19 november 2015

eSport and education

Since September I've been working with a new project: e-Sport (in education). 

Instead of forbid gaming, what if we take advantage of our student’s interest?

e-Sport happens to be the news of the year in Swedish schools this autumn, where sports college and national sports schools in the same way as they train football players, hockey players and so on also now has the focus e-Sport.

In the Finnish vocational school and our curriculum, we can’t ourselves replace a qualification module toward something we want just like that. However we have a small part free courses which students themselves choose, where we can offer studies in e-Sport. To be able to do this, as those free courses also should strengthen professional skills, we have to ask ourselves: What do you learn in a game that would be important skills in both classrooms as in working life?

Now I happen to have one course, this mission, right now, to teach the students to define, plan and document problems. It seems this is very hard and they also give up in an early stage. But, surprisingly, they do exact the same thing when they play a computer game, but in the game they refuse to give up! Why?

For example
At Sunday evening, your team will have an important CS:GO match and it turns out you will play a new custom made map. How do you solve the problem? 

You have a problem, a new map. You search every possible forum of any threads or clues until you get the map. If possible you install it on a local server and you gather your team, you play and explore, you evaluate the teams experience. Maybe you even write down your thoughts and game plan.

This is exactly what we want them to do in the classroom.
What if we confirm this skill in a safe environment? 
Would they be able to take that skill out in the classroom and to working life?
I don't know.
It's worth a try.

And we - Yrkesinstitutet Prakticum - happen to be first! No one has thought about this opportunity before us!

We have put together a mind map, things we believe you would be able to learn through games and e-Sports. All we have to do: stop see problems, start to see possibilities! It sounds easier than it is. Again, the feedback we get from this mind map confirms that we are thinking in a whole new way!


We started this as a learning project within the field of our Datanom (Business Information Technician) education in Porvoo (Borgå) but it quickly changed to something complete different:
A wellness project!!!

SESF, SEUL and Team Menace are all experts we started discussions and collaborations with and they all emphasizing the importance of well-being and physical health: fixed routines, structure of everyday life, diet, sleep and exercise is at least as important as in any other sport.

Teijo Sepponen, CEO of Team Menace gave us this most valuable feedback:


We now have 23 students in this project, people from four different classes. We have one CS:GO team and two teams of LOL (League of Legends). They practice and play matches from home and they get theory and exercise with a personal trainer in school. Both activities generate study points. Everything they do within the project they put in a notebook, a training diary. These three e-Sport teams are also our school teams on equal terms as all other school sport Team Prakticum compete in.

We do have some challenges and it's not strange since we started this directly without directly planning, but with an idea that we learn by doing. We, the two teachers involved (the school's athletic coordinator and I) have also had fully booked calendars with no extra time to start the theory lessons or workout with a personal trainer. As in any other school athletic teams you have both less and more experienced players, add the fact many of these students never been in a team and therefor don't know about team spirit.

For example: 
What it means to be in the school team? Yeah that although you do not have the desire to train, you must still come. 

Today I talked with the third graders (last year students) and they do handle way more than I thought or anyone has thought. They have also taken on the role as educators, to help or explain the younger students. To be able to achieve this normally you have to promote some students as a tutor, here it happened automatically. It does happen a lot between 15-16 years old and 18-21. 

A couple of weeks ago I talked with one Finnish CEO, what kind of skills he want us (Vocational institutes) raise, create and produce. He had a wishing list like this:

One wish is that we train our students so that a worker has not only rights but also obligations

This is actually straight from the above example of what to do when you’re in the school team.

He wants to hire positive team players who can think for themselves, they must be deployable, flexible and loyal. Furthermore understand that the big picture is important and that one can take in and do almost anything. Just because one is employed to program, you might sometimes need to stand on the factory floor. 

This is interesting, because it’s just what happens in a game and e-Sport. Without listed skills above you won’t make it in game. When you get two players out in an ice hockey match, you’re dead. When you get two players out in e-Sport you know you still have a fair chance to win. With two tanks dead in game, the rest of the team change roles to master the new situation.

