Friday, April 03, 2009

Second Life vs World of Warcraft

There's been a lot of hubbub in the education community about Second Life. There are two camps who are very excited about it. One I kinda agree with, the other not at all.

The first camp is distance learning. I sort of agree, there's a great interview with Rebecca Nesson here: http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2007/05/teaching_in_sec.html. I see that it puts the distance learning model of online forums, and structured LiveMeeting / WebEx type web conference into a 3D MMORPG space. It eliminates some of the issues of text / bulletin board model, but I'm not sure if it is better than the hybrid forum + web conf model for certain content / classes. Be interesting to find out which one is better.

The second camp is the group who are trying to use SL as an educational gaming platform. That one I don't get. Most gamers I know don't play SL, this is evidenced by size of the user base, around half a million. World of Warcraft, on the other hand, has about 12 million. If educators are trying to use a platform that appeals gamers and kids, WoW is it. SL is much more generative than WoW, but I think why are we making something that most gamers and kids aren't interested in into an edutainment platform? Of course I have no idea whether Blizzard ever plan on opening up WoW to educational content, but it seems that the "tainment" part is pretty important if we want to keep the learners engaged.



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