While surfing Google for interviewing strategies to help with the Holocaust assignment, I stumbled across a recent educational tool for developing interviewing skills that was very unique and interesting. Around 2006, the University of Minnesota introduced the game Neverwinter Nights (NWN) into the classroom. The game allows users to modify its environment. In the classroom version, students play reporter in a fictional town collecting information about a derailed train. I've never been a "gamer" per say, but I think this approach to learning would be wonderful practice for beginner journalists. So, here are links to the articles along with brief excerpts.
NWN has another, very important feature: it is sold along with a game-building toolset that allows users to modify the game, and BioWare encourages players to design their own versions of NWN using "tilesets"-groups of images-which are available legally and online in databases set up by NWN fans around the world. This element of the game is what allowed Hansen and Paul to modify the software for the pedagogical needs of the 3004 course: they replaced the medieval world of Forgotten Realms with the modern world of a small American city called Harperville, and transformed the rogues, wizards, and barbarians into news editors, reporters, and other modern characters.
Around 2006, the University of Minnesota professors Nora Paul and Kathleen Hansen started experimenting with Neverwinter Nights as a platform to create a training game for journalists, a way to use games as a new educational tool: "We wanted to develop an educational game that would allow us to do some experimental work on the efficacy of computer simulations as education tools," says one of its creators. The project has evolved, and they are now using a more suitable platform based on Flash, but the biggest step made here is that they tried to experiment with the intersection of training and games.Back