Massively Multiplayer Schools (NECC Submission)

Finally, here is the fifth of five submissions I made for NECC 2008. This is also a presentation I’ve never done, though I’ve submitted it once already… it’s the second time I’ve submitted to present my dissertation, which I hope to complete by the time my baby is born in February. (I also submitted this for the 2008 CUE Conference, though it seems I didn’t post about it here.) This one for NECC will really mean something, though, if I get it. I submitted it as an academic paper and it will undergo double blind peer review. :)

I hope I’ll get to give the talk, and I hope some of you will get to join me. In the meantime, let me know what you think of this approach to sharing it.


Massively Multiplayer Schools: Do MMORPGs Have a Future in Education?


Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games are engaging and motivating. Can they also support context-embedded, inquiry-driven, and socially negotiated learning – while encouraging reflection and metacognition?


Formal K12 education remains much as it did a century ago, but in the era of the Internet, cell phones, and videogames, students have changed. Videogames and simulations show potential as engaging and motivating learning environments. MMORPGs in particular have social and cooperative elements that might be valuable for educational purposes. However, despite a breadth of research about videogames and learning in general, the potential uses of MMORPGs in formal education are poorly understood. Therefore, this study aims to inquire into potential applications for MMORPGs as constructivist learning environments in formal K12 education , and to understand related benefits and drawbacks. Two pillars of theory support this study: constructivist learning theory and digital game-based learning theory. The study will employ a grounded theory paradigm of qualitative research and the Delphi method of inquiry. The expert panel will consist of 12 to 24 adult experts drawn from the field of videogames and learning. Both industry professionals and academics will be represented in the population. The concensus of the panel’s predictions, and any outlying or dissenting perspectives, will be reported in the final paper.

There isn’t really an outline for this type of session, and I don’t want to post the entire length of the submission here, so please check out the complete archive of the submission if you are interested:

Massively Multiplayer Schools (NECC 2008 Submission)

As always, I’d be thrilled to receive any feedback on this. Please leave a comment.

2 Responses to “Massively Multiplayer Schools (NECC Submission)”

  1. Marie Sontag Says:

    Mark – I’ve been reading some of your blog info. regarding your dissertation for awhile. I just completed my dissertation and oral defense with Capella University, and, although my total focus was not on gaming, it did include a gaming element.

    The questions you ask, “Can MMORPGs support context-embedded, inquiry-driven, and socially negotiated learning – while encouraging reflection and metacognition?” are good questions, and I’m curious how your expert panel will help to answer these. As educators who seem to instinctively see a value to incorporating a gamiing experience into our curriculum, I think we need to definitely try to also figure out more quantitative ways to measure their added-value as well.

    A question I have for you is whether or not you have a position regarding Thornburg’s position outlined in his Fall 07 issue of OneCue regarding there not really being a divide between the digital natives and digital immigrants. I have a blog on this at What are your thoughts?

    Marie Sontag

  2. Tom Banaszewski Says:

    Hi Mark,

    Found your blog at a very fitting time. I’m starting to apply some research around gaming in education with middle school students. Like Marie, my thesis wasn’t focused on gaming. But I saw its potential in helping students develop their storytelling skills. Ian Bogost (chaired my thesis on digital storytelling in Gr. 4-12) and folks at Georgia Tech have been doing some great work in developing socially responsible games or Persuasive Games as he terms them. Have you checked out his stuff? While not aimed at students, it does address your question of can games get kids to think deeply about a topic instead of just running around blowing things up and trying to get the highest score.

    Did you read David Williamson Shaffer’s How Computer Games Help Children Learn during your lit review? I got some good stuff out of it. Very different from Prensky but still had lots of case study type examples of games used in educational settings.

    Just found GameBrix – the other day. Have you used this?

    If you need any students to gather some data for your research let me know, I’d be happy to help.

    Looking forward to talking more about your work,