Again.
What if we confirm this skill in a safe environment? 
Would they be able to take that skill out in the classroom and to working life?
I don't know.
It's worth a try.

We have received funding for this year. We now have the opportunity to put our plans into reality. Our players have got (1) a discount card to the city's swimming pool, along (2) with a personal trainer they shall start training at the gym once a week (and (3) get breakfast afterwards) and we’ll also (4) dress them up as a team. Furthermore hire interesting (5) lecturer, hopefully (6) send them to Assembly (with no stress of winning, instead having fun!)

We also like to plant some ideas of sports psychology, goal setting and goal monitoring and team spirit. 
  • What else do you suggest? 
  • Do we miss something important? 
  • What have we not thought of?


23 oktober 2015

This is not Gamification

For a second I thought I'd finally managed to reach Nirvana, the hot spot of Gamification. And by saying this, to clear this out from the beginning it's not Gamification but anyway an important experience to share.

What am I plan to do?
By introducing a notional currency we hope that we can save money. Because we use the "money" as points or XP and with prizes to win, I thought for a moment that this was the same as Gamification. But it's not. It's a board game, as Monopoly.

Or something else.

Everything need not be gamifying, you can create interesting and inspiring educational activities anyway.

We have two goals:
  1. Our students need to understand the value of money, what a budget really is and what the consequences are if it is not kept.
  2. Savings in real world. Or more precisely, if goal number one is met, we will not need to replace lost or damaged materials. Perhaps we don't need to have the double of everything either.

By introducing this fictitious currency (Peuro, P-euro, Prakticum-euro) we hope it will feel more real in our students hands than using numbers in a spreadsheet (which, by the way, havn't worked at all!).




The student group will all be in the vocational media assistant education, they will have two movies to be made. They have to plan a budget for each project; salaries and payroll taxes, to rent materials and what a rental cost of filming per day, before and after tax. Fines applied to both individuals and materials, profits will hopefully increase personal presence and that all materials are returned on time, nothing missing and nothing is broken. This last one is the saving that we hope to achieve.

The school currently has an insurance of this equipment and where the excess is 600€, students (or their parents) pay the deductible or replacing the material itself if it's under 600€. With our system all students, whatever the loss, will have to pay 600P€.

A good production results in a good grade and that generate in a larger prize. Just like in real life, movies can become blockbusters! The one with the most money is the one who handled the deal the best, performed best. The person, or these persons, will at the end be rewarded probably with movie tickets.

Well received by students
Today I have been and presented the project for the first class and the students think this will be both exciting and fun. Above all, because it will be something concrete, they will be able to feel the money, have them in his hand, experience the flow of money.

It's not Gamification.
It's Monopoly ...sort of!

21 oktober 2015

Games in education

Fittingly enough, I had an interesting conversation this morning with one of my colleagues, the master chef. The other week he coached two students in the international competitions in Cervia, Italy with an extraordinary result: gold medal in class haute cuisine and silver medal in crotch decathlon.

His experience about where students fail are in situations where they often succeed when they play games. In his opinion, key skills for chefs are problem solving, planning, strategy and creativity

He has already understood that he must be the link between video games and reality, that what one learns in a game needs students have translated to reality. If that can be done, you have succeed with reaching an higher goal with a small amount of effort.

But he is not using games in education.
Imagine what could be achieved if he did, as our students anyway play games during class...

Real life
He told me quickly this morning how you have to have a plan, use a strategy, that after you serve the first course have the main course to be ready to be served within 7 minutes (in our training restaurant). The serving itself must be done within 2-3 minutes, and so on.

We can't have five chefs who cut onions, then we have five cutting boards and five knives that must be cleaned. You need to communicate and collaborate.

This is the computer game all the way. 
The worst thing is that it's actually HayDay in a nutshell.

Could this be an example how to use computer games in education? Make teachers understand how to benefit from games as the students anyway play? What if you allow one only game...? Will they learn more?

HayDay
My next challenge in HayDay is to fill my riverboat with an unknown amount of raspberry jam, potato bread and potato pancakes.


