Friday, July 15, 2005

tutorials, demos, challenges

Originally uploaded by Bill Kerr.
In the beginning of teaching game maker I mainly used tutorials, either wrote them myself (clickball, soccer) or from mark overmars site (platform, maze etc.)

I became dissatified with that approach because too many of my students just followed the steps in the tutorial but then weren't able to transfer that knowledge to a new situation

So, first I modified my clickball tutorial
to include a challenges with hints extension section in addition to the original rather didactic step by step introduction. That I hope is incorporating the best of both worlds - instructionism (do what I say) and constructionism (explore, think for yourself, build on top of your current knowledge). I see the need for both approaches.

I've now developed new sheets which could be described as just challenges with hints. Here are some examples from one such sheet:

6) A ball goes through a goal and the score goes up by oneā€¦the score does not go up if the ball misses the goal
Hint: Step Event (checks 30 times per second)
Control tab > If an expression is true
expression: y > 10 (where ever the goals are)
then, Control tab > Set the value of a variable

8) You have to hit a character 3 times with a bullet before it dies
Hint: Start with Challenge 4, then add lives in the create event:
score tab > set the number of lives

Is it a better way to teach?

I think you need the full range of tutorials, demonstrations (which are more show and tell) as well as the challenges / hints (explore, think, do, ask questions) but overall I'm trying to push my students towards the latter mode. The possible disadvantage of the challenge mode is that some students won't ask when stuck and in a busy class may end up off task for a while.

One good point about challenges is that there are sometimes multiple ways to solve problems. I've sometimes been surprised with what some students come up with.

In the goal scoring challenge above some students make a goal object and then use a collision event to increase a score - this is a simpler solution than my conditional hint.

In the shoot 3 times before dying challenge one student put 3 characters on top of each other rather than use lives! I hadn't thought of that :-)


Anonymous Roland said...

Yes, it does sound like a better way to teach. Many games now seem to let students work out the rules for themselves in the first 30 min of play. I wonder if something similar should apply with game design by offering students a range of small, open ended challenges to move them on. A valuable observation.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Roland said...

Guess what Bill, one of my students did the same thing with their clickball tutorial .. adding in a net as a target at the back of the goal to keep the score and modified it to become a two person game.

10:34 PM  

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