Contexts for Lingua MOO

In our explanation of how this web is organized, you may have read that we hope to achieve a kind of seamless pedagogical reality. But, of course, there are seams in the MOO, and it may seem odd to speak of a 'pedagogical reality' given that MOO is a kind of text-based virtual reality. So, let us explain how we conceived Lingua MOO as a distinctly different learning environment. If you read our recent MLA talk, you'll see that we met at MediaMOO, a MOO whose mission is to provide space for general research in media. Later, we visited Collegetown MOO and Diversity University MOO, both fine educational MOOs with vast resources for students and teachers alike. One thing that we wanted to instill in our design of Lingua was the kind of community we were seeing at these and other MOOs. The key seemed to lie in the design and administration.

Our experience at other MOOs provided just the background necessary for distinguishing Lingua MOO from other MOOs. We wanted to distance ourselves from the social and gaming MUDs while at the same time fostering a playful learning environment. We wanted to use the expertise of other educational MOO administrators whose generosity allowed us to reproduce many of the teaching and research features found on other MOOs. Still, we hoped that Lingua MOO would fit the needs of a particular niche of users, namely, those teaching and researching at the intersection of arts and humanities disciplines and technology. Within the context of synchronous learning environments we established along with other educational MOO administrators the first EduMOO forum. At monthly meetings, the EduMOO administrators (comprised of individuals mostly from the GNA network of MOOs) discussed common problems and successes.

From what we learned in this group, we began to conceive the idea for editing a collection of essays on educational MOOs. We found that more and more guests and players at Lingua MOO were hoping to create their own educational MOO at their respective institutions for their specific needs. Thus, the HIGH WIRED book project was born, and many of the EduMOO administrators are contributing to this project. Other contributors range from an undergraduate computer science major to several full professors, others are from the earliest MOO origins (Pavel Curtis and Amy Bruckman) to the latest psychological research on MOO interaction (Sherry Turkle of MIT). HIGH WIRED is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press in early 1997. With the generous help of our fellow MOO administrators and book contributors, Lingua MOO is now situated on the cusp of leading theory in the use of educational MOOs and within a context of historical practice in the MOO world. We hope all guests and residents of Lingua MOO benefit from these contextual seams, and we trust that the contexts for Lingua are visible in the way we have woven them into the infrastructure of the MOO.

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