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World of Warcraft, MMORPGs in school

At Peggy Sheehy’s middle school in Suffern, N.Y., the introduction of World of Warcraft (WoW) is going like this: first it’s the focus of an after-school club, then “others joining us will be implementing it with the ‘at-risk’ student population [and] the ‘gifted’ student group,” followed by regular classes “for specific content-area projects,” Sheehy, a teacher and media specialist, said in an interview at WoW.com. As a high-level player of this multiplayer online game (or MMORPG) and guild founder herself, she’s been exploring what can be taught with the multiplayer online game because she has already done a lot of teaching of everything from literature to body image for a health class in and with the virtual world Teen Second Life, and she saw some new opportunities in WoW, for example the opportunity to increase student engagement by teaching within a graphically compelling virtual environment. When that happens, she says, even reading levels go up: “My kids, who are 13 years old, are reading on a sixth-grade or a fourth-grade level in school when tested, but … if you test them with the same methodology that you would test reading a John Steinbeck novel in school … on World of Warcraft content, all of a sudden their scores are higher.” Here’s a site, created by educators (a collaborative Web site called a “wiki,” as in Wikipedia.org), that’s dedicated to developing lesson plans and other instructional tools incorporating World of Warcraft – so far for teaching math, writing, social interaction, digital citizenship, online safety, and 21st-century skills. [See also “Play, Part 2: Violence in videogames” and “Homeschooling with World of Warcraft”, and “Can World of Warcraft make you smarter?” at MSNBC (for more on the body-image project, see Sheehy’s answer to Question No. 13 on this page at RezEd.org).]

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