Lonnie Turbee TESOL ‘99
"Hi! I am very excited that I had to write to you right away.
I have never thought that I was going to feel so good by entering a
I did it with some kind of eskepticism but it has turned into a
experience. I really believe that this media can function as a
teaching resource, but at the same time you have to learn to control
because it truly can *swallow you up*." (Rodriguez, 1994)
What is MOO?
A MOO is a program running on a machine. It is also the type of online community that Licklider and Taylor (1968) predicted thirty years ago: one "not of common location, but of common interest." It is an ever-growing virtual space created solely through the lines of text and programming contributed by its inhabitants. It is a place where imagination, individual power and sociability blend; it transforms and is transformed by its creators.
Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Sociology of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, states, "The writing on MUDs, because it is spontaneous and alive, is often rich in texture and emotion. Unconstrained and unconventional, it is a writing through which one encounters the self. MOOs blur the boundaries between self and game, self and role, self and simulation." (Turkle, 1998, p. xi)
You already understand all this:
MOO as MUD as role-playing game (RPGs)
MOO as social environment
MOO as virtual community
Language learning in MOO
…the essence of the coming integrated, universal, multimedia,
network is discovery-the empowerment of human minds to learn
without coercion, both independently and cooperatively. The focus is on
learning as an action that is "done by," not "done to," the actor.
1992, p. 23)
Five working hypotheses
Omaggio familiarizes us with "five working hypotheses" (Omaggio, 1986, pp. 44-53) which have been the building blocks of proficiency-oriented language curricula for nearly two decades. We will have ample opportunity to refer back to these hypotheses:
Corollary 2. A proficiency-oriented approach promotes active communicative interaction among students.
Corollary 3. Creative language practice (as opposed to exclusively manipulative or convergent practice) must be encouraged in the proficiency-oriented classroom.
Corollary 4. Authentic language should be used in instruction wherever and whenever possible.
Hypothesis 3. There should be concern for the development of linguistic accuracy from the beginning of instruction in a proficiency-oriented approach.
Hypothesis 4. Proficiency oriented approaches should respond to the affective needs of students as well as to their cognitive needs. Students should feel motivated to learn and must be given opportunities to express their own meanings in a non-threatening environment.
Hypothesis 5. Cultural understanding must be promoted in
ways so that students are prepared to live more harmoniously in the
Janet Swaffar et al state that "L2 teachers who want their classes to interact with texts have to be facilitators of the reading process rather than monitors of performance." (1991, pp. 70-71) Also, that they must:
Notes from other sources
Interaction with text
L2 teachers who want their classes to interact with texts have to be
facilitators of the reading process rather than monitors of
They have a fourfold task: (1) to activate reader schemata, (2) to
students to an awareness of text structure, (3) to assist in strategy
and (4) to promote relaxed interaction between students and text.
these four functions, the teacher’s challenge is to choose tasks
students’ backgrounds and language competencies." (Swaffer et al,
The "flow" experience
We have seen how people describe the common characteristics of
experience: a sense that one's skills are adequate to cope with the
at hand, in a goal-directed, rule-bound action system that provides
clues as to how well one is performing. Concentration is so intense
there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant, or
to worry about problems. Self-consciousness disappears, and the sense
time becomes distorted. An activity that produces such experiences is
gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, with
concern for what they will get out of it, even when it is difficult, or
dangerous. (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990, p. 71)
A learner of Spanish on the addictive nature of MOO
I'm really enjoying the Moo. I haven't figured out all the commands,
but I keep playing with it. When I first started I was hooked. I almost
forgot to go to class and another time I was late to a class because I
was on Moo. Whenever I get into a good conversation I like to stay and
chat. Its great to see how fluent Spanish speakers speak or in this
write. I had to cut down my time on it just because its so addictive!!!
I could easily spend an hour on it a day, but I have four other classes
to think about! Sorry I was late! (Hughart, 1995)
The "shipboard syndrome"
…If any of you have exchanged email or actively participated on an electronic list, you may have anecdotally noticed that confidences are exchanged much more readily than in face-to-face relationships. This tendency toward increased intimacy was documented in a study done by Hiltz and Turoff entitled The Network Nation: Human Communication via Computer. This is even more apparent for the inhabitants of a virtual space such as a MOO. Because of the perceived proximity, a type of 'shipboard syndrome' develops and for the time they are logged on, the MOO becomes a virtual community. In a modern world where even children make play dates, this is an important factor for our students, especially those who are studying English in a country other than their own.
