7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 05/14/2008

Greetings All,

I will be teaching an undergraduate Cell Biology course at a major university in the fall. I would like to make FoldIt an extra credit assignment for this course. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to track if the students have played? (I myself have only thought of having them submit screen shots.). Also, I would love to hear suggestions for how long I the students should play, or what metric they should reach to get the extra credit (points? level?)

Thank you in advance for all your help,
Tricia Smith

Joined: 04/19/2009
Hi Tricia

Your best bet is to set up a team, and have all students who play join that team (with nicknames that they register with you). This will allow you to easily track their progress, and give your students their own chat room to discuss the game.

The suggestions for how long or what metric is difficult. Finishing the tutorials and starting a "real puzzle" should be minimal.

That said, we see many unhappy students in the global chat who don't like the game but feel they have no choice because they need the extra credit. Please don't ask your students, for example, to gain a certain rank - there are no global points awarded until the end of a puzzle, and ranking well is likely beyond the scope of what you are attempting to accomplish.

We always hope that anyone who gives Foldit a try will enjoy the game enough to continue playing.

The recommendation is that new student players confine themselves to the puzzle chat and the team chat. The puzzle chat for the tutorials is monitored and help is available. In the team chat they can discuss their progress and help each other.

Please give the following links to your students - this is the community guidelines (and we do take the chat guidelines seriously): http://fold.it/portal/communityrules

Also, this link to our wiki can help new players when they are truly stuck in a tutorial: http://foldit.wikia.com/wiki/Tutorial_Puzzles

We recommend that new players try a tutorial 3 times when stuck (resetting if necessary) before asking for help.

The last recommendation (or the first, really) is for you yourself to finish the tutorials and do a science puzzle. You won't really have much idea what problems your students may have unless you have had them first ;)

Good luck to you, and if you need any help setting up that team, feel free to message me here on the foldit website.

Joined: 05/14/2008
Thank You!

That's awesome information! Thank you! I would love to send you a direct email about setting up a team. I have two sections, and I think they will each contain 290 students, so I really need to get this right and be ready before I present it to the class.

And I will heed your advice about not requiring global points. And I won't make this an exclusive extra credit that awards a ton of points, because I don't want to force anyone to play.

marie_s's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 year 33 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 05/18/2008
Groups: None
contest and group

To set up a team just go here http://fold.it/portal/groups and create one group by section.
As you cannot be in many group, create a Foldit account for one manager by group.
here an example of group for students : http://fold.it/portal/node/991724

Global points at the end of each science puzzles. So to have a good amount of global points, you have to be better than players that like the game. It can be very hard to compete with us because we play this game for the pleasure and since a very long time (month, years) every day or almost every day.

Some teachers create a contest to give extra points.
You can create one contest by section and give extra points to the students who pass a score.

See an example here on the nanog protein (not easy).

Joined: 05/14/2008
How would I know if they played a puzzle?


We are still considering this for Cell Biology. It seems like we could figure out setting up the group if you give us EXPLICT instructions for setting up a group and how to get students to ID themselves. The ID part is important. Cell Biology can have 270 or 76 students in a section (minimum age is college sophmore), and we have to know who each person is. I really, really, really want to do this, but I have to be sure of a few things. One, how will I ID each student? Can the groups handle a load of 270 students in one group? I don't want them to do much, just to try it and see if they like it, how do I ensure that they have done just the minimum to get credit (like one or three puzzles past the tutorial)? And lastly, how will I get the results?

If you can help me with this I would appreciate it so very much. I think we have 3 sections of student and all told maybe 400-600 students who would play per semester. For now, we would just offer it as extra credit.

Dr. Tricia Hardt Smith
Biology Department
Virginia Commonwealth University

katfish's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 7 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 01/09/2013
Hi Dr. Smith, I removed your

Hi Dr. Smith,

I removed your phone number from your post to preserve privacy. I'd be happy to help set this up for your class. I sent you a private message with further information.


Joined: 04/11/2013
Nature of Foldit

Hi Doc
It might be an idea to keep in mind that this game is highly addictive. Time management training would probably be a useful addition for students who are introduced to this game.
Steven Parkes
High School Educator

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

May be late answer. I suggest the students give their entire, real name (like me) OR that you assign them a nickname (like a code) yourself. At the end, they can simply give you a printscreen of their achievements on their Page. You can fix a minimum achievements requested, but don't ask them too much (like points in the global ranking) in order to avoid addiction.

If you want to rank them, you could use a contest or a group. BUT:

Be aware that using recipes, powerfull PCs are advantaged on others (for example, i tried with several PCs, old and new in my house: one new pc is 64x quicklier on Foldit than an older one. One expensive PC 1 year old -intel core i7 4 cores is 2x quicklier than another "the most powerful" that the retailer proposed me that I just bought but which is intel core i7 2 cores).

I suggest then that you ask your students to play only on a hand Folding puzzle.

OR> you ask them to work by teams of 10 for example, on a real "science" puzzle (1 week) that you select at a certain moment. After 1 week, it's finished. They may train before the official race if they want.


Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Boehringer Ingelheim, RosettaCommons