I've got this wild idea and would like to see if others have attempted it or have resources. If I can get it developed in time, I'd like to pilot it during / after state testing and work out the kinks for next year.
The premise is to run the class along the lines of World of Warcraft. Students can "roll" an avatar, and customize it to a limited extent. The curriculum would be set up as a series of challenges, where students would have to research and explore the concepts, then create an artifact that would demonstrate mastery. Experience "points" tallies would be kept on a website to foster competition and cooperation. Students could "group" for challenges, but would have to create individual artifacts. Challenges could be done in any order, and content could be "zoned" to group it together. "Cheat codes" or "hints" would be resources like podcasts with step by step instructions.
There are some pros and cons that I foresee:
1. As an engagement piece, I think this is a winner.
2. Having students explore and solve the challenges on their own would be effective than lecture. Lets face it, kids want to learn, not be taught.
3. I am concerned about the differences between boy and girl gamers. Lots of butterflies and tinkerbells among my artsy girls, and I am sure the first time a boy chooses a girl avatar there will be cause for comment. Not to mention the first sexy avatar from a developing young lady...
4. Some curriculum lend itself to this sort of inquiry. I teach digital media and art creation tools, so having challenge where a student demonstrates how to use the pen tool in Illustrator is not difficult. Creating those higher order projects can be challenging, but fun!
5. Pacing. The hardest part about Warcraft or other role playing games is grinding away at repetitive tasks. So, having students go yet again to ask.com to search for a resource will get a bit obvious and tedious.
6. Grading. I need to figure out the XP ratio for scoring (on a 0-4 scale, is a 3 worth 300 points?, when do you "level up"? What prizes do you get for leveling?) Need to be able to speak coherently during parent conferences "Sorry, Mrs. Smith, your son is still only a level one n00b..."
So, this is my crazy idea. One would think that as I go into my fifth year of teaching I'd have this all figured out by now, but nooooooo.......
Any feedback, war stories, anecdotes, resources, etc would be greatly appreciated.
Charles "For the Horde!" Harvey