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Glenn Stutzky

SW290: Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Catastrophes and Human Behavior
Best Fully Online
“Zombies make catastrophes more interesting”
- Glenn Stutzky -

This course gave students a “simulated game” like educational experience where having the students being able to make “choices” in their journey was the nucleus. In order to create this environment, the course had to be highly visual and allow the students to be immersed within the different elements of the course. Several forms of technology and methods to communicate activities and establish a sense of presence for the instructor but for the students were utilized. The goal was to create a simulated experience where the sense of urgency of zombies being present and students having to react to their experience was captured throughout their journey in the course.

The following methods and techniques were used to bring this environment to life:


A viral marketing approach was used to get the word out about the course by combining a traditional print mediums and social media communications. Both mediums were used not only to bring immediate attention but also as tools of immersion for the course.  YouTube channel and facebook pages were used to promote and market course description and registration information. Strong visuals helped to connect the course content and the outside elements.  Facebook was used to post up-to-date information on the surrounding topic of zombies and it also shared status information on what they students were doing within the course.

Class urls:

Twitter was used as tool for communication for course announcements, questions from students, and a means of feedback from instructor as well as survivor guides for the students. Twitter helped the students become engaged into the simulation as well as it helped push out change of behavior throughout the course utilizing emergency broadcasts as well as course intros from the professor.


This course used high-end traditional and digital special effects when developing the video simulations. The team engaged in basic filmmaking including scouting locations, creating a production schedule, enlisting actors (many students participated), and using digital filmmaking techniques to enhance the quality of the video experience.

This course also held a premier of the first ever course Intro: http://youtu.be/fCdDpEf6BmU

Student Interaction and Facilitated Teamwork

The structure of this course was designed to have the students research, study and learn the academic content while at the same time providing them a dynamic simulated environment to apply what they were learning.  The academic side of the course included the traditional research assignments, required readings, lectures, discussion forums, quizzes, etc. Then on both an individual and group level the information was put to the test in the Catastrophic Online Simulation Event.

Students were randomly placed in small “survival” groups. This approach was used to emphasis the fact that when a Catastrophe occurs you are with whom you are with. It could be that you are with family, friends or coworkers, but you also could be with complete strangers. This becomes very important as relationships, groups dynamics, leadership, and conflict quickly become central. Students learn that survival rest more on what group you find yourself a part of than your own individual abilities, plan, and preparations.

With the same reasoning the “where” of the survival groups were randomly located. Like with the “whom” when a Catastrophe happens you are “where” you are. It could be at home, at work, the grocery store, in church, at a restaurant, or in jail. This also is crucial to survival as resources in any given location are varied and finite. Locations also in terms of safety are not created equal.

First the student were allowed to meet one another (before the Event began) and begin to learn a little about each other and what they as an individual might “bring to the table”. Dynamics and issues of leadership began to emerge even from the beginning.  Groups were told that at a certain day and time (a Thursday afternoon at 3:02 p.m.) there would be an “important announcement” released. At precisely that moment the 3 Survival Guides tweeted out to each of their Student Survival Groups just a set of numbers, nothing else. These numbers were the latitude and longitude of their group’s geographic location at the moment the Catastrophe began.

Within 3 minutes one of the Survival Guides reported that one of her groups had already figured out what the numbers represented and correctly identified the building that they were located in. Soon others began to report in and the instructor could only wish that in the middle of a Thursday afternoon he could command such attentiveness and response from any of his face to face classes.  As a reward a picture that contained additional information about the Catastrophe was sent to the first group (of each Survival Guide’s groups) to correctly identify their location.

The Survival Group’s first challenge and task was to decide, in those crucial first hours what is the priority? Is it securing safety, gathering supplies, finding weapons, establishing communications? Once they have made a decision, in a report sent in by whomever is their leader, they had to provide their reasoning and realistic details as to how they went about accomplishing that priority.


Keesa Muhammad, Learning Design and Technology, IT Services, Producer

Christopher Irvin, Learning Design and Technology, IT Services, Creative Producer

Emily Brozovic, Learning Design and Technology, IT Services, Creative Producer

Joe Fitzgerald, Learning Design and Technology, IT Services, Web Developer