Even the classroom is getting competition in e-world, the real interactive classroom. Kids playing "Dungeons and Dragons" were the audience for the original MUD (Multi-User Dungeon), a way to log into a text-based description of an alternate reality where you would meet strange creatures who turned out to be other players in the game logged in at the same time that you were. Once that was invented, it took little effort to retrofit the dungeons and caves into seminar rooms, and we now have at Penn our own avatar on the ccat machine of what is now called a MOO (Multi-User Dungeon, Object-Oriented). On Tuesday nights last fall, I meet there on-line with students from as far away as Japan for the first multi-time-zone live Latin class I know of. The conferencing features are powerful in bringing together people from over a distance; they are no substitute for the real classroom -- or are they? Suppose you wanted to experiment with a class discussion that didn't have a visible authority figure in it? You could set up a MOO so that you logged in yourself invisibly, or under a studently pseudonym. Suppose you wanted to have a place where language students could go and "converse" in the target language, but by typing rather than speaking, and do so at all hours of the day or night? Suppose you wanted on-line "office hours" for you or a TA from ten to midnight the night before a big exam? The possibilities are endless. On some clients, you may be able to connect directly to PennMOO: if it works for you, say "connect Guest" when you get there and see what you think.
In spring 1995, Prof. Alan Filreis of our English Department will be using the PennMOO aggressively. He has put together his own more detailed introduction for his students.
Penn's MOO is also the first Latin MOO in cyberspace, passing under the name MUGIT (which is Latin for the noise a cow makes but seems also to acronymize Multorum Utentium Gregi Interesse Transcribendo -- "to be in a flock of many users by writing"). To join the discussion, telnet to ccat.sas.upenn.edu 7777 and then say "connect Latin Latin" -- you will be assigned the identity of a classical god or mythical figure. To find out when others may be expected to be in the MUGIT area to "speak" Latin with you, finger firstname.lastname@example.org -- the .plan file gives updated schedules.
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