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World of Warcraft in the World of Education

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Let’s face it America. Our children are no longer the top academic performers in the world. Teachers are desperately searching for new ways to keep students motivated to learn, occasionally resorting to unconventional strategies. Some teachers feel online, multiplayer games in education may be an effective, fresh way to teach important academic topics.

It’s probably safe to assume many have heard, and even played, one of America’s most popular online games, World of Warcraft. Would you believe a handful of teachers are generating lesson plan ideas with WoW as the center and even using them in their classrooms? Lucas, a high school teacher, is an avid WoW gamer outside of his education world, but began to make connections to his classroom soon after he began playing. This hands-on, unique approach would make this an effective way to teach students with special needs.

Lucas found a few specific ways to promote learning by playing WoW. One example, which I think is especially clever, is to create a quest including steps, requirements, and dialouge. Teachers could make an entire lesson plan, which meets state writing standards, with this idea. Lucas took his WoW project to another level by putting his ideas in Wiki format, allowing other teachers to contribute their own ideas.

Many other, less popular, multiplayer games exist and can easily be used in the classroom. Edudemic gives an overview and demos of 6 different multiplayer games, which can be used for educational purposes: Skyrim, Civilization V, Fallout 3, Portal 2, Armadillo Run, and Heavy Rain. Academic topics applicable to these games are problem solving, resource management, collaboration, visualization, and project management.

While using these games in the classroom can be controversial, much because of violent content, some teachers are finding them to be useful. They can be creative with numerous online, multiplayer games by implementing them in the best way for their students. Many would agree that most students would be engaged in this new way of learning. However, could this be the push America’s children need to begin moving towards the top?

image via Huasonic

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  • lgillispie

    It’s always exciting to find press on your work in new places! Thanks for this great write-up. It’s hard to believe we’re moving into our fourth year of this project since I wrote that first blog post. Surprising to some, this project is really not about WoW. It’s really about empowering and engaging students in new ways using games and a game-like spirit as the vehicle. Our learners are “owning” this experience because they’re investing in it. Along the way, they’re brushing up on reading and writing skills, digital citizenship, and all sorts of other worthwhile skills (like technical troubleshooting) that we never anticipated. Oh yeah, and it also makes teaching fun!! Who knew?

    The project has spread to several schools around the world. It’s pushing into new game spaces as well (like GuildWars 2). We’ve developed a year-long, Common Core aligned language arts class that’s free should anyone else like to embark on this adventure.

    If you’d like to explore more about this project and the latest news, visit http://wowinschool.pbworks.com.

    Thanks for a great write-up!

    Lucas

    • http://twitter.com/LudicityNL Ludicity

      It’s always really interesting to read about how teachers get inspired by games and find ways to use them in the classroom. Not necessarily through direct implementation of the games themselves, but by picking those games apart and taking from them what’s most interesting for your specific case. 
      I did a short write-up on that actually a while back, give it a spin! http://www.ludicity.nl/case-gamification-in-the-classroom/

      And I love your initiative Lucas, keep it up! :) I really hope that it will also pick up on other games, like Guild Wars 2 as you said. 

      Keep your eyes on the movement towards construction and building types of play in MMORPGs, it might become something pretty big as it neatly connects to the hugely popular Minecraft mentality! It’s enjoying some good successes already in the MMORPG Rift with Dimensions (http://youtu.be/RFhSDMooGes) and in South-Korea, where a lot of MMORPGs are being developed and some of them also focus on having your own plot of land to build stuff on. It increases the feelings of ownership, which is a huge motivator for when you invest a lot of time into something, be it in a game as a player or on a course as a student. 

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