As in the kitchen you have to be prepared, you have to have done a proper planning or else you won't succeed. When the boat arrives I have between 15 and 16 hours to get the challenge done. Raspberry jam takes 5 hours 57 minutes to make, potato bread 38 minutes and potato pancakes 1 hour 42 minutes. Most probably I will have three crates to fill of each product.

We're doing the math.
  • One jar of raspberry jam (5h57min) and I need 3 berries
  • One potato bread and I need 2 potatoes, 1 butter, 1 granulated sugar and 3 eggs. 
  • One potato pancake and I need 1 potato, 1 egg and 1 goat cheese.

Planning
I need three raspberries which grow on bushes and takes 18h before I can harvest, therefor I must have done this before and I must have a storage. My Jam Factory must be running 24/7.

A lot of resources as milk and eggs require to first make the food for the animals, feed them and after some additional time collect the stuff. Before you could start with the production of that particular ingredients.

For example:
A cow can be milked every hour, assuming you have entered the feed. 3x cattle feed is available from 1 corn and 2 soybeans. Corn takes 5 min to grow while soybean grows at 20 min. The cattle feed itself takes 9 minutes to produce. 

Just to get the milk to the butter to the bread we are talking about the 20 + 8 + 60 min = 88 min or 1h 28 min. The butter takes 25 min and now, before even started with the bread we've spent 1 h 53 min. The bread will take another 38 min, so 2 h 31 min. Will I be able to produce let say 3x3 breads within 15 hours? (probability theory)

Will it be even possible to make it? 
In real life you would have given up by now
But, now it's a game
It's a challenge. 
You give yourself the heck you can do it. 
Imagine if we could get that feeling, the attitude, into the classroom.

Solution?
Communicate, collaborate, make it happen as a team. Skills you do need in a kitchen so you don't end up with five chefs cutting onions...

20 oktober 2015

Hay Day

My latest thought about games in education is Hay Day. It hit me when I had a discussion with one of our principals that didn't understood the power of Minecraft. So many adults believe they don't play any computer games but they don't see themselves as doing so, this because the games are on their iPad or iPhone.

My mom is an excellent example of someone who doesn't play video games but probably sitting there with a dozen games of "Words With Friends". She has even invented new own rules: we can not change tiles and if someone accidently pass the other part have to return the game with another pass.

WHAT unintentional learning takes place here? 
English vocabulary (meaning and spelling)

WHEN do we learn it? 
When we try to find new words.

WHY do we learn? 
Because it's fun. And it's multiplayer. You stay in touch with friends...

So, in my colleagues mind they don't play games. Only Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga and HayDay everyday, but no real games. I asked the principal if she had had a second thought what she really learn while playing Hay Day, and she responded right away; I learn nothing!

Yeah right! But indeed an awesome start to discuss what you really learn from Hay Day and soon we could agree on math, problem solving, language and collaboration.

In Hay Day there is already a functioning economy, there are prospects for a cooperative farm (collaboration part). You can complete (and enhance) your finances by having real money to buy in-game money (or diamonds) only for this game (consumer education)


Since there is a cap of each product you will soon learn to see where you can earn extra by, just like the stock market, buying products cheaply and sell expensive. Or if it is really worth investing in. (Economics)

Challenges in the game, fictitious villagers or goods delivered with deadlines and special rewards require you to plan long term. Sometimes you have to estimate the probability of whether it's even possible to meet a challenge because everything has a production time (math).

Some of these challenges is possible only with cooperation with other neighbors. Derbies are limited events that occur in neighborhoods once a week, those which complete tasks listed on the Derby Stand will rank up and work towards special prizes (collaboration).

Of course there are wiki's and as "the game is horribly addicted" you most probably end up search for information at least once (languages).

So why is this important?
What I'd like to do is make my colleagues, teachers, enlighten of the power of games in education they might start with it. It doesn't need to be more complicated than this and most probably it's a game many teachers already know a lot about.

So, when you use a computer game (in this case, Hay Day) it differs from traditional teaching in the classroom. Suddenly we have gained access to a concrete case in which our students can perform financial transactions that affect their way of understanding how financial markets work from a digital, social and educational content that both affect and are important to them. 

