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News article on the educational value of World of Warcraft.

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Introduction

WOW conquers school education: It is not unusual for video gamers to order pizza, get an energy jolt and then play the World of Warcraft for hours. In this case, the person talking is John Smith an educational researcher who has organized an afterschool activity for the kids, the massive online role playing game WOW. The group includes some eight to ten graders, who don't care anything about writing or reading in school. Yet these students from, barely writing two sentences in school, have gone and written long posts, in the game forum. This idea will probably prove a tougher sell for parents who restrict their kids from playing too much of video games. They might want to talk to Sam. Sam is a full time dad, who plays online games with his kids whenever they like, and leads a group of homeschooling parents and kids in a WOW guild called the "Awesome Unschoolers." Many homeschoolers study with kids but the Unschooling philosophy does away with trappings of formal education. Each household has its own twist that leads to parents following and encouraging the interests of kids. ...read more.

Middle

Unschooling's radical approach and its extension into an online game, still make many people react with disbelief. Sam had got some harsh comments, in his profile in the gaming publication. "No, my kid's are not dumb, they're smart," said Sam remembering some of the harsh comments he had received. "Warcraft is only one part of the thing that we do in our life." Jason aged 14 years takes interest in football but occasionally logs on to WOW to do some stuff. Perhaps the key to schooling whether online or real world is parents taking initiative to become full time teachers, helping their child to learn. "Unschooling doesn't mean leaving their kids at home and letting their kids play games, unsupervised- that's neglecting," says Sam. "The social skills that kids learn are incredible and there is a type of etiquette that kids should use in order to communicate with their fellow mates," said Kelly. "It has worked really well," Smith said. "I hope everyone realises its efficiency." Entering the World of Warcraft: "World of Warcraft known to its players as WOW, provides something of a readymade experiment for researchers to see how games can affect people. ...read more.

Conclusion

Online games continue to gain traction as educational tools in professional circles. Smith's research received positive buzz at the American Psychological Association's annual convention, marking a different tone for an organization that has previously focused more on condemning video game violence. Even NASA has commissioned game developers to help create its own space themed game. Yet turning video games a positive force requires some more information about boys. "Boys are the biggest consumers of games and its boys who're failing from school," said Smith. In order to prove this point, Smith showed the graduation chart and said, "The recent statistics show that only 65% of the male population is graduating from the U.S." Smith's afterschool class will run again the next year with an ample amount of kids, coming from places which are two hours far away. There will be class meetings on Saturdays, where Smith will talk to the parents, about their child's progress. Like the Unschooling parents Smith has found the greatest success in following the interests of his students rather than forcing them. "I don't want to turn the play space into work space," Smith said." Frankly that is not my style of education." ...read more.

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