A fractured conversation between myself and Darcy Moore tonight over Connectivism (CCK09 Course) and participation. He published a great Australian view on his blog, where he mentions “neo-Luddites” as those unwilling to engage with digital technology and unable to form effective relationships and connections online or leverage them into their classrooms. I also read, in between the tweets, an article on Massively about the possible make-up of the race classes in Star Wars: Old Republic MMO. Yes! finally it seems, you will get to be a Jedi in a proper MMO.
It stuck me that the characteristics in Darcy’s description are valid in MMOs too, and education is just one “class”. Within that class are sub-sets or “races” – each with attributes and abilities. So the neo-Luddites are a race with abilities (or lack of). I obviously fall into a subset that believes that scenario/game/enquiry learning based on skill; issues and problems is an integral element of a holistic view of read/write learning ideologies – be that connectivism or other constructivist-esque ideology. So I have traits that connect me to other’s with a similar view.
Connectivism has long been present in virtual worlds and MMOs – or at least since The Well in the 1980s, so perhaps some refernce to these is appropriate.
Using “video games” as a term to conceptualize MMOs is like describing Henri Matisse as a cave painter. Without doubt, there are significant reasons for educators to take notice of the vast variety and numbers of people playing, creating, sharing and experiencing MMOs. If you have been brought up with Nintendo DS and Xbox – then Metaplace and Small Worlds seem much far more ‘normal’ that Twitter – and I guess the Twitter demographic supports that. Ventrillo (Vent) is going to be identified by youth online along side MSN Messenger and Skype – yet few educators will have heard of Ventrillo – even if they have heard of Skype.
Today there are the big names such as Aion and Warcraft, but also hundreds of Indie MMOs and games, working in connceted frameworks. This week I’ve spent time in Reaction Grid – but also in communities that fringe that ‘virtual world’. I learned because I connected with people – in virtual spaces invisible to Google and it’s advertising driven agenda.
Darcy ends his post encouraging teachers to take part in the CCK09 course and in addition to that I’d like to add – point your RSS reader at Masssively (Tateru Nino’s blog) and the Metaverse Journal during the same time. We should be very wary of defining read/write in terms of blogs, wikis, podcasts and Twitter. In short, blogs and wikis may augment the classroom now, but what if the classoom becomes virtualised – beyond MSN Messenger, Skype and Ellumitate – but via a console or mobile phone. What happens when you can talk to a teacher using Vent as you walk though a skills based learning scenario. To me, Connectivism must include virtual worlds as well as social networks, PLNs etc., as virtual communities have been connecting online ever since John Draper appeared virtually as Captain Crunch.