by Coby Reynolds
Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator
The Big idea
One of the great thing about Bloxels as an educator is the limitless learning opportunities it provides for students. The depth of creativity is only limited to the user's imagination, which means it can be used to engage students in all areas of learning. The first thing that comes to most people's mind is the computer science element of the game, however, I believe it is much more, which is why I have developed an iTunes U course to showcase some of these possibilities. As an educator I am always looking for new ways to engage students in a range of tasks so they have a more authentic learning experience, and therefore, develop a deeper level of understanding of the topic. The iTunes U course incorporates elements of real-life learning and gameplay to engage students in varied forms of writing styles. The course is broken up into four main sections; Designing and Planning; Creating; Evaluating the Audience and Advertising.
Designing and Planning
The idea came about to place the student at the center of the learning by beginning with a letter from a gaming company to the student as the game designer. This outlines the design brief, which requires the students to pitch their idea in a persuasive letter. From there the students explore the elements of what makes games enjoyable and all of the features of Bloxels itself. This section is particularly important as this is the key to the engagement level of the rest of the course. This is where they are able to develop the fun element of the gameplay and begin to let their imagination run wild. In this section students also begin to create a design portfolio that is an ongoing task throughout the unit which can be used for assessment purposes.
Students then go through a process of designing a character and theme for their game, which they can describe in a range of writing types as well as a narrative style backstory, where students can be super creative with their imagination. This section provides multiple opportunities to engage students in the a range of writing genres through the gameplay of the app. This part of the course is only limited to how long you want to spend on this. It could be done across a week as a summative assessment of the writing genres or over a whole term, covering all explicit teaching of the different genres along the way - it’s entirely up to you.