Clark Aldrich and Collaborative Learning

Here is a brief bit on collaborative learning. I think I am missing Aldrich’s thoughts on the roll of the instructor, but this is what I have done at 11pm. This practice of posting sections each night has bene highly motivating, but I still can’t escape the feeling that everything I’m doing is rushed. Anyway…

Though Aldrich (2005) quotes Will Wright as saying that “getting people to engage other people with what they learned is critical” (p. xxxii), Aldrich himself was unconvinced of the value in multiplayer games and simulations. In terms of Role Paying Games in particular, Aldrich (2004) felt that role playing “is an incredibly high-pressure environment that forces traditional, not experimental behavior” (p. 87). He debated whether or not Virtual Leader should be an MMORPG, but concluded that there were several reasons not to follow a multiplayer design. “Role playing environments are highly public… [and] people in a role play don’t act ‘normally’” (p. 101). Similarly, “groups of people act differently from one another” (p. 101) and “real people act erratically” (p. 101). He later called online multiplayer games unpredictable (Aldrich, 2005, p. 68). Some of his objections are related to the logistical expense required for getting people together at the same time and in the same place (or virtual place), issues which are avoided by single player games (Aldrich, 2004, p. 101). Also unlike single player games, multiplayer games (and certainly massively multiplayer games, especially ones in which players are actually role-playing) do not allow for repeatability of scenarios (p. 101). At one point, Aldrich even poses the following question: “why are so many teachers and trainers obsessed with multi-player computer games, especially since most have never played them?”

Ironically, given his objections to MMORGPs, Aldrich (2005) advocates live role playing as powerful learning experiences (pp. 96-105). In this vision, a computer might be used simply to facilitate the use of rules in the game (pp. 96 and 104).

Thanks for reading.