The Name of the Game

UNC Professor Tod Sedbrook

UNC Professor Tod Sedbrook makes a point during his Computer Information Systems class that uses gaming technology to provide students with real-life experience using virtual simulation. Video: University of Northern Colorado Computer Information Systems Professor Tod Sedbrook talks about SecondLife and provides a tour of UNC’s site on the virtual world.

Like technology, teaching techniques in the classroom undergo changes to adapt to students’ needs. At UNC, two classes from distinctly different disciplines are among those that incorporate gaming technology to engage students and provide a more interactive learning atmosphere.

In Second Life, a free online 3-D virtual world, possibilities are endless. For students taking professor Tod Sedbrook’s junior-level Computer Information Systems class, Second Life serves as a virtual classroom where students are able to create personal avatars and immerse themselves into a mystifying online world.

UNC owns a 640-acre "island" on Second Life. The bear paw-shaped island houses virtual UNC buildings including Monfort College of Business and the UNC Technology Club, as well as several conference rooms and lecture halls located in the sky, on the ground and under the ocean. Guest speakers, professors and students from around the world are able to communicate with each other.

Sedbrook’s students also are able to experiment with 3-D business processes. By setting up, restructuring and fine-tuning virtual businesses, students gain real- life experience from the interactive simulation found on Second Life.

Gaming technology can even be incorporated into a classroom without computers. Mark Reinholz, a lecturer in Philosophy, has adapted the World of Warcraft’s system into his Introduction to Philosophy course to motivate students into philosophical discussions.

Students begin by choosing one of three rewards programs and each program has 10 levels with various abilities required at each level.

Reinholz thinks that since implementing and perfecting elements of the Warcraft system into the course, his classes have become more engaging and interactive, creating a more enjoyable classroom atmosphere and fostering a positive learning environment for open conversation.

"The system has really enhanced my class," Reinholz said. "It’s invaluable when students encourage their quieter peers to share their opinions or their more outspoken ones to argue a position contrary to their usual one."

Both instructors said that through using gaming technologies such as Second Life and World of Warcraft, their students are now more motivated to participate and engage in the classroom, creating for a better atmosphere, and truly bringing education to life.

- Fiza Johari