Where are we according to SAMR?
By the digital world as Hay Day adds, we can execute trades in a way that had not been possible with just paper and pencil because there already exists an economic system in the game that students (and teachers) are interested of (third level of SAMR: Modification).

Even beyond our educational mission the idea is already alive and exist, it creates entirely new conditions that would not be possible in a regular classroom situation (fourth stage of SAMR: Redefinition).

8 oktober 2015

Turtle Canyon

Yesterday my principal asked me (you can say 'yes' or 'yes sir') to be a replacement for a sick colleague. The class should do some programming in C++ - and how fun is it to try to have a subject you don't master?

80% of the class also told me, as first thing, they don't know what to do and can't work on their projects without help. And that without even opened their computers. They were determined. It was too difficult. Too hard to even try.

After 30 min of watching them play different games and watch YouTube I asked if they'd like to help me, to test something I've never tested before but I need the experience. Sure, why not? what have we to lose?

Away to the computer lab and Turtle Canyon - A ComputerCraftEdu Sandbox...!

If they don't have any interest of C++ they might be able to learn some code anyway today. I know, Lua isn't the same at all, but hey! If C++ is too hard you might have started a bit too high, a bit too difficult?

Suddenly there was some magic happen, that don't occur normally in this class.
  • They were silent.
  • They concentrated on the game, plot and mission.
  • They stopped to ask when we would have a break.
  • They stopped doing other things.
  • They ended up tinkering on their phones.
  • They began to ask for help.
  • They began to collaborate and problem solve.
  • They dare to do wrong.
  • They stopped to tease, or more exactly: with the turtle's help, they pushed the bully of a precipice...

Most fascinating, as always, the student with diagnosis and usually have difficult to understand, suddenly became normal and started to explain code to the others.

Unfortunately they spend a little bit too much time to quickly get up than to explore, analyze and program their way out. They use the opportunity to accumulate an unlimited number of turtles instead of collecting block.




Yet when they were asked, they could reflect and think. Maybe they used while loop or something else, they realized they still had had to construct some sort of code to be able to come up.

When they came to the surface and didn't find anything, they jumped back down to do it right the second time.

19 september 2015

You are doing it wrong dad!

Doing it wrong?
According to who?
I still don't now what she - AquaVera - meant by that. Or, is it possible that learning can't be fun??

As I want to encourage her to read more I'd set up some tasks, a school, in our Minecraft world. Her teacher want the kids to practice reading for 15 min a day. So I told her the great news: "I've set up some reading exercises for you!"

And she started to scream: 
"Noooo! It's Saturday!!! I don't want to do homework!"

"OK", I told her, "if you change your mind later we can start Minecraft"
  1. "Minecraft!? wait! I'm coming!!"
  2. "You have to join me! Come! With YOUR computer dad...
But she did also let me know, I'm doing it wrong! And wrong, I have another approach to the problem as the teacher has ...but as she didn't want to hurt my feelings she tried. 


(Kalle (dad) is building a school)

But how to tell dad, the words were too long...?
She wanted to show me, rather than just tell me, what the problem was. 


"You see dad, we started with 2-letter words, then we continued with 3-letter words and now we try to learn 4-letter words!"

So I had to read the sentence, she corrected me and we discussed it in three (3) languages as she tend to start talk English in Minecraft. (She rehearse to be able to join Wizard Keen in a WonderQuest episode).

Then she started to do the reading exercises. "Kaksi lehmää" (two cows) and she found the right (cow) eggs. We continued to the sauna, kitchen and bedroom. She was confused. Every single room was empty, only signs on the wall.

We went out again, outside the room. Spelled S-A-U-N-A and entered the room with new courage: she understood the signs described what to build inside the sauna.

Benches wasn't a problem but the heater, or more exactly, the way she built the heater. Lava and wooden floor ain't a good solution, so she had to fill the room with water... When she had to build the shower, she went out to a test area just to be sure nothing more unwelcome should happen. I think her shower is brilliant, it's working in her fantasy and she has also both warm and cold water. And even if you don't have water you still need the edges.


By practice reading there's a lot of unintentional learning that occurs: 
  • lava = fire, you must be careful with fire
  • water extinguishes fire
  • experience changes the method
  • languages
  • math
So I started to wonder: 
What exactly is she learning?

