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NASA Considering Educational MMO

Posted Jan 16, 2008 by Keith Cross

NASA Considering Educational MMO

The MMO market is ever expanding, and an unlikely developer has decided to throw their hat in the ring.  NASA has announced that they are investigating the development of an educational MMO designed to promote technology, mathematics, and the sciences.

The NASA Learning Technologies (LT) project supports the development of projects that deliver NASA content through innovative applications of technologies to enhance education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Research and development are at the core of the LT mission. LT seeks to enhance formal and informal education in STEM fields with the goal of increasing the number of students in those fields of study and is currently investigating the development of a NASA-based massively multiplayer online educational game (MMO).

Persistent immersive synthetic environments in the form of massive multiplayer online gaming and social virtual world, initially popularized as gaming and social settings, are now finding growing interest as education and training venues. There is increasing recognition that these synthetic environments can serve as powerful “hands-on” tools for teaching a range of complex subjects. Virtual worlds with scientifically accurate simulations could permit learners to tinker with chemical reactions in living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive equipment, and experience microgravity, making it easier to grasp complex concepts and transfer this understanding quickly to practical problems. MMOs help players develop and exercise a skill set closely matching the thinking, planning, learning, and technical skills increasingly in demand by employers. These skills include strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, team-building and cooperation, and adaptation to rapid change.

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