Repurpose the addictive video game leveling-up “skill tree” system for educational purposes.


In many video games, the process of doling out upgrades to the player is represented in the form of a “skill tree,” where different branches indicate different fields of expertise (e.g. a branch for sword-fighting and a separate one for horseshoe-making).


Maybe this same idea can be applied to education! See Figure 1 for a proposed “Level 1” skill tree showing introductory literacy, math, and geography.

Fig. 1: A grade school “Level 1” skill tree (or “skill web” if you prefer) could look like this, with separate components (shown in red, green, and blue) for different main subject areas.


Now, this psychologically addictive method of presenting upgrades can be used for productive purposes! What completionist could resist learning advanced calculus, if it was the final item in the “Level 12 Mathematics” skill tree?

PROS: Students might be more excited to learn about history and to read famous literature if they could reach “Level 5 Hapsburg Dynasty Proficiency” or “Grandmaster Hamlet Expert.”

CONS: None!

This is related to the similar global report card idea, which is another way to represent the acquisition of knowledge as a cumulative process rather than an endless treadmill.