The Heartland in Pandaria’s Valley of the Four Winds is a vegetable-lover’s delight with its giant carrots and squash, purple pumpkins, and leafy greens. But watch out! Munching in several fields are the most vicious rabbits I’ve ever had the misfortune to bump into. In Philand we have our own vicious creatures, at least in the hostile territories surrounding the capital. Yes! the Phier trainees (students) did embrace the bonus quest I mentioned in my previous post and asked for more. They seem eager to flesh out the Philand narrative and help create this fantasy world, which is our playground for applying and evaluating social-political philosophical thought.
I was glad to agree to post a bonus quest each week. However, after receiving the second bonus quest, a few students apparently spent more time on fantasy than philosophy; so I informed the group that I would unlock the third quest after follow-up work from a raid (applied philosophy) was accomplished, work on which they were dragging their heels – and the work got done in a timely manner. Unlocking bonus quests on the condition of completing necessary work is a practice I will probably continue.
For the bonus quests so far, students have created vivid maps of Philand and its territories (cartographer badge); placed Philand and its star-system in a galaxy (astronomer badge); and described administrative leaders and their duties, including a cabinet of sorts (executive branch organizer badge). Each of these quests required the use of images along with text. Most students used found images; and one student, MidNight, earned a special Video Astronomer badge for producing a charming YouTube video for his images. Praise from his colleagues may have led him to include another video as part of his mission quest on Plato’s Forms of Government. MidNight now holds the title Philand Filmmaker.
Creating achievement badges is something I rather enjoy. Pretty much I follow the World of Warcraft model of awarding badges after students have shown substantial progress or accomplished something epic. Progress badges, for example, include “Five Badges Earned,” “Busy as a Beaver” (after earning 1000 XP), and “Gaming Giants” (for completing all the quests in the first four missions, which focused on philosophical “giants”). Epic or special badges have included “I Did It My Way” for a student who blended creativity and scholarship in an exemplary PowerPoint on John Stuart Mill’s political views and “Let’s Get Connected” for another student who stylishly completed all four quests for “Mission 3: Reconnecting” in record time
To create a badge, I simply use clip art or Google stylized images, frame the image, give it a title, and include the student’s name and the date accomplished. I keep a running list of badges earned on the SuperPhi Achievement Scroll and send the scroll to students once a week. When a student earns five badges (two have so far), she or he receives an individualized scroll.
Like World of Warcraft achievements, these badges have no experience point (XP) value; in other words, receiving a badge does not affect students’ grades (at least not directly). Rather, badges publicly acknowledge students’ accomplishments, and in this way, I hope, add to students’ incentive to do good, timely work. I like to imagine that when they receive a badge, they experience a fiero moment and express it with an energetic fist pump :^).
Now I’m going back to The Heartland, which is rich in ore as well as vegetables, where I plan to mine ghost iron ore – this time without getting killed by a vicious swarm of rabbits.