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Learning Sociology in a Massively Multi-Student Online Learning Environment

Learning Sociology in a Massively Multi-Student Online Learning Environment
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Author(s): Joel Foreman (George Mason University, USA) and Thomasina Borkman (George Mason University, USA)
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 9
Source title: Gamification for Human Factors Integration: Social, Education, and Psychological Issues
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Jonathan Bishop (Centre for Research into Online Communities and E-Learning Systems, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5071-8.ch013


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Is it possible to enhance the learning of sociology students by staging simulated field studies in a MMOLE (massively multi-student online learning environment) modeled after successful massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) such as Eve and Lineage? Lacking such a test option, the authors adapted an existing MMOG—“The Sims Online”—and conducted student exercises in that virtual environment during two successive semesters. Guided by questions keyed to course objectives, the sociology students spent 10 hours observing online interactions in TSO and produced essays revealing different levels of analytical and interpretive ability. The students in an advanced course on deviance performed better than those in an introductory course, with the most detailed reports focusing on scamming, trashing, and tagging. Although there are no technical obstacles to the formation and deployment of a sociology MMOLE able to serve hundreds of thousands of students, such a venture would have to solve major financial and political problems.

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