World of Warcraft for your classroom

World of Warcraft (commonly known as WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with over 9 million people playing. Luckily I ended up in this session run by Leslie Fisher, and was thrilled to be introduced to the game and how it is played.

What’s World of Warcraft about? Believe it or not, it can be about
“working with enemies” to create positive learning! This immersive environment seems most impressive. The interactive nature of WOW capitalizes on the positive and negative features of each of the characters. Each character adds to the group blend, and ways of working together to manage the competitive environment. As each character has particular features which allows them to only undertake certain activities the whole notion of blend, collaboration, and effective participation comes into ‘play’. You do what you can do with your character – the aim being to do it well.

I think the ‘in game’ environment of WoW is beautiful – recreating the actual way that natural environments work within the mulitmedia environment. It is clear that the game is immersed in action, and the action is all goal-based. The point of it all is the capacity for students to learn key skills through gaming:- planning; conversation and coordination. To participate in a Quest well is to involve yourself in forming partnerships. Frankly, this is the most exciting form of collaboration I have seen! This is cool! This is perfect for all students, but particularly for the boys in my school. Keep playing (and learning) till you reach your objective! This is certainly the dream goal of all education!

Students are doing a lot of research, and engaging in collaboration and analysis in depth to achieve success. Those who research well will be ‘friended’ by keen learners. Also languages skills are supported, and team building is supported at all levels. Good typing and good sentence structure is vital to improve the competitive ability of each character. Good research, good typing, good language and good social interaction are what is needed to do well in this game. Players need to be able to communicate effectively and socially to accomplish tasks.

Gaming in WOW can help with can help with
• Mapping, direction, etc.
• acting, role-playing
• ESL
• handicapped students
• global interaction.

Just like the real world, characters specialize in a profession, and can then make items that will benefit others. Those with unique items and accomplishments usually garner more attention.

A question from a teacher in a Quaker school about ‘killing’ raised the issue of where students can go for a similar experience without the violence. Though I haven’t played it, I think Quest Atlantis would fill the bill.

Clearly this game is addictive, but it is fun, challenging and great for learning skills. Kids just don’t realise they are learning because they are having fun!!

Getting into WOW? Look for Lesley at Server: Alleria Guild: Emerald dream Characers: lesliegolf, Fairway and Bogey.

So what do I think of all this? WOW. But the reality is that lots of schools aren’t going to get into this because of the monthly cost per person, and because of the kill kill kill that would not work at all in some schools.

12 thoughts on “World of Warcraft for your classroom

  1. Pingback: World of Warcraft free up to level 20! « InfoGeek Educator

    • indeed is kinda getting old,but the good thing is that always appear new patches which brings new features to the game

  2. Was reading a conversation on Scott Hartsmans Blog – he is an MMO developer… and he kinda explained about raiding in that it isnt just hack and slash – or Tank and Spank as we call it…Fights need to be learned as a team.

    “Dungeon/Raid events – Many more of them are puzzles moreso than they are classic MMO-style “fights.”
    Netherspite is not a fight, it’s a puzzle.
    Chess doesn’t need explanation.
    Al’ar is a choreography minigame.
    Vashj is an exercise in chaos management, via both serial and parallel minigames
    Zul’jin is a series of minigames (one alters the parts of your class you “can” play, a couple add an environmental awareness requirement). And so on.”

    Of course – anyone just popping into the game to see this content will not see it. This is end-game, high level stuff. The conversation on his blog goes into a discussion of why you dont put this juicey goodness into the middle of a game. Take a peek and read through it, maybe it will help with someone’s learning and reward type teaching.

    http://www.hartsman.com/2008/07/07/a-conversation-about-mmos/

  3. Have to say, this session (along with Konrads) was the stand-out NECC. There has to be room for ‘fun’ learning, and like many said on the day, some kids really benefit from this kind of learning. Some NECC sessions seem to have presenters on a well trodden path, churning out the same stuff for 4/5 years. I’ve got some video I’ll post from this – it is so refreshing to see stuff like this, and so many in the crowd standing up and endorsing its benefits. Nicely blogged.

