This week for EDTECH564 we completed a Magic 8-Ball tutorial. This was a fun easy tutorial to complete. I enjoyed using lists as I haven’t yet been able to play with them. It bothered me that the answers showed up in a label below the imagery of the toy so I spent the bulk of my time figuring out how to get the text to display approximately where it should. What I ended up doing was putting the image as a background to a 300×300 horizontal container and center/middle aligned a button whose text I replaced with the answer. I also added a simple radial gradient background to add some flair.
As far as functionality, I removed the tap for an answer because my new setup didn’t allow for the whole ball to be clicked. Plus it seemed more true to the toy to shake it anyway. The noises for this tutorial annoyed me a bit so instead I opted to have the app read the predictions out loud after the user shakes for an answer.
This week in EDTECH564 we started to build mobile apps using AppInventor. Since I am taking EDTECH534 at the same time and have been using the tool for a few weeks now, I completed this alternate assignment “Ball Bounce” instead of repeating Hello Purr. The original tutorial has a ball on screen that you fling with your finger to bounce off the walls. I extended the app with a colorful background, purposefully overly colorful to try and add some difficulty to the game. I also added a good guy and a bad guy. If you fling the ball into a good guy, you add to the score and the bad guy takes from your score. Additionally, in order to increase difficulty with game play, I increase the speed of the ball with every bounce off a wall. There are also buttons to stop the ball while keeping game play alive and reset the game. The “Score” and ” Speed” labels allow you to keep track of your game play on the fly.
This week in EDTECH534 we created an app that auto-responds text messages while the app is open. I got off to a quick start on the app after feeling so successful last week. I worked the tutorial as it was written. The tutorials are getting a little more difficult as it expects you to build on skills from previous weeks. After I figured out the new format, I was able to get all the parts to work. I was surprised at the functionality available to me via AppInventor. With the app open, and a text comes in, the app reads the senders phone number and the text. Then it sends a response text back letting the sender know whatever the user has programmed. Finally, the app also appends the users location to the auto-response. For my extension, I added some pre-canned responses as well as the ability for the user to turn off the location functionality. I also played around with some more layout do-dads.
This week in EDTECH 564 we took a look at mobile games and their place in the classroom. I ended up evaluating Brain It On! and I Love Hue as educational games. Both of these games provided challenging puzzles that were quickly addictive. For games on the non-educational variety, I evaluated Bejewled Blitz! and Dots. Like the educational games, these games were addictive and are the puzzle variety. One of my peers had mentioned our class discussion my tendency to see puzzle games more educational. While I obviously would agree based on this weeks assignment but upon reflection, I would say this is true mostly for mobile games. I feel like the digital divide is still wide enough to not be able to effectively and reliably use mobile apps in the classroom. Now, I understand there are places where schools have devices, or have great wifi, or perhaps have students who all have current devices, but at my school, we’re not there yet. Therefore, using any mobile app, educational or not, is very difficult. That said, if I lived in an area where using mobile apps in the classroom was realistic, I’m not sure I would use them for anything more than time filler for several reasons. Most importantly, unless the app is trackable, how would I assess how students do with the app? Assuming that wasn’t an issues, wouldn’t it be neat to be able to analyze these games as a class. I would love Brain It On! in my Video Game Design course when discussing physics in video games. I feel like the physics in the game were spot on and it really challenges the user to use physics to their advantage.
This week we created a whack-a-mole type game. The Mole Mash tutorial we completed introduced us to the ImageSprite, Canvas, Clock , and Sound components. We created Procedures to implement repeated behavior, such as moving the mole & bee and practiced using Math blocks. I really enjoyed working through this tutorial and am feeling more and more comfortable in the AppInventor environment. I’ve found myself wanting to explore just a bit farther each week and sometimes have to hold myself back. Not a bad problem to have 😉
For my customizations, I enhanced the imagery and tried to use good layout design practice by organizing data and function logically. I added a slider to control the speed of the mole and a label to let the user know what speed they were playing at. I also had to work the speed into the reset button.
This week we were tasked with evaluating the popular augmented reality game Pokemon Go using Shute & Ke’s “seven core elements of well-designed games” as the criteria. There is no doubt that Go is a great game. It captured the imagination and engagement of the masses almost instantly. While initially there were bugs and issues to resolve, there have been strides in the app since it’s initial release. I’ll admit that I wasn’t thrilled to download and test the game and I had a bit of a biased chip on my shoulder during the process. I’m just not into the game itself, I’ve never really understood the Pokemon craze. That said, I love the functionality of the game. I love how it gets people up and out. And I love the potential for other games based on the same ideas. For example, imagine a game where real live creatures are found and collected (or tagged, for the conservationists) that are native to the region the player is currently in. Shoot, why stop at creatures, why not plants and trees or types of rocks.
Shute, V. J., & Ke, F. (2012). Games, Learning, and Assessment. In D. Ifenthaler, D. Eseryel, & X. Ge (Eds.), Assessment in Game-Based Learning (pp. 43–58). New York, NY: Springer New York. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-1-4614-3546-4_4
This week in EDTECH 534 we continued getting familiar with AppInventor by completing the PaintPot tutorial. I really enjoyed the tutorial and learned quite a bit. I ended up deviating from my normal homework routine and started this assignment very early in the week. This allowed me to finish the tutorial with enough time to play with the tool. Admittedly, there were some things I just couldn’t figure out and gave up on but on the flip side, there was still plenty that I managed, notably the new blank canvas buttons. I had difficulty getting the slider to operate the stroke width but was able to work it out with a solution from a fellow classmate. I am hoping to explore more with AppInventor’s ability to control the interface, I suppose I am a UX designer through and through 😉 (a nostalgic reference to a past career)