Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming: A Research Framework for Military Training and Education

via OLDaily.

Like Stephen, I am drawn to the topic of this study because my involvement of online role play simulation. I also share Stephen's view that I don't find this report exciting to read.

Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming sounds good for training and education. First, it is massive multiplayer - implying a collaborative type of learning. Second, it is gaming which seems to solve the motivational factors in training and learning. Third, being a virtual environment, the instructional designer may create an environment conducive to learning.

I would say that these are superficial benefits. We need to look closer and deeper to really understand the critical factors in each of these claims.

Collaborative Learning is not the same as locking a group of learners in a room, throw them a question and magically, these learners will come up with a solution to the question. A massive multiplayer environment is akin to a room with a lot of people inside. Will learning happen automatically? OK, here is where the instructional designer can come in and create an environment conducive to learning. Learning what? How do we organise "massively" many learners to learn the same thing from ALL different prospective without making the environment as dull as drills of marching soldiers?

As noted in a previous post Learning to Play to Learn - Lessons in Educational Game Design, the "gameness" of a game is more than "fancy graphics, well-written stories, or point-based rewards". One of the important factor I have identified was the genuine ability to make choice and face the consequence of the choice made. To see the effect of the choice you made, you need to see changes in the behaviour of the other players (as in the role). When you are in a "massive" multiplayer environment, such effect will have a big rippling effect on the whole system. This will make experimentation much more difficult than in a smaller role play simulation environment.

Am I still interested in Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming as a teaching and learning environment? Yes, I am. But, I am yet to figure out how to use such an environment. Pleae enlighten me.

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