Last spring’s experiment

October 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm 1 comment

For the last trimester of the advanced algebra class that I teach, I decided last spring to try an experiment. I started the term by telling the students that the class would be a multiplayer class. Specifically, the students will have avatars that are pirate scholars. When they completed assignments or took a quiz, they would get XP. The XP would be tracked and they would get advantages for their avatars as they leveled up. Part of the class would be a pirate RPG.

The Sources

I took inspiration and ideas from multiple sources for the game. Like Seventh Sea, I told the students they were in a parallel world to Earth. I did this so that we could be a bit anachronistic and have roles for women and different nationalities than the pirates of the golden age. I decided on a simple skills based game, borrowing from Five by Five the idea of using dice multiplication. Each level meant the player got a new random item and could either add a new skill, upgrade a skill, or add a new language.

Why an RPG?

I didn’t want the effect of the XP to be just a progress bar on the wall (although most students really liked this and would check their spot each day). I wanted to give students another reason (besides a grade) to get XP. I also wanted to blur the lines between students playing a game and doing algebra problems in a math class.

The Results

Promising, fun for me and most of the students, more focus (I think). I will explain more in the next post and talk about what is happening this year.


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The Inspiration What the students did in the multiplayer classroom

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Joseph Nebus  |  October 15, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    You know, I recall kind of open-competition events like this being rather good in elementary school as a way to encourage improvement through competition. It fades away from higher level courses, though, which seems odd considering it’s at the higher levels when people have the kind of keen interest in social standing where the public feedback might be really explosive.


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