Or even more interesting:
What does she feel she might be learning?
Is she aware of the learning process?

WHAT do you learn, WHEN do you do it and WHY do you learn? Big questions, but interesting ones.

AquaVera: 
I learn to read, when I practice, discuss and build. I learn because its fun and I can build it."

And I asked myself the same question: 
"I learn Finnish words, how they are pronounced and spelled. I learn when we are discussing and I learn because it is fun."

But again: How could this be wrong????
Is there really only one right way to learn???

Can't learning be fun???


17 september 2015

The reading homework

AquaVera has started first grade and they have homework every single day. In addition to mathematics and spelling, they must also practice reading for at least 15 minutes.

But as the language they learn is Finnish (which I struggle with) my wife (AquaVera's mother) does that part. Yesterday I started to thought how I could help, relieve my wife and give my daughter another way to practice.

Minecraft.
How can we benefit from our gaming interest?

First I tried this and failed:

  • Lots of text in one sign was too hard.
  • One word at one sign didn't make sense, she didn't put together the words into sentences.

Instead, I started to make those animal pens. The keyword with both uppercase and lowercase letters and in her (second) mother tongue Finnish.

So what happened?

She began to spell out the word, pronounced each letter and put together words. The reward attracted, it was something as simple as put out the right block in the animal pen.

Suddenly she had cracked the code:
"L-A-M-M-A-S! Lammas! Det är ett får! It's a sheep dad!"


With traditional methods she was learning one (1) language, with game based learning she connected three (3) languages! The Power of Minecraft...

8 september 2015

Minecraft Math

My very awesome colleague Edward starts to be a really splendid MinecraftEDU teacher! He really thinks out of the box and for example one of the first thing the students should build was a hexagon. 

And I thought for myself: 
How on earth will they succeed with that and at the same time learn Pythagorean theorem?

I had not had to worry about.
They wasn't supposed to build the line but finding the correct coordinates. When find the right spot put a sign with the groups name on it. At each hexagon corner each group started to build their own math area.

As you rarely starts at the coordinate (0,0) the first thing you had to do was to find origin. The class did chose themselves to each side (of the hexagon) would have the distance 100 and therefor the height should be approx 87 blocks.

Away you (they) go to find the location...

Out of the box thinking
Coordinates, not lines of blocks! 
Why havn't I thought of that??

One other thing that's truly amazing and also serves as a good example of minecraft tend to be cross curriculum
We're not only learning geometry (what's this course is usually is about) but also the coordinate system (the next math course), programming (python) and a foreign language (English (vocabulary))

He made the class to navigate where to execute python online! Copy-paste this code:


It's a formula for the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle with cathetus x and y, the distance between the two points (x_1,y_1) and (x_2,y_2).

Also, he and the class, also found this awesome tool Mineconics where you can draw geometry figures with an online tool and later build the same inside Minecraft, like lines, rectangles and circles.



28 augusti 2015

Math with MinecraftEDU

Yesterday a 18 yo student came to me and asked "are we going to play Minecraft the whole course? You see, I've grown tired of play Minecraft (and now play CSGO)" and of course this student had arrived an hour late so he had missed my lecture. 

My first reaction:
Play Minecraft?! Am I really that unclear or don't you listen at all? The Minecraft part of this course is to have a real code project to analyze, problemsolve, plan, make pseudocode, flowcharts, document, test (inside Minecraft and ComputerCraft), evaluate and report. If you're only playing Minecraft you're doing wrong! And the first step to do right is to start listen.

Second reaction:
Unfortunately it came one hour later, but really? Do you have the guts to go to your other teachers and say the same thing? Hey you teacher, I'm kind of tired of using paper and pencils, I don't want to do it anymore!!! Good luck with that...

Solution:
If you had followed my lecture you would have known there's two ways of practice this task, to learn make documentations. Either Minecraft or Codecademy - your choise! 

Everyone else who had choosen Codecademy learn php (as it says in the task) but this student learn html/css instead. Nope, 18yo and can't read nor listen. But still, he's doing something.

