My notes are given as bullet points in Courier font. The document itself is in something sans-serif.

Assignments in this course

  • Module assignments
  • 15 Level A
  • 7 Level B (or more for extra credit)
  • 3 Level C (or more for extra credit)
  • Discussion posts (how many?)
  • Personal reflections (how many?)
    • Goal statement (start of semester, informs later reflections and is used to help assign students to groups)
    • Final goal reflection
  • Individual project
  • Group project
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Course reflection

How the game will work

This course has been designed to operate as a game. Specifically, it has been designed to operate as a role-playing game, a genre in which players take on the role of a character who seeks to achieve some overarching goal. In this case, you will be taking on the role of a learner, on a quest for knowledge. This role should not be too much of a stretch for you!

Grading system

Role-playing games simulate complex events by reducing them to numbers. College courses do the same thing-you receive a grade on each assignment, building to an aggregate grade for the class. We’re doing the same thing, except that we’re representing grades and progress in a more game-like way. For example, the traditional grading system has been replaced by a system that more clearly represents your progress through the overarching “quest” of completing this course. As you do the things you’ve always done in classes-complete assignments, write good papers, attend class-you will accumulate experience points (or “XP” for short).

Every so often, your accumulated XP will reach a point that represents a significant increase in your knowledge and accomplishments since the start of the semester. When this happens, it will be represented in the game as an increase in your “level.” Everyone will start the class as a level one learner. Your level will correspond directly to your final grade in the course-see the chart below for specifics. By checking your level throughout the semester, and looking at the potential XP available through future assignments, you can easily assess how you’re doing gradewise.

Level XP Percentage Letter Grade
Level 20 21000 95-100 A
Level 19 19000 90-94 A
Level 18 17000 85-89 B
Level 17 15000 80-84 B
Level 16 13000 75-79 C
Level 15 11500 70-74 C
Level 14 10000 65-69 D
Level 13 8500 60-64 D
Level 12 7000 55-59 F
Level 11 6000 50-54 F
Level 10 5000 45-49 F
Level 9 4000 40-44 F
Level 8 3000 35-39 F
Level 7 2500 30-34 F
Level 6 2000 25-29 F
Level 5 1500 20-24 F
Level 4 1000 15-19 F
Level 3 500 10-14 F
Level 2 200 5-9 F
Level 1 0 0-4 F
  • Grading is the “extrinsic” motivational system that will appeal to students who are either highly grade-motivated or who respond to the Skinnerian “ding” of watching a level bar fill up.
  • The presence of experience points and levels are the most game-like aspects of the design. The skills system takes ideas from games, but it has no direct impact on “gameplay” as currently constituted, and is therefore more of a visual aide for students as they reflect on their progress in the course.
  • Every assignment will have an XP value attached. For assignments that cannot be assessed qualitatively-such as the Level A and Level B module assignments-this XP value will be awarded in total upon completion. For assignments that will be evaluated using a rubric that permits qualitative assessment, the students will be awarded a portion of the potential XP available for the assignment. For example, a student might receive 175 of the possible 200 experience points from a Level C assignment (these numbers are not final).
    • Assignments which will have a “binary” completion metric:
      • Level A
      • Level B
      • Any others?
    • Assignments which have a qualitative rubric:
      • Level C
      • Individual project
      • Group project
      • Annotated Bibliography
      • Discussion posts?
      • We need to make the point values for each assignment clear in the syllabus or whatever other materials we provide.

Skill points, goals, and learning reflections

XP and levels are not the only ways that your learning and progress will be tracked. You also have a set of “skills,” which correspond to the main conceptual threads that are present throughout this course. Your skills will improve as you demonstrate your increasing mastery of these concepts through your work.

The skills you will build (which are, again, the same as the primary themes of our course) are:

  • Learning
  • Teaching
  • Environment
  • Outcomes
  • Communication

Skills work similarly to XP. Just like XP, you will receive additional points in a given skill for completing assignments. Some assignments will provide a set number of points automatically upon completion; others will have a maximum number of skill points that can be awarded, and you’ll receive a portion of that maximum based on the quality of your work. Assignments can even provide skill points in more than one category. For example, an assignment about using social media in the classroom might award points in the teaching, environment and communication categories.

