Friday, 12 July 2013

Lesson sketch: Online Bearings Game gets 360 times better!

Here it is:


Here is the address for the pupils and to go fullscreen (recommended): http://globalracing.overthefence.heliohost.org


Features:

  • Warm-up level, which aims to give pupils a basic idea of bearings (including bearings above 180 degrees). <--Btw. I had to remove features from this section to make it less fun (so pupils would want to progress).
  • Three main levels, which progress by getting fewer instructions, requiring more accurate measurements AND increasing the complexity of the scale used. 
  • Ability to race whole classes against each other (more on this later).
  • 'Extension' level where reverse bearings are practiced (with high score board).
  • New 8-bit graphics style.

Racing:

  1. To set up a class to race go here: http://globalracing.overthefence.heliohost.org/admin and enter the details on the 'Create a class' form. 
  2. Have all the pupils play the game on a different computer. Whenever they complete one of the main three levels they will be asked to type in their 'team name' and 'class code'.
  3. They can choose the team name, but make sure they type in the exact class code you created in step one.
  4. On a computer with a projector, go back to: http://globalracing.overthefence.heliohost.org/admin and enter the details on the 'Race an existing class' form.
  5. On the next page, you are given a list of students to include/take out (this feature is mainly to avoid having somebody choose an inappropriate team name). Choose the teams to race and click 'Race'.
  6. Wait for it to load, put it on the big screen, click 'Go'.
  7. Watch the magic.
(Btw. If you want to try out adding teams and watching races you can use 'ras' as the school code, and choose races made 'All time')


Why remake this:

I attempted this previously but stopped, a little frustrated, as my knowledge of programming ran out. Learning PHP allowed me to add the data-sharing between computers.

More than that though, I wanted this to be a proof-of-potential; that Maths based computer games don't have to be awful.

My reasons for disliking most games is documented here, and I thought it might be nice to see how I did against my own list:
  • Multiple maths skills used in inceasingly difficult combination - Skills involved: bearings, angle measurement, map scales, reflexes, knowledge of shortest route techniques, reverse bearings. Definitie progression between levels.
  • Intrinsic reasons that the skills are necessary - Not entirely clear in the main levels unless you know that bearings are still used by boats. The reason is more obvious on the 'extension' level.
  • Maths skills are not painful to implement; that game mechanics/input methods do not get in the way, there is flow - I don't like how awkward the protractor is to move around and it does slow things down quite a bit. However, it is an essential part of understanding bearings, and the rest of the game flows fairly well.
  • Rewards; feelings of mastery, leader boards, progression of story, new, fun in-game abilities - Different levels have you using the same knowledge of bearings in different and interesting ways, there is competition and feeling of mastery/progression. No real story, but there is a certain satisfaction in saving more people than last time.
  • Any additional difficulties or constraints to the maths problems are introduced in a way that feels natural and unvontrived - Only having ten moves is a meaningless constraint. I included the constraint to gently encourage pupils to move away from guessing angles and in to measuring them. This and the other constraints, however, are standards seen in many popular computer games and my hope is that they are pervasive enough to be accepted by pupils.
  • The maths problems involved are at least interesting, if not also fun -
    The game is to use and understand bearings correctly. Take away the bearings element and the game is no longer interesting.

 

Please let me know if you find any bugs or have any ideas how the game could be bettered.