Powered by Elgg

MUVE :: Blog :: What are MUVEs good for?

May 03, 2007

 This is the middle of my blog post but I though it might be a good starting point for a discussion.

For me the area of MUVEs breaks down into the following points to consider:

  • Does using an MUVE give a more powerful sense of ‘presence’ / identity to those involved. Is this more powerful / useful than purely text based interactions?
  • If this ‘presence’ is (cough) present then in what ways can we use it in the service of online collaboration / socialising?
  • How can being immersed in an environment help the learning process at an HE level?
  • Is this best for distance students or could it be a useful tool in the ‘classroom’ as well?
  • Is this type of environment more, or less, alienating for students / tutors to interact with than other online approaches?
  • Is the level of skill and technology required to interact with these types of environments too high at the moment? Will they ever be ‘mainstream’?

This is just a starting point of course. I'd welcome comments...

In practical terms is can see MUVEs being useful for the following:
  • Creating immersive simulations
  • Recreating contemporary or historical real world environments that have an educational value
  • Developing new forms of collaborative projects, taking group work online to a new level
  • Providing a social underpinning to groups of online courses or a f2f campus / department
The last two points interest me the most and are clearly happening in a slightly different form in MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. However, the first two points are probably easier to demonstrate as clear practical uses especially to those who have no experience of MUVEs.

Overview for Keywords: MMO, MMORPG, MUVE

Blogs with Keywords: MMO, MMORPG, MUVE

Posted by MUVE - David White


Comments

  1. Well... after reading this article here I might have to rephrase the comment I left on your blog this morning about the skills needed to use this kind of environments. The kids of today will not have any problems dealing with SL or any other kind of MUVEs. They are already going through intensive training almost since the day they were born.

    That's the way things are developing: without even noticing they are being prepared to the real future, and jobs, through these environments, where fairly authentic contexts are provided virtually. 

     

    Cristina CostaCristina Costa on Thursday, 03 May 2007, 19:50 UTC # |

  2. The skill question will be critical for an "older" generation, but I think David is right about the items that have the most immediate relevance for contemporary education practice. We hope to use SL as a part of the online activities 5, 6, 7 June. This will be together with a "webinar" environment allowing synchronous  VOIP (at least for some) and synchronous and asynchronous text chat/discussion.

    George Robertsgeorge on Friday, 04 May 2007, 06:29 UTC # |

  3. In response to David's points:

    Does using an MUVE give a more powerful sense of ‘presence’ / identity to those involved. Is this more powerful / useful than purely text based interactions?

    From my experience, being able to show a fellow avatar what I mean, either by rezzing an object or building something from scratch there and then, makes the MUVE a much more powerful tool than purely text based chat. In some cases, I can show what I mean much easier than I could in real-life. My virtual pockets are much bigger than my real ones. In terms of identity, my appearance allows me to express more about myself than real-world social conventions would allow. The user-configured visual aspect of MUVE has the potential to enhance the communication of personal values, before any text has even been typed.

    If this ‘presence’ is (cough) present then in what ways can we use it in the service of online collaboration / socialising?

    In terms of collaborative building and the creation of artifacts, the benefits are evident. At the moment my colleague and I are building an exhibition space together. We edit each other’s objects, both asynchronously and synchronously. Occasionally we are actually in the same real-life room together, simultaneously collaborating on and off-line, which is a bit weird. I’m also working with non-SL savvy staff to plan the end of year exhibition (which will also run as an in-world exhibition). The student’s invovement in this collaboration is mainly providing me with JPEGs of their work.

    How can being immersed in an environment help the learning process at an HE level?

    Oh. Big question. I like to think that I’m in the business of enhancing individuals, rather than simple filling their heads with stuff. MUVEs provide numerous opportunities for learners to engage in activities that force them to re-evaluate their understanding of a particular thing. What that thing is, and whether it is appropriate or useful to engage with, is where educators can play a crucial role as the mediators of knowledge, negotiating a coherent learning plan with the student. This approach allows us to consider the whole world as potential learning fodder. Ideally, part of this learning process should involve the creation by the student of virtual stuff. Snapshots and movies of significant events and encounters, written reports, the creation of art, building stuff, creating artifacts, organising events etc. This is maybe where the Web 2.0 approach kicks in. It is very different to traditional approach of putting module content in-world. (which I have nothing against, and is obviously an important part of what a lot of educators want and need to do).

