Saturday, February 12, 2011

Operation ΑΡΕΤΗ: my current practomimetic course

It probably makes sense to post a small note about Operation ΑΡΕΤΗ, the game-based course on Greek philosophical writings that I'm currently teaching (or rather, I suppose, demiurging) at UConn. I think it makes sense because I suspect that the small number of people who read this blog probably intersects fairly closely with those who follow me on Twitter or Buzz, or are friends on Facebook. Since I recently introduced a Twitter assignment to the course (based on the wonderful inspiration of an ornithologist colleague at UConn, for whom I suspect Twitter might actually have been invented), you may be seeing a series of mystifying tweets with the hashtag #3207arete, and I thought it would at least be courteous to explain them.

Operation ΑΡΕΤΗ is a practomimetic course in the style of Operation ΚΤΗΜΑ and Operation ΚΛΕΟΣ, with antecedents also in what was originally called FABULA AMORIS, and will probably be called Operation AMOR next time I offer it. It's an RPG in an ARG wrapper, which is listed in the UConn catalogue as Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies 3207 Greek Philosophical Writings. I won't bore you with the details of the mechanics, since they're really only a slight iteration on the ones you can read about in various posts about Operation LAPIS.

The RPG component--that is, as we call it, the TSTT immersion--involves controlling characters in 360 BCE in Athens, who are invited to join the Academy, and who then must decide how to describe and analyze the practice of Plato in the context of that time and of our time. I've also decided to incorporate a great deal of real ancient Greek, in much the same way that an MMORPG like World of Warcraft incorporates a great deal of terminology like "DPS" and "Mana." Operatives of Operation ΑΡΕΤΗ are doing "attunements" that involve collecting various kinds of Greek words in lists for which they receive bonus Philosophy Points, in which their grades are calculated, as well as reading Key-texts that come from the real text of Plato.

The Twitter assignment, which was the trigger for writing this post, has the operatives (students) making Twitter accounts with their codenames (things like "Poplar," "Island," and "Lemon," assigned to them at the start of the course), and tweeting any time they see someone in need of ἔλεγχος--that is, Socratic cross-examination. Every time they make such a tweet, which is judged by "Mission Control" to be of a certain quality, they earn 100 PP (for comparison purposes, an A+ for the semester is equal to 100,000 PP). So feel free to follow up on the #3207arete hashtag and see what they come up with!

I'm also very happy to answer any questions you might have about this course or about my team's practomimetic courses in general, on Google Buzz or via e-mail.