Friday, May 2, 2008

PMOG the future of e-learning?

PMOG stands for passively multiplayer online gaming. It is a game that runs in the background of Mozilla Firefox while you surf the Internet, and you earn points (DP) for each new URL you go to.
This tool was brought to my attention via twitter when Howard Rheingold put the URL in an update. I checked it out and thought "this could be useful".
So, far from being a PMOG expert I thought I could pass on to you my thoughts on its possibilities as a tool for e-learning.
Fostering communities within learning environments is a major goal of many learning organisations. Facebook, My Space, Twitter, and a long list of other tools (some of which are notoriously banned by many learning institutions) exist (at least in part) to aid in the development of community. PMOG throws a new ingredient into the ever growing soup of online applications by rewarding you for looking at new sites, giving you the ability to guide fellow community members to other sites and throwing in some fun elements to boot.
Let me discuss some of the particular features I believe could be used as learning tools.
1. Firstly the "mission"
Missions are a way to lead fellow PMOGgers on a tour of websites of your choosing. The mission creator installs "lightposts" on websites. The lightpost pops up when you hit a lightposted site at random and informs you of the mission. You can also find out about missions by going to the missions page on the PMOG site. As the creator of the mission you add some script to your lightpost explaining how it links to the other sites and forms part of the mission. Used as an e-learning tool, missions have a likening to webquests and could be used to take your learners on a path of relevant, themed websites. You could then ask your class to blog or write a report on their thoughts. On completion of a mission you are asked to rate it and pass comments. Students could create their own missions as a method of proving the paths taken in their learning experience or even a means of proving their understanding of a particular concept.
I created a mission in order to test it out and this was the result.
2. Second the "portal".
Portals can be attached to websites as a way to lure people to other sites. When you hit a website with a portal attached to it, a pop up appears in your Firefox browser enticing you to click on the portal. As with pop ups this sort of occurrence could become a little annoying and distracting if you weren't interested or were trying to research. On the flip side though, if you see a portal appear from someone in your network or class, you may be more likely to welcome the distraction. You might think the connection between portals and e-learning is a little tenuous but it wouldn't take too much imagination for an innovative teacher to find a use for these in their classrooms.
3. Third, the "crates".
Crates can be stashed on websites for others to loot. You can put tools (like portals, lightposts and mines) and messages in crates and when fellow PMOGgers stumble upon them they open the crate to receive their bounty. As an e-learning tool, crates have the potential of acting as a reward for learners hitting websites.
I'm sure mines, armour and Saint Nicks could all have applications for the innovative teacher or e-learning champion and I'm sure there are many applications that have not even occurred to me so I encourage any readers to comment on the potential uses for PMOG as an e-learning tool.
As far as the game itself goes, well lets just say it's growing on me..............ok I love it!!
Are you a PMOG player, what do you think?


Jeremy Phillips said...

excellent blog Rhys! love those social networking vids you've embedded - very useful.
I'm not involved in the blogosphere at all - this may be my first doorway. on yer!

theother66 (formally MadMiller) said...

Hi Rhys

Thanks for sharing your blog.


Hurgoll said...

Hi if you want an invite to PMOG just let me know. I love the game.

I am hurgoll on the game. Just send me an e-mail to hurgoll (at)

I will send you a beta invite.

Hobbes said...

Just discovered PMOG. Thanks for alerting me to the possibilities of using it in teaching. Yours was the first quest I completed.

KatiePiatt said...

I agree with some of your suggestions about how PMOG could be used, but the nature of it (tracking all your internet access) would probably not be viewed well by the network/security people.

I like the fact it gives another level to the web, a bit like alternate reality games. I could imagine using PMOG as an induction tool around a Uni's online resources for example - although it doesn't track https sites and a lot of our stuff is secure so wouldn't work.

jcplib said...

I learned about PMOG at the Computers In Libraries conference, April 2008. I think it has incredible potential to get our younger (and older) library patrons using the computer to learn things (perhaps for real world prizes).

AmityF said...

I'm a college librarian and just created a pmog mission for website evaluation for our students.

I love this as a way to really use the web.

I do agree with Katie above--this wouldn't neccesarily work with our online resources because most of them are secure login sites.

Enneira said...

Hi Rhys,

I love pmog. I have searched for missions on specific topics before just to learn about the subject area - they've been great primers for me.

Mary said...

My son and I have been "playing" PMOG for a few months now and have enjoyed the missions. Our next step is to create a few of our own. Unfortunately, I run into strange looks from my boss and colleagues when I mention things like PMOG for teachers. One day...