Although being on a MOO is disinhibiting, it does not mean that
reigns. Like a real life community, people on MOOs are enmeshed in a
of social rules and regulations. These rules are formulated by the MOO
inhabitants. For example, one does not go to another player's room
sending a message requesting permission. Foul or abusive language will
quickly lead to shunning by other members of the community. Conversely,
being helpful and friendly will raise one's status. (Falsetti, 1995)
Anonymity and the affective filter (Lonnie Turbee)
It is desirable to have the affective filter as low as possible. One way this is accomplished on MOO is through user anonymity. While many educational MOOs require that users be easily identifiable, such as through use of their RL (real life) name or the display of their email address every time other users use the "finger" command (see Haynes, 1998, p. 163 for some very good reasons for this), at MundoHispano we do our best to maintain that anonymity so that it is not the language learner who is the one making all the errors necessary for language acquisition, but rather, in effect, the learner's "playing piece," his or her online character.
When first entering a foreign language MOO, the experience can be less than pleasant for some. In terms of language learning, the "affective filter" can be high.
The affective filter hypothesis states that comprehensible
can have its effect on acquisition only when affective conditions are
(1) the acquirer is motivated; (2) he has self-confidence and a good
and (3) his level of anxiety is low. When learners are "put on the
…, the affective filter is high and comprehensible input can't
(Omaggio, 1986, p. 30. See also Krashen, 1982, pp. 9-32)
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. (1990). Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper Collins Publishers. New York.
Falsetti, Julie. (1995). What the Heck is a MOO? ESL in Higher Education Newsletter, 14(2)
Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Hall, Cathy. (1998). "Constructing" Language at MundoHispano. Unpublished paper. George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. (Also available online: http://www.angelfire.com/ma/CasaDax/MHpaper.html [March 4, 1999])
Hiemstra, Roger. (1994). Helping Learners Take Responsibility for Self-Directed Activities. In Hiemstra, R., & Brockett, R.G. (Eds.). Overcoming resistance to self-direction in adult learning (No. 64) Jossey-Bass. San Francisco.
Hughart, Victoria. (1995, September 30). Re: your opinion needed [e-mail to Lonnie M. Turbee], [Online].
Krashen, Stephen. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. New York : Pergamon Press.
Licklider, J.C.R., & Taylor, Robert W. (1968). The computer as a communication device. Science and Technology. (Also available online: http://memex.org/licklider.html [August 25, 1998])
Omaggio, Alice C. (1986). Teaching language in context: Proficiency-oriented instruction. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers, Inc.
Perelman, Lewis J. (1992). School's out: Hyperlearning, the new technology, and the end of education. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
Rodriguez, Maria. (1994, August 12). Re: MundoHispano [e-mail to Lonnie M. Turbee], [Online].
Siembieda, Kevin. (1995). How to Play a Role-Playing Game. In Carlos J. Martigena-Carella, (Ed.), Nightbane, a Complete Role-Playing Game. Palladium Books, Inc., Taylor, MI (p. 31)
Swaffar, Janet, Arens, Katherine, and Byrnes, Heidi. (1991) Reading for Meaning: An Integrated Approach to Language Learning. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Towell, John and Towell, Elizabeth. (1997). Presence in Text-Based Networked Virtual
Environments or "MUDS". Presence, 6(5) (pp. 590-595).
Turkle, Sherry. (1998). Foreword: All MOOs are educational - the experience of "walking through the self". In C. Haynes and J.R. Holmevik, eds. High wired: On the design, use, and theory of educational MOOs. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
Turbee, Lonnie. (1997). Educational MOO: Text-based Virtual Reality for Learning in Community. ERIC Digest, ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology, Syracuse, NY. (also http://ericir.syr.edu/ithome/digests/turbee.html).
Warschauer, Mark (Ed.). (1995). Virtual Connections. Second
Curriculum Center. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Manoa, HI. (pp. 229-244).