[Assessment 1378] Re: Learning and Assessing in Virtual and Real Worlds

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George Dziuk George.Dziuk at lbb.state.tx.us
Tue Jul 29 09:44:30 EDT 2008

As an avid gamer that has played massive multiplayer games (MMOs) for almost 10 years now (using a previously mentioned gamed: I've played World of Warcraft for 4), I can attest to the many learning opportunities that are available from the experience. For example, in almost all cases these games absolutely require group interaction to meet in-game challenges. This extreme focus on team work is coupled with additional requirements that aren't just about how fast you can punch a keyboard, but require a pretty significant amount of number crunching to make sure your character's equipment is maximizing whatever role that character fills in these groups...be it healing your allies, dishing out damage on a creature, or bearing the brunt of the creature attacks.

Rather than spending time addressing the educational benefits, I'd like to talk about the challenges to using these games as an educational tool that would need to be overcome before they could be successfully employed as a medium for learning opportunities on a system-wide scale:

1. Technology: Most PC games today have pretty hefty hardware requirements that require expensive video cards, processors and RAM to just run them. These PCs, on average, can be quite expensive...not including software costs which can run you almost $45 per license with monthly subscription fees typically running $15 per month.

2. Safety & Security: Even with filters, the language over public chat channels in MMOs can definitely be classified as adult oriented in many cases. Additionally, from a safety standpoint, children playing these games are exposed to a wide range of people who also play these games coming from across the country or, in some cases, around the world. Additionally, there are increasing instances of other people using "keyloggers" to acquire the log in information of players, log into these people's accounts, sell all of their materials and then transfer the ingame money to their own accounts which is then subsequently sold for real money through a website. For more information on this type of trade just do a search on "Gold Farmers".

3. Time Commitment: MMOs require massive amounts of time which can in some cases amount to almost a part time job.

In order to address the above issues, an interested entity, be it government, CBO, local education agency, etc..., would need to work directly with the software developer to create a server that would used solely by the participating school(s) with very specific access requirements to ensure that only students from those schools could play on that server.

George Dziuk
Texas Legislative Budget Board
School Performance Review
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