Wading Through the MUD:

The Process of Becoming M** Literate

When and where can we start learning how to teach in the M**?

So as our exploration continues, we keep in mind that at first, MOOing is not easy, but if we stick with it, if we devote the same amount of time and attention to it as we have to acquiring all of our teaching skills, we will find that M** space may be the best class space we've ever inhabited. We must be patient and persistent as we develop our own skills and comfort levels here, because in a few short months, we will expect our students to go through the same newbie phase that we are experiencing now, and we must remember to support them fully.

Perhaps the best way to learn how to MOO, which is also the best way to learn how to teach in general, is with a mentor, some fellow teacher with experience and patience who can help us, as newbies, to wade through the mud. If we belong to professional communities, particularly electronic communities like listservs where we have established a rapport with colleagues, we may be able to find mentors there. Or when we log on to a professional M** meeting, we may stay on after the formalities have ended and find mentors there. As Amy Bruckman reminds us,

In a MUD, you are never alone. If you have a technical problem, there are other people there to help you. Helping others is a central activity in MUD culture; it is a basis on which strong friendships are formed. People often speak warmly of those who helped them through technical difficulties." (1994)
Finally, we must remember that before meeting other users, new users--both teachers and students alike--who log onto a MOO are welcomed with screens filled with helpful text, and unfortunately for most of us who have not invested in a user-friendly client software package, those instructions fly by, leaving us baffled, staring at a flashing cursor at the bottom of the screen. Many of the help sheets give brief explanations of the common commands, but usually end up by stating that M**s are better experienced in practice than explained in theory. And while this is certainly true, it may help us newbies to keep a written reference (like this article, printed out, for instance) handy when we first venture into the MUD, and it certainly helps our students if we are prepared with these materials, and prepared to give them actual support as they venture forth into M** space under our direction. So we should remember, as newbies and as teachers, that it takes a considerable amount of time, patience, practice, and support to learn how to teach in the MOO.

Summary of Our Steps to Becoming M** Literate

  1. Read: Read online articles, transcripts of past M** sessions, print journal articles, and any documentation we can find. Log on to M**s during off-hours, when it's quiet, so we can look around and read online help files and get comfortable there.
  2. Practice: Attend as many M** sessions as we possibly can. Learn differences between each M** and attend where we feel most comfortable. Plan to attend when "veteran" characters will be there. (After a few sessions, some of the folks become familiar to us in this small world.)
  3. Patience: Take our time learning about communicating, about moving around, about exploring, about programming, about building. Some veterans have been MOOing for five years and are still learning new programming techniques from each other. Learning here is like learning anywhere else; it is ongoing.
  4. Mentors: Hook up with characters who offer to help us. Arrange to meet them "after hours" when meetings have ended and we want to learn more. Veterans are usually friendly, and extremely helpful to us newbies.

Brief List of Educational Teaching/Writing M** Spaces for Practice

Professional Meetings and/or Teaching

Web Site
DaMOO is a very user-friendly, educational MOO devoted to the notion that online education is the place to be. Users are invited to explore the possibilities the MOO has to offer researchers, educators, and students. DaMOO participants are encouraged to create new places and objects for others to encounter and enjoy. Each new area, conceptualized as planets, will spiral out, adding new dimensions and possiblities with its own theme and purpose. Teachers may bring classes to this MOO. Newbies may customize their guest character with their own names, but may also request characters while online, and await passwords via email.

C-FEST at LinguaMoo
Web Site
lingua.utdallas.edu 8888
Monthly (sometimes more frequently, sometimes less) meetings of writing teachers, graduate students, and other professionals, who gather to discuss issues, hold conferences, or to celebrate events that are usually announced in advance over many rhetoric/writing listservs. Recent events included a discussion of Webfolios, and a Poetry Festival. Teachers may bring classes to this MOO, but should schedule these in advance with the wizards to avoid overcrowding. Users must request characters by completing an online application and awaiting passwords via email.

Netoric's Tuesday Cafe at MediaMoo
Web Site
purple-crayon.media.mit.edu 8888
Weekly Tuesday evening gatherings of writing teachers, graduate students, and media researchers who meet to discuss topics that are also announced in advance over listservs. Recent discussion topics include Web Publishing and MOO in the secondary schools. This space also hosts the Computers and Writing Teaching Assistants (CWTA) meetings and numerous other media research projects. Teachers may meet one another here, as well as meet researchers, but may not bring classes to this MOO. Users must request characters by completing an online application and await passwords via email.

Teaching Spaces

AcademICK (Interactive Center for Knowledge)
Web Site
auden.fac.utexas.edu 7777
This is a classical studies teaching MUSH at the University of Texas that allows teachers to demonstrate culture and discourse in a virtual representation of specific time period rooms. Users may log on and create characters instantly, with no applications or waiting.

Athena or Virtual Online University (VOU)
Web Site
athena.edu 8888
This is a virtual university, designed as around a central hub, with spokes leading to each of the traditional colleges. Entire programs of study are offered here by professors from nearly every discipline, especially writing. Users must request characters by completing an online application and await passwords via email.

Daedalus Moo
Web Site
logos.daedalus.com 7777
This MOO is maintained by the programmers of Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment software, and designed to allow instructors who use that software in class a realtime forum. This one has extensive (and very helpful for teachers) documentation available on the Web. The MOO is also available for exploration by other writing teachers who have not purchased DIWE, and who may request a temporary character while they preview the environment.

Diversity University
Web Site 8888
Diversity University (DU) is a MOO-based cyberspace platform for experimentation with new and innovative approaches to learning. It is populated by educators and students from all over the world and its environment includes many educational models ranging from traditional to constructivist. Teachers may bring their classes here freely. Users must request characters by completing an online application and await passwords via email.

Newbies may join a MOO listserv called moo-ed@ucet.ufl.edu by sending email to majordomo@ucet.ufl.edu, leaving the subject line blank, and filling the first line with: subscribe moo-ed email address.


Bartorillo, Cindy. "Summary of Manipulation Commands." _MOO Quick Start_. http://www.missouri.edu:80/~moo/mooquick.html (May 8, 1996).

Bruckman, Amy. "Programming for Fun: Muds as a Context for Collaborative Learning." Presented at the National Educational Computing Conference in Boston, MA, June 1994. Available online as ftp://media.mit.edu/pub/asb/papers/necc94 (May 10, 1996).

Crump, Eric and Rebecca Rickly. "It's Fun to Have Fun But You Have to Know How! or, How Cavorting on the Net Will Save the Academy *" _Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine_. Volume 2, Number 1, January 1, 1995.

Evard, Remy. "Collaborative Networked Communication: MUDs as Systems Tools." Proceedings of the Seventh Systems Administration Conference (LISA VII), pages 1-8, November 1993, Monterey, CA. http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/remy/documents/cncmast.html (May 10, 1996).

Fanderclai, Tari. "MUDs in Education: New Environments, New Pedagogies." 1995. http://sensemedia.net/sprawl/16880 (May 25, 1996).

Oughton, John. "Genderbending on the MUSH." _All About MUDs_ 1993. http://www.oise.on.ca/~jnolan/muds/about_muds/ours/john1(May 10, 1996)

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Last Update: June 8, 1996 by Claudine Keenan
Send any comments to cgk4@psu.edu