Tari Lin Fanderclai enthusiastically recommends MediaMOO, a MUD operated at MIT. Students in her first-year composition class share this enthusiasm, which is reflected in the extra time they devote to creating their online characters and developing the spaces within which these characters react to other characters. The anonymity and resulting freedom granted by MUDs contrasts favorably with the stress and oppression of the four-walled classroom. Sadly the tyranny of architecture and division threatens the educational MUD. Administrators and teachers convert MUD spaces into virtual universities with the traditional academic and punishing disciplines. Teachers re-establish classroom control in a virtual space better left free and open. In this way, Fraderclai asserts, a MUD becomes a limited "gadget gimmick."

Fanderclai mentions some drawbacks to wide use of the MUDs. Computing departments complain of the resources used by gaming MUDs. The playfulness encouraged within MUDs lead some to wonder if anything useful is being accomplished. In response she recommends that students be given goals to achieve with MUDs. The clearer mandate is that teachers should encourage greater use of MUDs by students and then remove themselves because they are only liable to stand as impediments to student learning. MUDs empower students. Teachers, physical classrooms, and universities enmesh them. (Norman Owens.)

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Michael Hancher

Department of English, University of Minnesota

URL: http://umn.edu/home/mh/ebibno3.html

Comments to: mh@umn.edu

Created 22 May 1995

Last revised 17 September 1996