[math4] Class start-up

Stephen Jacobs itprofjacobs at gmail.com
Sun Mar 8 16:51:39 EDT 2009

Ok folks, the course enrollment is now up to 19 students and may well hit
the 25 mark (or beyond) before "add/drop" ends Monday the 16th.  The course
meets face-to-face once a week on Fridays 10-12.  The first class will get a
lecture from the other professor for the course, Eric Grace, on who 10 year
olds really are cognitively, emotionally and how to target educational
materials in general to work with that age group.  They'll also take care of
the general first day of class housekeeping, go over OLPC as an
organization/movement, etc, gotten their hands on the XO's I have at my
disposal now (if the shipment of 25 hasn't arrived at RIT and/or made it
through the intake red tape from RIT by then).

By the 1st day of class they should have inventoried their skill sets (so I
can build dev teams), read the pdf XO and Sugar manuals and taken a look at
"A Byte of Python."  We have access to books 24X7 through the library and
their are 7-8 additional Python books published in the last year they can
get to as well.  The 20 students are divided between CS, Networking,
Information Tech, Software engineering and even include a lone telecom kid.
I'm still hoping to pull in a few more artistic ones as well during add
drop. Most of these students are juniors or seniors in their programs and
will have been out on coop working in the field, so it looks like a strong
group technically.

This course is a "Blended Course" which means much of the official course
happens on-line, not in the classroom, so I'll be building teams to
interface with community leaders and projects and the students will be
expected to have the equivalent of 2 hours a week just interacting
(live/e-mail, posting to forums etc) on-line.

This will provide you with a strong pool of folks to prototype many
different approaches to math materials in the first 1/2 of your 6 months
exploratory development arc, both to work on "Mongo the Math Dungeon" and
other game/interactive activity ideas whether they be in Python, Etoys or

In general, in the Game Dev corner of the world, it's best to do a lot of
prototyping first. Ideally you churn throw away prototypes to use with
target audience members that focus on gameplay, so you don't get too married
to your first attempts. Scratch and Etoys are probably good for this as well
as for development.

I am absolutely interested in seeing some, if not all of the students
working on Mongo.  I do have a bunch of questions about it, including the

Is the focus mostly on math?  Vocabulary building as a second goal can be
helpful, but can also muddy the waters if we're not careful.

Graphical or text only? It might be helpful to shoot for a game that's as
visual as possible, making it more portable across languages and cultures.
Has there been much thought given to that as an option?

Has there been much of an effort to see what's gone before when designing
Mongo?  Have folks hit the ACM SIGGRAPH library on education and games, the
serious games or games 4 change mail lists and archives to look at other
efforts?  The students can be tasked to do a lot of background design
research to help look at these types of things as well as do technical and
content work.

Looking forward to working with you all



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