more The Educational Potential of a MOO

MOOing is more than writing.

In the following page I am going to introduce the educational potential of a MOO that results in its being a dynamic database.

I define a MOO as a web of information items (rooms) which are linked to each other through exits. The fact that the founders of MUDs use the terms room and exit indicates its "gaming" roots and the tendency to use metaphors which relate the MOO to real life.

After discussing this approach with members of Grassroots MOO (a MOO that hosts my projects - telnet 8888) the terms spaces and ways were chosen as alternatives to rooms and exits. The term "space" emphasizes the flavor of an open and wide environment that allows the users to create various virtual forms. The term "ways" indicates the dynamic features of an environment which allows a wide range of linking possibilities as well as emphasizes the notion of touring.

I prefer to emphasize the knowledge creation process and not only the writing one. On this background I claim that:

A MOO is more than a social or literal activity.

This point of view is based on three assumptions:

The informative nature of cyberspace which has a logical existence independent from physical boundaries.
Constructionism as a cognitive theory (Papert) which claims that significant learning is achieved if based on a construction process.
The belief that some skills like mapping and linking are part of information literacy that should be imparted to students.

These three assumptions create a conceptual structure which fulfill the educational potential of a MOO. In order to broaden its educational prospects, I suggset treating a MOO as a database.

The history of integrating conventional databases in education indicates two strategies:

Let me relate these strategies to the educational use of a MOO, which in my opinion might be used in both strategies. In the first mode of inquiry, students might explore a space developed by experts, discover important details, experience attitudes through robot activation and/or touring the place in a certain role. In the second mode, the creative one, students build spaces through textual descriptions. The process of creation demands accumulation of information, classification and knowledge processing.

That is why we should consider the different educational possibilities that browsing/touring and planning/creating offer.

Click on the arrow to read how I implemented these ideas in a higher education course.
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