- May 12th, 2010
- Brian Clark
- Comments: noneTags: cfe, Consolarium, cpd, game design, Kodu, scripting
Last week, Charlie posted a summary of our 2 day Kodu training session with the Girvan Academy cluster schools. We had 2 teachers from the secondary school, 12 from primary schoosl and 1 from the local authority. After receiving some feedback on the event from the staff involved, I thought I’d share what we learned from what we hope will be the first of many Kodu training events.
During the 2 Days …
We decided to start the training getting the teachers to use the terrain building tools in order to familiarise themselves with the Kodu interface and the controller. Trying to stay topical, we decided to model a volcano. However, as Charlie previously mentioned, one of the key difficulties we found, was that a number of staff had never held an Xbox controller or played a 3d computer game.
As it turned out, many of the teachers involved did find the 3D world difficult to navigate/play in. Just too much movement on the screen for them to deal with. While they all agreed that this wouldn’t be an issue for pupils as they are’ 3D native’, we needed to address this. So, Charlie and I changed track slightly and decided to focus on static world games.
By setting the camera position to fixed, we took the teachers through building games based on the classics such as Frogger and Space Invaders. This technique allowed the teachers to build worlds without that initial disorientation they experienced with the camera set to free mode. This allowed the teachers to focus more on game functionality and scripting.
It seemed obvious to then move to the Fixed Offset camera mode where the camera angle tracks the main game character; this allowed the teachers to engage a little more on the terrain building aspect of Kodu. During this task we set about making side scrolling games in the classic Mario / Sonic style.
It should be at this point we moved to the full Free mode option and get the teachers to create fuller 3D worlds and utilise the scripting techniques they gained during the Space Invader/Mario-esque games.
As for scripting, using creatables and making paths – all of which Charlie and I thought might be too much for inexperienced teachers, turned out to be one of the most rewarding aspects of the course. With the free motion 3D issue dealt with, the attendees got stuck into the mechanics of the games they were making.
That being said, there were of course a number of teachers who were familiar with the 3D free scrolling games of the Xbox generation. Their experience in this genre of game allowed them to carry out most of the tasks with little or no difficulty and illustrated the need for strategies to deal with such a diverse set of learners such as this. One welcome suggestion was that we should have training days especially for primary school teachers and secondary school teachers (in particular secondary Computing teachers)
What Did We Learn?
So, what have we learned from our initial 2 training days when dealing with non experienced gamers?
- Allow teachers to play in pre build Kodu world to get used, or indeed see what types of games Kodu can be used to make.
- Create simple games using the Fixed camera position – little terrain building and simple scripting.
- Move on to Fixed Offset mode and create side scrolling games, increasing the amount of terrain building
- Turn on Free mode on the camera settings to create full 3D games.
- When dealing with diverse groups, it is probably best to have separate training events.
Both Charlie and I will be out to visit and support the implementation on Kodu in this cluster and continue to feedback to you here and within GLOW, with a particular focus of Curriculum for Excellence. Within GLOW we will encourage the teachers involved will contribute to discussions, lesson ideas and resources over the next few months for all of us to use.
On the whole, it was a very rewarding couple of days, and those that attended gave really useful feedback in relation to their pupils learning experiences and curriculum for excellence, as well as how we can refine this training process. I will leave you with a few of thoughts from some of the teachers that attended our course.
I would like to give Kudo a go as soon as possible, it would certainly answer the outcome of making a game, also I can see it cross curricular potential. I found the course worthwhile and it opened up my brain to a different type of learning. The kids will love it.
I’d really like to develop the use of Kodu and link it with literacy as a school project.
Kodu is a wonderful tool to use in class and pupils would be highly motivated to learn how to make games. Training days were useful to show teachers what is available and how it can be used with pupils.
I think Kodu is a great tool and well worth doing with the P7s. Whether I could call myself capable to teach it after only two days is debatable. Possibly access to a helpdesk via e-mail or some such would be good as I fear a lot of problems may crop up of which I won’t know the answers.
I did learn a great deal from the two days as well as it being inspirational. I would also like to thank the presenters for their patience and hard work. They made it fun to learn. I will definitely use Kodu in Dailly Primary