Minecraft in general
To use Minecraft in the classroom really is a challenge and because of two things 
  • Youth of today move between games really fast and this autumn CSGO (from 2012) is a much more popular game.
  • Teachers have just taken the giant step, from paper and pencil to a game learning enviroment.
Therefor, as the enlighten teacher, you have to make the students understand to accept a boring (?) game and to encourage the teacher to continue try new pedagogy ways.

Math with MinecraftEDU
We, the upper secondary vocational institution where I work, has this fall started to participate in a university study, we have the control groups and Åbo Akademi University (Special Education/Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies) collect the data and will present it in a master's thesis. Because there are no, or very few, studies it will be exciting to see what this leads to.

The purpose of the study is to examine how a game (Minecraft) in education affect students' math skills, interests and anxiety.

As I'm the one teacher with experience of the Minecraft environment I also participate in the classroom. It's a bit of a challenge and slightly exhausting, at the same time as I coach the teacher in the game environment I'm also an extra teacher, for the students, in the classroom.


Take advantage of computer games interest

Today, Friday morning, I realized I have some problems to get the class focus on the task. I also had to ask myself, what is important? what do I want them to learn (especially in this course)?

For a business information technican (datanom) (vocational students), of course a programming skill as PHP or Lua is far more important than to know how to play a video game. But again, what's the purpose of this specific task?

I want them to understand the importance of why you must do a proper documentation and they also have to practice 
  • analyze problems
  • information retrieval
  • plan
  • documenting
  • test
  • evaluate
  • report

Therefor I used a twist
I took advantage of their gaming interests as they anyway where playing both CSGO and Hearthstone. When they realized I saw, they tried to quickly change windows on the screen. Instead, I surprised them: continue play but start make documentations of your gaming.

When play CSGO: 
you must play as a team and the team must be classmates. You must communicate, must put up with a strategy and you must make a report of it. You must evaluate every match and you must evaluate your own learning.

Hearthstone
almost the same but either you have a random opponent or a classmate. It's easier to evaluate when you play against a classmate as you both have the same experience of the recent game. But again, You must evaluate every match and you must evaluate your own learning. Same as above.

it was long ago it was so quiet in the classroom and focused students. Once I also promised that we can do the same thing another time, another classroom, if they just take the task seriously they also tried to make the best of it. 

It will be interesting to read their reports afterwards.

26 augusti 2015

ComputerCraftEDU

I have one student who helps me with one server I rent. When school started this fall he asked if we should upgrade the server to an higher and newer version but instead I gave him a challenge:

I want a survival PvP server with ComputerCraftEDU and players on the server should not have building rights.

A challenge he took seriously and spent a bit over a weekend to get the server up and running. He had to figure out what ComputerCraftEDU was and how to configure the server settings plus server versions. I believe he read the reddit-thread to figure out how it should work.

When every new player joins the server he/she will get a start kit (a turtle, a remote control, diamond pick-axe, a workbench, 5 apples, 5 torches and an instruction manual). It's working but now he (my admin) tries to figure out how to launch the economy (shops) and ComputerCraft itself as he experienced CCedu be a bit limited.

There's a couple of things we want our vocational students to learn, alpha and omega stuff;
  • analyze problems
  • information retrieval
  • plan
  • documenting
  • test
  • evaluate
  • report

With no build rights on a minecraft server, but you have turtles, you surely have to use those skills. 


My admin student have been playing Minecraft for the last four years and he admit he start getting bored of the concept, but he found himself spend hours on this server to figure out how to program the turtles. He acknowledged the work process: to be able to survive on our server you had to use those skills.

If I can confirm the student's skills in the game, in an environment where they are safe, I might have a greater chance of getting them to do the same in the classroom and another subject...!?

Well, you don't know if you don't try, so let us try!

Now, I happened to have an ongoing course where my students will learn to document a project and it's difficult to make them understand the task. They don't see the big picture in the same obvious way that someone with professional experience does.

So obviously I put them on the server so they would understand the whole picture, why every small steps to move forward are important in the process. Moreover, by using ComputerCraftEDU (drag-drop code), we could also simulate a programming project.



