Jonassen on MMORPGs in Education (well, on MUDs anyway)

I’m writing this afternoon, which should come as no surprise, and I’m still working on KAM II: Human Development, in which I focus on synthesizing a working theory of constructivist human development for application to the use of video games (particularly MMORPGs) in education. I started with the work of Piaget, then followed the theories of his student Seymour Papert, and finally picked up David H. Jonassen, a very blatantly constructivist – yet still very pragmatic – educational technologist.

In his 2002 Learning to Solve Problems with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective, Jonassen offered this compelling vision of MUDs in the classroom, a vision that applies as well or better to modern MMORGPs:

“Imagine, for instance, a MUD in which a student is placed on the main street in a small community in colonial America, with the option of entering stores, blacksmith shops, pubs, jails, homes, and other buildings of the period. Inside each building would be descriptions of the people and artifacts it contained. Students would make decisions and express their choices, to which the MUD’s characters and objects (and other students) would react. Imagine, too, that teachers and their classes could work together to develop new buildings. This option (which is often provided in MUDs) could be great incentive for research, collaboration, problem-solving, and other high-level activities.” (p. 104)

This sure sounds a whole lot like the Revolution project at the MIT Comparative Media Studies’ Education Arcade. In terms of user creation of the environment it also reminds me of Second Life, which now has a teen grid for 13-17 year olds, it turns out. Now if only they will extend their campus program for teachers and students to the teen grid. I’m working on it. ;)

At any rate, I thought it might be worth sharing here. ;)

Thanks for reading.