Thanks to Wes for this opportunity. Thanks to students everywhere for this inspiration. Thanks to teachers and administrators for all you do.

Dear student,

Thank you for kicking off this series of letters. I must say you have given me pause for thought. However, your questions are really unsettling and puzzling to me. Your questions don’t have just one answer! Your questions can not be answered by me reading a book or an article. Your questions can NOT be googled. Your questions have to do with me collaborating with others and having conversations.

Hey student, will you show me, will you share with me?

I remember playing monopoly and someone, usually the banker held the money and the rules, well now think of monopoly as a 3D version with you trying to make money by buying up property and others trying to get around the board without landing on property with too many hotels, with helicopters zooming in with vacationing guests, travel agents bidding their clients to “stay on Boardwalk, it is the best” and you trying to watch behind your back for the next new guest, real estate broker, banker etc. who is sneaking up behind you! Monopoly could not be played in a hurried fashion. However in todays online games the pace is frenzied, hurried, yet the time flies by!

Different realms appear in online games,there are so many rules, rules, rules, there is NO WAY most of the players read many of the rules. If you don’t read the rules, then how do you play the game? Trial and error, collaborating with friends and enemies! Multi tasking, chatting, collaborating! Even if you read some of the rules there would be many exceptions and “cheats” to get by the roadblocks. If you read the rules you would never get to play the game.

So, what are you learning student? That although there are rules, and explanations about the games you are engaged in, the reading you do is not fill in the blank! There isn’t much that is static, there isn’t much that is historical about what you are playing. By this I mean, the games haven’t been around for a long time so you are constantly learning how to do things, new learning. However, it looks like to me that the most important things to do in these games is that you learn how to collaborate, chat with others, find the right time zone to enter the game and be aware!

Hey student, will you show me, will you share with me?

Blizzard Oates ,
avatar name in SL,
aka Cheryl Oakes

Here are some of the few resources I found about online gaming. Take a risk and read further.

Beth Ritter Guth, is a college professor who has designed her college literacy classes in Second Life. Read some of her students work, you will be amazed at the depth of their writing! Students here are NOT just writing for their teacher, they are writing for the world.

Ex Paine , is a secondary teacher, check out this site for great conversations about gaming, Second Life and how it all impacts education.

Teen Grid in Second Life, here are some resources for examining Second Life for a teen grid and how Teen Second Life could be used for educational purposes.

Here are fascinating essays on MMORPG’s and economics and education. There is even an online conference in fall 2007.

The reason the army has taken the challenge to develop one of the most popular online games is this is where they are spreading the word and marketing. Look at their success. Look at the changes they have made in the past FEW years. Has education even made a stab at these kinds of changes? Have you?

Beginners guide in World of Warcraft 2
. Teachers and administrators check out the reading level in this online manual. Check out the comprehension if you think these games are dumb. Better yet, read a few paragraphs and check your own comprehension. I don’t mean see if you can answer questions about your reading either. Go to the game and see how long you survive!

Or you can be like me and check out an easier version of an online game Webkinz.
When I was researching for this story my niece popped up online and asked if I wanted to play a game in Webkinz. She is 500 miles away, and I only see her a few times a year. However, through Webkinz I get to play games with her and watch her strategies grow and sometimes I even talk to her on the phone and she explains the games to me. She is 8 and I am 55. I am learning so much from her and I know I will be able to apply this to other games as I mature in my gaming “profession”. BTW, she beat me in the game! I, for one, am glad I have some summertime to perfect my game image. Now if I can only learn how to land gracefully in SL, I would meet my standard!

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2 Responses to Dear Student, (fill in your name)

  1. Tom Turner says:


    You bring up some great points about gaming in education. I’ve talked about my gaming experiences over at my Seeking the Wisdom of the Ages blog in the past. I can provide a summation real quick…I’ve been gaming since 1998, and we are talking the hardcore, powergaming variety where I spent 10 hours a night in front of a computer screen (sometimes multiple computer screens while playing several accounts at the same time). It is also funny that you mentioned the World of Warcraft beginner’s guide. As one of the original beta testers of the game, I didn’t have the luxury of having such an item. I can also say that 8 out of 10 gamers (young and old) will not read a guide. These are usually marketed towards the new to gaming type of players.

    With that said, there is definitely a market out there to use gaming in education. Sid Meier’s Gettysburg, or any RTS strategy game has a value in teaching history. The concept of learning the history, then trying to recreate it is a phenomenal idea. For the younger grades, using things like Ice Cream Truck, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Sim Theme Park (any Sims Genre game) teaches critical thinking skills on placement of vendors and park rides where they will generate the most money. Think of the math lesson that can be created in Roller Coaster Tycoon in trying to create a coaster that will generate enough speed to make a full 360 loop or to make it up an incline. Our students are already doing this at home, why not use it in the classroom?

  2. Cheryl Oakes says:

    Thanks Tom for you affirmations! I will be checking out your site and sending it on to others.
    I think in the primary grades we are doing an okay job of promoting the Sim games and the Lemonade game and even Cyberchase from PBS. However once students head to middle school, the games disappear from the classrooms. I will keep trying to engage more teachers so that they may engage more students. Thanks again for your comments!

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