Note: this program is on sabbatical.
Conflix is a character-playing simulation game. Players assume the roles of real-life politicians in a series of concurrent web-based policy conferences addressing controversial contemporary issues. The game takes place in a strange, dystopian world of American politics in which fraud, abuse of power, and embezzlement are as much in play as solid rhetoric and democratic ideals.
In the largest sense, the goal is to immerse students in a type of "virtual democracy" within the online environment. This democracy is neither a mirror image of the "real world," nor an abstracted, cleaned-up version. Rather, it is a carefully structured environment in which participatory democratic deliberation is strongly emphasized. Players are able to influence important policy issues in an authentic fashion, while balancing the competing demands of constituents, media, and self-interest.
Conflix has won numerous awards for education and design, and has been the subject of several popular and academic reports and news stories.
Several different communications tools are used in Conflix, including press releases, real-time chat, email and threaded discussion forums. However, most communication is asynchronous, thus enabling schools to participate regardless of time zone or geographic location. At the heart of the game is the sophisticated decision-making mechanism employed by Conflix players. The "floating voting" system, a type of probabilistic decision-making, is utilized to facilitate and encourage democratic deliberation.
Conflix is probably the most demanding and intensive ICS offering. Unlike most ICS activities, in which whole classes participate as a group in online exercises, Conflix generally requires each student to have access to a computer each day for a significant amount of time. (Note that for many participating schools, Conflix is a class of its own.)