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Multi-User Virtual Environments for Teaching and Learning



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Multi User Virtual Environments for Teaching and Learning Edward Dieterle and Jody Clarke Harvard University INTRODUCTION In the late 1970s Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw of the University of Essex developed the first MUD Multi User Dungeon Domain Dimension depending on the source to facilitate multi player role playing games run over computer networks Bartle 1999 Dourish 1998 allowing groups of individuals to build virtual realities collaboratively Despite limited visual and social cues immersion in text based virtual environments have the capacity to support thriving virtual communities that demonstrate characteristics of traditional communities such as love hate friendship and betrayal Rheingold 1993 Advances in computational power and network connectivity have driven the evolution of MUDs resulting in diverse human computer interfaces such as MOOs object oriented MUDs MUVEs multi user virtual environments and MMORPGs massively multiplayer online roleplaying games among others The present article focuses primarily on MUVEs Although MUVEs are commonplace to gamers i e players of EverQuest Doom and Madden NFL the affordances of this interface are rarely utilized for substantive teaching and learning This article will discuss how MUVEs can be used to support the situated and distributed nature of cognition within an immersive psychosocial context After summarizing significant educational MUVEs we present Harvard University s River City MUVE http muve gse harvard edu rivercityproject in depth as an illustrative case study BACKGROUND MUVEs have been used in education for creating online communities for pre service teacher training and in service professional development Bull Bull Kajder 2004 Riedl Bronack Tashner 2005 Schlager Fusco Schank 2002 engaging science based activities while promoting socially responsive behavior Kafai 2006 helping students understand and experience history by immersing them emotionally and politically in a historical context Squire Jenkins



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