to study up on the teaching application (and continue to enjoy playing).  Also, I find that I like doing quests on my own; however, playing in the dungeons is exhilarating!   Here’s what my dwarf looks like now that I’ve amassed some new equipment.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New and Challenging Virtual Worlds

This week I did two things I didn’t really want to do; building in SL and playing World of Warcraft (WoW for short).  However, like the dutiful and compliant student, I was determined to complete my assignments.
Once I downloaded WoW and created my dwarf, I started trying to figure out how to “play” the game.  While somewhat intuitive, I found myself challenged.  I know we will eventually be meeting and playing with my classmates in the Sisters of Elune Realm, but for now, I am just trying to develop some experience in navigating this new virtual world. 
I realize that this virtual world has the potential for teaching team skills!  Instead of having my students work in teams to write and present a paper on some theory, I could have them work in Teams in WoW.  The experience would more closely align with real world team work and problem solving than what my students normally experience in the “typical” group project.  I see great potential and direct application for this tool!
Now onto building in SL:  I’m not sure why I was so hesitant to build in SL but I found the experience fun.  It certainly helped that Jane/Esme was guiding me through the process.  Now all I have to do is find some furniture! 
What I learned – I had to use problem solving skills and experimentation – very cool…created some new brain synapses today!  So, even though I started the week thinking I would not enjoy this week’s activity, I was very pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Big learning week in Second Life

This was a big week for learning about teaching in virtual worlds!  I attended a lecture in Second Life by Dr. Peter Miller (Avatar: Graham Mills), from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool on the topic of “Immersive Learning in Microbiology in Virtual Worlds.”  He provided examples of virtual laboratories in Second Life and OpenSim that are used to teach laboratory skills to students.   The examples included a simulated microbiology laboratory created by Aalto University in Finland, a virtual genetics laboratory created by the University of Leicester in Second Life, and the BIO-ZONE in OpenSim.  I visited the Virtual Genetics Laboratory where I had to wear a HUD (Head-Up Display?).  The HUD provided me with relevant information and instructions on how to use the lab.  I quickly learned that I know nothing about genetic but I did get to wear a lab coat!  Here’s the link (SLURL) for Media Zoo where the lab is located  

Again I am pondering how to use what I am learning for teaching in my subject areas.  I definitely see the benefit of virtual laboratories – especially for online courses.  However, I still wonder how I might use virtual worlds to teach my students about human resource management and HR.

Here's a snapshot of me (SHIPPY) at the Genetics Lab!

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm learning!

I teach graduate and undergraduate management classes at a state school in Pennsylvania.  I'm taking a class about learning and teaching in virtual worlds, therefore, I titled my blog, "Learning About Teaching In Virtual Worlds." 

I am not new to second life.  I've been playing around in SL for over 3 years.  I first came to SL to attend an academic conference at Open University's Second Life campus.  I never made it to the conference.  But I did make an avatar!  Since my first visit, I have returned to Second Life - always interested but not quite sure how to use virtual worlds in my teaching.  I created an extra credit scavenger hunt for my undergraduate students to complete.  I held an optional class in Second Life - student could attend class in person or "attend" in Second Life with an avatar.  That was interesting!  But the educational value of Second Life is elusive to ME.  I feel there is something of value here for me...I hope this class will help me to discover what it is.

So far I've learned a lot.  I learned how to create a blog - that was easy!  Another tool in a toolbox of too many tools.  I'm thinking that I could use a blogging tool to replace the Journals that I have my Leadership students keep...would that save me (and my students) time?