Ana səhifə

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games as Constructivist Learning Environments

Yüklə 0.92 Mb.
ölçüsü0.92 Mb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   27


Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games

as Constructivist Learning Environments:

A Delphi Study
Mark Douglas Wagner

M.A., National University, 2000

B.S., California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, 1998

Proposal Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Technology

Walden University

August 2007


Formal k12 education remains much as it did a century ago, but in the era of the Internet, cell phones, and videogames, students have changed. Videogames and simulations, particularly massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) show great potential as engaging and motivating learning environments. However, despite a breadth of research about videogames and learning in general, the potential uses of MMORPGs in formal education are poorly understood. Therefore, this study aims to inquire into potential applications for MMORPGs as constructivist learning environments in formal k12 education , and to understand related benefits and drawbacks. This proposal is significant because it aims to explore a technology with the potential to improve (and perhaps revolutionize) education for 21st century students and educators. This study will employ the Delphi method of inquiry. A panel of experts will be asked to make predictions in response to multiple iterations of a questionaire. The panel will consist of thirty to sixty adult experts drawn from the fields of educational technology and video game development, with a focus on those with constructivist philosophies and those with experience in digital game-based learning. Both industry professionals and academics will be represented in the population. After each iteration of the questionairre, responses will be coded and analyzed by the researcher. Following iterations will be modified in light of these responses. Participants’ responses will also be anonymously shared with the other participants so they have an opportunity to alter their responses for the next iteration. The concensus of the panel’s predictions, and any outlying or dissenting perspectives, will be reported in the final dissertation.


Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games

as Constructivist Learning Environments:

A Delphi Study

Mark Douglas Wagner

M.A., National University, 2000

B.S., California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, 1998

Proposal Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Technology

Walden University

August 2007

CONTENTS (short)