  4. “To participate in a Quest well is to involve yourself in forming partnerships.”
    No. 99% of all quests are usually done in solo play. What you are talking about would probably be called a “raid” or “instance-group” or something similar.

    “Students are doing a lot of research, and engaging in collaboration and analysis in depth to achieve success.”
    “Those who research well will be ‘friended’ by keen learners.”
    I thoroughly agree with the research part. If you want to do well you will have to inform or even do the math yourself. (on a sidenote: this leslie guy really should research “spirit” and “paladin”…)

    “Also languages skills are supported, and team building is supported at all levels. Good typing and good sentence structure is vital to improve the competitive ability of each character.”
    What the heck are Leslie talking about?! If anything, WoW promotes a kind of slang that definitely is not about “good sentence structure”?
    As long as people get what you are saying, you are good… And typing is way to slow anyways, which is why competitive players tend to switch over to voice based communication at most times. (It also frees up your hands for moving around and doing your stuff…)

    “Players need to be able to communicate effectively and socially to accomplish tasks.”
    Yes. This is the one thing which WoW really does teach. If you manage to get far enough.

    “Gaming in WOW can help with can help with
    Mapping, direction, etc.
    acting, role-playing
    ESL
    handicapped students
    global interaction.”
    Mapping: Since you are always shown as a little arrow, you have to be REALLY bad at mapping to learn something about it while playing WoW.
    Acting and role-playing plays a really minor role (excuse the pun) in WoW. Sure, there are special role-playing servers, but 7-8 million of the 9 million accounts are centered around the so called “normal” servers, where role playing is really just a side event (if at all).
    Handicapped students can receive a big boost here, especially if their handicap is something that does not interfere with their ability to play (i.e. if someones legs are incapable of movement, they still can play WoW like any other person).
    global interaction: I do not want to speculate how it looks on your servers, but the German servers are populated by mostly Germans, mixed in with a few swiss and austrian players – nothing really global though.

    “A question from a teacher in a Quaker school about ‘killing’ raised the issue of where students can go for a similar experience without the violence.”
    I sure am not a religious person, but you have to realize that the most dominant types of quests are:
    “Kill X of type Y” and
    “Kill things to get X of item Y”
    So, yeah, the doubts are very much justified.

    “Clearly this game is addictive[...]”
    This is way more important than any other point made against using WoW up to now: Being good takes an UNBELIEVABLE amount of time!
    I myself have almost 300 days (yes, 300*24 hours) of gameplay on my characters, but still would not count myself as “top end”…

    “Getting into WOW? Look for Lesley at Server: Alleria Guild: Emerald dream Characers: lesliegolf, Fairway and Bogey.”
    Giving informations like this means you can research the characters:
    http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Alleria&n=Lesliegolf for Lesliegolf
    http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Alleria&n=Fairway for his paladin Fairway and
    http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Alleria&n=Bogey for the mage.
    Sadly, your friend Leslie is a big honking… Well, “less fortunate learner”. If you got me started upon how much she does wrong with her three characters it would probably break the server trying to upload the comment.

    I think, alltogether, Azzura summed it up better than I ever could:
    “I’m sure WoW will not become any sort of learning ground for children in an educational setting. [But] Even though it is a game, it definitely has some lessons to teach.”

  5. If you can steer clear of the general chat in a main city in WoW, you don’t see too much immaturity. But it is there. I’m not sure why people like to short talk and make up words. I find it annoying most of the time and will ignore people that ask me questions in shorthand.
    “Can U plz give me $ 4 my mount? thx”

    WoW is a great place to meet people from all over the world. As far as learning, I’m sure it helps people learn how to follow directions, problem solving, map navigation, teamwork, some monetary skills, strategy, and planning.

    I’ve played WoW for almost 4 years now. I have become a guild leader in a few guilds and find it alot of fun to manage people. There is alot of drama that can go on and politics that need to be gotten rid of. Running a guild is a learning experience for anyone. It isn’t as simple as one would think. It can be very hard to please everyone and be fair at the same time.

