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Teaching evolution is hard, especially when it comes to teaching students about complex strategic dilemmas and the evolutionary dynamics of cooperation. This is especially true in the social sciences where many students hate math. By having students actually play out strategic dilemmas among themselves, we can nurture their intuitions about the strategic interactions that shape the long run evolutionary dynamics. Previously we did this with pen, paper and caveats about not really having anonymity. I've thrown together a web-based system that makes it easy for you to design strategic games for your students, offers real anonymity, and makes it super easy for students to play.

Here's how it works.

You use a web interface to design your game (e.g., start with an endowment round, then everyone makes an offer to a random anonymous partner, then sees someone else's offer and decides whether to engage in costly punishment, etc.). Every student brings a laptop to class (your school'll need to have wifi in the classrooms for this to work). They web browse go to a special url (see below) and the system'll automatically assign them an anonymous ID number and give you (logged in to the teacher page) a real-time running count of how many have signed in so far.

Once everyone's logged in, you hit the go button and everyone's screen will automatically change and present them with whatever instructions you've written and a slider to make their decisions with. For phases where they have a target (e.g., dictator phases), you can set it to a) randomly match each student with another logged-in student, b) rematch them with their previous target, or c) reciprocally make their target whomever targeted them last time (e.g., for trust games).

Students make their choices, points get multiplied and distributed, everyone gets feedback about what happened, you get real-time updates on how many students have completed each phase.

At the end it gives them their final score and gives you a) the final scores, and b) a detailed record of everyone's choices at each stage, all tracked only by the anonymous IDs. It saves their anonymous ID on their computer, so if their browser or machine crashes mid-experiment, they should still be able to log back in and catch up just by going to the website again.

If you want to use it, please feel free to. At this stage it's still unrefined and experimental. I'm just hoping to get feedback from other educators about what works, what doesn't, what's missing, etc. Eventually I might throw it open to the public and slap on a licence that says it's free as long as you submit any (anonymised) data you gather to a public repository that anyone can meta-analyse.

Just go to:

  http://dilemmas.abcs.asu.edu/teacher/register

and use the password:

  Origin

Afterwards you can always log back in as a teacher at:

  http://dilemmas.abcs.asu.edu/teacher

and when you start a study, your students will be able to log in by going to:

  http://dilemmas.abcs.asu.edu/YOUR_USER_NAME

If you do use the system, please email me to let me know and give me your feedback. It's very valuable to me.