The Spring semester has begun and I have a new group of virtual travel companions. 15 Graduate students from UAlbany have blasted off into the Metaverse with me as their guide. Last night ten of us got together in Jokaydia for a fireside chat and a visit to North Country Island.
These intrepid adventurers have been on board for little over a week. Yet the conversation has already included embodied "feelings" (like modesty, clumsiness, disappointment); norms of behavior; and educational affordances. And of course we have already experienced the challenges of technology when it doesn't work - see the embodied cloud in the image.
In our exploration of the educational application of games, gaming theory, and constructive virtual worlds, I like to wrap our work in gamification features. A narrative storyline, discreet tasks that are rife with failure and success, collaborative missions and of course leveling. Management of all of this is always the challenge to me the game master/instructor. Upfront planning saves a lot on day to day upkeep to be sure. And though I intended to build the course in 3-D Gamelab, I just have not wrapped my mind around how to do it. So I stayed in [Argghhh] Blackboard with lots of pieces in Google docs. I am very pleased with my massively formulated Google spreadsheet documentation strategy. XP and levels are calculated immediately when travelers check off missions they've done. And of course their artifacts are dropped in their inworld portfolio for me to see. But "it ain't pretty." Every year I tweak and expand and learn. Mostly I learn. Let's see what I learn most this time around.