• 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.”


  • 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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • World of Warcraft and Me: A True Confession

    Elsheindra is Michelle's night elf druidAs part of a course under development at The Open University, I was approached as a known World of Warcraft player and asked to write a short paragraph or two on why I play World of Warcraft. I freely admit to failing to only write a short paragraph or two, but that’s probably because I’m passionate about World of Warcraft and my activities in it, especially given the prominence it plays in my life in so many areas. Read on to find out why I play World of Warcraft.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Levelling Lifelong Learning: Annual Progress Review

    Elsheindra the healy-dealy night elfI have my annual Ph.D. review meeting tomorrow afternoon. As usual, I’m more than a bit nervous, especially as I made the big step this academic year of completely dropping my former Ph.D. work and starting a brand new topic that intersects the boundaries of my three main interests: communities, learning and teaching, and Internet-enabled technologies. As part of the review process, we’re asked to produce a 4-page report that explains what we’ve done since the last report. In your first year, this report ought to focus on your thesis proposal, although many students won’t yet have one. I do have some ideas about what I want to do and how I am going to go about it. I’ve made an online version so that it will be indexed and easily findable by others interested in World of Warcraft and e-learning.

    The 30-second summary: Examine how metaphors and game design of World of Warcraft motivate people to learn and to work, with an eye to transferring motivation, social knowledge building, and persistence to online higher education practices, like community building for lifelong learning.

    Click the “More” link below to continue reading the online version of the proposal and progress report. A downloadable PDF version is also available.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • The 2008 H810 Interview Presentation

    Title Slide

    These are my slides for my August 19th interview presentation. I was given the remit of presenting a five- to ten-minute presentation on the “Challenges Affecting Disabled in E-Learning”. The interview was for an associate lecturer position on the new H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students postgraduate course, part of the M.A. in online distance education. Each slide has been annotated based on my presentation preparation notes. A downloadable version is available.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Conceptual Change

    David Jonassen visited the IDEAs lab on May 11th from the University of Missouri to present a talk on “Model-Building for Conceptual Change (Cognitive Tools in Action)”. While this isn’t (or so I thought) related to my own research or interests in any way, we were all encouraged to attend if possible and I’m always interested in talks about learning in general. Here, belatedly, is a synopsis of my understanding of his presentation.
    The key underlying principle seemed to emphasize having people fail in their problem solving attempt at some issue because then conceptual change has a change to be engaged and then students will learn. This failure need not be catastrophic; in fact, it probably should not be, I would say, or the failure would foster a strong sense of discouragement, which is not going to get a student into the “learning zone.” So, how do you put students into a non-threatening environment where they can safely experiment and fail? David Jonassen’s idea was to encourage them to engage in model building which demonstrates their conceptual understanding of the problem/issue at hand. When learners build models,their understanding of the problem domain is deepened because you cannot model what you do not understand. Model building also allows you, as the instructor, to view the learner’s level of conceptual change as their models evolve. It is therefore possible to assess their underlying understanding without resorting to formal assessment tests. Finally, David Jonassen suggested that model building also improves critical reasoning and thinking because model building forces the model builder to examine the process and problem solving methodology.
    David Jonassen researches (among other things) the use of technology in educational settings to improve understanding. More information on his approaches to problem solving are available from on the following web site page: http://tiger.coe.missouri.edu/~jonassen/PB.htm.

    Read the rest of this entry »