What Is Moodle and What Do I Have to Do?
Moodle is the online part of our class where we will do many of our practice assignments, writing tips, reading, and larger projects–basically, anything you want to learn in preparation for the major Standards for the course. There will be chances to work together and on your own to improve your writing and thinking skills. The simulation is divided into chapters, each 2-5 weeks long. The “due dates” for most of the Moodle assignments are therefore flexible: you can complete them any time within the unit due date. You can expect that Moodle work will account for about 25% of your total class grade, but more importantly, it is a place to demonstrate many of the Standards required for the course.
For ELA/HELA9, most any 50+pt assignment can achieve a Standard requirement, usually on this scale:
Next Nomads Chapter Due:
What is Nomads?
Nomads is the online role-play game that leads you through the Moodle course. Each of you has been “selected” by the Institute of the Apocalypse in a steampunk-style world to help rebuild The Republic. You will do this by studying the distant (and past) culture of Amerika as anthropologists (nomads), managed by the TaskMaster Calli. Individuals or teams return with their reports and “compete” for praise at the mysterious Hall of Justices. But there seems to be something else happening behind the scenes.
As you study, there will be challenges based upon the Moodle assignments, connections to make to uncover the game’s secrets, and even some danger to your character as you work to advance in levels and skills. While the game is fun, its story line is also working to help teach you another dimension to our class curriculum, the ability to read a culture as a text, to become a critical analyst of our own behavior. There will be some overlap between the game, chisnell.com, and our live classroom, so don’t think that Nomads only happens when you’re logged in! Doing well in the game can sometimes grant you additional opportunities to learn some fascinating things or to modify some of the assignments I offer. Finally, though, if you’re not into the gaming/story part of Moodle, know that only the Moodle assignments count towards your grade/Standards, not the game aspects of the course. If you decide to ignore the game events (or even if you are injured in the game!), your grade cannot be affected in any way.
What’s On Moodle?
- Practice exercises and projects of all kinds
- Content to learn
- Helpful strategies and tips
- Most of the simulation materials
Think of Moodle as you might daily homework in a math class or similar. It’s designed to give you the practice and materials you need to succeed on academic essays, novels, and beyond. The practice you do there will help prepare you for the more formal projects. As you work through the semester, about 25% of your total class grade will be based on your Moodle work, your practice.
That said, there is far more to “do” on Moodle than you are required to do or–more accurately–there are more opportunities for practice than are technically required to score 100%. This is because the learning and practice are more important than the “points” you receive. You will also see multiple opportunities to succeed on Standards, far more than you will need in each semester.
Finally, by practicing well, you earn skills and experience in the Nomads simulation. The more skills and experience you receive, the more likely you will succeed in the storyline (and the less likely you will die in it!). In addition, the more practice you do, the more likely you will “unlock” benefits that other players do not receive.
For every successful point you earn on Moodle, you earn credit towards your overall Moodle score (each chapter has a “denominator” target goal) which counts towards your class grade, and you earn experience points for your game character. The more points you receive, the more experience you have. Experience points move you up levels which makes you more powerful in the game, and all points are cumulative.
Note: At no point will your Nomads successes and failures negatively impact your class grade. Successful quiz scores earn you game experience, but being trapped or losing a fight cannot prevent you from practicing the quiz for class credit.
Also, note that the key word for all of this is “successful” points. Game points which fall below a certain threshold of success do not count toward either score. This prevents “point scrounging,” moving brainlessly through the activities to pick up a few quick points here and there. The goal is to earn success by learning.
The threshold for success is set fairly low early in the game, but it increases as the year moves on. The success threshold will be posted with the activity, where applicable. Therefore, if a Vocabulary Quiz has a posted success threshold of 60% and you earn 40%, you know you have earned no points towards the denominator with that effort (but most times a new opportunity will arise).
Students who work conscientiously through Moodle will require an estimated 45 minutes of work per week a chapter is open (though more time/work is available). However, students will receive 1-2 class periods/week to work on Moodle, read, or work on group projects, so it is possible to complete chapter work at school. Each game chapter will post an estimated number of minutes required to earn the denominator in points across the timeline for the chapter (though this varies depending upon the activities you choose to do).
In addition, each chapter has an end Project where students have several options. Generally such a Project is done outside of the online environment and then submitted to Moodle at completion. There are several options for the Project offered on Moodle, and there will be several substitute projects possible outside of Moodle, if the student chooses (i.e. Independent Novels, podcasts, presentations, etc.).
Take this Advice to Heart:Work routinely, with others, and consistently, planning to meet the regular deadlines. Students who procrastinate to the final week always end up failing more assignments and feeling rushed, pressured, and even angry.
Here are a few ideas to keep your Moodle scores strong:
- Log on frequently, if for no other reason than to double-check due dates. Missing a Workshop deadline, for instance, can be really damaging. The upper-right-hand corner of the Moodle page notes upcoming deadlines. You can download or subscribe to that Calendar.
- Review all of the assignments offered when a chapter opens. Procrastinators have been surprised to find that the higher-point projects actually take a little planning to do well, sometimes with other students.
- Watch for new opportunities:
- Success on some assignments (or combinations of assignments) can open new opportunities, clues, side quests, and other resources.
