EdTech 531

Edtech Courses | Ed 531

Teaching and Learning in Virtual Worlds 

The classroom has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades. Just think, students used to dread going to class. They hated sitting in rows, listening to lectures, writing papers, taking notes, quizzes, and tests. They used to believe that school was irrelevant, arbitrary, and just something they had to do. Most of our students would rather milk a goat than watch another history video. Good thing all of this has changed, right? But, sarcasm aside, the landscape of education is changing.

Our conception of educational spaces has changed radically over the last several decades. We have evolved our notions of where and how learning should occur. Experiences now trump text, authentic assessments over multiple-choice testing, and unique digital spaces for exploration over the traditional classroom built in factor rows.

In addition to classrooms as hubs of experience, virtual spaces serve learners in ways that the real world cannot. The laws of physics are bent, broken, or rewritten entirely. Vast and imaginary spaces can be constructed, stored digitally, and recalled on demand.  Participants can interact over immense distances and, with translation tools, communicate with foreign cultures. Education in virtual worlds shrinks the globe. This is what we will explore.

It is important for today’s teachers to understand and embrace current trends in the use of technology, video games, and social networking in a multitude of areas. Technology and its tools saturate every part of our modern culture. Social interaction is now largely mediated by electronic devices, entertainment can be delivered in. Weighs on countless tools, and more than ever a generation of students is growing up within an eight intelligence geared toward this technology. Students today have never known a world without the Internet, mobile phones, rich video games and their environments, or without more computing power in their pockets than were used in all of the Apollo missions. They are the digital generation

In practical terms, you create authentic projects that can be used in your teaching. You will demonstrate fulfillment of the above ideals by building documents and artifacts that could and will be used in your classroom.

Class Schedule

This course is one of the few in the Educational Technology program that has asynchronous, weekly meeting. These weekly meetings are not optional. They make up the largest portion of our curricular interaction and are central to experiencing and learning in and about virtual worlds for education. If you anticipate missing these synchronous class sessions, you should not take this course. Their other selections available to you that should prove valuable.

 Date  Activity  VW  Guests
 wk1  Tues. 8/26  Introduction to Virtual Worlds  Reaction Grid/Jibe
 wk2  Tues. 9/2  Constructing Worlds/Land Rush  Minecraft
 wk3  Tues. 9/9  Adventures  Minecraft
 wk4  Thurs. 9/18  Jamestown vs. Roanoke pt. 1  Minecraft
 wk5  Tues. 9/23  Jamestown vs. Roanoke pt. 2  Minecraft
 wk6  Tues. 9/30  Student Constructed Worlds  Minecraft  Lucas Gillispe
 wk7  Wed. 10/8  Boot Camp Basics  Second Life
 wk8  Wed. 10/15  Building  Second Life  Lisa Dawley
 wk9  Wed. 10/22  Recreating Real and Fictional Spaces  Second Life
 wk10  Wed. 10/29  Dream Realizations/Lessons in Math  Second Life  Cooper MacBeth/Rebecca Patterson
 wk11  Wed. 11/6   WoW in Schools  WoW
 wk12  Wed. 11/12  Machinima  Second Life
 wk13  Wed. 11/18  Lesson Presentations  Variable
 No Class  Thanksgiving Week
 wk14  Wed. 12/3  Lesson Presentations  Variable
 wk15  Wed. 12/10  Lesson Presentations  Variable

Quest-Based Learning/Quest Tracking Tool

We will be using a game-based format for scoring. Rather than focusing on a percentage of possible points against a total (which serves as a form of subtractive scoring) this course will score more like a game. You will gain experience points for completed assignments. The number of activities available to you is flexible. You may choose to do a handful of more difficult or complex activities and assignments, which offer higher XP or a large number of simpler artifacts with a lower average XP. There will be no modules, chapters, or other overt structures by which assignments will be transmitted or collected.

You will have the ability to choose your activities based on interest, skill set, type, comfort, and other factors. These “quests” will range from short and simple, to graduated or sequenced, to more complex and time consuming. Many larger activities will be broken into a sequence of smaller, more achievable elements. Some of these elements will take as little as 15 minutes to complete.