    The raiding part takes alot of teamwork, collaboration and planning. Everyone has their abilities, and each gets a job to do, whether it is take damage so no one else does, heal people, do damage, trap or hold creatures so they cant move, or make creatures be less powerful by debuffing. The higher up in level raiding you get, the harder the encounters become and the more everyone has to work together. There are many encounters that if one person messes up, it means death to the rest. So of these encounters can take several days to figure out…and I mean days online! Hours and hours and hours :)

    You can get heavy into the math and theory of weapon damage and defense, and stats…it can become a research project in itself to plan out what you would like to wear, and where to get it, or how much it will cost.

    I’m sure WoW will not become any sort of learning ground for children in an educational setting. Even though it is a game, it definitely has some lessons to teach. If anyone has any questions about WoW or other general MMO questions, give a shout!

  6. My 13 year old is really into online gaming and goes through phases with each of them. My personal belief is they gain so much from these online games especially in collaborating, team work, learning and computing skills. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t always appreciate the skills he is gaining because of the negative aspects portrayed in the media.

  7. Hi Judy,

    I’m a professional educational technologist who recently decided to try to get immersed in virtual world environments such as WoW for a project we’re working on (developing an educational virtual world environment resource).

    I have three characters in WoW, my main one being a Lvl 29 character who is currently being “twinked” – a term used by WoW players to describe the laborious process of building and equipping a character who is significantly more powerful and capable than the norm.

    In the process, I’ve certainly been consciously cataloging the educational applications of virtual world environments, and, like you, I’m particularly interested in the virtual trades, learning, and collaboration that occurs in these worlds. The fact is, many students who can’t stand the laborious “repetition” of study are quite happy to spend hours (repetitively) creating materials and “learning” virtual skills in WoW to build the capability of their character(s). There must be something that educators can learn from this…

    However, I find myself questioning the idea that “Good research, good typing, good language and good social interaction are what is needed to do well in this game. Players need to be able to communicate effectively and socially to accomplish tasks.” Certainly research, interaction, and collaboration/competition are fundamental aspects of this game, but language tends to be HIGHLY jargonistic (with a lot of language specific to WoW) and abbreviated – a necessity when communicating during real-time virtual “encounters” with unfriendly characters in the world. I’m not sure that this form of “good” communication (which is effective in-world) translates as positively into communications in the “real” world, but perhaps you have ideas on this yourself?

    Certainly the game is beautiful, engaging and immersive. If we could tap into a fraction of its power for teaching and learning, we would be very lucky indeed…

  8. It’s funny Judy- the other night I had just put a post on hfsconverations about the skills my son’s have developed through playing online games. I am amazed at the sophistication of the interpersonal skills they have developed in these contexts. Although they do not play WOW,(their mum’s too cheap!!) they play a variety of ‘quest’ type games that are often in a fantasy context. Most involve solving problems to get to the next level. I agree that they have an educational worth, we need to explore how we can use this format to enhance the classroom experiences that our students are part of.

  9. I wasn’t expecting something like this in my RSS feed this morning :)

    As a long-time gamer I’m always surprised when I see things like this popping up in my professional life.

    I agree that games (particularly MMOs) can be great environments for fostering real-life skills that are often overlooked by non-gamers. A good example is the occasional article I see like this :
    http://asia.cnet.com/blogs/sensiblenetnonsense/post.htm?id=61989762

    But using WOW in particular as a teaching tool/medium? I’m not so sure… most MMOs are renowned for the immaturity of their global chat channels, where teenagers can revel in anonymity and say things they’d never dream of saying in real life.

    The games have a grossly sub-par reputation for even attempting to moderate this chat, or provide tools that most parents would look for to create the ‘gated community’ so common for kids online.

    As for well constructed sentences? I only came across this picture last week (not sure how old it really is), but it is an unfortunate example of what 95+% of global chat is like the worst parts of that game (grammatically speaking, it’s actually an improvement in terms of adult content):
    http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/1422/1200336100965ip8.jpg

    I’ve been looking forward to Free Realms (from Sony) for some time now. It’s aimed at a lower age group then I imagine your article was above, but it seems to have been designed with adult/child and team collaboration from the ground up.

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