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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.

Pre-computer Activities

You'll need to start by setting the stage for your students.
  1. 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.).

  2. Make sure they understand directions: north, south, east, and west.

  3. Ask students to look at a printed version of the SchMOOze map and identify any things or places they didn't mention in the earlier exercise.

  4. 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.

  5. 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
Sample tasks:
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 group, 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 online.
Sample tasks:
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 report.

Purpose: Explore SchMOOze and discover resources there
Sample tasks:
Ask students to find answers to some of the following questions:
  • 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?

Post-computer Activities

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:

MOOving on

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!

See Other tech tips

If you have questions, comments, or for more information, contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
Last updated 26 June, 2009