My journey through this course had me re-imagining how a course can work. Instead of the ‘normal’ ho-hum way of doing things with grades and deadlines, we focus more on accomplishments and outcomes. Ok, maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration but the intent is true enough. Students participating in a gamified course earn XP (experience points) that correlate directly with their accomplishments. In other words, they earn for what they do instead of lose for what they don’t. If you’ve been following along with me through my journey, this isn’t the first time you’ve seen gamification. I’ve been at this for a while and was very excited to take this Quest-based learning course. I really felt that it was the final piece that my course was missing. Throughout the semester, we used a program called Rezzly to build an online platform for our quest based courses. You can check out the video I created to showcase my course here:
In the last few weeks in EDTECH564 we have been working on a final portfolio for the class. The process had me looking back through the materials from the course and reflecting on what we have done. The website I created moves through our time analyzing and synthesizing augmented reality, virtual reality, and mobile apps. It then moves into the apps we created in App Inventor. Finally you can see my unit proposal and final thoughts as well. Overall, the project was fun to do and felt good reviewing what we have done. Check out the web site…
For the last few weeks in EDTECH534 we have been working on our final apps. I chose to create an app for use in my Video Game Design course as a tournament activity. For each game there is a different way to control the player so I envision this app also being used for students to analyze player controls.
The app itself is composed of 3 apps created with tutorials over the duration of the semester. Each of these three apps (Space Bouncer, Tap-a-Mole, and Cheasy Chase) have been heavily customized from the original tutorials. The final game, Cookie Crunch, I created from scratch and is the most robust. I really enjoyed creating Cookie Crunch, especially the images. I found there were limitations in AppInventor that a bit clunky to work around, like the inability to spawn sprites. Because of this, all sprites have to be manually put into the program and manually coded. I’m sure I could have gotten more creative with coding to make it more dynamic but I just couldn’t see/find it. Overall, I am quite proud of this app. A lot of time and effort went into it. I hope you enjoy!
Check out my final documentation web site to see the code and/or download the game!
This week in EDTECH 564, we continued working on an instructional unit proposal. I chose to do my proposal on the initial unit in my Video Game Design course. In this unit, students begin by playing a series of games. Then they complete an Aurasma scavenger hunt throughout the school, finding and figuring clues as they go. There is a quick quiz app that students can review what they are learning about game components (character, setting, control, etc.) Finally, students create posters defining/describing the components they have learned about.
For some reason, I was thinking this was our final project for the class and I was thinking I would have time to actually build out some of the materials for this unit as I really would like to use it in the classroom. Turns out, I was wrong and we are moving on next week. I feel like if I had caught this earlier, I might have spent more time building up my proposal document.
This week in EDTECH 534 I found myself playing catch up from my previously mentioned illness. For my final app, I am creating a tournament app for students to use during my Video Game Design course. Currently, students use specific online games to analyze various game components. The app I created will introduce mobile games into that activity. My app has 4 mini-games that all have some kind of scoring in them. Three of the games are games I have previously built in this class that will only need minor modifications to do as I envision (mostly with scoring). My fourth game is a completely new, created by me, game. I’m quite proud of it. Not going to lie, I spent the WHOLE day today working on it. Time really does fly when you are in a groove. At this point, I have spent more time on this app than I allotted but I’m almost there. Next week I need to focus on perfecting my scoring, applying some kind of ‘end game’ functionality to 2 of the games, inserting sounds here and there, and polishing up my UI (I can NEVER leave the UI alone).
While this post isn’t about projects done in either of my classes (EDTECH 534 & 564), I do want to record my reflection as it is a part of my journey…
Last Friday I noticed some pain in my gut along with overall fatigue. As the weekend progressed, the pain didn’t seem to get better and started to concern me. By Sunday, I was in pretty rough shape. Monday I ended up visiting the ER and spent the day being poked and prodded. What an interesting experience! The good news is that I left with a diverticulosis diagnosis which is totally manageable. Of course, it would be nice if once an ailment is identified, recuperation would naturally follow as quickly. With my shiney new diagnosis and meds, I foolishly decided to go to work on Tuesday. I made it about 1.5hrs before I was weeping and sent home with pity. Hmph. The next day I didn’t even try. Here we are on Thursday, I have emerged from my hibernation cocoon and I am SO FAR BEHIND.. double Hmph.
