The gamers’ natural habitat today is online. Games are played online, some games only exist there, and discussion groups are active. No wonder connected learning has taken an interest in gamers. My interest in gamers, online communities, and exposure to Starcraft as a spectator, led me to the report on Connected Learning in Starcraft II Community by Yong Ming Kow, Timothy Young, and Katie Salen Tekinbas published in April of 2014. This is an excellent read outlining the community advantages that I hope the higher education to adopt.
The culture of making content is strong in the gaming communities. For example Felicia Day’s Web series “The Guild” was created based on her own experiences with World of Warcraft (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), and published on-line. Higher education also should foster this crafting and remixing of content. It is already done especially in engineering (The Ware Lab at Virginia Tech for example). The spirit of making could improve overall experience of online classes and make them an excellent option also for students who have difficulties in staying interested in only reading materials and theoretical topics.
Starcraft II community is an excellent example of a great on-line presence. I agree with Timothy Young that it caters to a wide variety of gamers from n00b to professional, and does not leave the spectators cold either. There are subgroups and activities for everyone interested. The inclusive nature of the community makes it an excellent example for online education. The accessibility of internet can break down some of the barriers we still have between teachers or advanced students, and the people just starting their trek on higher education path.Sean Plott (aka. Day) is a notable member of the North American Starcraft II community, a former pro-gamer, current commentator, game designer, and entrepreneur. His dedication to the community is inspirational for any educator. Producing You Tube videos weekly to dissect the game play of the professionals and offering advice to improve your game play, shows his commitment to the game and the community. And this reminds me always that even online communities consist of people, not computers.
Other notable people in the community include Marcus Graham (djWHEAT) and Mike Lamond (Husky Starcraft). Their willingness to share their life stories in JP McDaniel’s Real Talk underlines the openness of the whole community. Higher education already has these passionate and dedicated people. I think we just need them to show it more visibly to all students. And what would be a better platform for this than online presence?
Higher education in all fields should already be moving towards the culture of making and creating. Getting the educators to build online communities for learning will make higher education more personal to students of 21st century. We don’t necessarily have a detailed focus point like Starcraft II -game to build upon. Instead we aim to get better at life in general.