Where XP and skill points differ is in what they mean. XP represent your grade. We hope you want to get a good grade in this course-indeed, we expect that you will. However, we also hope that getting a good grade isn’t the only reason you’re here. As part of your experience in this course, you’ll be defining a more personal goal for yourself. Why are you taking this course? What do you hope to learn, and how do you hope to apply that knowledge in your life and career? Perhaps you can’t answer all of those questions completely yet, but those are the kinds of things you should think about in setting this personal goal.

You’ll write down that goal, and share it with your instructors. As we progress through the course, we’ll ask you to write a reflection about your experience. This reflection should be about the content currently being studied, but also about your personal goal. This is where the skill points system comes in: your skill set will directly reflect your growth and interests in this course. If you’ve chosen to focus on assignments that fall into the Teaching and Outcomes categories, you’ll see that when you look at your skills graph. In other words, the skills system is a way to make explicit and visual something that might otherwise remain abstract and more obscure.

  • Skill points, like XP, are distributed according to WHETHER binary assignments with an associated point bonus are completed; and according to HOW WELL assignments with a qualitative rubric are completed.
  • Students should be able to check their skills online, and see how they have evolved over the semester

    • Shape graph for the current stats
    • Line graph with a color-code for each stat showing changes over time
    • This visual is an aide for the weekly reflections
  • How do we determine which assignments fall into which categories?

One skill point view option

Modules and assignment choice

Our course is broken into a series of 15 modules, each focused on a specific topic. These modules have assignments associated with them. For some modules, there is a single assignment; for others, two or even three.

For each of these module assignments, there are three distinct levels of complexity: Level A, Level B, and Level C. Level A is the most basic version of the assignment, and represents a basic recall and understanding of the topic. Level B is a more in-depth version of the assignment, representing an ability to apply, analyze and/or evaluate the topic. Level C assignments will require students to use their new knowledge of the topic to create something-for example, writing a lesson plan using a new technology or building a wiki website could fall into this category.

You must complete the Level A assignment for a module before moving on to the Level B assignment. You must also complete the Level B assignment before moving on to the Level C assignment.


For completing Level A and Level B assignments, you’ll receive a set amount of XP and skill points. Level C assignments, however, will be evaluated according to a rubric. If a Level C assignment is worth a maximum of 400 XP and 3 skill points in Communication, those are the maximum amounts you can receive if you do a great job according to the rubric.

For the first four modules, you don’t have to worry about these assignment levels. Everyone will be doing Level A assignments for these modules. Beginning with module five, you will be required to complete a Level B assignment at least every three weeks, and a Level C assignment every six weeks. The chart below shows you how many assignments at each level you need to complete, and how much those assignments will be worth in terms of XP and skill points.

Assignment Level Assignments required at this level XP awarded for completion Skill points awarded for completion
A 15 100 1
B 7 200 1
C 3 Up to 500 Up to 3

Group work

There will be group assignments in this course. Although you’re competing with yourself to improve your skills and level up, the group work in this course is collaborative in nature. Group assignments will award XP and skill points just like other assignments, and the better you work and communicate as a team, the better you’ll all do.

  • We can assign groups in the first week once we have goal statements, putting together students with overlapping or complementary interests
  • We can designate certain weeks as party assignments, where either all three levels OR only the Level C assignment requires interaction
    • This requires students to plan their Level A, B, C schedule well ahead in order to accommodate other party members
    • They could meet as a party at the start of the semester to go over their individual schedules, and to talk about the course rules and come up with any questions about the unorthodox format
  • We can designate discussion posts as a group assignment, so that groups must comment on each other’s posts
  • Would there be a rubric for discussion post quality, with a maximum XP value to earn, or is this a binary type assignment? If the former, then quality responses to the group must form part of the rubric; if the latter, then the responses must also have a binary XP value

How the students will interact with the game

  • I’d like to have a web-based component where students log in and see a page for their character, with the following features:
    • name
    • picture (that they choose and upload),
    • level (including a “ding” bar that fills in an animation as they approach the next level)
      • Ideally, this should display the recently completed assignments (since last login) with the XP received (out of the potential total) as part of the animation
    • shape graph with skill points
    • chart showing how each skill has evolved over time