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NPA Games Development – Training Course

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Integrating gameplay into assessment

I was asked by SQA recently to run a course for teachers and lecturers who are planning to deliver the NPA Computer Games Development at their schools and colleges. I’ve run the course myself over the past two years and have been involved in some of the development of the assessment packs and other delivery materials, so I’ve got a fair bit of experience and knowledge of the course. However it’s still fairly daunting to deliver to an audience of 35 of your peers.

The course was part online and part face-to-face, with some material and activities delivered via SQA Academy, SQA’s Moodle-based VLE. I was overwhelmed by responses on the VLE, to the extent I’m way behind on grading and providing feed back. Indeed some responses from participants were coming in at nearly midnight!

Numeracy tasks and gaming

I focused on looking at activities and tasks that could be done in the classroom and embedding core-skills tasks such as numeracy and literacy. We went through a series of resources I’ve collated over the years including tutorials, useful websites and videos. There was also a series of tasks and games which involved quizzes and playing games, with teams competing for prizes.

Many people were interested in the range of free tools that could be used for creating games, and how to pick the right one. I explained that each tool worked differently, some were 3D, some 2D, some required programming skills to use and others didn’t. Picking the right tool, and learning to use it is crucial for educators delivering the course as the development stage is the most difficult. Many of the delegates had used some of the tools and were happy to share their experiences and advise others on which tools to use. Importantly, the qualifications were designed to be as open as possible so that a wide variety of tools can be used, from programming languages through to complex 3D modding tools.

Overall I’m quite happy with how the first session went. I’d over-prepared, so had more material than I could get through, however I think I covered a lot of topics that most people were interested in. There was also quite a bit of discussion between delegates that helped explore some avenues that I hadn’t considered.

Tasks and activities that can be used in the classroom

The interest in the course has been so high that we’re already running a second session on March 26th which is fully booked, and looking at a third session later in the year. It certainly seems that game development is ‘flavour of the month’ at the moment, and that’s no surprise given recent UK government plans and comments from industry such as those of Google’s Eric Schmidt at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

More information and useful links can be found on the Games Development blog.

It’s always good to get some feedback after a workshop or presentation:-

  • Ray Krachan @R_Krachan – excellent course today, looking forward to introducing gaming to pupils in august.
  • A McGregor@chscomp – great in-service today, I’ve been raving about it to the rest of the department.
  • Colin Drummond @colin_drummond – Thanks again for today Colin. I took a lot from it and am looking forward to delivering the course next year!
  • Brenda McQuillan – Just to say really useful course today. Very professional and informative. us Computing Teachers don’t get too many courses like that.
  • Michelle MacMillan – Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your course and it has helped enormously with my preparations for next year. Thank you so much.
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Students show off art skills in East End mural project

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Students from my NC Design and Digital Media classes recently completed the design of a mural featuring the faces of famous people from Dunfermline. The mural takes pride of place in the visitors’ stand at East End Park, the home of Dunfermline Athletic Football Club.

Photo © Craig Brown