Gamifying and "Doing"

In my previous posts, I shared some of the ideas I have been thinking about as I redesign a course I am teaching to be explicitly gamified. One of the crucial decisions I made at an early stage was to divide the work process (the quest lines) into two distinct trees. In my last post, I shared an example of the knowledge tree. In any course, there is content that students should learn and master. There are also skills that a student should learn and master. In both cases, the pathways through the content and skills must be student-directed.

A critical difference between the knowing tree and the doing tree is that students do not earn "points" for completing quests in the knowing tree. Knowing serves itself; it is for its own sake. Doing, however, can be measured.

The doing tree is divided into six branches: critical reading, critical writing, critical speaking, modeling, collaborating and integrating. The doing tree for writing looks like this:


Critical Writing - one foundation of expression (where one cites)
Short, short form - tweeting
     one very simple idea
Short form - blog postings (200-500 words) or the 2 minute movie
     one simple idea, explicated
Medium form - the short paper, the "long blog" (1000-2000 words), the 7 minute movie
     one complex idea, explicated with depth
Long form - the long paper (2000+ words), the webpage, the 20 minute movie
     one highly complex idea, explicated along multiple arcs
And this is just one mode students might use to share what they are thinking. Like in the knowing tree, students will be obligated to complete a certain number of tasks in each branch of the doing tree as well, but will be rewarded significantly more by completing more complex tasks or repeating tasks. Rather than using an explicit level system as I am doing in the knowing tree, I am thinking of using something closer to an achievement system in the doing tree, with students earning achievement points (similar to the achievement point system in World of Warcraft, a system I know pretty well) and then tying those achievement points to the students' ultimate grade in the class.
In my next post, I will share how I am thinking of making the connection between levels, points and grades clear.