Higher Order Thinking Skills in the League of Legends

This semester I am participating in a Faculty Learning Community (put on by the Center for Teaching and Learning) dedicated to Collaborative Learning.  This is perfect for a tech writing teacher because almost any professional tech writing job will involve collaboration.  You will co-write large projects with multiple team members.  You will coordinate with other departments to help them communicate their message to users.  You will act as a mediator between departments when their goals conflict with one another, etc etc.  So learning how to navigate collaborative projects in a relatively low-stakes environment like a classroom is a great way to support tech writing students and get them ready for the work place.

One of the coolest things about this Faculty Learning Community is that it gives me the chance to work with people from different disciplines.  In addition to my fellow English teachers, we also have historians, environmental scientists, statisticians, and political scientists.  Seeing how they approach apply the pedagogical readings we have been doing as a group has been enlightening.

For example, we recently had to share our interpretations of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking Skills.  This is an instructional framework that asks teachers to think about the kinds of tasks that their assessments require.  The higher the task within the hierarchy, the more critical thinking skills the task is facilitating.

Bloom's taxonomy as a pyramid

I decided to write up my interpretation by looking at how players improve at my favorite video game: League of Legends.

Enjoy!  Let’s climb!

HOTS for Gaming Knowledge: League of Legends

Level 1 Remember

Knowing a game exists. Like having a Wikipedia entry for that game in your head. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily know where it exists within the wider gaming world (what genre it is, how to play). For example, my mother knows I play something called League of Legends and that it is a video game.


Level 2 – Understand

When you dig a little deeper, you can start to place your knowledge of a game into context. You can start to know the fundamental rules of the game. League of Legends is a MOBA or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game. Five person teams do battle on a map, trying to destroy each others’ defensive structures and capture territory in a kind of mishmash of football, Call of Duty, and Angry Birds.


Level 3 – Apply

Once you know the rules of the game, you can actually begin to play! You can learn what each of the characters’ unique abilities are and use them to try to win.


Level 4 – Analyze

To improve at the game, however, you need to understand more than the basic mechanics. You need to be able to break the game down into its various stages (early game, mid game, and late game), each of which has slightly different objectives. This is the time in your career when you will start looking at stat breakdowns of previous games to see where you are excelling, where you are falling down, and come up with plans to improve your win percentage.


Level 5 – Evaluate

A big part of getting good at League of Legends is being able to judge in a specific moment whether a particular choice will be beneficial or harmful to your team. For example, there is a really tough monster on the map called Baron Nashor, and killing him grants your team a big (but temporary) boost in power. However, he is very difficult to kill, so if you don’t pick your moment correctly, it is quite easy for your opponents to swoop in, kill your team, and steal the Baron Buff for themselves. So you need to know how to evaluate your team’s position in relation to the other team’s, your relative strength in that moment, in addition to many other factors before you make that call.



Level 6 – Create

Here is where it gets crazy. If you are really really good at League of Legends, sometimes you can use your insight to alter the shape of the game for everyone else. For example, you might discover a new combination of items that makes your character especially effective. Professional e-sports players do this often. It is called changing the “meta” and it is an emergent form of game play, meaning that it is game play that arises spontaneously out of the playing community, unanticipated by the game’s designers.

Players that want to go all the way into the “create” stage might even apply interdisciplinary knowledge, learning how to program so that they might design a MOBA of their own!

What do you think?  What kinds of higher order thinking skills are necessary to learn a game like League of Legends?  To learn other kinds of games?  Let me know in the comments below!

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