Suggestion - Don't make it so difficult to advance levels later in the course
Just a suggestion. I have noticed that each level you advance,the point total needed to reach the next level is raised substantially, and as I think is correct- the top level is 25. How about keeping the increase of additional points more moderate- to keep learners from quitting, because of the additional time to advance to the next level, and add additional levels- to perhaps 30 or 35. I think many of us would rather have to complete more levels with a smaller total point increase,than the current point increase that discourages us. The overall goal should be to get people to complete the course , not get frustrated and drop out, using the best tools to achieve that. I am sure that the current difficulty is sufficient for most learners, but perhaps the point totals could be re-adjusted by level to keep interest high. By the way- does anyone have an idea of how many active learners there are in total- and maybe broken down by language? This may be worth a couple of peeps.
I've never thought anyone cares about those levels O_o
Ok, to be a little more specific... Levels don't mean anything. It's just a number that you get according to some algorithm of skill point count. Level 20 is no different from level 19 except for the number. Units do count. Skill points do count as they reflect the amount of effort invested into learning. Coin stacks count because they show your everyday studying routine. But levels? They are kinda superfluous as they only represent skill points. They don't reflect your language skills at all. You can stay at Basic unit, do timed practice a lot, earn points and move through levels without even learning anything new.
In fact, the level system was changed once. I was about Level 15 or 16 in French, and after the change I became Level 20. Could not care less...
Levels that are really informative are A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2. Some courses divide them into parts like A1.1, A1.2 etc. If I complete A1, I know what it means. And there are usually tests at the end of real levels.
Skill points can be accumalated without learning anything new, too, but like you said, they show time invested in learning. I think levels do the same. I think you're right that they're basically just extra, but they still probably serve as a further motivator because leveling up is probably psychologically more satisfying for most people than simply attaining more and more skill points. Leveling up is what makes lots of RPG games so popular and can work the same way for DuoLingo learners.
I don't agree with him that they shouldn't get harder though. I prefer that.
I try to get maximum hearts, I fill the coin stacks every day, I aim at having all my German tree gold. These game-like things motivate me all right. But the number written next to my nickname just does not make any sense. Level 14, okay, now what? I'm not stopping until I master all the units, that's all. I am Level 20 in French and I have no motivation to get to 21 because I've mastered all the units.
Even competition with people I follow is more motivating, but there are skill points and not levels in that leaderboard.
I believe he was referring to the iconic motto of Pokémon, a series of games with strong RPG elements. If one were to simplify it a lot it would boil down to watching arbitrary numbers go up and then watch the numbers defeat enemy numbers :)
I'm not against gamification; Duolingo is so addictive because of it! But these levels are just useless. If they meant anything even in terms of a game, they would be much better. I used to play a lot on klavogonki.ru (an online typeracing game). There are levels similar to those on Duo (reflecting the time invested). You can unlock and buy some great cars after reaching a specific level. This goal is purely game-related, but it motivates.
As they say: you are your own worst enemy, hah :)
Seriously, though, the concept is a real thing that is called "gamification" and it means implementing game elements into various areas of life to incite the user and provide motivation along the way. It definitely does work, otherwise Duolingo wouldn't use levels even if they do nothing visibly. If you wish you can take a gander at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification
I agree, it would certainly be nice if the incentives were more substantial. Hopefully, the Duolingo staff has some aces up their sleeve.
I think what gustav is talking about is that there's a certain appeal in "leveling up". Even if its just for show. A core mechanic in some video games is "leveling up". I have friends that spend time inside a game doing the same thing over and over again for hours because they want these levels. Its like a shiny medal you can look at after all your hardwork :) So inside duolingo too, it can be tied to your feelings of drive and motivation. Same thing with the golden bar at your level, at least for me, there is a bugging desire to fill up that bar when I look at it sometimes.
I don't want to turn my post into a discussion about video games, but...that is one thing game developers consider when making their games, how fast or slow a person gains "levels" or sees a certain number tied to progress, of course it varies with people, but most of the time, too slow: the player loses interest and gives up, too fast: player gets bored or finishes too quickly. Basically I'm just saying that I think I can understand what gustav is trying to say, I too get frustrated sometimes with how slowly my golden bar is filling up. :P
I agree. It goes from pretty much constant positive reinforcement "you passed the lesson!" "you learned a skill!" "you reached level 7!" to radio silence once you finish with the tree. I miss the encouragement. Although apparently there is a bug that is preventing "sentences translated" from being displayed, and that would be something.