A new month and more exciting options for professional development through 3D Game Lab. This month the focus is surrounding game design for teachers. After last months hour of code event in my classes I find myself inspired to expand my horizons and learn more.
This first quest assignments was to explore what is out there for tutorials, curriculum, and media relating to using Unity3d in the classroom.
After searching Unity in the classroom, what I discovered was that from what I found it was mostly being used at the college level. I did find one link where the University of New Hampshire is running a STEM project using the platform for grades 9-12 ([url=http://manchester.unh.edu/outreach/stem-discovery-lab/upcoming]). On a wiki site I found several [url=http://gamesined.wikispaces.com/Game+Creation+Tools]tutorial sites[/url] (scroll about halfway down the page) that could provide useful to using Unity3d in the classroom as well. In addition, I found an interesting article about how high school students are using Unity3d to create projects. [url=http://www.3dteachers.com/2010/04/unity-3d-gaming-and-education.html]
I would love to see any information pertaining to younger grades using this platform, however, I didn’t find anything specific for that in my search.
The attractiveness of a quest depends upon several factors. The first thing to consider is the age of the user completing the quest. A quest is designed for a 6th grade student would differ than that for an adult learner. For a younger learner, I would make sure that there are visual graphics with clear concise directions. If this were are multi-step assignment I would break it into several shorter quests so that younger students get more feed back with each step. Rather than having them complete a larger assignment that may require longer sustained attention. In designing quests I have found if I keep the average activity length for a 6th grader to 15-20 min. not only do students have greater success but they are more apt to complete quests assignments within this length range. Depending upon the nature of the task, once the length of completion time gets longer than this then they are less apt to select this assignment The exception to this rule has been when students are recreating structures in Minecraft to demonstrate or model Ancient architecture.
Another factor in quest chain design involves having the physical layout of the assignment being visually pleasing to the user without being overwhelming. It is important to make directions organized, clear, and concise. In addition, to be aware of using the appropriate amount of white space on the page to make it visually appealing. For example, if a middle school student is a struggling reader and the first thing they see when opening a quest are multiple paragraphs of directions they won’t do it. If those same directions were in a list bulleted list or were given using Voki then this particular student would find this quest less intimidating and more attractive.
Well chose visual and multimedia graphics support “Quest Attractiveness” to the end user. These can enhance learning and make the user feel more engaged in the content verse learning primarily through just text. One thing that games do particular well is present information to the gamer in a multifaceted approach. Great quest do this as well.
All great games have some sort of story line that is the hook for gamers. When I thing about the coursework thus far, I imagine a game with amazing graphics of the entertainment industry with the educational piece in place. As a former teacher of Ancient Civilizations to middle school students I envision that my game would have the main character be an archeologists in which they visit the civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Due to the fact that as a gamer I personally enjoy brain puzzle sort of games, such as The Room, I am envisioning that my game would have these sorts of mind challenge puzzle games built into it’s check points or level completion. As students navigate through the various levels of the game exploring these great civilizations they have to use a cipher to unlock clues to then next part of their journey. The cipher can unlock the language of the ancients such as cuneiform, hieroglyphics, the Greek Alphabet, and Roman Numerals. In this way students are learning not only about the geography of the region they are exploring but also the culture as well. There could be a quiz at the end of each level about the artifacts discovered and who they belonged to as well.