A while back I completed a PhD in AIED - Artificial Intelligence in Education... helping learners to improve their self-assessment skills through chatting with their computer! More details on that at www.ai-research.org.uk/alicekerly and http://open.academia.edu/AliceKerly
It was great fun, and after some time working in technology and training I had a hankering for more academic challenge and followed the OU's MA in Online and Distance Education programme to gain a PG Cert.
Now that's done too, P2PU looks like a fascinating way for me to combine my enjoyment for learning, with a great personal participatory experiment in innovation in elearning - a field I'm passionate about.
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What made me interested in this topic?
I did my PhD in AI in Education - specifically using a chatbot (conversational agent) to allow the learner to negotiate with their teaching system about what they knew. It helped develop metacognitive skills which are important in becoming an independent learner. I knew people working on integrating chatbots into virtual environments, but never quite got to that stage myself, though the scope and opportunities are very exciting.
Since my PhD I've been able to dabble with virtual worlds at work a bit, with the intention of exploring their use for training and education purposes. I read some papers a couple of years ago, but my work role has changed meaning I don't get to do this stuff at the moment. I really want to know how things have moved on in the past couple of years and share that with a bunch of passionate people.
What do I hope to achieve by participating?
I'd like to experience a range of ways virtual worlds and games can be used in education scenarios. I haven't had the opportunity to see examples of such innovation and so am excited about that. I'd love to have some great examples I can use to inspire and enthuse other educators who might not have tried this out before.
I'm also interested in all sorts of educational technology innovation and have had MOOCs in my peripheral vision for about 18 months but not been able to take part. In my Open University modules blogging played a big part, and that shared learning experience was really valuable. I'd love to see how far the MOOC concept extends and develops some of the benefits I experienced there.
Am I interested in helping with the course organization?
Yes! It would be great to find out if there's something I can offer...
Do you think there is a difference between a virtual world and a MMORPG?
Yes, I think so, though I'm a bit hesitant in my answer, not having really ever experienced MMORPGs. I know of WoW, and I might be able to come up with a name of another, but that's not too promising. On the other hand I can name a fair few virtual worlds and synthetic environments.
My first reason for differentiating is based on the role playing aspect. I am assuming that the RPG of the MMORPG title indicates that you would always be role playing. Conversely I'd suggest that while you might role play in a virtual world, it's not a given - you might just as well be 'playing' yourself. If there are MMORPGs where you play yourself my argument would get fuzzy... I look forward to learning more!
I'd also look at the use of the term 'game' in the MMORPG title. Do games by necessity have aims and rules? If so, I'd say that virtual worlds differ in that (while users in them in a particular context might have or impose aims or rules) they generally promote more free exploration, without any particular set of objectives. Users might enter and user a virtual world for a whole range of reasons, and these may or may not include gaming.
Do you think most people would agree with you?
Most people? Most people I speak to don't know what a virtual world is! There are plenty who haven't heard of even the big names like Second Life. I would have thought the same applies to MMORPGS. Despite a fairly geeky background and job I still don't actually know anyone who uses both virtual worlds and MMORPGs (if indeed they are different).