Technology Tip of the Month
December, 1997: Using SchMOOze in the Classroom
by Deborah Healey
If you're not familiar with SchMOOze U or other MOOs
(Multiuser-Object Oriented Dimensions), please look at the November 1997 Tech Tip-- it gives basic information
about where it is, how to get to it, and generally useful commands. This
month's tip follows up on that one, offering concrete ideas about how you
can actually use a MOO to enhance student learning.
You'll need to start by setting the stage for your students.
- Ask students to imagine a university campus map. What would be on it?
Elicit a list that includes buildings (try for a student union,
dormitories, a library, and classrooms) and scenery (fountain, mall,
entrance gate, trees, gardens, paths). Ask what kinds of people they
might find and what they would say when first meeting someone (hello, hi,
how are you, etc.).
- Make sure they understand directions: north, south, east, and
- Ask students to look at a printed version of the SchMOOze map
any things or places they didn't mention in the earlier exercise.
- Have students look at the SchMOOze
map on paper and describe how to get from the Entrance Gate to the
Classrooms, Student Union, and Library.
- If you want your students to interact anonymously, have them think of
a name and describe how the 'person they want to be' (their "character")
would look. They should write down a one- or two-sentence description of
their character. If they are using their own names, have them write down
a one- or two-sentence description of themselves.
Activities on the computer
Now you need to set tasks for your students to perform when they are at
SchMOOze. Here are a few purposes, and a few sample tasks.
- Purpose: to hold a whole-class discussion
- Give each student or group of students a specific
question to discuss. Have someone log the discussion ("logging" is
usually a menu option in a MOO program). The students or group can then
look at the log and summarize what they decided. Consider using the
NETEACH Nook if you want to have more than one
since it's set up for several separate, simultaneous conversations.
- Assign a sentence to paraphrase, with each person's paraphrases
shared with the whole group. Try to come up with the best possible
paraphrase from what is suggested.
- Start a discussion of a class reading, using both questions
related to details and questions that have no one correct answer. Again,
log the discussion for later evaluation.
- Purpose: to get some specific information from three to five people
- Ask students to start a polite conversation with
someone at SchMOOze, then ask their nationality, occupation, and hobbies.
They can follow up with their interviewees' purpose for being at SchMOOze
and whether or not they enjoy it.
- Have students start a polite conversation, then ask people their
opinion on a current news topic. They can compare the opinions of people
from different countries, perhaps of different ages, and write a
- Purpose: Explore SchMOOze and discover resources there
- Ask students to find answers to some of the
- How do you get to the classroom, and what can you learn there?
- What games can you play in the Student Union?
- Where is the Grammar Maze and how do you get out of it?
- What books are in the library?
- What is growing in the garden?
- Are there any animals at SchMOOze?
- How do you become a regular character rather than a guest?
- What might be useful for you to do at SchMOOze?
The best way to use a computer resource is to tie it to what you do off
the computer. You can ask students to do any of a number of things based
on their SchMOOze experience. Here are a few ideas:
- Continue the small-group conversations face-to-face, with a person
taking notes on what is said.
- Write a summary of a group discussion, based on the log.
- Write a Tourist Guide to SchMOOze.
- Discuss the interview results. Create a tally of nationalities,
occupations, reasons for being at SchMOOze, etc.
- Share the results of the explorations. What was the most interesting
I hope these ideas can get you started exploring the many possibilities
at SchMOOze. There is a lot of help online, as well. Here are a few good
places to look for information about SchMOOze:
Enjoy your schmoozing!
If you have questions, comments, or for more information,
contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
updated 26 June, 2009