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					 The New Model for Using
Virtual Worlds in Your Course
       Dona Cady, Professor of Humanities
   Matthew Olson, Director Middlesex Interactive
           Middlesex Community College,
               Bedford and Lowell, MA
    The VERG Learning
     Environment Model

      Environmental                           Playful
         Appeal                             Interaction


Source: Cady, Kalivas, Margulis, and Olson (2006) Community College Journal
     Foundations for
Learning with Virtual Worlds

      Web 2.0 applications 

   Virtual world use increasing

        Social networking
       New Technology Adoption
The future’s not coming
It’s here
Learning Theories Support the
    Use of Virtual Worlds
  – Social learning theory (Vygotsky)
  – Situated learning (Lave & Wenger)
     • Legitimate peripheral participation
     • Communities of practice
  – Discovery learning (Bruner)
  – Importance of real‐world applications (Dewey)
  – “Constructivism”
“Situational learning is the process of
coming to be, of forging an identity in activity
in the world.”

Knowledge can only exist embedded in a
participation framework.

               Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger
“It is in and through Discourses [relationships]
that we make clear to ourselves and others who
we are.”
                         James Paul Gee
“The ability to adopt alternative identities –
to shift virtual identities - for purposes of
improvisational discovery is key to being able
to interpret and construct dynamic models of
real world processes.”
                   Henry Jenkins
These interpretive systems underwrite the
situated online identities that games both
perform and recognize. “ In games, identity is
never fixed - “one’s position within this multi-
dimensional space of coinciding taxonomies
determines who one is in the here and now.”
                     Constance Steinkuhler
          Don Margulis
                     Carnegie Copper Group
                 Middlesex Community College
                   Blog:   Beyond the Screen
Video Clip: Reading the River: The Millennial Student 8:39‐10:28 
So, we have the learning
 theorists on our side…
And the technology
  to support us
That’s all well and good
    But I needed more…
 Something to make the link
between abstract theory and
So, I drew from Asian philosophy

    An unlikely source but…
I made connections
 “New ‘postmodern’ theories are
closer to ancient Chinese thought
  than they are to ancient Greek
It seems to me that the question should involve
looking at what a virtual world is. And from that
basis we need to ask how do we look at a virtual
world, from what ontological approach? If we
observe that virtual worlds are participatory
immersive environments, then I find it difficult to
approach them from an Aristotelian perspective.
If there is a mind/body disconnect, then perhaps
this view works, but if we say that virtual worlds
are wholly immersive and that transformation is a
continuous process, then I believe that we should
look at a different ‘cosmological’ construct. We
should look to the Asian traditions and in
particular Daoism and Confucianism.”
So, I believe that the question
      we need to ask is ~

through what lens do we look at
        virtual worlds?
        Foundations for a
Virtual Worlds Model of Learning

   Theoretical constructs drawn from 
     Asian philosophy
     – Change
     – Connection
     – Community
“Asian philosophy sees
environment as an
interpretive context for the
individual in which the
individual shapes and is
shaped by his environment in
an “endless stream of always
novel yet continuous
                Ames and Hall
“The ability to adopt
 alternative identities –
 to shift virtual identities -
 for purposes of
 improvisational discovery
 is key to being able to
 interpret and construct
 dynamic models of real
 world processes.”
               Henry Jenkins
“Changes in knowing become changes in
being” and individuals are “ontologically
transformed by it.”
                    Constance Steinkuhler
Who one is becoming…
In Asian philosophy “persons
are constituted by their
relationships and these
relationships are valorized and
made real in the process of
persons bringing their fields of
experience into focus.”

           Ames and Hall
It is in and through
Discourses [relationships]
that we make clear to
ourselves and others who
we are.”

        James Paul Gee
“I am because we are.
My identity is such that it
involves you.”

         Fred Rogers
In Asian cosmology the most
crucial aspect is the spirit of
the symbiosis and mutuality
between the particular and
totality. In terms of our
understanding this means an
unwillingness to isolate the
particular from the totality,
and in terms of feeling, it
means the commitment of the
particular to do its best to
realize the totality.”
                  Tang Zunyi
As active participants in the
practice of social communities
and constructing identities in
relation to these communities
– through affiliations and
disaffiliations – individuals act
not just as their avatars but as
the ‘kinds of people they think
they want to be and others
respond to.’”
                 Ian Halking
For me, this philosophical lens
  added the missing piece
So, what have I done so far?
Active Worlds
Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings
EverQuest I and II
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft
Second Life
Second Life
Second Life
Spore (under investigation)
Spore (under investigation)
War Hammer (under investigation)
WarHammer (under investigation)
   Model for Using Virtual Worlds

• For the educator:
  – Connect with your college
  – Choose a world with connections to your course
  – Create opportunities to play together
  – Commit to a strong online presence
Connect with your college
                       “The Buy In”

