I heard from my son, again. He sent me an email pointing to an online analysis of video game design:... A series of short videos that are really fantastic about video games, talking about games and what makes them great (or not so great)...
I responded as follows.
I've just gone through one and a half videos.
This is exciting--to me. I want to know how people learn, and then how to make the learning process, and the teaching, to be smooth, sequential, rationalized, and effective learning. That's exactly what the guys on the Mario Bros games, in Mark Brown's exposé seem to pull off.
This last term when I was teaching a cobbled together History of Ethics:Plato through Post-Modern-Clean-Up-the-Mess-of-The-Enlightenment, I installed online tests, short tests of about 20 questions each for each new unit (from the first chapter on). Then with each new unit, there were 20 questions for the new and 20 questions comprehensively over the old.
Then I set it up so that the students had unlimited retries for each exam, with each try locked into a timeframe of 60 minutes (more on Midterms and Finals). Each exam when administered would be a new random selection from a large test bank, and the order of the answers were also to be arranged at random. In spite of the "all-new all-different" look-and-feel of the short exams, the material covered was, in my opinion, not really all that varied. E.g., T/F Plato came before Aristotle, and another question would be Aristotle studied under a) Kant b) Dr. Meyer c) Aquinas or d) Plato. And so forth.
My goal was to have the student emerge from the whole course with a solid time frame of "who did what when;"
and for the student to learn one little piece at a time;
and then to use or fit the new knowledge into the whole context of the history of ethics;
and at the end of the course to write a short argumentative essay about some bonafide living question (e.g., for pro-choice students, argue whether restrictions are justified for end-of-term abortions; or whether restrictions on hate speech are a justifiable restriction on individual freedom or not).
It does not need to be said, but I'll say it: the execution fell short of the design. But that's what ambitions are for--to give us something elevated to shoot for!
The end goal of any education that I would want to design would be to allow the learner to emerge at an end state with the new information and new skills fully integrated into the learners matrix of all knowledge and matrix of all skills. This too is a very difficult thing to achieve.