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Jan 24, 2007

Comments

1.

Don't forget about the Shakespeare MMO:

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=11378 found here

Also: http://seriousgamessource.com/item.php?story=11378 found here

2.

Hey, thats super. Maybe WoW can release a 30 dollar patch to teach new languages to the Alliance players so everyone can get along and it can finally become "World of Speechcraft!"

3.

I've had this "edutainment in an MMO" idea before, but it started when my children got excited about Disney's ToonTown. It got my 3-yr old to learn his way around the computer (combining both keyboard and mouse actions, which is not the easiest combination to push at younger kids new to PC's), and to have fun in a 3D environment. He enjoyed playing all the jellybean-collecting games, and throwing pies and anvils at Cogs. But, after the initial PC and environment discovery, that was it. He couldn't quest 'on his own', since that requires reading. The games he could play got boring after a little while. Soon the Cog bashing got tired as well. He's moved on to other games more geared at his age level (and targeted as educational as well.)

So, what struck me as odd is that here we have a game made by, of all people, Disney. Disney has a huge repository of PC edutainment collecting dust on countless shelves. How hard would it be (relative to other options) to tap into some of that corporate knowledge and implement an 'edutainment' land or feature with games that teach alphabet, phonics, counting, spatial relationships, patterns, etc., etc., and provide an in game reward to the character (even if it had zero 'game balance effect"). All of a sudden, there would be value in maintaining your ToonTown account membership for your kid's developmental benefit. Instead, my child loads up an offline Whinnie the Pooh game to learn and practice stuff with letters, colors, matching, etc.

Seems like an ignored opportunity for an untapped market segment. ToonTown is already set up in a 'protective of youngsters' fashion. Little worry about a deviant player griefing the kiddie edutainment area.

Oh well, instead the dev's gave us mindless grinding via gardening. That'll get the subscribers in droves.

4.

I'll pay a monthly fee to play a game that teaches me Chinese.

This sort of idea - an educational MMO that rewarded players for passing on expertise (like how to solve puzzles) was talked about at the GDC (last year? two years ago?) during the online social spaces tutorial day thing (yes, I need to play Brain Training and work on my memory). I've been looking forward to something like this, if it's done well.

5.

Oh yes, I did forget! The Shakespeare MMO sounds fantastic, as well!

And btw, I just discovered that the latest NMC Horizon report has separate sections on the potential of virtual worlds and MMOGs for education, suggesting platform solutions like WorldForge and Multiverse will allow these options to proliferate. They cite several areas for potential educational MMO development, including the study of foreign language and culture (Shakespearean English counts here, too, right?), leadership and management skills, and 'practicing strategy and applying knowledge competitively' (i.e. how can a raid be made to resemble real life?).

6.

Very cool about the educational MMOs.

Might want to to take a look at the Tactical Iraqi game that Dr. Lewis Johnson, USC, CARTE, developed for US soldiers in the Gulf. It runs on the Unreal Tournament engine and is very effective. Thought it might provide some context as to how Chengo Chinese might function and also indicate that the US Gov / Military will surely get into the Edu MMO space very soon.

Also, I've a sneaking suspicion that SL will catalyze quite a few highly effective Edu MMOs over the next year to 2 years. There is, after all, a lot of money to be made, and a lot of info to be disseminated.

7.

JiK has it right, there is nothing a child can learn via a computer that can't be learned from a book, except for how to turn it on and off and how to use a keyboard and mouse.

Sure, you can buy a program that teaching junior how to count jellybeans, or you can buy a bag at the corner store and count them on the kitchen table. BONUS ROUND - with real jellybeans you get to eat them afterwards.

Why buy a flight simulator program for your 12 year old when some sticks, twine, and glue could provide a real flying machine?

Here's my thought - keep the kids off the computer until high school. Then teach them how to write code and write their own adventure.

8.

Imho this is the tip of a large and inevitable iceberg.

While in certain respects I have sympathy for dave's point that we should "keep the kids off the computer until high school" or at the very least to ensure that they spend a whole lot of time engaged in the original virtual world (see the previous post), it simply isn't the direction that things are generally headed. After all, that would require more parents actually spending time with their kids, an activity which I understand is on the decline.

The big question I'm pondering as we approach implementation of a broader range of virtual learning environments is the question of access. If we assume for a minute that these tools will in fact be powerful learning mechanisms that can confer skills like fluency in a second language, I believe its incumbent upon us to ask who will get to use them and what benefits will that use confer?

Hence for the second time, I find myself mentioning Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age (currently in development for a mini-series on SciFi), because it raises the issue of learning technology and social stratification in a pretty profound way.

9.

Do they have a general release date yet?

10.

Doesn't look like it. What information I found was here on SciFi Wire

11.

Let me take this opportunity to highlight a recent PARC forum presentation by Tina Blaine, Carnegie-Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center, titled: Got Game? Exploring the contexts of collaborative experience, social awareness, and gameplay.

There is a trend developing among the universities, particularly with grant and seed money available, for educational projects that leverage on MMO platforms.

Zon could be first public disclosed development in the area of Chinese culture and language development, there are a few undisclosed "developments".

So in the same way there are parallel developments of a Shakespearian MMO (Ted C is leading one of them), we'll hear more and more academic research and subsequent development projects.

Go Academia!

Frank

12.

Not to bring politics into this, but one must wonder what version of Chinese history they will be disseminating.. this is, after all, the country behind the "Great Firewall of China" (a direction the US seems to be going, but that's another topic for another time)

13.

太好了!

14.

With ChipWits we are going to harness the fun of programming to generate content by creating a program-actors-with-simple-languages shareable sandbox. We'll make it easy for the geeky players attracted to ChipWits to extend or replace our IBOL language or any part of the system.

Both Mike Johnston and I "started" as teachers - him at the college level and me at the elementary level.

We've found (or been found by) 4 people so far who say that playing ChipWits as a kid turned them into coders (sorry!).

Even before launch old ChipWits users are already working on level editors. We are going to write an open source (of some flavor) ChipWits kernel as a community project and encourage players to port it to every platform.

We are doing this very much as a labor of love on the cheap.

15.

Wired Magazine (April 2006):
The Mandarin Offensive
Inside Beijing's global campaign to make Chinese the number one language in the world.
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.04/mandarin.html

16.

Hi,
I learn Mandarin in Beijing. It's been five months now that I'm learning this beautiful language. It's true that Chinese is hard but learning it won't be that hard if you have the right learning tools and resources. As far as I'm concerned, I use this useful Chinese English dictionary and when I'm stuck, I just post my questions to this Chinese learning forum. I also learn Chinese writing online. I hope these learning Chinese tools would help you learn Chinese quickly and smartly. Thank you ;-)

17.

I am a doctoral student studying second/foreign language learning. I'm excited about the potentials of this game. I'll be doing a research study using this game, examining adult learners' experience with computer language games. If you are interested in participating, please email me at lichi.feng@gmail.com. In exchange, as a native Mandarin speaker, I'll be happy to help you learn Chinese!

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