We will also be using a quest tracking tool created to allow “player” selection of quests, XP tracking, and submission of completed activities. This tool also serve as a grade book for the course. A login link is available in the course Moodle menu.

Premise and General Approach to the Course

The course is a series of virtual world lessons. Both in and about the specific virtual worlds, each of the weekly synchronous sessions will give her dismiss the opportunity to explore the affordances of virtual worlds while experiencing an authentic lesson designed for K-20 students. This means, an appropriate level of creative play and cooperation is expected out of each member. You will, at times, act as a student at other times, you will focus your thoughts and commentary as a teacher. The willingness and ability to play is an essential part of class participation.

Types of activities:

  • Solo-Questing: (Ongoing) Quests that can be completed any time. These activities will include reading, watching videos, reflections, visiting locations and exploring, playing specific games, etc.
  • Group-Questing: (Weekly, Ongoing, and/or scheduled) These will include reading-based discussions, jigsaw activities, exploration, voicethread activities, etc. We would schedule at least one of these each week.
  • Raiding: (Scheduled) These are larger activities that require a facilitator and would be attended by everyone. (**This allows for an organized effort through core curriculum because it is scheduled and only offered once.)
  • Peer-coaching/support (Weekly, Ongoing, and/or Scheduled): As players gain rank, they have the opportunity to act as guides for others and receive XP. They can lead raids, present findings, and support others in their charge. This peer mentoring can be credited and earn even more rank.
  • Quest-building: Also as players reach a specific rank, they will have the ability to create quests for others to complete. As specific pursuits yield new knowledge, they can add activities to the existing categories.

Each week we will begin and end with meetings(to maintain contact with the students), hold specific activities (raids, quests, etc), and give opportunity for completion of quests. Reflection will play an important role in the may quests and activities as you try to make sense of the world and ideas they are exploring. This will come orally and through blogging. Participants will be able to explore areas of interest and still have similar experiences. Keep in mind, the station will be open for activities 24 hours a day seven days a week to allow them to pursue your study and interests. Scheduled class meetings will offer an opportunity for shared experience, reflection, socialization, and guidance.

Categories of Exploration:

  • Context – Activities and independent quests to allow players to explore and the various theories, approaches, and current implications of virtual worlds. These quests often walk you through setting up new accounts, recognizing broad trends, etc.
  • Minecraft – Get these activities will prepare you to use this virtual world specifically, teach you building and crafting principles, allow you to participate as an avatar and student as well as builder and designer.
  • Second Life – Again, these quests are specific to this virtual world. Adding nuance levels of building, design, permissions, efficacy, ethics, and a number of other unique characteristics of this virtual world.
  • Teaching–  This category approaches the pedagogy of virtual world instruction, designing experiences, assessing learning, and unlocking student creativity.
  • WoW– Specific to World of Warcraft, this category focuses on this specific tool. As a popular, off-the-shelf videogame, WoW is utilized by teachers as an instructional platform, professional development hub, and powerful mainstream virtual world used to improve and supplement classroom teaching and learning.

Shared Artifacts (Products):

  • G+ Community  You be expected to regularly interact with classmates in our Google+ community.
  • Blogging Many of the activities require a digital reflection, interaction, or plan of action. Whether you choose a written blog or vlog, these interactions are essential to community interaction.
  • Your builds  You’ll be expected to build and share various artifacts throughout the course. These will be part of the VW lessons that make up the majority of our synchronous meetings.
  • Your Virtual World Lesson  You will be building toward a final presentation of a VW Lesson. These will be presented in the final weeks. You have 30 minutes to take our class through a VW- mediated experience and provide us with your version of lesson plan, support materials, and assessment techniques.

Course Grading

We will be using a game-based format for scoring. Rather than focusing on a percentage of possible points against a total (which serves as a form of deductive scoring) this course will score more like a game. You will gain experience points for completed quests.

