The First Days of Operation LAPIS, Part 2

Continued from Part 1

With almost the entire class having succeeded in their task to to create a Google Account and move on to the next steps, I congratulated them and promoted all of them from ‘Recruit’ status to ‘Operative’.  A few of the students who were not confident in their computer abilities questioned whether or not they had done everything correctly.  This sort of thing is to be expected.  I assured that all of them had indeed done all the steps just as I had wanted.  After some general discussion and feedback about the visual guide, we moved forward to talk about other aspects of the course.

There was still a rather large feeling of anxiety and apprehension in the air but I knew that this was going to be an important first week to quell those fears.  My goal for day two was to introduce some new components while still moving at a slow pace in order to prevent any kind of panic.  One of the students asked about the ‘Demiurge’ and so I explained to them that I, too, would be playing a role in the story as the Demiurge (think: The Architect in the Matrix).  I think it helped them to know that I would be role-playing along side of them and that most communication outside of class from me would actually be coming from the Demiurge.  After fielding another question of just what ‘Demiurge’ meant, I displayed the second email that they had received the night before and went through the links and instructions that were contained in it.

First I opened up an example Operative Dossier (LP “grade” sheet) and walked them through the layout and what all of the information was included on it.  For many of the students, they thought it was very beneficial to do this.  They all had opened up the document the previous night but weren’t sure what everything was.  We did the same with the Carta Collectionis (Collection Sheet) and they had the reaction that I had hoped they would have: they were excited about the CARDs.  It was abundantly clear to me at that moment that we had hit the nail squarely on the head and tapped into the ‘Pokemon-thing’.  They were very excited to hear that there were many more CARDs to collect, and each one had a different set of circumstances to earn them.  They also immediately picked up on the other benefit of CARDs: LPs.  The CARDs can help them advance in levels and thus advance in grade.  “Gotta catch ‘em all?”  I have a hunch that more than a few will try to collect ‘em all.

The first CARD that they received (which was a foil edition of Pompeii) came to play an immediate role in the next step of the process.  I brought up the TSTT (the discussion forums) on the screen and we walked through the different sub-forums listed and how each one functioned differently.  Again, this visual walkthrough (even though they had a print guide in their email) was a big step in making it more accessible and not so scary to the students.  We even took a look at the first immersion prompt, Episode 1.1.a, and talked about the role those will play each night.  They immediately picked up on the TSTT Navigation Device (a custom Google Map link), so we took a look at that as well.  The first point in their narrative takes them just outside of the city of Pompeii, on a road, by a tree.  The shadow of Vesuvius looms overhead.  For many (if not all), they weren’t sure where we were geographically and so I showed them how to use the TSTT Navigation Device to their advantage.  Zooming out just once gave us a clear image of where Vesuvius was in relation to our characters.  Ah hah! That volcano!  Now we are getting somewhere.  Some did know that Pompeii was one of the towns devastated by the eruption so my next question to them, “When did this happen?”.  The first response blurted out was “That was on the CARD!”  Success!  The Operatives now know that they can gain relevant and important information from their CARD collection.

Their task for the second night was to log into the TSTT and create their own personal achievement thread in the appropriate forum.  This area is where the Demiurge is going to offer public congratulations and dole out titles and honors.  Two more students picked up special titles and some real honest learning took place.  Not satisfied with my assurance that they could think of the Demiurge as an all-powerful-creator-figure, one of the students looked up the Greek origins of the word and posted it for all the other Operatives to see.  He confirmed my definition, used the internet as a valuable research tool, and shared his discovery with the class.  For his efforts, he was awarded ‘Venātor Verbōrum’ or ‘The Hunter of Words’ as his title.

Day two was an overwhelming success.  It was apparent that a few who were very uneasy after the first day of class started to come around and be more receptive to the whole idea of what we were going to be doing.  It is too bad that I lost day three to “Hurricane” Earl.  I’ll meet with the Operatives again on Wednesday, so stay tuned for a discussion on the third (and final) day of the introduction to LAPIS where they will receive their Recentiī Teams and start learning their first bit of Latin.

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