West Marches as a Model for Learning

I first heard about West Marches 2 years ago when I was researching Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) to run a short-lived campaign for some friends. I started watching content on youtube and came across this video from Matt Colville


In the video he summarizes this write up from Ben Robbins summarizing a game he ran for 2 years.

These are my notes summarizing that video and article.

What is a West March Campaign

Ben Robbins ran a D&D game set in “The West Marches” that had the following characteristics:

  • No regular time: scheduled by players on the fly
  • No regular party: each game had different players drawn from a pool of around 10-14 people
  • No regular plot: the players decided where to go and what to do. (Essentially a sandbox game)

West Marches as a model for learning


Joel Hooks tweeted about how learning (especially in a tech/development context) could be similar to D&D and how he’s looked at book clubs as analagous to running a D&D campaign.

Continuing in that vein what would it look like to organize learning in that way?

  • A pool of learners who are all different and would be interested in learning different things at different times.
  • No regular group - some people want to learn this topic and so gather for a lecture or discussion, others want to learn something else.
  • A map of possible subjects that learners can tackle. Some of these classes or discussion group haven’t been thought about yet, but can be prepared when learners express interest. This is especially easy if the discussion group is around a book because the leader of the discussion group only has to read and prepare the chapter that is discussed.
  • “Campaign” reports - summarize what happened and what was learned at a lecture or discussion group. This helps learners internalize what they learned but also gives others some insight and might lead another “party” of learners to decide to tackle the book (which will be easier to do now that the leader has already led one discussion)

These notes are in progress! Check back later and they may have grown.


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