On Monday, I discussed the CARD mechanic and the cartae collectionis. Today I would like to explain our mechanic called 'Latinity Points'.
Latinity Points (LPs for short) are the mechanism through which grading occurs during Operation LAPIS. As you may know, in role playing games (RPG’s) like Dungeons & Dragons and World of Warcraft, players advance towards game objectives by collecting 'experience points' (XP). Once a character has gained enough XP (at predetermined milestones), that character is able to advance a 'level' and usually gains new skills and abilities. We wanted to capture the same essence with LAPIS and so that naturally lead us to LPs.
Operatives (that is, the students) receive LPs for everything they do in the operation (that is, the course). Some of the things they do happen inside the role-playing (practomime) activity-- the time-machine/simulation called the TSTT; other things happen in a more traditional-looking way in the classroom. A carefully constructed practomime response will earn more LPs than one rushed, incomplete, or lacking in any research or Latin. Likewise, standard looking assessments (called attunement exercises) also award LPs in a scale that looks very familiar to students, parents and administrators alike. For example, if on a vocabulary quiz, the operative received what would be a 90% ordinarily, he or she would receive 90 LPs. It is a system that scales incredibly well depending on the gravity of the task.
All of the activities in any given mission (there are 14 in course) add up to a total of 3000 LP. As in real RPGs, these numbers are artificially inflated for no reason other than that people like to receive really big numbers for doing tasks. It is a mechanic that has been a staple of RPGs for nearly three decades. In LAPIS we hope that it'll have the same effect. Receiving 47 LP for a great practomime response is a whole lot more gratifying than receiving 5 LP or even a 9 out of 10 on the top of a page.
So what do these LPs mean for the student? A couple of things, actually. For starters, we do have a level scale built into the practomime. In this version of Operation LAPIS, levels don’t have an effect inside the role-playing portion of the course, but every operative will have a private dossier that prominently displays his or her level. For reasons of privacy, we can’t display that information to the rest of the class, but we suspect that students will want to do so themselves, creating healthy rivalry inside the operation team as a whole. In future iterations, we expect that we'll be able to devise other uses for these levels including different skills, options available during practomimetic prompts, etc. Even with the current simple system, though, there is something to be said for the gratification that accompanies 'gaining a level', even if it is just cosmetic. The current scale is listed below:
11. 19,738 (25,500 - maximum total at the end of the 1st sem. for 100% LP awards)
As the scale above indicates, the maximum total for each semester is 25,500 LPs. Most students should be able to hit level 11 by the end of the first semester. Level 14 will equate to a grade of B and level 15 to a grade of A. We may still play around with the LP distribution a bit, but at this point I am pretty happy with how the levels span out over the course of the year.
Likewise, here's the other half of the LP system: actual grades. We use a traditional grade scale, multiplied many times over. This system counts the LP gained from the CARD collection mechanic as 'alternative ways to advance', something that might be called ‘bonus points’ in a traditional course. With the amount of work (and learning) that will go into earning those points, it makes much more sense to factor them in more substantially.
Grades (per semester) are determined as follows:
>21,855 - A
21,854...21,056 - A-
21, 055...20,351 - B+
20,350...19,411 - B
19,410...18,706 - B-
18,705...18,001 - C+
18,000...17,061 - C
17,060...16,356 - C-
16,355...15,561 - D+
15,560...14,711 - D
14,710...14,100 - D-
<14,099 - F
All in all, the Latinity Point system should prove to be another in a series of mechanics that serve to further motivate and engage the students beyond the traditional way grades are handled. Each student will have an online private dossier viewable in Google Docs (which can only be edited by the Demiurge and only viewed by the student signed in to their Google account) which tracks their LP awards for all missions, broken down by episodes and activities, and provides them with their current total LP and level so that they know exactly what their current status is in the class.
Again, thoughts, feedback and ideas are always appreciated!