Just wanted to share a project that is currently underway with the group and provide some follow-up resources/links from the interview that Peggy Sheehy and I did with Steve Hargadon a couple of weeks ago.
Last year, we introduced the WoWinSchool Program
in Pender County Schools (North Carolina) and in the Ramapo Central School District (New York). This program revolved around the use of the popular massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game, World of Warcraft
, in a school setting. We began with an after-school program primarily targeted to middle schoolers who were academically or behaviorally "at-risk," and designed to support their social development, literacy, leadership, and a variety of 21st-Century skills. Our first year was a huge success and largely an experimental year.
This year, we're taking the project to the next level. In Pender County Schools, we'll be offering a language arts elective called WoWinSchool: The Hero's Journey. This course will be a blended environment, designed entirely in Moodle, and designed to support 8th graders' language arts learning. it will be aligned to the national common core standards and will be designed as a year-long course.
During the course, students will create their own "hero" in World of Warcraft and set off on a journey through the world of Azeroth, as they embark on a variety of quests and work cooperatively to accomplish not only course goals but their own goals in the virtual world. Parallel to that, they'll be reading a fictional novel (The Hobbit, in our case), and making reflective comparisons between their reading, their experiences in-game, and their own real-world experiences.
There will be a heavy emphasis on reflective and creative writing throughout the course, with students regularly writing in a "Hero's Journal" as well as "Tavern Talks" which take place in the course forums. A number of projects will also be involved ranging from Tweeting from their character's point-of-view to creating game-based machinima (videos) to tell a story.
This course is also providing us the opportunity to experiment with other ideas we've wanted to see implemented in classrooms. For example, instead of a standard grading system, our students will earn Experience Points for completing the course challenges. As they gain points, they'll "level-up" in rank. This course will also provide a mastery learning environment. If a student is not satisfied with the number of experience points they earn, they can re-submit assignments for additional points.
Our hope is to be able to provide this entire course for download to any interested community members who might wish to implement it in their own school. Of course, we're also looking to bring more students in other schools on board as well.
So, here is my open invitation to anyone who is passionate about gaming and wants an opportunity to contribute to a project that involves integrating games into the classroom. If you are interested or want to know more, feel free to contact me.
Of course, I'll be sharing my own reflections on the experience on my blog, Edurealms.com
and you can find lessons, supporting research, logistical information, costs, and more on the project wiki - wowinschool.pbworks.com
This will be an exciting year!