Friday, December 29

The Ultimate MMORPG?

(MMORPG = Massively multi-player online role-playing game)

Clark Aldrich got quite a reaction a while back when he posted Second Life is not a Teaching Tool to LCB. While I generally agreed with those who rose in opposition to his declaration, something still just didn't fit for me. Even when his call for evidence of learning in SL with his post Second Life Redux got a lot of responses, something still gnawed at me like a young child who's newest linguistic trick is "but why? but why? but why?"

The nagging sense that there was more to the answer came to me the other day. If you look at formalized teaching as the only means of learning, then Clark is close to right. But if you simply broaden to say the arena Jay Cross advocates with informal learning, it's hard not to see SL as being a place where people, or at least their avatars, can be taught something - i.e. those flaming boulders can really smart.

But it dawned on me, this blog, Second Life, all those podcasts, all the experiments with mash-ups and AJAX and JSON, are all part of an environment where we are working together to create, learn, and share with each other so that we can all move forward. So doesn't that make all of this, including Second Life, part of the ultimate massive multi-player online role-playing game? Better known by it's old name as eLearning?


Clark Aldrich said...

There is no doubt that Second Life is interesting in part because it is an overlap between Computer Games and Web 2.0/Social Networking.

But let me add one more link of mine to your list.

Dave Lee said...

While I think it a different conversation, I agree with your not so fictional dialogue. The question I have is which moral do you advocate. 'Don't speak the truth in hopes that you might keep your job' or 'Face the truth and start building alternative career paths'? or are you more the 'turn the lights on quick and watch the roaches scurry for fun' type?

jay said...

Dave, this is interesting. I hadn't given much thought to where one draws the line that separates what's learning from what's not. I've come to believe that everything in the universe is connected to everything else, so in theory, everything could be a piece of the MMORPG called Universe.

But this isn't very practical, is it?

Take the example of a map. The larger the map, the better the resolution. But if you end up with a map at a scale of 1:1, the map is indistinguishable from what is mapped, and it loses its utility for finding things.

Faced with the weirdness of nearly everything at the extreme end of its spectrum, I fall back on usefulness. The Universe MMORPG meme doesn't aid understanding. (Except perhaps in church.)

Hence, I don't go there.


Dave Lee said...

point taken, Jay. But isn't it important to make sure that we understand where the out limits of an environment are so that we don't inadvertently limit ourselves to a reality that is too small? Isn't that what the flattening world is teaching us, that narrow focus can limit our creativity and lead to missing opportunities that were hidden right in plain site.

It is indeed a conundrum. One perhaps best solved by slow expansion and contraction. Kinda like breathing.

Matthew Nehrling said...

I still am concerned that we are defining what is or isn't a 'learning tool'. I would like to propose the counterpoint that Everything is a Learning Tool:

Clark's article above brings out a vital point that he may not have realized. We have to sometimes stop dealing with theory and find practical applications for these tools. If a learning professional is so 'unprofessional' to speak to his CEO in that manner, the fact that if he wasn't promoting social networking as a learning tool, he would make some other strategic error that would cause his being 'open to the market'.

Instead of arguing theory, look for practical learning application for everything.