Radio Silence and CARDs

When I started out this summer, I had every intention on blogging fairly regularly as we worked through the development of the first introductory language course in a series of fully practomimetic courses. Obviously, I didn't follow through on that goal, but it wasn’t because I was slacking! Seriously! The project became so engrossing by itself that all of a sudden it became the middle of August. Over the next few weeks leading up to the 'launch' (the start of the school year), we'll be spending the time talking about the mechanics of the course. Be sure to keep an eye on the blogs from Roger Travis and Karen Zook for more details.

Since Roger has already eloquently defined 'practomime', there's no need to regurgitate that in this post, you can read all about it here (and I strongly encourage you to do so.) The first course that we have developed for this year is Operation LAPIS. The operation is intended to be the equivalent of a Latin I course at any institution. In this case, this first offering will take the form of sections of Latin I at NFA and at UConn taught by Karen.

This post in particular, though, is about one specific mechanic from Operation LAPIS: the cards (or CARDs) you might have seen me post on Facebook. CARD stands for (Classical Attunement Reward Device) and is a key element to the success of one particular mechanic in LAPIS which is easy to follow regardless of your familiarity with the concept of a "practomime". This mechanic is called "cartae collectionis" (or, "collection sheets") since the operatives (students) are scouring through their text building their collections of morphology, syntax, culture, etc.

How does it work? Here's the introductory communication about the collections that they will receive:


Carta Collectionis (Collection Sheet)

Operative, the Demiurge has optimized this mission activity to build your attunement to the demands of the TSTT’s increasing complexity. You will progress in knowledge of and facility in using and analyzing key elements of Latin morphology and syntax, and of Roman culture.

You may collect from the stories in your text or from the material in the TSTT itself. You collect by copying the appropriate element, with a citation and translation, into your collection sheet (located in Google Docs). It is important to note that you can only claim a word once per Episode or passage. For example, even though ‘servus’ may appear multiple times in a passage, you can only claim it one time.

Example claim:

Nominative singular nouns
  1. servus – slave – “Cerberus” (pg 7) 
  2. malus – bad man – Episode 1.1.a
You will obtain increasing attunement rewards–commonly called “CARDs” (Classical Attunement Reward Device) as you progress, by accumulating longer lists of collected elements. Each element has a certain number of items specified for earning a CARD, and you receive an LP bonus for each CARD you receive.

Not all collection elements are known at this time. The TSTT will occasionally update your HUD with new elements. The Demiurge will communicate to when this occurs through the COMM LINK section of your HUD. You are responsible for updating your own carta collectionis when new categories are available.


  • 3rd person singular verb: CARD at 100 
  • nominative singular noun: CARD at 100 
  • subject-verb unit: CARD at 100 

The operatives will build their carta collectionis in a document they share with the Demiurge via Google Docs. When they reach their goals, during periodic checks, the Demiurge will award the appropriate CARD to them in that same document in a section reserved for their CARD collections, For example, when an operative records their 100th nominative singular noun, they will receive the following CARD:

Why the CARDs? There is something in human nature that compels us to collect things. In games it is even more profound (think Pokemon, MMOs, or even basic Facebook games like Farmville): there's a drive to get complete 'sets' of items, even without an apparent reason to do so. Sometimes this can be for purely cosmetic reasons; sometimes there are nominal rewards attached to it. The idea here is that once the operatives realize that there are rewards attached to the collection mechanic, the extrinsic motivation of receiving the CARDs will hopefully compel them to continue doing the collections. The operatives will also receive a small Latinity Point reward for completion as well. (We’ll cover the concept of LPs in future post; briefly, they are the LAPIS grading mechanic)

The collections themselves are an alternative way to think about and learn both "endings" and (the bane of every Latin student) vocabulary. They'll quickly hone in on "-us" or "-a" for their nominative singular endings and since they are required to type the definition for everything, they'll be subconsciously building vocabulary without doing the traditional vocabulary studying (flashcards, etc.)

Lastly, the CARDs themselves contain vivid images of people and places in the ancient world. As the students look at their CARD collections, they'll also be familiarizing themselves with some important names. These CARDs, as you noticed, also contain a little blurb about the person or place. Every part of the carta collectionis will reinforce continual and on-going learning. After all, who wouldn't want to have a limited edition foil of Julius Caesar in their collection?

Comments? Ideas? Suggestions? We'd love to hear them!


  1. I know I've said this to you in person, but you've done an incredible amount of work with the CARDs and the prompts. Thank you!

  2. Nice work Kevin...it's definitely impressive to see this much effort and thought going into finding better ways to connect and interact with students nowadays...very interesting approach!

    Good luck!

  3. Karen: not a problem, I can't wait for both of us to launch this in two weeks.

    CJ: thanks for the kind words of support.

  4. I found you through an Academic Impressions article. This sounds like a wonderful project, especially with the emphasis on culture as well as linguistics and syntax.

    My query for you is slightly off-topic, though. In my non-academic life, I volunteer for a Great Dane rescue organization. I've been thinking about making trading cards to highlight the dogs we have in rescue, but I have yet to find a suitable template for the cards themselves (the closest I've come is the Avery business card templates). Would you possibly be willing to share your template for the CARDs with me? If so, my email address is dtisinger at gmail.com If the template is proprietary, no worries.