- Additionally, even failures at some assignments can offer you additional opportunities to learn the material, second chances to pass a quiz, etc.
- Do review the rubrics carefully when they are attached to assignments. If an assignment requires that you reference two readings and you only reference one . . .
- Print out poetry and other readings that you will be quizzed on. Annotate them in advance of the quiz, too. That way you will know the reading well and score higher, and it’s a lot easier to refer to the page than to switch back and forth between screens, especially on a timed quiz.
- Didn’t do well on something and want another opportunity? Ask! The assignments here exist largely because they were requested by students earlier!
Yes and no.
Remember that the goal of the Moodle work is to practice and learn in order to prepare for the larger assessments for the course later. Cheating–whatever that means–seems like a self-defeating strategy designed to grub points, instead. Since there are so many points available each chapter, “gaming the system” doesn’t make a lot of sense.
But can you work together to help each other learn? I wish you would! That doesn’t mean offering quiz answers (see above, and this strategy is often impossible–you’ll see), but helping each other understand the ideas will always benefit all of us!
What is Karma?
Karma is something you gather for your thoughtful, provocative, or spirited work on chisnell.com. It may be found through posting regularly to the forums, completing weekly challenges, through class contributions, or perhaps some other ways. Karma is good energy, and your karma points on chisnell.com may be spent on equipment to assist you on your journey.
Equipment? Why do I need it?
Players may receive equipment through their various actions in Nomads. With karma, you can purchase equipment. Depending on your profession, you can build equipment. And if you solve challenges, you may win equipment. Gear for the game falls into four categories. Each option is explained more completely in our Store.
- Offensive weapons (for use against game villains and even other players);
- Defensive gear (to defend against game villains and other players!);
- Surveillance Equipment (which offers you extra options for assignments); and
- Miscellaneous gear which has a a variety of functions.
What are Professions?
Professions or character classes are designed around the way you like to learn and where you are most successful. Once you’ve chosen a profession (Warrior, Scholar, Poet, Thief), the game will give you certain advantages through the year.
Combat and Hit Points No combat can occur until you have left The Republic. The first several weeks of class are “safe” training. Every character as Hit Points which are the life strength of the character. The basic calculation is 75 HP + (LEV x 25). Therefore, a Lev 10 character will have 325 HP. If your HP reaches 0, you have died in the game and you cannot complete the Game Mission to save The Republic. Combat calculations are based on a number of factors, but here is a formula that works to determine winners:
Attacker LEV + Activity Score + Eqpt Adjustments vs. Defender LEV +Activity Score + Eqpt Adjustment
The difference in totals determines both who wins and the amount of damage inflicted upon the other character. In some cases, multiple attackers or defenders may exist, but in each case, only the highest Activity score of any party is counted in the formula. If multiple characters lose together, they all suffer the same level of damage
Lev 4 Character with a Sword attacks a Lev 3 Character with no defense on a 25 pt. Quiz.
- Attacker = 4 + 10 (sword) + 12 on quiz = 26 pts.
- Defender = 3 + 0 Defense + 18 on quiz = 21 pts.
- Result: Defender loses 5 HP
Lev 2 Character with no weapon attacks Lev 4 Warrior with Shield on 100 pt. Workshop.
- Attacker = 2 + 0 + 96 on Workshop = 98 pts.
- Defender = 4 + (5×2) Shield + 47 on Workshop = 61 pts.
- Result: Defender loses 37 HP
Lev 7 Character with no weapon attacks defenseless Lev 2 Character on 100 pt. Workshop
- Attacker = 7 + 0 + 0 (forgets to do Workshop) = 7
- Defender = 2 + 0 + 92 on Workshop = 94
- Result: Attacker loses 87 HP!
Two Level 5 Characters with Swords attack one Lev 8 Character without defense on 10 pt. Quiz
- Attacker Levels (5+5) + (10+10) Swords + Quiz Scores of 6 and 8 = 38 pts. (Higher Quiz Score Used)
- Defender = 8 + 0 + 10 on Quiz = 18 pts.
- Result: Defender loses 20 HP
The Odyssey is a reading which will spread across our entire year. As Calli will explain, the Nomad adventure and missions will strangely parallel the voyage and challenges of Odysseus as he battles his way Home. There may be more reasons and connections for building our Steampunk world around this classic work that you can learn about in the game itself.
Calli and The Steampunk Republic
Calli is the official TaskMaker of the Nomad adventurers as they journey out. She will answer questions, offer challenges, give you clues, or perhaps even punish you on behalf of The Republic that she works for. The Republic is, weirdly, a kind of Steampunk collection of desert dwellers. It is hugely limited and poor, yet has access to an odd assortment of mechanical devices. One way to imagine Steampunk is what a world might be like if we never developed electronics but became experts at machine engineering. Whatever the reason, however, The Republic seems to have very few resources at its disposal.
As Nomads, you are kind of like anthropologists, tasked with understanding a strange culture. An anthropologist studies a foreign culture’s people, attempting to set aside bias or prejudice in making judgments. Your job will be to report back to The Republic what you discover, making the most provocative and careful conclusions about what you discover. The most successful reports may be met with additional rewards.
“The cave you fear to enter
holds the treasure you seek.”
“Every story you tell
is your own story.”