MOOs have become a vastly popular form of communication and
learning. They serve a variety of functions, both social and educational.
MOO stands for “Multi-user domain, Object-Oriented”. His origins can be
found in early Multi-User Domains, or "MUDs," began as net-based
dungeons-and-dragons type games, but a MOO can be thought of as a
text-based virtual reality environment, housed on computers connected to
the internet, where people gather to chat with friends, meet new people,
and help build the MOO.
MOOs can be divided into three main groups:
Educational and research MOOs (to see a sample, click
Social MOOs (to see a sample, click
These categories are in no way mutually exclusive. Often
social MOOs, and sometimes educational and research MOOs, are set in a
science-fiction (sci-fi) or fantasy setting, much like a gaming MOO. All
MOOs have social aspects and are programmable, and could thus be
considered research MOOs. An educational MOO has an academic theme and
uses a variety of MOO communication tools such as internal e-mail,
newspapers, documents, blackboards, and classrooms to accommodate a
variety of teaching styles.
Here you can see a sample of the first MOO designed
specifically for classroom use
Users (sometimes called players or characters) connect from
anywhere in the world and are able to communicate with others in real time
(as opposed to the delayed communication of e-mail).
Benefits for Teachers and Students
MOO environments provide innovative approaches to learning.
Teachers can use these tools in harmony with the goals for
the class while exploiting the nature of MOO as a student-centered
Educators have a new way of encouraging students to write
sample), they can connect classes worldwide, and they can help student
overcome fear of the internet. CMC (Computer Mediated Communication)
offers a new way of examining language and communication.
Students can explore the exciting and challenging world of
synchronous Internet writing and learning environments. Classes can use
the MOO to meet as a full class or in small groups, to work on projects,
to meet people from other classes, an so on. A group or class can create a
realm with its own building theme. Students and teachers write to learn
with each other and with new friends from around the world. The text shows
students how to use the dynamics of real situations to evoke authentic
writing in which collaborative and individual learning are enhanced
through conversation, research, real-time events, multimedia
presentations, and other interactive activities.
MOO uses written descriptions to create a virtual
environment somewhat analogous to the kind of virtual world produced in
the imagination when we read novels. Rather than creating a "reality" from
graphical images, MOOs create their virtual reality out of textual
descriptions similar to those used in novels to create in the reader's
mind the world in which characters interact. The big difference between
the MOO experience and the experience of printed text is that the
characters in a MOO are controlled by real people who interact with each
other and their textual environment in "real time." That is, in a MOO
people from all over the world can talk to each other via their computer
keyboards and video monitors as if they were assembled in the same
physical location. Unlike the chat programs, which only facilitate
synchronous communication, MOO is a structured environment in which people
move about and manipulate objects as well as communicate with each other.
The very important aspect of a MOO is that it is not a static, but a
dynamic environment. The user (or gamer) could actually build new parts of
it, new "rooms". The ability to create objects, "messages," and programs
gives the user a sense of ownership, an outlet for creative writing, and
motivation to return. Users come to know one another, forming friendships
and a sense of community. These relationships can be one of the most
rewarding aspects of the MOO experience.
Users can create rooms, objects, and programs that recreate
in text anything the user might imagine. Everyone who gets a character is
able to build and program.
Guests have the ability to "talk," send messages across the
MOO by "paging," use MOOmail for sending messages, and move around the
MOO. They cannot make any permanent changes in their guest "character,"
nor can they create objects.
Permanent characters can name themselves, describe
themselves, and set their gender.
Builders are users that have programming permissions for
creating rooms, exits, and objects which they can describe in any way that
is consistent with the MOOs theme. They can also write customized, durable
"messages" that automatically appear when certain commands are used.
Programmers are those who learn the MOO programming
language and are able to create more elaborate features.
Wizards are at the top of the hierarchy. They create new
characters, monitor connections, teach new users, and deal with problems,
often with the help of teacher-administrators. They also do deep-level
programming and uniquely have access to information such as the users
Archwizard, in most MOOs, is the one who founded the MOO,
is the systems operator of the MOO server (computer on which the MOO
resides), and is considered the director and ultimate decision-maker.
A core set of Education Tools includes:
writing tools: 'note', 'MOO mail'
standard communications features: 'say', 'page', 'emote'
exploration tools: 'look', 'read', and 'exam'
manipulation tools: 'get', 'grab', 'drop', 'move'
Added to these, are 'generic' tools created by individual
programmers, especially wizards.
Here you can see a sample of a MOO environment
It is possible to connect to the MOO via telnet, and doing
it in a user-friendly way using a MUD client program.
Given that MOO is a program that runs on a remote computer,
it is accessed by opening a telnet program, typing in the server name and
port number, and then connecting at the log-in screen of the MOO. If you
connect without using a MUD client, you will find that the lines of text
you are writing are interrupted by incoming text from others. This can be
most disconcerting. For this reason, it is recommended to use MUD clients.
A MUD client is a program written especially for connecting to MUDs (a MOO
is a kind of MUD).
You can download and install some MUD clients that are
freeware, and some that are shareware. Among the most common clients, you
tkMOO-light: It is available for
platforms. That makes it especially useful for classes, since no matter
what platform a class member uses, s/he will see the same interface,
making it easy for the teacher to give instructions for using the client.
tkMOO-light offers local editing, logging, and many user-configurable
SimpleMu: It is available for
Windows. Easy to install and very nicely done. It's shareware, but it
isn't expensive and it has an unlimited evaluation period.
Pueblo: A long-time favorite of
many MOOers. It is available for Windows. Freeware.
MUDDweller: One of the most
commonly-used Mac clients. Freeware.
Savitar: It is available for
Mac. Its page offers tons of documentation. Inexpensive shareware.
TinyFugue: An old standby for
Unix users; works on Linux. If you need a Unix client for a class, see
if your site admin will install this on the system rather than having
each individual install a copy in his/her home directory. Freeware.
mud.el and some variants: If
you want to mud from inside Emacs, try mud.el or one of its variants.
Warning: these are mostly not well-documented. Freeware.
For learners of high school age and older.
The above informative material is adapted from:
MUDs in Education: New Environments, New Pedagogies
by Tari Lin
Educational MOO: Text-based Virtual Reality for Learning in
by Lonnie Turbee;
The Common Place MOO: Orality and Literacy in Virtual Reality by Don
The Purpose of MOOs by Rachel Rein.