Students' Opinions about MUD-MOO
and Its Educational Features

The MOO was introduced to students as part of a course dealing with the possibilities computer networks have for education. After they experienced the touring and the building process, some of the students wrote me letters conveying their thoughts, which I sum up below with my emphasis:

Personal Feelings

The Experience of Building

Rachel Barak wrote: "At last we finished to build 6 rooms, to put objects and robots in each room. after all it wasn't so bad, and sometimes I enjoied it very much. Like evrything The start was dificult.... but very soon we have found the way, though there is still a lot to learn."

Jay wrote: "My own very limited experience in mapping out our rooms in Jerusalem and defining the various objects has definitely been an educational experience, though of course I'm far from sure that what I learned through this process has any bearing on any life experiences I might have outside of the MUD.""

Zvia Lotan wrote: "As creators, our team spent a lot of hours in planning concepts about Jerusalem and translating it into rooms, exits and objects so other could "smell, listen and see"... I myself did not feel that enthusiasm, however Ido believe in MOO's educational potential."

The MOO's Features as a Learning Environment

Alona Baruch wrote: "The educational effect of a MOO can be amazing: the main issue, though it's a kind of a game, is not winning or loosing, but the effect while being in a MOO. The possibilities can be divided into three groups:

Sari Rechav and Sarit Assaf wrote: "During the course we were exposed to the MUD for the first time. We found several interesting points worthy of attention: This is a tool for the development of creativity--the student can combine within the process of learning.
Such learning can be interesting and varied. The student becomes an investigator instead of being a passive absorber. For instance: we think a student would find having to decipher a riddle [script] by finding hints inside rooms filled with details more interesting than a verbal lesson in class.
The teacher, in our opinion should be aware of a number of important aspects : First, during the "game", a digression from the topic studied may take place, with a transition to a general conversation. Also an addiction to the "game" may occur / take place , leading to a cut off the environment and to a neglect of other obligatory activities. "

The MOO Needs a New Pedagogical Treatment

Jay wrote: "When I start to examine the educational value of MOOs I choose to assume that those MOOs won't be used in a school setting, but rather that children will be exposed to them in some more neutral atmosphere and that they will examine them freely. Within a classroom setting the same MOOs that may have been highly educational for children who found them on their own might very likely be perceived as nothing more than another educational tool for the promotion of boredom."

Alona Baruch wrote: "The MOO is not simply another means of exploring an issue. It is a totaly different invironment. Therefore, studying in a MOO is a different kind of studying: It forces the learner to be active in order to learn, to analize the material and build in anew into something meaningful. All this happens in an authentic interactive surrounding (Vygodsky)."

About the Text-Based Feature

Sari Rechav and Sarit Assaf wrote: "..This tool is textual -which would also develop the child's abstract imagination , through the need "to see" non-concrete thing. "

Jay wrote: "In this particular case I get the feeling that being text-based, which I often identify as a benefit because it allows a free flowing of imagination, can actually be a drawback. Though being text-based leaves a great deal to the imagination, if I want to learn about Ancient Egypt in a computer-based simulation it seems as though being able to see lots of graphics, to hear sounds, and to actually feel as though "you are there" is a definite benefit. Most of us would agree that a field trip to Egypt would be at least as worthwhile as reading a textbook, even though the educator in each of us for some reason demands that at least a minimum of actual "studying" be done before getting on the bus. Thus, if we're dealing with new subject matter for which actual physical evidence is possible, it seems to me that being text-based isn't much of an advantage. Being text-based can be an advantage, once again, when we're dealing with simulations that allow the imagination to flow. Here the question of "moderation" comes into play. Students who are new to a subject can sometimes be too free with their imaginations, and even I have to admit that even a very good thing can sometimes be misplaced. Though playing around with the historical evidence and facts can be a wonderful thought experiment, and is even desirable as a means of gaining an in depth understanding of the significance of historical events, I wouldn't suggest utilizing such playing around until at least a basic level of knowledge has been achieved. I understand that this is the task of the moderator who sees to it that certain ground rules are maintained within the MUD, and it's clear to me that moderation of this sort is mandatory, even though I might prefer to let the imagination flow."

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