CONTENTS (short) ii

Table of Figures viii









CONTENTS (short) ii

CONTENTS (short) ii ii

Table of Figures viii ii









Table of Figures viii

Figure 1: Flowchart for the Delphi Method (Joppe, n.d.) 355 viii



Context of The Study 1

Background 2

Problem Statement 8

Professional Significance of the Problem 9

Nature of The Study 11

Research Questions 12

Delimitations 15

Definitions 16

Organization of The Proposal 28

Conclusion 29



The Search Process 32

Video Games as Constructivist Learning Environments 34

Constructivism 34

The Core Constructivist Belief 34

Corollary Constructivist Beliefs 36

Constructivist Learning Environments 39

Motivation and Engagement 40

Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants 41

Hard Fun 42

The Value of Play 44

Intentional versus Incidental Learning 46

Games Are No Panacea 47

Context-Embedded Learning 48

Learning By Doing 48

Flow 56

Microworlds 57

Transfer 63

Situated and Distributed Understanding 65

Identity 67

Role Playing 69

Inquiry-Driven Learning 74

Active Learning 75

Asking Questions 77

Discovery Learning 78

Problem Solving 80

Self Regulation 82

Individualized Learning 84

Gateway Learning 87

Islands of Expertise 89

Relevance 90

Creativity 91

Socially Negotiated Learning 93

Experience is Social 93

Social Negotiated Meaning Making 96

Development is Social 97

The Zone of Proximal Development 99

Scaffolding 104

Culture Impacts Development 106

Communication effects Development 109

Cooperation and Collaboration 109

Transfer 115

Social Relevance 116

Video Games are Social 118

MMORPGs are Social 120

Role-Playing and Meaning Making 125

Reflection 129

Supporting Reflection 130

Reflection on Experience 131

Metacognition 132

Reflection and Social Change 134

Reflection and MMORPGs 135

Reflection and Organizational Change 136

21st Century Skills 138

Digital Age Literacies 140

Inventive Thinking 145

Effective Communication 152

High Productivity 154

The Role of The Teacher 155

Planning 157

Designing Learning Environments 158

Positive Support 162

Knowledge of Subject Matter (and Pedagogy) 163

Coaching 164

Providing Guidance and Leadership 166

Assessment 167

Helping Students Become Their Own Teachers 168

A Higher Calling 168

Trying Games Themselves 170

Social Change 172

Dewey 172

Vygotsky 174

Bruner 175

Shaffer 177

Squire, Steinkuehler, and Others 179


Conclusion 182

Implementation of Video Games in Education 183

Video Games in Education 183

Edutainment 184

Web-Based Games 184

Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Games 185

Modifying Games 188

Games for Education 189

Serious Games 190

Games for Change 191

Games for Health 192

Creating Games 193

MMORPGs in Education 196

Video Game Design 196

What Players Want And Expect 200

Elements of Gameplay 202

Unique Elements of Electronic Games 207

Systems Content and Simulation 207

Software Agents and AI 211

Non-Linear Storytelling 213

Electronic Game Design Considerations 215

The Metagame 218

Inclusive Game Design 220

Females and Video Games 220

Female Characters and Avatars 224

Conflict Resolution, Learning, and Communication Styles 225

Females and Reward Systems 228

Gender and Stimulation Physiology 230

Microworlds, Role Playing, and Storytelling 232

Individually Inclusive Design 234

Creating Emotion in Games 237

Storytelling in Games 239

Emotioneering 244

Role Playing 247

Conclusion 257

Organizational Change 259

Facilitating Organizational Change 260

Respect the Realities of Change 260

Establish Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals 265

Focus on What’s Important 269

Use Systems Thinking 273

Support Personal Learning 275

Support Collaborative Learning 277

Develop Leadership 280

Develop Teaching 288

Overcoming Organizational Resistance 291

Respect Resistance 292

Remember Psychological Factors 295

Respond to Obstacles, Challenges, and Barriers 299

Develop Learning 302

Sustain The Process 306

Organizational Change and Society 316

Include Family and Community 316

Effect Positive Social Change 320

Conclusion 324

Call For Research 326

Summary of Previous Research and Relationship to This Study 326

Potential Benefits of MMORPGs and Need for This Study 329

Conclusion 330



Purpose of The Research 332

Theoretical Framework 335

Research Design 337

Qualitative Research 338

The Delphi Method 340

Overview 341

History 344

Process 346

Strengths 356

Concerns and Criticisms 359

Definition: Expert 362

Definition: Consensus 366

Research Questions and Subquestions 368

Role of the Researcher 371

Participants 374

Measures For Ethical Protection of The Participants 376

Data Collection Process 380

Data Analysis Process 383

Validity and Reliability 386

Exploratory Study 392

Conclusion 394



Table of Figures

Figure 1: Flowchart for the Delphi Method (Joppe, n.d.) 355

This first chapter of the proposal introduces the question of whether or not massively multiplayer online role-playing games have potential as constructivist learning environments. Background information is provided, and the nature of the proposed Delphi study is explained, as are delimitations of the study. In addition new, ambiguous, or special terms are defined, and the organization of this proposal (and eventual dissertation) is established.
Context of The Study
Formal k12 education remains much as it did a century ago, but in the era of the Internet, cell phones, and videogames, students have changed. Videogames and simulations, particularly massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) show a good deal of potential as engaging and motivating learning environments. However, despite a breadth of research about videogames and learning in general, the potential uses of MMORPGs in formal education are poorly understood. This study aims to inquire into potential applications for MMORPGs as constructivist learning environments in formal k12 education, and to understand the potential benefits and drawbacks of such applications. A brief description of the background supporting this study, an articulation of the problem statement, and an explanation of the significance of the study follow.

Nearly a century ago Dewey (1915, 1916, 1938) laid out a progressive new approach to education. He called for schools to break away from the traditional medieval model of education in which teachers handed down pre-defined knowledge to relatively passive students. He believed that experience is the best education and created a system of education that would focus instead on learning-by-doing. Today, many young people learn by doing in a virtual context while using computer-based simulations – or even video games meant for entertainment purposes.

If Dewey believed that all education is experience, then Vygotsky (1978, 1986, 1997) believed that all experience is social. It follows that all education is social. Furthermore Vygotsky believed that all human development (even human thought) is social. He introduced the concept of the zone of proximal development (the ZPD), which is now familiar to educators world wide. This concept suggests that a student can perform more sophisticated tasks with help than they can unassisted. Based on this paradigm, educators can provide support, or scaffolding, for students to help them improve their unassisted performance. Ideally, educational tasks will fall within the ZPD and so provide a challenge without totally frustrating a student. Good video games excel at challenging players without frustrating them; a video game cannot be successful without doing this in an individual and differentiated way for each player. What happens instantaneously in a video game is difficult for teachers to reproduce in a classroom environment, even with considerable preparation, planning, and skill.

