[math4] Class start-up
gdk at redhat.com
Sun Mar 8 20:04:01 EDT 2009
On Sun, 8 Mar 2009, Stephen Jacobs wrote:
> 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).
/me blinks again.
> 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 Scratch.
> 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 following...
> 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.
The focus, at this point, is on taking a simple rogue-like and hacking
"educational drills" into it. Whatever the "tomes" look like, and
whatever the "questions" look like, that's what the focus will be.
Ideally, this should be completely config-file driven, so that content can
be dropped in.
The vision is that "content / drill / assessment" can be complete within a
single game. Imagine running "mongo.py --module=4gm-fractions-2" and
you'll see the direction I'm heading.
I'm *desperately* hoping to get something that shows what I'm talking
about here in the next day or two -- but if not, I'll just upload what I
have, and you can figure it out for yourself. :)
> 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?
Go download and play "Mines of Elderlore" now:
Now imagine that before successfully attacking any monster, or drinking a
health potion, or performing some other important gameplay function, you
must answer a question of some kind. My emphasis was to find a Free
Software codebase that was simple, in Python, already worked, and could be
easily hacked. Hacked being the key word there.
> 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.
Nothing at all. :)
Mongo is my half-baked idea. I think it's got some good instincts, but
I'm certainly no game designer, and I am in no way married to it. So long
as the output is completely Free and Open Source, focuses on delivering
educational content in a self-contained, modular way that clearly maps to
concepts identified in curriculum frameworks, and is written in a language
that the typical bright 14-year-old kid can hack (which is why I lean
towards Python), I will be delighted.
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