Week 1I relocated to University Park, Pennsylvania this week and met Prof. Mary Beth Rosson, her husband and colleague Prof. John Carroll , and the CSCL group members. I will be sharing an apartment provided by Penn State with a fellow DMP participant, Eva.
I will be working in a brand new building on campus, the Information Science and Technology building. IST is a school for interdisciplinary research and includes The Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Penn State. There are several facets of the HCI discipline here, making it an exciting place to work and study.
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I have been assigned to an educational game development project, which I will be working on with Jayne, an undergraduate student here. The game should introduce middle school students to object-oriented design concepts and basic programming by providing them with a structured way to "program their way through" portions of the game to advance the game narrative. We will be exploring two learning environments within which to develop the game: Alice and BlueJ.
(Jane and me)
This week Jayne and I became familiar with the Alice environment and tested its limitations, portability, and ease of use for middle-school students. We brainstormed a lot about possible games and functionality to include that might hone in on some of the object-based concepts we are focusing on. We also explored BlueJ, and weighed the pros and cons of each environment. Eventually we narrowed down the list of what was necessary to teach and what trade-offs were reasonable for each environment. This was accomplished through feedback at a group meeting within the Computer-Supported Collaboration and Learning Lab, the Informal Learning in Software Development group.
Jayne and I are reading papers concerned with educational games and the kinds of narratives that middle-school children respond to. We are dedicating a lot of time to reading and brainstorming about the types of games that might appeal to girls.
I am also becoming familiar with Virgina Tech's Teacher BRIDGE (Basic Resources for Integrated Distributed Group Environments). Teacher BRIDGE is a Java-based Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) environment that allows several networked users to gain access to, edit, and view existing work and chat objects across the network in real-time. It uses the CORK API to achieve synchronous functionality across a network.