• Elsheindra and the Tripartite Identity

    Elsheindra the Druid

    Elsheindra the Druid

    I have been reading slowly but surely through James Paul Gee’s What Video Games Have To Teach Us about Learning and Literacy over the last six months. The following is based on notes I took for my research journal while reading Chapter 3 on learning and identity. In particular, I focus on the notion of the tripartite identity and what that means to me in the real world and in the virtual world in which I play.

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  • The Great Date Night Experiment

    When I last saw J, my supervisor, we were disagreeing about how to do the motivational essay coding for my first World of Warcraft survey.. My plan was to go through the essays first to come up with some themes. Then Basil and I would independently code them for theme. My reasoning was I wanted the coding to be free from subjective bias. If two of us agreed independently, then that would be better than just my assessment of the data. J. thought it was unlikely Basil and I would agree, so she set me the “Great Date Night Experiment.” In this experiment, Basil, my partner, and I would sit down on “date night” and test out my theory on a small scale. Basil would read one essay and summarize the main themes or ideas he thought were represented in the essay. I would independently do the same. Then I would report back to J.

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  • WoW Learning Project as A4 Poster May 2010

    WoW Learning Project Questions PDF image

    The V.C. was doing a surprise (to us) departmental visit last month. We had a bit of notice and it was decided that everyone doing projects in our research group should produce a one-page summary of their work. This could then be presented to the V.C. I whipped up the following. As I haven’t completed the analysis for my recent survey into motivations in World of Warcraft, I couldn’t include any of that, so I focussed on the underlying ideas in the project.

    Downloadable Resources:

  • Help! Why Do You Play World of Warcraft?

    The One and Friends at the Start of Razorgore Encounter in Blackwing Lair

    The One and Friends at the start of Razorgore encounter in Blackwing Lair in March of 2010

    I’m now in week two of my first survey into learning, communities of practice, and World of Warcraft in support of my doctorate. The first part of the survey is collecting some in-game demographic details, such as how long people have played, what their first character was, favourite professions, etc. The meat of the survey, however, is a short answer question about why people play World of Warcraft.

    I am still looking for additional responses and the survey is scheduled to close at the end of this weekend (April 18th). If you play World of Warcraft or know other players, I would be grateful if you could encourage them to visit the survey information page and participate. On completion, participants will be given a code to enter a draw for three Blizzard store pets as prizes.

    Tweet, ask in guild, ask at university, or poke your workmates to pass the word along. Just remember that it’s only open to those 18 years or older as I’m interested in examining adults and learning and there are restrictions on participation in things by those younger than 18.


  • Learning in World of Warcraft: The WoW Learning Project

    Interesting facts:

    1. 60% of MMORPGs players are in the 20-35 year-old demographic (Nick Yee in Escoriaza 2009).
    2. In World of Warcraft specifically, 47% of players in 2005 were 26 years or older. (Yee 2008).
    3. About 75% of new students to The Open University are 26 years or older (Jha 2010, p. 20).

    When you consider that World of Warcraft had more than 11.5 million active subscribers by the end of 2008 (Blandeburgo 2009), that’s more than 5.4 million people in an age group very interesting for my work in higher education via distance education. In particular, remember that these 5.4 million people are often very compelled (sometimes even addicted) to play. What is it that motivates these people and what real-life tangible learning benefits are derived?

    Those are questions that I intend to answer in the WoW Learning project, a study of learning in World of Warcraft. Quietly built earlier this month and located at the memorable WoWLearning.org, it will be a repository for data, posts, and papers about my Ph.D. research into the learning, motivation, and communities of practice formation demonstrated by World of Warcraft players, both in the game and on forums.

    As the project will include ethnographic work in World of Warcraft as well as surveys, in the interests of transparency and to help foster credibility, postings are made using my World of Warcraft character name “Elsheindra (Michelle)” instead of my full real name or commonly used Internet nickname of “Eingang.”


  • OU in the Cloud: The Q&D Results


    I know people are very curious about the results of my recent E-Mail in the Cloud: An Open University Survey. Time is a bit short for me, so I decided to write up this quick and dirty post outlining the key result. An analysis of the comments people left about why they made the choice they did will be covered in a later posting, as those comments proved to be extremely interesting.

    In a more formal report, the order of detail presented would be different. I’ve started with the results first, as that’s likely to be of interest to most people, and then discussed the methodology, survey deployment, and motivation.

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  • E-Mail in the Cloud: An Open University Survey

    Windows Live Mail mailbox in Redmond, WA

    Windows Live Mail mailbox in Redmond, WA

    I joined the Open University (OU) as an Associate Lecturer (AL) back in May 2000 to teach the university’s T171: You, Your Computer and the Net course, the university’s first large-scale foray into online teaching. As one of hundreds of new ALs, I was thrown into the world of FirstClass, the university’s chosen platform for collaboration and discussion in its courses, and among its students and associate lecturers. If you haven’t already heard, the death knell for FirstClass has been sounded. I believe the transition away from FirstClass for courses is expected to be complete by October 2010. As part of that transition, our e-mail accounts need to go somewhere, but where?

    Sample Google Mail Spam Folder

    Sample Google Mail Spam Folder

    If you’re a student, you may already be using your own personal, non-OU e-mail address at the university. If you’re an associate lecturer or other academic/support staff, having a .open.ac.uk e-mail address is an important part of your professional identity. According to David Wilson, director of strategic planning in LTS, a choice is being considered between Google Apps Education Edition and Microsoft Live@edu and should be made shortly (in Snowball 36 – November 2009). It will definitely be put into place for students, but it may extend further than that. The decision has not yet been made, so we have a very small window of opportunity to provide some input as to our preferences. I’ve constructed a very small, unofficial survey at SurveyMonkey to do that.

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  • OER and a Pedagogy of Abundance

    Martin Weller gave a 30-minute presentation last week for George Siemens’s CCK09 course on an idea he called “the pedagogy of abundance.” The key idea was that teaching in the past had been based on a scarcity model. I interpreted this as meaning knowledge was scarce (or closely guarded) and educators (the “talent”) were the scarce high priests on high–classic sage on the stage. He likened it to the music industry, which doesn’t strike me as too far off-base.

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