Seven weeks ago MacICT launched a micro-trial of its new metagame, ‘Invasion of the Shadow Plague’ with two primary schools and three high schools, totalling 700 students. This project uses a socio-constructivist approach to teaching game design and is centered within a Word Press Blog. It requires students to complete nine missions and write nine mission reports earning the students digital badges allowing them to level up and complete the next mission. While playing the game through completing the missions, students are learning how to design and build games using Kodu Game Lab and practice the skills of good game design. Embedded in the metagame are good game design principles, strong links to literacy, cyber citizenship, problem solving, collaboration and modeled 21st Century skills in the uses of technology. Through participating in an online MacICT games community, the sharing of learning, ideas and games is encouraged and rewarded.
In the first 3 weeks, the Game Design team moderated 1000 mission reports from students (and teachers) from Year 3 to Year 10. We now have nearly 1700 mission reports that have been submitted. It has been very fascinating to have such a broad age range of students playing in the same space. Initially we wondered whether it would be successful having primary school and high school students completing the same missions and, while we will properly evaluate at the end of the trial, it has been a great opportunity for students to learn from each other.
We have created a forum in Edmodo for the teacher participants in the project. This is to encourage teachers to engage in reflective practice by posting thoughts, lesson evaluations, comments on lesson content and adjustments to the program they have made to suit the learning styles of their students. It also enables teachers to ask questions, seek support from each other and communicate highlights and challenges. Between us, Game2Design team members, Simon Hutchison and I are using the project to engage 550 primary age students from Year 3 – 6 in game design back at our respective schools. Edmodo has proved to be an excellent way to share, discuss and reflect. High School teachers Meagan Rodda from Deniliquin High School and Tony Dowling from The Forest High School have also shared their reflections and experiences via Edmodo and email and already this has led to a number of changes we will be making to the second iteration of the project.
Scattered throughout this post are samples of students’ backstories to the first game they will create in Kodu. Most of the students are currently building their first level in Kodu. This is where the hero rebuilds their town that has been destroyed by the Shadow Plague and trains the survivors to defend their town from the Wraith long enough for the hero to return with a cure. The Game Design team have been limbering their fingers in readiness to play the 700 Kodu games that will be uploaded as part of the Defender Badge. Let’s just hope they all don’t come in at once!