Thursday, March 8, 2012

Applying Game Theory to the Classroom

We teach a generation that lives in a world that is self-configured to meet their individual wants and needs. It is a world that our classrooms have yet to understand or adapt to - until now.

I've begun working with an ELA teacher who has devised a somewhat unconventional twist on classroom learning and game theory applications. Rather than implementing a traditional linear approach to learning and instruction, Kevin wants to infuse game theory applications that infuse a "Skill Tree" of achievements, levels, and pathways within his curriculum.

In his own words, Kevin wants to develop:

A "Skill Tree" or a "Tech Tree" is a gaming mechanic in strategy computer games that allows for players to progress through a hierarchical pathway, unlocking more sophisticated and complex skills or technologies as they go. The tree acts as a visual representation of what players have accomplished, as well as acts as an indicator of the necessary means by which to further progress. They offer players an option to see how often mundane or repetitive tasks lead to more potent rewards and greater ability. Lastly, they lend the sense that one is in control of shaping one's development, often allowing players to choose how they will make their avatar or minions grow in order to meet the game's objectives.

I want to adopt a "flipped classroom model," as championed by Bergmann and Sams. With my lectures and lessons thus recorded, I would like to use web-based assessment tools to build activities that help students learn, practice, and demonstrate their understanding. With the course fully articulated, the intention is to open up time for greater and more in-depth project-based learning activities.

The tech-tree would serve as a pathway for each individual student's learning, somewhat akin to the Khan Academy. However, the lessons will be bound as well by narrative, for as a gamer and English Language Arts instructor myself I've seen the driving power of storytelling to compel and motivate. This would package my course into a complete game, replete with missions, XP, bonuses, rank titles, avatars, and boss challenges. The goal is to fully implement a game-based learning model that is motivating, differentiated, student-driven, and which satisfies the literacy and technology standards of the Common Core as defined by New York State.

Together with my students, we will plan out pathways to meet each students needs. I will implement recursive pathways for remediation, re-enforcement, and re-teaching, and utilize the data gathered from my students progress through the tech tree in my design and implementation of project-based lessons demanding long-term commitments and high order cognitive tasks.

Although Kevin has developed his skill tree and is currently working on incorporating his content within the process, we are lacking a platform. We have begun to look at a variety of options, but we are seeking a RPG-like environment that we can build from. Kevin has developed the vision, the materials, and the process. However, we are lacking the foundation and that is where we are stuck.

If you have recommendations, suggestions, and/or know of someone that may be able to direct us towards the "light" please let us know.

As Kevin has stated: Please help me to make this vision a reality.


  1. I just found this and opted to archive it:

  2. These open source programs can be good, but I think the problem with them is that they do not offer as many capabilities as paid programs.

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