Piaget (1929, 1950, 1952) introduced the formal constructivist concepts of assimilation and accommodation, which describe the way in which a student constructs his or her own meaning as they experience the world. This philosophy is in keeping with Dewey’s focus on learning by doing and Vygotsky’s focus on social learning (particularly in Piaget’s later work). Piaget’s student, Papert (1980, 1993, 1996) applied these concepts to his work with children and computers. He believed that if a student can use a computer, they should be able to program the computer. The children’s programming language Logo was the result of his work. Using Logo students could actually create their own video games, Papert came to believe that if students can play video games, they should be able to program video games.

Bruner (1966, 1971, 1986, 1990, 1996) built upon the constructivist philosophies of Dewey, Vygotsky, and Piaget as he explored the process and the culture of education. Like Papert, other educational technologists, such as Jonassen (1992. 1999, 2000, 2003) applied these mature theories of social constructivism to the implementation of educational technologies. Jonassen focused on the use of technology to support intentional rather than incidental learning. While there is now little disagreement that a good deal of incidental learning takes places in video games (after all, this is what people presuming takes place when they fear that video games will make children more violent), it may also be possible to harness the technologies of video games for purposes of intentional learning in formal k12 educational institutions, just as Jonassen harnessed the incidental learning that happens when browsing the web for intentional purposes.

This approach may border on being necessary to engage and motivate 21st century students. Prensky (2001b) introduced the metaphor of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, in which students who have grown up in a time of cell phones, email, instant messaging, ubiquitous Internet access, and –of course – video games are considered Digital Natives who speak “digital” fluently. People who were born before these technologies were invented (including most educators) are then Digital Immigrants who must learn to speak “digital” as a second language. Digital Natives expect to be engaged and motivated and they expect individualized and differentiated attention. Video games can provide this for them as entertainment, and they may be able to provide this for educational purposes as well.

Though constructivist pedagogy may arguably be a better way to teach the traditional curriculum, and though video games may be helpful tools in this task, society is now changing so quickly that entirely new skills may be required for students to be successful in the 21st century. The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory or NCREL (2003) has identified a number of 21st century skills that schools should aim to develop in students. These are categorized into digital age literacies, inventive thinking, high productivity, and effective communication. Digital age literacies include not only basic, scientific, and economic literacy, but also technological, visual, information, and multicultural literacy. Inventive thinking includes not only adaptability, managing complexity, and self-direction, but also curiosity, creativity, and risk-taking. Effective communication includes elements you might expect, such as collaboration, interpersonal skills, and interactive communication, but it also includes ethical elements such as personal, social, and civic responsibility. High productivity, of course, includes prioritizing, planning, and managing for results as well as the effective use of real-world tools. Some of these skills, such as multicultural literacy, risk-taking, social responsibility, and the effective use of real-world tools can be difficult to teach in a traditional classroom environment. However, the medium of video games may provide a new way for students to develop these skills. Video games require and encourage risk taking, and a virtual world could help students learn about other cultures – and about ethics and responsibility.

A good deal has already been written on the use of video games in education. Prensky (2001, 2006) showed how video games are being used for training purposes in the military and corporate world, and he explained to teachers and parents what students can learn from various genres of video games. Gee (2003, 2004, 2005), a linguist and cognitive scientist explored 36 principles of learning that good games embody that many classrooms do not. He also discussed ways in which video games might be better for student’s academic performance than traditional teaching methods. Aldrich (2004, 2005) focused on the educational benefits of simulations, and even created a simulation to help players develop a traditionally difficult to teach soft skill, leadership. Shaffer (2006), like Gee, was interested in using games and simulations to help students develop new identities, particularly professional identities that include innovative ways of thinking. Other dissertations have also been dedicated to exploring the effectiveness of learning in video games. Squire (2003) researched the use of Civilization III with high school students, and Steinkuehler (2004) explored the learning by apprenticeship that happens in MMORPGs. Others have written about games that are explicitly created for purposes other than entertainment. Michael and Chen (2006) discussed games meant to educate, train, or inform. Such “serious games” include games for change such as the World Food Program’s Food Force and Impact Games’ Peacemaker, which hint the power of video games to not only educate, but to effect positive social change of the sort Dewey and other early constructivists sought.

