Minecraft, World of Warcraft, Virtual Learning, and Reality

ObenThe last few weeks I spend taking care of my mother, traveling on occasion and exploring virtual worlds and their possibilities in the teaching profession. The goal of the course was to expose us, a group of students at Marlboro College for Graduate and Professional Studies to the relevance of virtual worlds for real-world learning environments.

I would love to say that I aced this course, that it came naturally, that I felt “like a fish in water.”  Nope, this idealized view of myself never materialized.  Instead, I learned how to be humble, ask for help, call 13-year olds on Skype in the US to get lessons on Minecraft mining, called a neighbor’s son to reconfigure my mother’s antiquated router system, and watched hours upon hours of youtube tutorials.

In addition, I WhatsApped my son in Japan to go through the finer points in mining, creating gold, creating signs, power boosts and cry about a dog who drowned in Minecraft. Our mother-son relationship benefitted greatly from this reversed dynamic. Before the course, I saw absolutely no use for his time on the computer watching endless “weird” legos move. However,  in his apps and Skype lessons the amount of detail orientation and real-time work which goes into mining, creating every item through combining different materials, and creating complex structures one forth.  For every question, my son had an online tutorial ready to guide me.  He wrote pages of commands and emailed them for me to try.  I got advice from his friends on “super awesome structures” complete with more tutorials via email. More than that, the collective teen posse cautioned me to “keep totally to the letter of the tutorials”.  All this from a group that never takes a book and reads it from front to back, a group which seems completely laisser faire when it comes to spelling, etc.  I had entered an alternate universe where I became the learner who climbed the mountain….

Only after entering the World of Warcraft did I completely realize how deeply connected these kids are through their online gaming.  They quest together, they form complex teams with characters completing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they problem solve, read and analyze detailed notecards. Before this course, these were realms I had no access to. Now, I understand the process, time commitment, and mindset much better.

There are definitely uses for Minecraft, SL, WoW in the teaching profession.  However, the great challenge is for teachers to first master these realms and then fold this mastery into required subject activities which guide students not only within a virtual world but extend those activities into the real world.

 

 

 

 

 

Author: drcowinj

Dr. Cowin is a visionary with executive and education experience who believes transformative leadership happens through cooperation plus collaboration resulting in personal and institutional transformation. Her values of integrity, ethics, innovation, empowerment of those less fortunate, diversity, and growth are encapsulated in her belief of “Service above Self.” She holds impeccable academic credentials as a Fulbright Scholar with two Masters Degrees and a Doctor of Education from Teachers College/Columbia University As the President of the Rotary Club of New York, Chief Marketing Officer of PeopleMovers® and former faculty, she brings over 25 five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur and institutional leader in the areas of financial stewardship, governance, marketing, teaching and implementation of strategic partnerships. The principles of growth, differentiation, and adaptation guide her professional life. She believes in high ethical standards in her personal life and business, the recognition of the worthiness of all productive occupations, and the dignifying of each person's occupation as an opportunity to serve society. As a connector, she displays stamina, the ability to listen and reflect, diplomacy and a lifelong passion for education as the path to personal empowerment. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to institutional success, technology innovation, and demonstrated ability to work with others provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally.

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