I thought I had my grading all set. I had designed my quests. I had awarded my quests the appropriate XP. I had translated my XP into grades per how the University wants them assigned.
And then I thought, I can do better.
I left everything the same in terms of quests/XP/converting XP to grades. What I changed was how a student engaged with the quests and earned the XP. On the wiki, I have stated:
Experience points are what I use to determine your final grade. There are two paths for you to take: (a) Follow the Tradition and (b) The Way of the Navigator. You decide.
Each path is hot-linked to it’s own page so a student can choose what they are interested in and then go to a new page to read about it. A little choose-your-own adventure-ish.
Follow the Tradition
I created the Follow the Tradition option for students who wanted to go on autopilot as far as getting a high grade in the class was concerned. I understand that what I have put in place is already going to be more than enough. There will be students who would prefer I tell them: (a) these are your assignments, (b) this is when they are due, and (c) this is how many points they are worth. You know – perfectly normal, traditional stuff. Hence the name of this path. Here is how I have explained the path:
You have selected to Follow the Tradition to complete your quests and earn your XP. Following the Tradition simply means you are interested in maintaining a fairly normal/traditional path as far as reaching your final destination (your grade). I have charted this path for you. You do not have to do any thinking in terms of trying to figure out what you need to do to get an H or a P. Simply do all assignments that do not have an * next to them and follow the due dates on the course schedule.
See? Pretty straight forward. Students then see the following list:
|Type of Quest||XP|
|Exploratory Quests (Where Are You Know?)|
|Posts 1-5||500 each|
|Posts 6-7*||800 each|
|4th-6th time*||1500 each|
|Side Quests (Moment of the Week)|
|You lead an in-class discussion||500|
|You created a video and posted it to You Tube||800|
|You left a comment||100|
|You contributed to a sustained and engaged discussion||200|
|Social Quest #1: Look Inside My Classroom|
|Lessons 1-5||1000 each|
|Six or more*||2000 each|
|Complete 5 Feedback Quests||1500 each|
|Complete 1 or more Secret Bonus Quests*||2000 each|
|Earn the Mentor Badge*||5000|
|Social Quest #2: Graphic Novel Chat|
|Check in for chats 1-7||100 each|
|Check out for chats 1-7||100 each|
|Tweet four-six times on a relevant topic||300 each tweet|
|Epic Quests (Share Your Journey)|
|Share Your Journey||5000|
On the Tradition path, students can ignore anything marked with an asterisk and not be concerned about how their grade will come out. They can also do these things if they want, but they can rest assured in knowing that the path to a high grade has been created for them. Just like they are used to.
The Way of the Navigator
I created the Way of the Navigator option for students who wanted to chart their own territory. Here is what I told them:
You have selected The Way of the Navigator to complete your quests and earn your XP. The Way of the Navigator means you are interested in charting your own course and determining how you will earn your XP and reach your final destination (your grade). This means that you do not have to follow the due dates as they are listed on the course schedule. However, some quests (like Moment of the Week) still require that you sign up for them.
In this version, students are in complete control. Do what you want. Don’t do what you don’t want to do. There are more than enough points to go around. I had some concerns about doing this, but I have decided to just them them go and free fall into space. They were:
- maybe I should have some kind of due date. what if students wait until the very end and then dump a bunch of stuff on me? there are so many problems with that not just for me, but for their own learning.
- what if a student flat out skips an assignment but maxes out on another quest and still earns the highest possible grade?
These are legitimate questions to ask. My initial reaction was to put some sort of control mechanism into place that would prevent either of these options from happening. But then I thought, don’t do that. Why? Because my reason for putting a control mechanism into place was about me wanting to be in control. Sometimes that is warranted, but I think I can let it go here. Let’s see what happens.
I think what I will do is ask students to commit to a path the first week of class. One of the things I was interested in doing was putting students into guilds. Guilds can serve all kinds of functions. One is that when the leaderboard rankings go up you see which guilds are on top. But I didn’t think I had enough students to do that. What I could do is group students by path and make the path a sort of default guild. So when the leaderboards post you will see who is in what place (well, maybe, people do not need to use their actual name), you will see what level they are, number of XP, and what path/guild they belong to. We’ll see. Obviously if 90% of the class picks one path over the other this might not be that interesting of data to collect.