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

Tags: Challenge, Gaming, Learning, Theory

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Aliance is nicer :). Your premise is very nteresting. I would like to see it as you deeloop i. The series on eLearning games may give you insight from learncentral they have a session this saturday on illuminate.
I'm on year 3 of running my class like this along with a colleague. My personal recommendation is to start small and build up. Jumping in with too many ideas at once ends with none of them really getting the right focus.

I've personally been very focused on the quest/mission side of things thus far. We developed a list of 50 different assignments that give varying levels of points (or exp if you prefer). Students have a minimum point value they must achieve per unit but there is great freedom in how they get there. You can see the list at www.mrroughton.com if you click on assignments.

There are some definite Pitfalls (pun intended :p) to setting up a class like a video game. First, some kids just aren't interested. It really needs to have the extra layer of class-wide competition to drive those who aren't inspired by orcs and quests. Second, you're right to think about parents. I've had some interesting responses to my class syllabus. It looks like a manual you'd get out of an Xbox game and has video game characters all over it. You need to be ready to defend that to wary parents. I've never had a problem once I've talked to them but the questions have come up.

I started writing a book/treatise/manifesto on how I'm doing it all that I never got very far with. I'd be happy to send what I have if you're interested though. I'd also recommend visiting www.mrwoodside.com as he has a FAQ up on his page that answers some of the questions about how he implements this very thing. Also Kate (Fanelli I think...?) from this forum has been doing this for a few years as well. If you search "game theory" you'll find some of our old threads on the subject.

This is a great project that I am starting to see pop up more and more among teachers and I'm glad of that.
Kev, When I go to the assignments and students pages at mrroughton.com, I get a lot of
"Sorry, we couldn't find http://silverlight.services.live.com/invoke/73086/Medieval+Trailer/..." in IE7, and
"Firefox can't find the server at silverlight.services.live.com." in FF.
Am I doing something wrong?
Charles, I would be interested in seeing more detail of what you have in mind. How would you physically implement it? Seems like you are ready to test veeerry soon; What details have you worked out?
Only Silverlight errors should be the videos at the tops of some pages. There shouldn't be any on the assignment page. I'm still in the process of updating all the videos after MS eliminated Silverlight hosting without a single warning.
I have been doing something similiar in my class. I have done a little experimenting with my classes based on some of Kev's ideas. I wanted to design the game design theory for my students to use on my website (www.learninreturn.com). Wordpress has a plugin that will keep users points for logining in, and commenting. I am trying to work with some programmers who could intregrate it with quizzes. It is still a work in progress, but I have seen some success with motivating students.
I wonder if that plugin will work with edublogs... I'll have to play with it. I'd love to see a fully integrated form using only quizzes, games, poll votes, etc.

Boy that'd save me a bunch of time.
The website to the plugin is http://techcube.net/cubepoints/. It looks like it will only work on Wordpress. I wish I knew something about PHP so that I could integrate with more applications.
Great to see all the replies and ideas of others who have doing this, very exciting. As far as planning this out, the pmise about is about as far as I have gotten. I am running the ideas past some of my students and will be expect to alpha test this idea on a couple of my sections, about 40 - 60 kids.

I'm going to take a couple of days and read up on what others have tried or said, let it percolate, and reply back here next week with some further ideas.

Charles
I set up a similar type of unit using AD&D 3 years ago aimed at Y8 students (12-13 years old) and based on cross-curricular links as there were opportunities for map-making (Fractal Terrains & CC3), storytelling (short stories...obvious connections with English), history (students wanted to base a race on The Spartans and embarked on research to help them) as well as obvious Digital Media/Media Studies skills. The construction of a class wiki was essential to the learning experience as this provided the collaborative tools we needed. I could find a hook for all students this way as although some were not interested in the game itself, they were in the creative process involved in constructing a world, with cultures, languages etc from scratch.

Check out the second most recent post on the blog of Henry Jenkins, which contains an interview with Ethan Gilsdorf the author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks. I've posted a response to the first part of the interview but I think you'll find it interesting.
Awesome thanks! Also great to see people keeping AD&D alive! :-)
Ok, here are my game mechanics so far:

Step 1: Create Your Avatar

To start the game, each player creates their own "avatar," a visual icon that will represent the player on the website & the game spaces, including the classroom. Players are encouraged to create their own avatar, but may select online images or other sources for inspiration. For example, you may use a superhero as your image for an avatar. However, each player will have to hand draw their avatar on a quarter folded 8.5" x 11" piece of paper. The avatar on a piece of paper will represent the student in the game space, and will be electronically imaged to place onto the player's wiki page. The paper avatar will be placed on or near your computer.

