@KevinMulhern!! What did we discuss about gamification??
In all seriousness though, the skill tree has my vote as @lpsv mentioned. The road map is extremely useful for seeing "how far’ you have to go without it feeling overwhelming. The bonus of this is that after completing parts of the course you will literally see your proficiency going up as skill points increase in your tree and then opportunities for newer skills.
The skill tree offers depth without complication - and that’s really inviting for both the newbies and “the regulars”. Newbies get to check things off, and active people get to contribute to the skill-tree and have a visual representation of where TOP is heading. This means it’s very clear to see how the curriculum fits to their learning and its end-points: TOP can’t teach everything but with this skill tree it can show the next horizon for development and contribution.
Investing in the skill tree will answer a lot of frequently asked questions from newcomers like “where am I going?”, “how far do I have to go?”, “how much time does it take?”. In turn, this will keep the community more active as they can discuss their progress and identify nodes in the skill tree where things got rough and how they earned XP to win that battle: these nodes serve as concrete locations for social interaction - a big plus.
The skill tree, being a mind-map of its own, will help maintainers to see where things need to be improved and problem areas. Once people keep talking about a certain node we can maybe color code that area or put symbols in that area that this part is tough - seek advice or help - it could be a place where we open a forum link so people can access FAQs for that section but only that section. We wouldn’t want to hand-hold areas we think are manageable. We could even close off that forum link from additional comments once a solution is found so that it’s like a little puzzle of its own with the answer hidden in plain sight.
We shouldn’t implement achievements or the point system. Achievements can be easily integrated into the skill tree. While the point system is mainly detrimental as it relies on fixed action pattern behaviour that utilises the reptilian brain. The reward is short-term and promotes distraction which is in direct opposition to how programmers get things done and people seeing TOP through to completion. Besides, increments in your skill tree is a point system too and instead of it being dolled out in regular intervals, making the novelty negligible, it’s truly guided by your own personal achievement. It exercises self-reflection and phronesis: “yes I did this, I EARNED this skill.”
The skill tree adopts both achievements and the points system readily while still placing the ownership of progress on the user itself. This should convince us that the skill tree outclasses these alternatives and that it best represents someone’s progress in the curriculum both inwardly and outwardly.