While I slept the most part of the last week, I have been thinking about both my final projects. For both classes, I plan on creating products that will support my gamification efforts in the classroom. For 534, I am making an app that will help track and deliver game stats in a gamified course. For 564, I am building out a unit for my Video Game Design course that explores game components.
This week in EDTECH 564 we created a mole-mash game. Since I created the original Mole Mash in EDTECH 534, I created a second different version this week. This version takes a different approach to displaying the holes and mole. I found it easier to determine what exactly was touched from the screen allowing me to more easily use the data for not only keeping track of successful whacks but unsuccessful ones as well. This is something I couldn’t figure out in the first version. I changed it up a bit from the tutorial by adding more holes, adding a missed count, updating the UI and adding a background. I definitly like the UI better in this version as well, but I attribute that to working a few more weeks with App Inventor.
This week in EDTECH 534 we created a quiz app with AppInventor. I feel like this is an easy match for educational apps being a quiz n’all. I built the app as the tutorial designed and ended up struggling with ways to make this app better. I mean, aside from UI stuff. This week, I wish there were more people in my course so I had more takes on what could be done with it.. but I don’t so.. I ended up choosing to do an HTML Quiz app as I am currently teaching the subject at my job. There are about a dozen questions that cycle through as the user answers. For my customizations, I added the functionality to disable the next button until the user guesses the correct answer. I also tweaked the UI a bit. I don’t care for the app being static and would like the ability to add questions, maybe push questions out to a group of students. There is a tutorial a few chapters past where we stop in the book that looks like it addresses this. I hope I have a chance to build it.
This week in EDTECH564 we completed the Space Invader tutorial. The app was easy to build but I found it overall quite boring. I decided I would try to improve on the game by converting it to a BrickBreaker type game. I recreated the images and created a fancy color flashing ball. Changing the behaviors so that the ball bounces off of things instead of disappearing was fairly straight forward, especially when referring to the BallBouncer app I created earlier this semester for EDTECH534. My biggest challenge was trying to create the angle bounce off the platform based on where the ball landed. After a while of not figuring it out, I opted to have the bounce angle be random and changed the platform to have odd angles off of it. The game starts off really easy with the ball moving quite slow but as the user progresses, the speed of the ball increases and the game gets quite challenging.
This week in EDTECH534 we created a “find your car” app. We played with location, storing data (I ❤ tinyDB), and the WebViewer. The premise as well as the tutorial is pretty straight forward. The user opens the app (with GPS on) and can save their current location allowing an easy return to that location with the click of a button. My only problem with the app was how the screen was laid out. With all the data on the screen, when the map opens in the WebViewer, you couldn’t really see anything. I added a button on the bottom to allow the user to open the map in the Maps app. I also rearranged the data to take up as little screen space as possible.
I can see this app being useful for finding your car in big parking lots like it was intended for. I also see this app being super useful on a field trip. Although, in version 2.0 I’d love to add some kind of breadcrumb functionality as well as the ability to have pre-programmed points, like we did in the Salem tour app.. maybe a combo of the two?
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 EDTECH534 I completed the Map Tour tutorial using my favorite day trip location, Salem, Massachusetts. The tutorial was pretty simple this week so I took it as an opportunity to explore using multiple screens in my app. In the last few weeks I thought about adding a game-over screen a couple of times but haven’t been brave enough to really try it (plus I was thinking a tutorial would present this to me eventually). The very first part of the tutorial, using the Activity Starter, did not work for me at all. I suspected it was due to the properties entered. Since I’ve worked on Java apps before, the paths LOOKED ok to me but in this context, I had no idea. This forced me to use the Web Viewer and pray it worked. Thankfully, it did. In the process, since I still had to use Activity Starter, I found that all I really needed was the Action and URI properties.
When the user clicks on the “Choose Your Destination” ListPicker on the first screen (Screen1), they are presented with a pre-defined list of landmarks. The user then selects the landmark they want to explore. The app then opens a new screen (Screen2) with 2 Web Viewers on it, one for the landmark web site and one for the landmark Google map. Now, I have a Samsung Galaxy s6edge+ so my screen real-estate is ample and I still felt a little cramped at this point so I added “pop-out” buttons that open each option in their respective apps. I found in my testing that the device back button kicked me out of the app altogether so I also added an in-app back button (come to find out, it kicked me out because I was using the Companion app, the device back works just fine in the finished app).