An avatar must have an image, a name, a class and base stats. You may name your avatar anything you wish (within the boundaries of good manners). You may choose a class for your avatar, or have one assigned to you by the game master.

Example of classes are mages, rogues, paladins, warlocks, warriors, or hunters. You may choose anything you like, however you can not group with another of the same class. Groups must be balanced with one of each class.

Base stats will be decided by a roll of two 6-sided dice or a random number generator page (yet to be built). Stats are characteristics as Work Ethic, Citizenship, Endurance, Creativity, Empathy & Cunning. Your stats contribute to your Work Habits and Citizenship score, which is calculated every 5 weeks. Stats can be "buffed" by leveling, completing quests or being awarded certain artifacts. Stats can also be "de-buffed" by misbehavior in the gamespace. De-buffs can be awarded to individual players or to groups, and last until dispelled or revoked by the game master.

Step 2: Create a player &/or group wiki

Each player will create a wiki page with their name, and will record their quest goals and progress on the wiki. If you group up with other players, you must not have any duplicate classes.

Step 3: Enter the Game Zone

The two gaming zones, New Beeland and Dreams of Learning, are required zones and need to be completed first. Once you have completed all the quests of both lands you can move on to the other game zones. You may stay within one zone, or you may choose to move to other zones and pursue other quests according to your interests. However, some quests have pre-requisites and are "chained" together, so if you wish to do one of the quests in the chain, you must do all the preceding ones before you attempt that quest.

Step 4: Select a Quest and Plan Your Attack

Read the game zone information and select the quest you are going to attempt. Copy the quest name & link to your wiki page.

Each quest will have some background information, a task to be completed or artifact to be created, a grading rubric, and some suggested resources.

Review the quest information, identify the tasks, and delegate tasks to your team members.

Execute the tasks / create the artifact. If a group is attempting the quest, each group member's contribution must be documented on the group wiki page. Work must be balanced among the team members. If all members do not contribute or it is clear that some group members labored for the ease of others, the quest will not be honored and will have to be completed again.

Step 5: Turn in the Quest

Grade your project against the rubric. When you or your group is ready to turn in the quest, request via email a meeting with the game master. The game master will conference with you or the group, and either accept, reject, upgrade or downgrade your score. If your score is rejected, you will need to redo the quest. If the score is downgraded, you will have the option to redo the quest for a better grade. However, any quest deadlines (for example, 5 quests completed by the 10 week) will not be waived, and any penalties may apply.

Rubrics will be scored on a scale of 0-4 x 100, so a score of 3 on the quest will give you 300 experience points. Your letter grade will be determined by the amount of experience points and what level you have attained by the 5, 10, 15 & 20 week reporting periods.

Step 6: Choose another quest! (go to step 4)


Notes:
Each "zone" is subject area. New Beeland is the rules and tools of my lab (acceptable use, moodle for testing, blogs, wkis, email, set password, class safety & conduct rules, etc), all the stuff I have to get through in the first 2 weeks to get students up to speed. Dreams of Learning is our portfolio process and basic Dreamweaver, so students can make progress on their learning portfolios, including table design and basic CSS. This took me the better part of 8 weeks last year. One subject area zone I envision is 3D Animatica, which focuses on 3D and animation.

Each zone would have the essential questions from the relevant standard as part of the description.

An example of a quest would be "Explore the 12 basic principles of animation. Create an artifact that explains and demonstrates each of these principles. Sources: Wikipedia article link, book title & ISBN, youTube video links, local video demo files. This quest should take no longer than 4 periods."

Rubric categories would
1. Documentation of Process. How they pursued the learning, used for reflections in portfolio process.
2. Citation of Resources. Building bibliography
3. Mastery of content.
4. Creativity
5. Presentation. How they defended their work and process.

We will use a wiki to define the game space and each player will have their own page to document their daily progress. Accessing the wiki and annotating the daily goals will be the 5 minute do now and 5 minute clean up routine. This gives the players 30-40 minutes in each period for work. The wiki and many of the resources will be available externally on the internet under a secured server.

Well, here is the idea so far. I'm going to set up the last 3 units in this game style to be tested after the state testing in 3 weeks, and we'll see how it goes. I'll post a quest set when I get it written :-)

Any and all comments and criticisms are welcome!

Charles

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