Educational activities on MOOs can be broadly distinguished among those who:
However, one can ask the question how virtual classrooms are different from real ones and how they could exploit extra-potential from the MOOs. This latter question is very important since virtual ``MOO'' classrooms clearly have disadvantages.
Now several advantages of the virtual class room could be cited, like the following ones:
(1) Virtual Classrooms in a MOO allow for ``layered communication'' over different channels. This allows for instance students to discuss among themselves without disturbing the class or to isolate tutor-one student interactions which are not of general interest. More sophisticated classrooms can be furnished with ``tables'' suited for group-work (a setup that can be found often in real primary school).
(2) Provided that a good Mud client is available to the student, class-room teaching (an specially lecturing) looses some of its not always desired linearity. At anytime a student can scroll back and (provided he can split the screen) still monitor what is going on.
(3) Along the same lines, a virtual class-room has a ``memory''. Teachers do not have to repeat things as frequently and at the same time things said before can be pasted back into the discussion.
(4) Students may have better access to ``external sources'' such as other tutors, on-line books and so during a class.
Of course there is a limit to all that. It is well known that human processing power is very limited for structured cognitive tasks. We can do only a small amount of things at the same time. So MOO teachers whish to exploit those and other extra-functionalities they will have to take into account those limits and ``slow down'', but make sure that students don't get bored or involved into other activities at the same time.
In any case, in most situations it is probably best to avoid using the MOO for lecturing (that can be done by providing a text over the WWW) and use those classrooms for more interactive tutoring instead.
Interested readers may want to look at those transcripts from a MOO-programming lesson [retrieve the thing from colin], read Henstell's article on a sociology class held in MediaMOO in 1993, look at a transcript of a session with Douglas Kellner (a professor on philosophy) on PMC-MOO, June '94.