Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5/26 Gamification

Today I tried something completely different with the math club. We participated in the Washington State Algebra Story Problem Challenge. http://wa.algebrachallenge.org/  To start with, I wasn't sure what to expect from the process. I believe there is some association between the game science group at UW and the developers of dragon box based on some of their past projects and the fact the game shared the same background music. So if a game "Book of Riddles" shows up some day, we helped test it while it was being developed. Overall I was hoping that this would be similar in interest value to dragon box or dragon box elements.

For the  beta testing I had my son try out 5 minutes of the various grade levels to try to decide which one to give everyone in the club (I couldn't set more than one for the group). Based on that experience I went with setting everyone to 7th grade.  It also appeared interesting from that initial sample so I had high hopes.

However, in practice I ended up having a mixed experience with the game. First it tended to hang or crash repeatedly over the session. I ended up having to continually log kids back in again. This required remembering a non-mnemonic bit.ly url and team code. Secondly, the actual controls were fairly non-intuitive in the middle section of the game. (Of course this was the part I hadn't sampled before hand.) Four or five kids  became frustrated trying to manipulate the controls to express an equation they clearly understood. I also found finding the correct input form to be fairly exasperating and it was  often easier to have the help show the final solution in several cases. So it only maintained the interest of about 10 of the kids over the entire period with the balance going over to cool math games instead. I let that pass this time but for future reference its hard to keep everyone on task when they can type URL's in themselves to the browser.

Overall, I would have been better off borrowing 15 iPads and just having them play dragon box  So I think I'm going to probably skip this activity next year unless on investigation it has radically improved.

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