I’ve been teaching students to create Flash animations for a few years now, and this year I decided to take the plunge and get them to design their own Flash games. I started out by walking the students through two tutorials I got from http://www.flashclassroom.com which taught the students how to use button behaviours, and drag and drop functionality using basic actionscript. We managed to complete these tutorials within two successive weeks. The students were then divided into groups to do market research on ideas for games, to design the games and advertise them for Games Day which is coming up shortly. They had to make a short games trailer and a poster advert. They also had to market their game via twitter and use twitter for games design research.
I was also encouraged by the fact that the project did not preclude getting students to use the traditional Office applications in the support documentation each group had to submit. This is very important in terms of demonstrating to parents, and school administrators that the course has validity. I was able to teach and assess various aspects of word-processors quite effectively.
Another pleasing aspect of the experience has been the way in which I was able to integrate twitter into the project. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to teach students how to use twitter for research and for marketing, and to establish it as an essential classroom tool in the minds of students. I had expected some resistance, but students appeared to see the advantages of using hashtags, for example quite quickly, and the twitter feed on the class Moodle quickly filled with groups claiming that they wold “dominate” Games Day. More importantly, some groups used it to follow flash games design gurus and to ask for assistance. I wasn’t really expecting this, and it was most gratifying.
Some of the games are edutainment, for example teaching French or Afrikaans vocabulary, and I had planned that where this was appropriate the girls who had designed the game could take some time to show the game to younger girls in the junior school, for use in lessons. I see this as a very important aspect in the validation of the work that the girls have put into their projects and an important way of integrating ICTs across the curriculum. Next year I would like to see the girls being commissioned to produce the games.