If this promise is to be realized, then educators and video game designers will need to collaborate to create such games. Luckily, some video game designers have already addressed relevant issues. Rouse’s (2005) list of things players want and expect looks a good deal like what students might want and expect from the ideal constructivist classroom. Graner Ray (2004) has already addressed issues of gender inclusive game design, which will be important for any educational game designers, and Freeman (2004) has already explored ways to include a wider variety of human experience and emotion in video games. Designers of educational video games can also look to the tradition of tabletop role-playing games as they aim to create games in which students take on new roles and develop new identities. Mackay’s (2001) efforts at establishing a critical academic discourse about tabletop role-playing games may prove valuable in this regard.

Finally, if such games are going to be designed and implemented in education, then a good deal of organizational change will be necessary in traditional institutions of learning. Again, a rich body of literature already exists on this subject. Educators can look to the work of Senge (1990, 1994, 1999, 2000), who proposes the use of systems thinking and to school change experts, such as Evans (1996), who focuses on the human side of school change. Others such as Fullan (1993, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005) have provided a good deal of material meant to guide leaders through organizational change in education. The DuFours (1998, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006) and others have worked to create professional learning communities in schools in order to help make such change possible and sustainable. Establishing a professional learning community might be considered a pre-requisite for educational change as significant as the integration of video games on a scale larger than early adopters and pioneering teachers.

In short, four pillars of theory support this study. These are constructivist learning theory, digital game-based learning theory, video game design theory, and organizational change theory. The primary underlying theory of learning supporting this study is constructivism, as typified by the works of Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner. In addition the theories of constructivist educational technologists such as Papert and Jonassen form a foundation for this inquiry. Existing digital game-based learning theories have also been influential in the development of the research problem, including those of Prenksy, Gee, Aldrich, Schaffer, Squire, Steinkueler, Yee, Beck and Wade, Michael and Chen, and others. Video game design theories of Salen and Zimmerman, Rouse, Koster, Wolf and Patterson, Cassell and Jenkins, Graner Ray, Freeman, Mackay, and others have also played a role. Finally, organizational change theory is important for the application of this study in educational institutions. The works of Senge, Evans, and Fullan have been influential as have the professional learning community theories of DuFour and DuFour, Wald and Castelberry, Huffman and Hipp, Roberts and Pruitt, Hord, Stone and Cuper, and Kaagan.
Problem Statement

Based on the background information above and the literature reviewed in chapter two it seems that massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) may be a genre of video games with a great deal of potential as constructivist learning environments. In addition, they provide a persistent-world, which could be used to facilitate on-demand and just-in-time learning, thus helping to meet the needs of Digital Native students. The persistent worlds of MMORPGs are also designed to be immersive, which may not only be engaging and motivating, but also may provide a context for learning. These virtual worlds tend to be open-ended, which may also provide students opportunities for individualized and differentiated opportunities for inquiry within the game. Also, of course, a massively multiplayer game is massively social, providing a rich environment for collaboration and socially-negotiated learning. At their best, such games also encourage meaningful role-playing, which may be useful for helping students to explore and develop new identities. Finally, MMORPGs may also be a virtual environment in which students can learn difficult to teach real-world skills such as leadership and other 21st century skills, including risk taking.

However, with the notable exception of Steinkuehler (2004a, 2004b, 2005a, 2005b), who investigated the sort or informal apprenticeship learning that takes place in MMORPGs, there is a significant gap in the literature regarding learning and MMORPGs. Other video game theorists, including Prensky (2001, 2006) and Aldrich (2004, 2005) discuss MMORPGs as a learning platform, but only briefly, and when they do, they disagree about the value of the games for learning.

Therefore, this study aims to explore the potential of massively multiplayer online role-playing games as constructivist learning environments, with a particular focus on formal k12 education. The study is thus guided by two overarching questions:

  1. What are the potential benefits of using MMORPGs as constructivist learning environments in formal k12 education?

  2. What are the potential problems related to using MMORPGs as constructivist learning environments in formal k12 education?

As an exploratory study, the following research will also include an investigation of related issues, including the sorts of video game design and organizational change that will be necessary to make implementation of MMORPGs in education a reality. See the section on the nature of the study below for additional research questions, hypotheses, and objectives. Chapter three then offers an in depth discussion of the method proposed for this study.
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   27

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2016
rəhbərliyinə müraciət