I don't know if it's a Finnish mentality that you have to vomit blood before taking a deeper reflection or whatever it is, but of course they did the opposite way of what I tried to explain. Instead of analyze, search at YouTube, plan or document they have jumped right into the game and forgot completely what I wanted them to do.

Tomorrow I have to have them to focus on the quest, the mission, instead of die in forty different ways as they try to program the turtles... And most annoying, there is some great ways to understand what ComputerCraft is, like this YouTube playlist by FunshineX

14 augusti 2015

Pseudocode and the new languages L++ and M++

This fall semester has just started. I kept my plan to use the "I Wonder..."-lesson as some kind of soft start and I've had one class two days struggle with pseudocode. It was harder than they thought. Much harder!

My plan was to have them blindly do a simple task and afterwards reveal the big secret: what they actually practiced and learned.

I understood 
during the first sub-task (the building phase) when they looked at me as question marks I have to make them understand what is going on. All has now built houses, either in Minecraft or my old architect-LEGO. 


This is something useful to know, understand and learn. Besides, if this construct code is too hard you might should have a second thought about your education. Pseudocode is still much easier to write than "real" code.

But I had to enlighten my students the purpose of the task so they could put their souls into the task. LEGO when you're adult? 17-21 years old? Are you nuts??

Their challenge?
Break something easy (but still a final product) into small steps of actions that someone who doesn't have any background knowledge both can understand as execute. Harder than it seems, that's for sure!

To make it even more difficult, another group of students (practical nurses) has also a course on disability. These practical nurses students, have  often difficults to put into that role not to understand everyday instructions. These students will debug the Business Information Technican students pseudocode (written instructions).

Coding is basically a step-by-step guide for computer to accomplish a task. Now the computer will be a human being, another student with some knowledge of Lego and most certain no knowledge of computers or videogames. Worst of all, it will most certain be a pretty girl... Our own version beauty and the geek haha!

Some of the example (pseudo)code which we've been doing together look like this:

M++ (Minecraft OOP)

L++ (Lego OOP)

What kind of learning takes place?
  • Pseudocode
  • Understanding of object-oriented programming
  • Documentation
  • ICT Helpdesk
As it gives so much learning I will continue with my other classes (all Datanom / Datanomi / Business Information Technican students) and do the same concept as I start to believe it's a useful exercise.

10 augusti 2015

I wonder...

Today I got the very exciting news with zero foresight. For some months I will be a replacement teacher for my colleague (a dad!) who will be on paternity leave. But unfortunately, foresight and planning could have been better. On Thursday, I will launch two courses on the topic "Implementation of a prototype for the software" where students will understand the point of planning and documenting projects. 

We will for example be using UML (the Unified Modeling Language), Gantt charts and Entity Relationship Models. Also flowcharts and pseudocode as it will help our students both in this course as when they start with object oriented programming.

I WONDER...
...what if I have them start in a completely different end...!?
What if I make them build something with LEGO (or Minecraft), have them to documenting their creations with camera, hand in that first task. And what if I make them to write an instruction how to build their creation? And that instruction needs to be detail in absurdity.

OKAY, MY PURPOSE?
A LEGO creation (rather than Minecraft) would be something easy to build but advanced enough to write an instruction to, targetting group someone who has never built LEGO (or played Minecraft) before. The build phase itself is something you repeat or loop, will they figure that out?

So my students, who are they? Well, vocational students between 16-19 years old, all gamers. I need to catch their interest in a very odd way I guess, this could be it. They will all be programmers so they need to start think OOP way and I believe one important skill for coding is to break a series of actions into small steps that someone who doesn't have any background knowledge (like a computer) can both understand and execute. 

Coding is basically a step-by-step guide for computer to accomplish a task and to write a LEGO instruction of their creation might be harder than you think. And we could ask other students at our school to perform the task strictly following the instructions and I'm pretty sure there will be lots of steps missed. 

AFTERWARDS
...and only afterwards I reveal what they have practiced.
  • Pseudocode
  • Object oriented programming
  • Documentation

They will also have an own example what to later do a flowchart or UML of. 
Am I nuts? 
:)