Nov 27

WoW in Science #gbl

wow_logo_velke-1 I’ve been using 3D GameLab (3DGL) to gamify my classes. It has been great! 3DGL was exactly what I needed to successfully gamify my classes after failing at my first attempts. I’ll be sharing more about how great it’s been in future posts. This post is to celebrate something I’ve been wanting to do forever and am finally doing: getting to use an actual commercial off-the-shelf (Cots) game with my Science classes! The game kids will be playing during Science is World of Warcraft (WoW), a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG). So with 3DGL I’ve successfully gamified my courses and by using WoW I am also making use of Game-Based Learning (gbl)!  Thanks to pioneers in this field Lucas Gillispie and Peggy Sheehy I have been inspired to bring WoW to my school. I began by running my ideas by my principal and getting his blessing before having gone any further. Once I got the go ahead I had to figure out how to bring game that costs money and has a monthly subscription fee to my school with no funds! For our purposes I decided to use the free starter edition version of WoW. It is limited in what students can do but for the activity I had in mind it would do. I created 30 email accounts that my students will be using so that it all goes through me (instead of letting students use their own accounts if they have them). I want to keep the school game playing separate from home game playing.

Here are my notes:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Days 7, 8, and 9
Days 10, 11, and 12
#GBL and WoW

Here’s what I emailed and shared with parents of my 8th grade Life Science students just today to prepare kids to start playing on Monday, Dec 2:

Hello 8th grade Families!

My two 8th grade classes will be doing something a little out of the ordinary in Science for a bunch of days in December. We are going to go to the computer lab and students will be asked to play a commercial game called World of Warcraft. I wanted to let you know about this so you know why I am asking 8th graders to do this. Since I’ve been gamifying my classes (see my blog for more info on this I’ve also looked for opportunities to incorporate Game-Based Learning (different from gamification) and World of Warcraft offers a unique opportunity. Yes, there will some playing of the actual game but there’s a reason and it leads to Science learning (so if your child does not like playing computer games just tell him or her to suffer through it until we get to the Science parts). Of my 120 students 84% consider themselves gamers and 50% of my students play games a lot. I can tap into that motivation to get more learning in my classes and that is my goal with this.

World of Warcraft has a very elaborate virtual world full of make believe plants and animals. That offers us a chance to work with plants and animals not found in our world so kids are not held back by their preconceived notions of how our world works. Kids come to school with preconceived notions of how things work, especially with regards to Science, and using virtual worlds and simulations allows for real discovery. Once kids play the game for a little while, reaching a level where we can all explore our environments safely, kids will begin classifying the living things in that virtual world. The goals is to determine a method for classification and then compare that to how scientists have been classifying living things here on our world. This will aid us in our work to determine how structure leads to function, specifically addressing this Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS):

Structure and Function
Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the relationships among its parts, therefore complex natural structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function. (MS-LS1-2)

So yes, it will be fun but will also lead to some great Scientific discovery. Learning new things is not always fun in school but if I can make some of our learning fun, I will. So if your child says he or she is playing games in school, this one time he or she is certainly correct. I hope that is okay with you. We won’t be doing this all the time or even a lot, and we will only play World of Warcraft in Science nine times that we will go to the computer lab in December so it will be a short excursion. Depending on how well this goes there may other games that we play in class to aid our Science exploration but they will not be World of Warcraft. I play World of Warcraft and my children have both played it. If you are considering letting your child play it at home be aware that it is pricey (and that includes a $16 monthly fee!), plus I would recommend monitoring your child’s play time because people from all over the world play it too.

When we play in class we will observe the following rules:
-Only use the class Science accounts.
-Use the class accounts only at school to create ONE character.
-Do not access the class accounts on! (If you or your child doesn’t know what this means, that is good. Don’t worry about it.)
-We will play the game until levels 10-12, after that we will begin the Scientific Classification assignment.
-We need to showcase what we learned.
-When we play the game, play appropriately for school (you are not playing at home).
-As always, game playing in Science is only allowed when it is a QUEST.
-We will work together in groups.
-There will be people on the World of Warcraft and regardless of what they do or say, we will be polite and respectful. We will model good, online behavior. (I will help monitor student online behavior here at school, with student help as we work on this together.)

As with everything I do I will trust my students to behave responsibly. As long as they do so then we can continue to have fun things like this Science.

In the end your child will have experiences in researching, presenting, creating, experimenting/doing labs, handling living things, and dissecting while using technology to do all of the above. I hope by offering as much as I can that all my students will have an opportunity to expand their Science knowledge.

Here’s how I presented this to students (includes the assignment):


Above WoW logo: Blizzard Entertainment® hereby grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable and non- assignable license to use and display, for home, noncommercial and personal use only, one copy of any material and/or software that you may download from this site, including, but not limited to, any files, codes, audio or images incorporated in or generated by the software (collectively the “Downloaded Content”) provided, however, that you must include or maintain all copyright and other notices contained or associated with such Downloaded Content.
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