Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching


The game is SuperPhi, the course is Social and Political Philosophy, and the Phier recruits are college freshmen and sophomores. This game is my first attempt to design a course around game-based learning. In it I call myself Mage Lotus, a practitioner and teacher of magic used to empower the forces of good – or, more specifically in Jane McGonigal’s words, “to improve the quality of life, to prevent suffering, and to create real, widespread happiness” by learning how to “reorganize society in better ways” (10).

World of Warcraft*, the immersive role-playing game I know best, serves as my organizational model. Course content is presented as missions (themed content), quests (tasks within a mission), and professions (individualized discoveries and applications* of the material). Group discussions and class activities include raiding, i.e., “building and maintaining a team, a close-knit group of players who progress together” (McGonigal 58, quoting from WoWWiki)….

Educating Lotus

My feral druid needed a larger bag and heard she could get one at Darkmoon Faire – and she did. The Faire, like many other places in World of Warcraft* (WoW), is a riot of color, here in lurid tones of purple, green, and orangish red. The gate beckons with a wicked wink. “Dangerous fun ahead,” it seems to say. To get there, a toon enters a portal in the Elwynn Forest, then winds down a well-marked path to the entrance gate. My students will see this gate next week – a screenshot of it, that is – when most students will have followed the quest path leading to the achievement Phier Recruit. The gate and tents behind it represent Philand’s orientation area.

Philand is a realm in another dimension whose citizens partner with chosen Earthlings who excel at problem solving. The Phiers, always in search of wisdom, are dedicated…

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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