Dr. Judith M. Newman

Technology & Instruction


In addition to "problems" or "cases", games are another way of providing a focus for group learning.

MUDs and MOOs

MUDs and MOOS are multi-user text-based virtual realities accessible via the Internet. MUDs evolved from multi-user interactive role-playing games on the Internet. MUDs have become more of a communication tool - a shared environment where diverse groups of people can go to talk, create and collaborate. The possibilities such a tool offers for education have not been ignored. The MOO variant in particular has proved highly popular for educational purposes, since it includes a powerful built-in programming language that can be used to create entirely new objects, extending the MOO virtual-world.

There are many useful resources which discuss MUDs and MOOs in learning contexts.

MUDs and MOOs and IRC [ http://info.ox.ac.uk/jtap/reports/teaching/moo.html ]

MUDs in Education [ http://www.ibiblio.org/cmc/mag/1995/jan/fanderclai.html ]

MUDs, MOOs and MUSHs [ http://twist.lib.uiowa.edu/resources/moo.html ]


E-mail and other games can be very useful in building a collaborative learning contest. Thaigi offers useful tips for game builders: Tips for Facilitators [ http://www.thiagi.com/tips.html ]

He also offers a set of guidelines for evaluating games:

  1. Real-World Relevance. Does the training game help participants learn skills and concepts that are applicable to the workplace? Do the roles in the training game relate to easily recognizable real-world counterparts?
  2. Appropriate Frame. Is the basic structure of the training game appropriate for the instructional objectives, trainee characteristics, type of learning, and intended use?
  3. Flexible Format. Does the training game permit easy modifications to suit local resources and constraints in terms of schedule, number and type of participants, and physical facilities?
  4. Participant Involvement. Are all participants involved in the training game at all times?
  5. Effective Packaging. If the game uses different components (such as game boards, cards, and dice), are they conveniently packaged in a box? Are the materials produced in an attractive and durable form?
  6. Effective Instructions. Does the training game include clear and concise instructions? Do the rules avoid unnecessary and trivial items?
  7. Intellectual Stimulation. Are the participants engaged in challenging tasks instead of trivial rote memory activities?
  8. Criterion Reference. Does the scoring system reward achievement of the performance objectives rather than chance occurrences? Is the mastery of useful skills and knowledge obvious to the participants?
  9. User Friendliness. Can a typical trainer use the game without having to spend too much time preparing the materials or learning the rules?
  10. Cost-Effectiveness. Is the training game inexpensive? Can a cheaper alternative produce the same training outcomes? [ http://www.thiagi.com/fac-028.html ]

Check out Freebies - Games for some examples Thaigi's games.

Also take a look at Learnscope the Australian national professional development project focusing on the application of new learning technologies to achieve more flexible learning in the transition to the information economy.