The Conclusion

As has begun to emerge from the prior interactions and commentaries, teaching in MOOspace is a very different activity from classroom-based teaching, regardless of potential superficial similarities. The following represents a kind of "checklist" for the issues that have been raised here as well as an indication of those areas our community needs to pursue.

MOO Classrooms
While you may well create your MOO classroom to look and behave as a traditional classroom, the characters of the two spaces are radically different. MOO space is messy, active, seemingly chaotic, and dynamic, and you need to develop a heuristic that will make the best use of those attributes and not try to suppress them.

MOOs demand a more fluid pedagogy and syllabus than do traditional teaching spaces because of the greater degree of spontaneity that occurs in MOO classroom interactions. We need to create tight learning structures that lend themselves to a more dynamic interaction between the subject matter that we teach and their sequencing. Moreover, we need to develop even more active, student-centered pedagogies than ever--silent, sitting, well-behaved students taking notes on your lectures just won't fly in MOOspace.

Class Discussion
MOOs were designed for discussion and game and role-playing interactions and so are ideally suited for these kinds of activities. Moreover, students from widely disparate geographic areas can come together on a MOO, thus broadening student perspectives. With this greater diversity, conflicts will inevitably arise, and students can thus see more clearly than ever the social construction of knowledge in action.

Subject matter
Research skills, critical thinking skills, literature, and writing can all be taught in unique and exciting ways in MOOspace. As we saw, students can discuss and analyze MOO transcripts so that their own linguistic behaviors become the object of their study. Moreover, students can create their own "characters" on a MOO, the quintessential embodiment of ethos in action. Students can create web pages, share essays, and write stories in MOOspace as well. In all content areas, the students' own behaviors, interactions, text, and experience become the subject matter to investigate, thereby increasing metacognitive skills. Using student text as the sole object of investigation can, moreover, increase student "ownership" of their own learning.

Theoretical issues
MOOs provide a fecund ground for investigation of such issues as epistemology, social philosophy, psychology, gender, power, and class and race issues. Many studies are being done in these areas but our community needs to do far more. In addition to ethnographic and descriptive groundwork, we need to begin to pursue the theoretical issues that arise from our investigations, to begin to enunciate new theories of technorhetoric or further refine existing ones. What an exciting period to be teaching in!

So, come on. Let's go take a look at my classroom. It's easy. You have Netscape. All you have to do is click here or below. You will be instantaneously transported to the DU Web Gateway. Once inside the gateway, you can click on the English building on the map. Once there, walk down Composition Hall until you get to "Lasarenko's Learning Lab." That's it. Let's MOO!

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