Humans vs Zombies as an Active Learning Event by TTW contributor Troy Swanson

WWMscreen capture 2One of my projects for the fall semester my library will be organizing a special, active-learning opportunity for students, staff, and faculty that is part of our One Book, One College program on Max Brook’s World War Z.

The library with the support of Honors and Student Activities will be organizing a campus-wide game that we are calling, World War M: Humans vs Zombies,

Our game is loosely based on the Humans vs Zombies games played on campuses across the country. We have changed the rules a little bit and tried to give it a technological and academic twist.  The goal of the game is to model a virus outbreak across our campus where “infected” players report their infection on the game website. At the same time, we will be releasing clues to an antidote that will cure the disease. We will use the game’s website to track how the disease and the antidote spread. Faculty members in sociology, microbiology, literature, and mathematics have already expressed an interest in developing assignments around this game.

To play the game, students will receive free playing materials from the library. We will also provide faculty members with playing materials for their classes if they choose to use the game as part of a class project. To kick off this game, several faculty members from our math department and biology department will be hosting a panel discussion called “Zombie Math” where they will discuss mathematical models for how viruses spread and the ways that a “zombie” outbreak can be connected to the real world. We are working to create an engaging & innovative opportunity for students to connect ideas across disciplines.


Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the author of the book, Managing Social Media in Libraries. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.