For the Education Arcade I originally planned to build a game that had a constantly rotating board, which meant it required a motor. The idea of that was so daunting to me that I eventually gave up on it, only to find that zel2001‘s clever son actually managed to motorize her board game! I wound up building Adder-All, an adding game, with software using Microsoft’s Silverlight platform.
I really did want to make a learning game, but settled for a game that required the player have a preexisting knowledge of how to add. I thought if I wasn’t going to teach something, I could at least try to make a game that sharpened a skill they already had.
In Adder-All, the player essentially had to add two numbers (under 100 each). So, it was mostly a game of skill, the only luck factor being that the numbers were random, so it was completely possible to get a lot of simple problems, like 10+0, 1+1, etc. The players definitely showed signs of relief when the simple problems popped up.
Adder-All allowed players to really showcase their addition skills. Unlike the games like Snake Holes where players had to progressively use reason to make sensible determinations, my game relied fully on what they were bringing to the table.
The mechanics of the game were too fast, and often quirky. 60% of the players scored over 1,000 points (about 10-15 correct answers with 10 lives), but that means 40% didn’t. So I knew I had made the pace of the game too fast, too quickly.
It was buggy too, it froze a few times, and didn’t behave the way it did as on the computer I wrote it on (you have to click on the game after entering your name for example). These bugs caused players to lose lives, the game, and even stopped one of the kids from playing at all. At those times I wished I had a physical game that I could mend on the spot, but the best I could do was go out of server for a few minutes to update the Silverlight plugin to the latest version. Unfortunately, that didn’t help.
If I could do it again I would slow things down a bit and add some more features, like powerups to freeze time or get extra lives. Ideally I would have ended the game with a review lesson of the problems the players got wrong, perhaps with tips on how to solve them more quickly.
The Education Arcade experience, and AC 230 itself, were wonderful experiences for me, totally exceeding my expectations. I was expecting that I would learn how effectively present information, in PowerPoint or something. But it turned out that I was learning how to think about much bigger ideas, like building, and using creativity as a means to a goal. Most of all, I was happy to find that it was all fun. Plus, it was great being around people who have dreams of being educators. I tried to feed of their desires to want to share their knowledge, and their openness to learning new things through such unconventional methods as building our own Caine’s Arcade.
In regards to the course description, I don’t think I would change anything about the class. I was intrigued by how Prof. Smith was using the Web 2.0 to join in and participate in like-minded networks. I wish we learned more about how to discover, and be a part of our own niches, on the web. Perhaps that’s best left for a course of its own though.
When I’m ready to find my niche, I’m definitely now keen on blogging and will likely be doing so. And if such a course exists by then, sign me up!
P.S. If anyone starts a blog, be sure to let me know. I would love to follow it.