I was reading an article the other day about a lecturer who has scrapped traditional grading from his classes and substituted a RPG-style levelling system (sadly the link has disappeared from my history, if anyone knows where it's located drop me a line). The premise was simple; as you completed assignments and attended lessons your earned "skill points" and levelled up you character. At the end of the course your grade was the level you attained.

Ok, so the idea has a few flaws (like; you're not necessarily encouraging learning but attendance), but I love this kind of off-the-wall education reform.

There is, I feel, scope to take this out of the classroom and onto the web. Facebook, Twitter et al are a massive ecosystem for social games - people love to compete (look at things like Farmville) and there is no reason education can't enter the fray.

So here's the idea: a set of educational social games which let you level and customise your public character

I would do it like this:

  • Put together a couple of key-skill area games (Maths, Science, English). The games would have to be trivial but educational
  • Link them using a social network (probably Facebook) and have a central 'character' who has various skill traits which, on completing game challenges, can be levelled.
  • Let it run for a while (probably you could make some tide-you-over cash with in game purchases upgrades) gaining users and skills
  • THEN pitch it to the schools and educators, produce some more serious games/challenges in line with local curriculum and try to get teachers sold on setting it as, say, homework.
  • The games might not meet the trivial "it's simple so it's fun" rule but they are a) set as homework and b) contribute lots more points to your character
  • I believe this benefits everyone; teachers get a free and easy resource for setting homework and the kids are playing an RPG (always fun).
Feel free to build this idea; I'm not going to get a chance :)