    Is this best for distance students or could it be a useful tool in the ‘classroom’ as well?

    It has massive potential to augment traditional physical teaching environments. We are running a community arts project at the moment that focuses on allotments. Most of our students are digging in real dirt, meeting the allotment owners and thinking creatively about how to make some meaningful art. Some are planning to do the same in Second Life, on a little virtual plot we have given them. Running real and simulated versions of the same project forces a dialogue to open up about all sorts of issues related to communities, art, simulation and audience. The virtual acts as a lens on real world activities, and vice-versa.

    Is this type of environment more, or less, alienating for students / tutors to interact with than other online approaches?

    It depends on the individual. It requires an investment of time and efforts to get the most out of it, and I have found that the relevance of it to the majority of my mainly low-tech art & design students is debatable. However, for the small number of students that do ‘get it’, the impact of MUVEs is massively significant. In a self-directed learning environment, motivation is a key factor in learning. MUVEs can be hugely motivating (addictive, even).

    Is the level of skill and technology required to interact with these types of environments too high at the moment? Will they ever be ‘mainstream’?

    I inducted a very low-tech student last night into Second Life, and to be honest, I just left her to get on with the new orientation island for most of the session. Then I showed off all the stuff that I’ve been doing and we got terribly excited. Then we discussed what she is really about, and where she might find some relevant locations to explore pertinent issues. Then I made got her to set her home location to our simulation of her physical studio space, so she could return to a place of safety if she panicked. Then I told her to get on with it. We have Second Life running quite happily on 20 entry level iMacs in an open-access lab, so the technology isn’t an issue.

    In practical terms I can see MUVEs being useful for the following:

    Creating immersive simulations

    Lots of potential for this.

    I got this definitions of hyperreality from wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperreality

    "The simulation of something which never really existed." - Jean Baudrillard

    Recreating contemporary or historical real world environments that have an educational value

    Another hyperreality definition: "The authentic fake." - Umberto Eco

    Developing new forms of collaborative projects, taking group work online to a new level

    I’ll report back on the allotments project, if it produces anything interesting. Also, have a look at the student works at ‘The Collective’ island in SL, looked after by my colleague at Leeds College of Art and Design, Anna-Beth Robinson (AngryBeth Shortbread). This is a good example of student-led collaborative work.

    Providing a social underpinning to groups of online courses or a f2f campus / department

    We’re also looking at pre-enrolment familiarisation and socialisation via Second Life, and Alumni (class re-unions, and ‘give a graduate a job’ type things.)


    Second Life is the richest creative playground that I have ever engaged with, and it’s potential for developing creative thinking skills should not be underestimated. For me, this is one of the most powerful aspects of learning in MUVEs.

     

     

    Ian TrueloveIan Truelove on Friday, 04 May 2007, 10:40 UTC # |

  4. One thing that I would like to follow up on is whether we know of any good teaching / guidance formats that might be emerging in SL. Are there examples of successful practice?

     Always happy to see Baudillard and Eco mentioned in a comment.  Smile

    David WhiteDavid White on Friday, 04 May 2007, 11:01 UTC # |

  5. According to Gavin Dudeney “One of the biggest success stories is Intellagirl Tully - A college course in creative writing and rhetoric”. I am still trying to understand what is being done there, but I thought I should share it. 

    Also, on Sunday, 20 May 2007, Gavin Dudeney and Nicky Hockly will be presenting online “Get a MUVE One - Education in Second Life”

    Abstract :
    "In this presentation the presenters will look at the Multi-User Virtual Environment Second Life and consider its application in the sphere of education. They will briefly examine the history of MUVEs before moving on to look at what Second Life is capable of, and how it is currently being used. Various real educational examples will be considered."

    Check here to access the schedule and know how to enrol for it.

    Cristina CostaCristina Costa on Tuesday, 08 May 2007, 09:47 UTC # |

You must be logged in to post a comment.