Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Learning in WoW & Second Life (Simultaneously!)

Very interesting morning learning World of Warcraft. Had to leave WoW to work my reference desk shift in the Karuna Resource Center in Second Life (SL) in my position as Consumer Health Librarian. I spent a few minutes in both simultaneously and that's what this screenshot shows (shocked it didn't crash my computer to run both).
Also posted a screenshot of my first hour in WoW on flickr

The following explains a little about what I'm doing & why:
A bit of an experiment - was asked by a faculty member teaching at UCSD to assist with a research component for his course being taught primarily in WoW with some parts in SL. As an academic librarian working in SL, how could I say no?

ICAM 120 Virtual Environments
Winter 2010, Visual Arts Dept., University of California San Diego
Lecturer: James Morgan / Rubaiyat Shatner (Second Life)

So as in SL, I am a blue female in WoW (albeit a troll). Should be interesting comparing these two environments. I have a fair amount of experience teaching and learning in SL for my university and have been involved and following educational developments in SL, including the work and roles of librarians, for some time. I'm interested in learning how the WoW environment is being used for educational purposes. And of course, where does the librarian fit when courses are being taught in these environments. What is our role? More to come as I explore and learn in WOW.
Update: Jan. 9, 2009 -
I'm only at the beginning of my research on WoW but for anyone wondering about educational applications, I recently found a blog by an Open University faculty member, titled, E1n1verse – WoW, Learning, and Teaching by Michelle A. Hoyle. I especially enjoyed reading this post on why she plays World of Warcraft and the excellent references and links she included.

Final Update-Jan 22, 2010: Great group of students in the ICAM 120 Course, I enjoyed presenting on grant writing tips and researching a few articles for them. I observed one of their three hour-long classes and found it pretty fascinating. We all started in SL with introductions and then my presentation then took a short break and afterwards the instructor facilitated an interesting discussion on their reading for that week, Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulations. After the discussion everyone headed over to WoW. A lot accomplished in one class really especially since some had never been in SL before and a few were also new to WoW. Here are a couple of snapshots I put up on flickr.

World of Warcraft is something I would be interested in investigating further if I had more time. I just don't at the moment so unfortunately I can not continue on with the group. Even though I was only in WoW four times, I think I understand why some in higher education are using this platform with their students. I also think you would need creative faculty advanced in using the program to be successful. UCSD has a talented faculty member teaching this course in James Morgan. I was impressed with the level of engagement and discourse he managed with a class of 18 students participating in this adventure. I expect they will learn a great deal.

Another little nugget I learned about was something we all used for voice called Ventrilo(kind of like Skype but more stable with larger groups), it worked very well and really helped make the process between SL and WoW more seamless.


Jeff said...

Hello! I read about your WoW experiment on Twitter, it's interesting because one of my grad. classes discussed it's educational potential. I couldn't really see the value, for one, it's a game based on combat and killing, which I don't think is a good educational setting.

Also, there aren't really any tools for content creation or instructional support. It seems like a limited platform ...

Robin Ashford said...

I agree, Jeff, without content creation it seems like a limited platform to me as well. But, to be honest, that intrigues me all the more.

I know of folks in higher education who are using WOW to teach 3 credit hour courses (as is the case with the class in which I'm assisting). The main discipline I was aware of up to now is economics and since WOW has an economy much like Second Life, that makes sense to me.

I agreed to assist as an embedded research librarian in an attempt to find out more about how WOW is being used in teaching and because I'm a strong believer in librarians being a part of the teaching and learning process (especially when it comes to resource needs).

I'm planning to research further but for now, this blog post (with some great references) may be of interest to you and others who are wondering the same thing:

Anonymous said...

I'm not looking at WoW in terms of content creation, but rather in terms of how it supports and encourages informal learning and communities of practice. I know I'm not a very prolific blog writer, something I'm going to try to change this year, but I'd welcome any visits and comments on what I have written.

I'm glad you found what I wrote interesting, Robin. (-:


Robin Ashford said...

Thanks for commenting and the great links you shared with me on twitter, Michelle. Very useful sites that I plan to link to in a resource I'm creating for educators.

I'm still very new to WoW but I do think I can see how educators could use the game for informal learning and communities of practice. However, at this stage, other than the fact that WoW appears to be a very stable platform, I can't help but wonder why educators would go that route over using Second Life (SL). Is it because students would be more apt to use WoW? Or maybe because WoW is an out of the box ready to go product?

I know a challenge with SL is that there are no goals. If an educator wants to use SL they have to create the environment themselves or figure out how to find and use what other educators have created and that is time consuming. I'd be interested in other thoughts on this.

(BTW-your OpenID link did not work for some reason so I'm including the url to your blog home page here:

Anonymous said...