What is Operation LAPIS?


Operation LAPIS is an interactive adventure in which students perform their learning as an extraordinarily effective and engaging way to develop and assess their growing skills in acquiring proficiency in the Latin language. You can call it a game, if you like, but it’s also a story, and an ongoing collaborative performance. Whereas traditional textbooks allow students to follow a story over the course of their Latin learning, Operation LAPIS allows them to play a story about ancient Rome, and, even more importantly, to integrate into their play-performances their growing skills in all the relevant domains. This is Latin-learning as experiential learning, project-based learning, and problem-based learning: students in Operation LAPIS learn Latin by playing some facsimile of Romans.


For example, instead of reading about how a famous Roman, as a young man, was present at an important battle, in Operation LAPIS students, in collaboration with each other, must perform as young Romans who are present at the battle of Cannae and later the sack of Carthage.


This gets complicated, but the beauty of the concept is actually in its directness and basic simplicity: students in Operation LAPIS are recruited to save the world by learning Latin. You the instructor will play as an agent of the shadowy figure called “the Agent of the Demiurge,” who has founded an organization (Project ARKHAIA) with the purpose of saving civilization by giving students the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to keep the values of the ancient world alive. You will “recruit” your students on the day you begin using Operation LAPIS, telling them that they have been selected to undertake this mission by entering into a text-based simulation of the ancient world in which they must find and decipher the LAPIS SAECULORUM.


You will tell them that they have been selected to control a young person of the gens Recentia in the ancient world, taking turns to make the final decision about what their characters will do in response to the episodes of the story that will unfold before them, and which they will themselves be able to shape. Believe it or not, it's this very "wrapper" of the story that becomes an important hook for buy-in and engagement. 


You will finally tell them that in order to gain the skills they will need to find and decipher the LAPIS they will have to work to attune themselves to that simulation of the ancient world by practicing reading Latin, doing exercises, collecting morphological forms and grammatical constructions, and doing basic research to discover the secrets of the Romans that will allow them to make their way in Roman culture. They will learn how to read, write, think, speak, and act like a Roman precisely by doing those activities throughout the course of their journey.


The story will take their Recentii from Pompeii to Britain to Egypt, back to Britain, and finally to Rome itself. They will also be travelling in time and in imagination within the story, going back to the Titanomachy and the Trojan War, to Carthage, to Alexandria when Octavian took it. At every point, they will follow the trail of the LAPIS, but they will learn that the LAPIS is merely the Demiurge’s way of expressing the never-ceasing struggle in Roman culture between the forces of traditional authority and the forces of populism; to understand the LAPIS, they will have to understand the complex social history of Rome. They will learn how to answer the question “What made Rome great?” in many different ways, gaining in the process the ability to evaluate our own cultural practices by comparison.



In the preview missions publicly available, you'll find all the materials to get started with Operation LAPIS. Each resource is created to work on any device (being primarily web-based), and all supplimental tasks and activities (largely created through Google Drive), will allow instructors to utilize them in any LMS of their choice. Lastly, it is of the utmost importance that everything in Operation LAPIS is created while taking into account modern second-language acquisition theory as well as consideration of the ACTFL World-Readiness and Intercultural Standards. We firmly believe that the only way to become a more proficient reader is to read more; Operation LAPIS provides an amazing volume of content designed to be appropriate reading levels for students at the appropriate stage of development.


Operation LAPIS is primarily designed for a beginning Latin class, although given what we know about language acquisition, the level of reading would be beneficial for almost any learner in the novice and intermediate stages of proficency.  


Ready to move forward? It's time to explore the materials for both the Introductary Tutorial and Epiosde 1. The tutorial mission is a great way to introduce the interface for both you and your students, as well as frame the overarching narrative that they are indeed "playing" these two protagonists through the story as it unfolds. The tutorial introduces them to how to navigate the story as well as the features of the TSTT (the roll-over tooltips, pop-out links, and the Alpheios plug-in which allows them to click on any Latin word and receive the meaning.)