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E-learning with web 1.0
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E-learning with web 2.0
Complex multiplayer games, like
much in common with
, given that they facilitate multimodal interaction and collaboration across the internet. Complex multiplayer gaming is also gradually migrating to
, and sometimes makes use of
formats which blend the virtual and the real.
is currently an important focus within the field of e-learning. There's been a lot of discussion of the educational potential of gaming environments, where learning takes place within the context of the pursuit of in-game goals.
Much of the discussion revolves around
what Marc Prensky calls 'complex games' as opposed to more trivial 'mini games'
(with the latter being more suited to behaviourist
2011 Horizon Report
lists three types of educational games:
non-collaborative digital games
collaborative digital games
The second category, which overlaps with Prensky's 'mini games', may have some motivational benefits. It's worth noting that gamified activities and tasks are becoming more sophisticated and more engaging, often in the form of educational apps such as
for Apple devices) or
, which arguably sit somewhere between the second and third categories.
The third category, which overlaps to some extent with Prensky's 'complex games', is the area of greatest contemporary interest. It often involves what are known as massively multiplayer online games (MMO[G]s) or massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). These gaming environments often have a similar appearance to
, but incorporate game-oriented goals. For further general and technical information, see the
Wikipedia article on MMOs
. For a useful attempt to differentiate various terms (metaverse, MMO, MMORPG, MOO, MUD, etc) which are used to refer to
and games, see the Terra Nova
There is also scope for developing students' computational thinking and
skills as they become involved in designing their own games. For a list of some appropriate game design platforms for students, see Common Sense Education's
3 Great Game Design Tools for Summer Learning
Some useful simulation-based games for maths and science include
Kerbal Space Program
; some of these allow students to create puzzles for each other.
is a vocabulary-based English game. In fact, some MMOs can be viewed as very sophisticated
, where participants interact with other players and where decisions are not limited to preset options. Examples include
(about the ages of humanity) or
(football management). It's necessary to register to participate in these MMOs and there may sometimes be costs attached. Harvard University's
River City Project
is a good example of an environment designed with specific curriculum objectives in mind, while
is designed to teach students about clean energy. It's also possible for teachers and students to examine the archives of public serious games like
World Without Oil
Contemporary commercial MMOs are seen by many educators as having considerable potential for promoting task-based learning, collaborative problem-solving, negotiation of meaning, and multimodal communication.
, a virtual environment where everything is made from cubes, is often used with younger learners; some of the learning benefits are outlined on the
Minecraft in Education
page on the Minecraft Wiki.
World of Warcraft
may be used by older learners, for whom it offers
considerable educational potential
It's also worth exploring the possibilities offered by
movies, which can be easily produced by students in gaming environments or
, which are played on mobile devices and make use of
technology, leverage the real world as a gaming environment. There is great potential here for situated, immersive, embodied learning. The best-known of today's pervasive games is probably Google's
For academic and journalistic references about gaming, see the
page. You'll also find current information in the
E-learning tag cloud
The image above right, which shows a gaming interface, is available under a
Creative Commons licence
Viktor Hertz's photostream
; the original can be found
I owe the PowerUp link to Nik Peachey.
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