Your final grade will be a product of your experience points (XP) AND submitting your VW Lesson. Failure to submit a completed VW Lesson will result in an INCOMPLETE or a failing grade at the discretion of the instructor. Due to the unique sequencing of course material, all assignments will be due at the completion of the class as part of the Game Model.


Absences feature heavily into the grading system. In order to help maintain an environment by which each student can be successful, regular class attendance is vital. Two absences can be permitted without penalty. On the third absence, a full letter grade will be deducted from the final grade. Each additional absence after the third will result in an additional letter grade loss per occurrence.

This excludes university sanctioned absences for clubs, sports, or other academic endeavors as well as severe illness, extreme personal hardship, or other extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student. Direct contact with the instructor is essential to communicate these circumstances and is the responsibility of the student.

Progress and Ranking

Participants will have the opportunity to level up through the ranks in the course. The top-five ranks representing the letter grades possible (2000XP = A, 1750XP = B, etc). For this reason, students should always know where they stand. In order to receive a passing final grade, all students will need to provide and present their VW Lesson.

Course Materials (including hardware/software requirements):

The book and accounts for the course are listed below.

(Required) Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds [Book] by Celia Pearce ISBN:  026251673X

Minecraft License (for Windows, Mac, or Linux) https://minecraft.net/store $26.95 USD

Second Life Account (Free)  http://secondlife.com/


Contact Information/Office Hours:

Chris Haskell Office: E-304 (Education Building) / Phone: 426-4217 / /Email: chrishaskell@boisestate.edu

Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00am-12:00noon / please feel free to add me as a friend in you Facebook and message me if you need assistance. / AIM:Haskellboise / Skype: Chris Haskell / SL: Dalai Haskell


Course Policies

Procedures –  

Communication – Department policy  – instructors will respond to emails and/or phone calls in a timely manner – usually within 24 hours (weekdays, but may be longer on a weekend or with advance notice to students).

Posting of Assignments – Department policy – major assignments will be posted at least one week in advance of the assignment due date.

Assignment Submissions – Major assignments will be submitted through the Moodle course site through the appropriate collectors.

Feedback/grades – Department policy – Students must be informed of their progress toward the final course grade at regular intervals. Assignments will be reviewed and evaluated by the instructor within one week after the posted assignment due date.

Late assignments –All late assignments will not be accepted, save arrangements have been with Dr. Gibson prior to the due date or exceptional currcumstances exist.

Technical Difficulties – on occasion, you may experience problems with your Internet service, and/or other computer related problems. Do make the instructor aware if a technical problem prevents you from completing coursework.

BroncoMail – http://helpdesk.boisestate.edu/email/broncomail/
GameLab Assistance – chrishaskell@boisestate.edu

Academic Honesty – all students are required to abide by Boise State University’s Student Code of Conduct on academic dishonesty. Assignments completed must be your original work and cannot be used in other courses in the EdTech program.

Reasonable Accommodations – Any student who feels s/he may need accommodations based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. You will also need to contact the Disability Resource Center at 208-426-1583 located in the Administration Building, room 114 to meet with a specialist and coordinate reasonable accommodations for any documented disability.

Conceptual Framework

College of Education – The Professional Educator

Boise State University strives to develop knowledgeable educators who integrate complex roles and dispositions in the service of diverse communities of learners. Believing that all children, adolescents, and adults can learn, educators dedicate themselves to supporting that learning. Using effective approaches that promote high levels of student achievement, educators create environments that prepare learners to be citizens who contribute to a complex world. Educators serve learners as reflective practitioners, scholars and artists, problem solvers, and partners.

Department of Educational Technology Mission

The Department of Educational Technology supports the study and practice of facilitating and improving learning of a diverse population by creating, using, managing, and evaluating appropriate technological processes and resources. Believing technology is a tool that enhances and expands the educational environment, we promote the use of current and emergent technologies for teaching and learning in a dynamic global society. Educational technologists are leaders and innovators, serving in institutions of higher education, public or private school settings, federal, state, or local educational agencies, and educational organizations in the private sector.