At the first keynote of Toronto's Future Play 2007 conference for game educators and developers, Dr. Constance Steinkuehler, assistant professor in the Educational Communication & Technology program for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, argued that MMOs and online worlds are good "push technologies" for education, rather than threats to it.
Her presentation was titled "Massively Multiplayer Online Games as an Educational Ethnology: An Outline for Research," a deceptively straightforward talk about Steinkuehler's research findings on what constitutes gameplay in MMOs and virtual worlds, and how that research might be applied to education programs.
Why did Steinkuehler write a dissertation that was a two-year ethnography on virtual worlds? "I needed to find out what in the world would be productive from playing these games," she explained, describing how she played Lineage, Lineage II and World of Warcraft for research.
"I was a siege princess leading a huge guild through massive battles, I learned more about military tactics in those two years than I ever wanted to," she recalled.