• Approach administrators
     • Present research evidence
    “Many video games require players to master skills
    in demand by today’s employers.”
                          National Summit on Educational Games 2005

• Academic support
     • Library, IT, 
• Infrastructure  ‐ home and school
     • Software, video cards, computer rooms
   Choose a world with
connections to your course
• Thematic relevance 
  – Types and duration of assignments
     • Competitive or cooperative play
     • Creative problem solving
     • Consumers or creators?
• Experiment 
               “If you don’t have great learners, you need great graphics.”
                                               Kurt Squires
     •   WoW –fantasy travelogue
     •   WarHammer – journaling and grouping, lore embedded
     •   Second Life – extra credit, unit, class meetings  
     •   Civilization – social science, mods
     •   Spore ‐ individual or group play
Create opportunities to play
Community: Relational Virtuosity
• Where and how are students playing game?
  – Our 1st WoW experience
  – Our 2nd WoW –what a difference a semester makes

• Build community ‐ Immersive
  – Groups, guilds
     • Learning happens often screen with guild chatter
     • WarHammer Scenarios: PVP, PVE, PQ
  – Assigned times to play
  – Mentoring
Commit to an online presence
          Relational Particularity:
          The Mouse that Roars
• Group Dynamics
Depth of relationships results in the depth of time 
                                      Stanford University
• Set specific online times
   – 3x  per week
• Be online with students even if you aren’t expert
• Create assignments so they are content experts
   – Second Life
      • Business, Economics, Music, Literature, Math
Model for Using Virtual Worlds
• For students
  – Self‐examine
  – Explore multiple identities
     • Avatars, characters of different genders, motivations
  – Collaborate
  – Opportunities for leadership
             Me, Myself, and I
Using critical awareness and analysis…
  “means realizing our tendency to split identity into
  many different ‘I’s by comparing ourselves with
  others and by making deliberate choices….There is
  division into this and that, into past and future, into
  mine and other.”
                                  Kohn on Zhaungzi
Self cultivation
  Only by examining ourselves in different 
  environments and exploring the different I’s will we 
  experience more connections
Explore multiple identities
 A Mile and a Pair of Moccasins
• Avatars
  – Good vs. Evil
• Gender Switching
  – Perceptions
  – Case Study
• Species 
  – Spore
  – Herbivore vs. Carnivore 
• Motivations
  – Psychology
           Passion Communities
•   Activeworlds
•   WoW
•   WarHammer
•   Second Life
•   Spore
•   Global Kids 
    – Race to Equality
                         The Virtual Video Project
Opportunities for leadership
     Performance based learning
  “It doesn’t matter what you drove to the arcade, if you
  sucked at Asteroids, you sucked at Asteroids.”
                            Demetri Williams

Distributed learning
• Why games are important in professional learning
  – Time management
  – Power and social capital management of IT functions
  – Delegation of tasks
  – Problem solving skills in context
     Critical thinking skills – Guild leaders
              “Learn when to reward and when to yell”
  – Power of collaboration

                     Rovy Branon (ADL Co‐labs) and Rick Blunt (DOD)
Gaming+Learning+Society 4.0
       Global Kids

      MMORPG Info
       Terra Nova
    Beyond the Screen
  Second Life – Places of Interest
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): This is a nicely designed conference area that is open to groups exploring Second Life.

Music Academy Online: Various buildings each focused on an era of classical music. Music is streamed into each building. Click on the musical note icon located at the bottom right of your interface to 
       turn the music on or off.

Better World: A site which focuses on awareness of world issues. A museum atmosphere with powerful images

4Medical Library: A number of medical resources.

Info Island (Information & Communications Technology Library) : A site created to provide information related to using Second Life as an educational 

SploLand: A colorful and imaginative site that plays with technical,  mathematical and scientific symbols

Waterhead (Heart Murmur simulation): A learning environment dealing with heart conditions.

University of Derby : Several European educational buildings and sites.

Democracy Island (New York School of Law ‐Virtual Supreme Court)

College Campuses: A number of colleges have created virtual replicas of their campuses.

Vassar College (includes a replica of the Sistine Chapel!) :

Ohio University:

Texas State (Bobcat Village) :

Austin Hall (Harvard Law School): Another good location for a meeting or small conference. This will be our backup meeting location.

The Botanical Gardens: A lovely place to walk and meditate.

Jades Jazz Island: The experience is a bit like the alien bar scene in Star Wars if you remember that portion of the film. A pretty wild collection of avatars will be trying out their dance moves on the 
        ballroom floor most evenings. If you enjoy popular jazz, the performers (vocal and instrumental) can be quite good. Some of the artists perform live via streaming audio. (Note: if you want your 
        avatar to try out his/her dance moves, walk to the colored crystal ball hanging on the far side of the ballroom and right click on the object. Select the "touch" command, then accept the dance 
        animation and off you go.