Lee Sheldon of Bloomington's Indiana University is using an experience point (XP) system rather than the traditional grading method in two of his game design classes. Borrowing from RPGs and MMORPGs, students begin the program with an avatar at level one. To gain experience, students must complete assignments camouflaged as RPG-based tasks such as quests, crafting, and more. In real life, they're making presentations, taking quizzes, and doing all that other boring school-related work.
According to Sheldon, students are grouped into guilds, and must complete "quests" as a solo adventurer or within "pick up groups" with other guild members. Is this working? Sheldon thinks so, saying the overall feedback is far more enthusiastic than previous grading methods. He's even revised elements of the class so that they're understandable and associated with fun.
But not every student is on board with the XP system. "There will always be a portion of the class who will not be motivated to learn no matter what an instructor may try," he told ITNews. "Those that are not as involved, one or two out of a class of forty, are pretty much drifting through life anyway thanks to factors the classroom can't really address."
Sheldon's comments stem from a recent ITNews article that focuses on the "gamer generation" entering the workforce. It's suggested that employers look to gaming to motivate their employees, and offer "gamer rewards" to boost employee engagement. "Clearly defined goals and fair, incremental rewards are two game design techniques that could motivate the 'gamer generation' in the workforce," he said.