Your Virtual Classroom is based on a reward-system for students via Points and Ranks
The 'points' system introduces a dynamic that encourages student participation through rewards.
A 'rank' system is also established to give the student a sense of achievement and recognition among his peers, and can eventually be used to validate the student for the next course level.
There are many ways to earn points
Most methods of earning points will be revised and adjusted, so that the number of points earned from various activities is appropriate and remains fair throughout the duration of the education program. The goal is to make it easier for the student to monitor his own learning progress and get an immediate sense of achievement without having to wait for final exams.
A note about how points are calculated
The number of points a student has is not stored in any place, so is not directly editable. Instead, the student's 'points' are dynamically calculated, according to various statistics.
The reason points are calculated in this way is that if posts are deleted, the point count goes backwards for the students with deleted posts: I consider this a feature (deleting spam automatically will reverse the point count, where post count is automatically adjusted upon moderation).
However, I consider deleting posts the enemy of historical record and the reasons for doing it few, but attempts by students to defeat the system by spamming the forums must be control in fairness to all.
Gift points - Important note
Gift points are not exactly like payment, because it doesn't take away from your own point count to give points, it subtract from your gift point count. Students have a quota of gift points, to allocate as they see fit: if they run out, it simply means that they can't give any more for a while.
Gift points allow students to reward each other. Like money can be used to pay someone, so can gift points, based on whatever they value. This economical situation is very important, and essentially capitalism is embodied, such that people go hunting for work that is valued most highly in order to get high returns of points.
Reasons for giving gift points include:
Gift transactions are monitored so as to pick up on cheating (mutual giving for example)
Those who give may get rewarded by the system (this encourages an active classroom)
Gift points are useless unless spent, so the only advantage to hoarding them is to give a large amount in some kind of special situation being awaited; once given, the gift point receiver has the total added to their actual point count. Obviously students could abuse this, by giving points to each other in some form of reciprocal arrangement ("you pat my back I'll pat yours"): this is why there is an admin interface to monitor all gift transactions for fraud (and selectively reverse transactions).
Other economy tie-ins - Important note
There is a distinction between the point count for points available for spending, and the point count for the total points ever earned (which contributes to rank and leader-board position). This will usually be made clear, but sometimes circumstance will dictate what the appropriate meaning is.
Members may submit downloads that cost points to download. Depending on how the submitter configures the download, these points may end up with that submitter, or thrown away.
This system allows:
-staff to artificially limited access, to ensure students participate before they can use site resources.
-students to earn points to compensate themselves for the work contained within a download.
Rank on the site
The site has a usergroup system that allows automated progression from one usergroup to another, according to point count. This is configured by default such that the usergroup rank images for the usergroups involved imply a rising rank. The 'status symbol' of rank is an incentive for students to earn points (hence contributing to the site and community)
The leader-board is a block for the displaying of the top point holders for a week. Please be aware that the leader-board is not entirely accurate, as it actually only calculates the point count of top post count holders, and orders according to this; the reason for this is that, as explained earlier, point count is not actually stored, and calculating it for all members simultaneously would not be efficient. The leader-board is updated and archived weekly.
Students are required to accumulate 5001 points in order to receive the "Certified Level 1 Technician" Badge, 10,000 points, plus the HTML and CSS Badges for the "Certified Level 2 Technician" Badge, and 15,000 points, plus other certifications (still to be announced) for the "Certified Level 3 Technician" badge. These certification badges and others, such as the Hall of Fame badges, HTML, CSS, and future ones are replacing the standard exam evaluation at the end of each level. These badges should be earned within reasonable time limits. Please note that idle students (no activity on the site, no reasonable efforts to increase ranks and acquire certification badges and low participation in the physical classroom; missing classes) will be removed from the course. We reserve final judgment as to the quality of those points before issuing the "Course Diploma" for the Computer Technician Course at the end of Level-3.
This leader-board shows the top 79 point holders for this week.
Points are accumulated by various means and illustrate rank and provide spending power (currency)
Rank is determined by the total of points ever earned, and is a status symbol
Gift points are automatically accumulated over time and exist only as gifts to give to other students, where they translate to real points
The point-store allows conversion of points into items useful to the classroom
The point leader-board shows the top point holders, and is drawn up on a weekly basis