Thursday 2 June 2011

Using an online game for professional development

A few years ago this whole idea would have sounded very suspect, playing, in a professional capacity, to learn. Now it is not unusual. Total engagement by Byron Reeves & J. Leighton Read is an excellent publication for providing ideas and examples of learning through play in a workplace.

The scientists lead the way with a conference in World of Warcraft in 2008. World of Warcraft is an online subscription game played by over eleven million people. The scientists chose it for their conference because it has been used as an environment for research and they wanted to discuss their research ideas further. It seemed appropriate if they were talking about research in online games to use an online game as the environment. You can read about their adventures Slaying monsters for science, in Online worlds : convergence of the real and the virtual / edited by William Sims Bainbridge and on their wiki.

In 2010 the library followed. The decision to hold a library seminar in June of 2010 in World of Warcraft was taken before it was realised that the scientists had already done this.  The seminar (following on from one held at the State Library of NSW) was held in a game to help people think about the possibilities. It is different.

Information and a slideshow were provided to new players (and there were quite a few people who had never played an online game who participated).

The speakers included Liz Danforth who is well known for writing the "Games, Gamers, and Gaming" column for Library Journal, Scott Nicholson, Associate Professor for Syracuse University School of Information Studies,  Adam Beck from Central Arkansas Library System talking about how his library uses World of Warcraft, and Peggy Sheehy on WoW in Schools (Peggy was a gracious late inclusion).

You can view a transcript of the seminar. World of Warcraft has an excellent logging function so that is it is not too complex to produce transcripts of discussions.

From the feedback for this seminar I decided to organise a series of talks. These take place in World of Warcraft every six to eight weeks and feature a mix of librarians and educators.  The next speakers on 15 July will be Landon K Pirius and Gill Creel , co authors of Reflections on play, pedagogy, and World of Warcraft, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Volume 33, Number 3, 2010.

Transcripts of all previous talks are available on the Games and libraries wiki.

If you would like to participate in one of these talks, have a look at this slide show...
...then read the other information here.

Please contact me if you would like any further information about this professional development series.

Ellen Forsyth


  1. I'm always inspired by Ellen's involvement in the online world, and was very interested to see her presentation at ALIA IOC in February. Great post Ellen!

  2. Very interested in this but I kinda need World of Warcraft..and a working PC to run it on.