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Stick & Click - the road towards friendly, classroom-centered interactive digital content authoring

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In this project, we argue for the need of new kinds of visual, digital game authoring tools. The main goal for this project is to re-conceptualization the programming of interactive digital contents, to minimize the coding aspects, and focus instead on the creative and design-like parts, leveraging on a tangible metaphor, so to empower teachers and pupils to create digital interactive content, expanding the creative affordances offered by digital games. The resulting tool is called Stick&Click, it is based on findings from our past research, and it targets the pedagogical practice of editing games that is currently common in Danish primary schools. The study is organized according to the research through design approach, and centers around user needs and experience. We discuss our explorations of the computational model behind Stick&Click, requirements and design principles, and alternative ways to visualize its user interface.

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Stick & Click - the road towards friendly, classroom-centered interactive digital content authoring

  1. 1. “The road towards friendly, classroom-centered interactive digital contents authoring” Andrea Valente Emanuela Marchetti University of Southern Denmark (SDU) Odense Denmark
  2. 2. How to support authoring of digital games (in class) ? • In the past 10 years we worked on the problem of teachers and pupils who want to author their own digital games (1) • Situation: tinkering is common, creating analog games is too, but… changing a digital game requires a programmer (1) “Learning via Game Design From Digital to Card Games and Back Again” Marchetti, Emanuela; Valente, Andrea; Electronic Journal of E-Learning , 2015
  3. 3. Digital authoring without a programmer (or programming?) … but how? • Can we empower teachers and pupils to create digital interactive contents? • Can we decouple digital creativity from programming? • Do we need a full programming language for digital creativity? (Turing-complete?) We explored alternative metaphors for programmming: a card-game metaphor (diagram above) and looked at a minimalistic approach, similar to game design and editing
  4. 4. Game design in the (Danish) classroom • Existing pedagogical practice of editing/designing games, currently common in Danish primary schools. Typical workflow: – teachers introduce a topic in a lecture – pupils engage with books and digital resources (gathered by teachers), such as: articles or videos available on-line, or games – then pupils play the given games and/or to produce creative artefacts to exemplify their understanding: via board/card games, videos, or digital slides • Danish schools are also starting to teach programming (CT) -> they are open to exploring different digital tools, not just existing digital games or editors • Many studies and evidence show usefulness of existing digital contents and self- created analog games… BUT… we observed a lack of tools for authoring interactive digital contents, specifically targeted at teachers and pupils!
  5. 5. Requirements for Stick&Click Need for new kind of visual, digital game authoring tool, with: • no code -> just simple before/after rules • limited interaction -> only point&Click game development – with multiple rooms (here called pages) • allows kids/teachers authoring of simple digital games, with custom images and audio • visual and possibly for web and/or android • focus on the software engineering/design-cycle parts of CT • as simple as possible computational model (i.e. hopefully easy to understand) – based on a variation on hyperlinks! – also: no math, no coordinates (?)
  6. 6. Inspiration… Stickers and albums Game prototyping with paper empty Stickers Backgrounds Page (in an album) Before -> After Before -> After … Rules places
  7. 7. Start here click Example of game with a single page: Click the key and the boy gets it. Then click the on the door and it will open. Click on the open door and you will win. Other features: • multi-page • persistency
  8. 8. Definition of the example Notice that rule 1 and 4 are one the opposite of the other, as in the previous page :)
  9. 9. We made a node.js transpiler for our language, and gave it a Blockly GUI Below is the same game with the visual GUI. But… too code-like and not “visual”, non “tangible” -> can scare!
  10. 10. Current prototype workflow So we created a new version in P5, that has an editor and a player, both working as WebApps. The workflow is as shown: We are currently testing it. (DEMO) You can see a preview here: Editor: https://editor.p5js.org/andrea270872/present/s9xijiDlG Player: https://editor.p5js.org/andrea270872/present/chgF2ZeNP rules cards Export to paper…
  11. 11. Scenarios of use teacher Stick&Click create game play/ understand child child child teacher Stick&Click explain child child child playtest and (re)design & the game 1. 2. child child
  12. 12. Conclusion and ongoing work • So why? “friendly, classroom-centered interactive digital contents authoring” – pupils and teachers can create own digital contents – designed to be friendly towards non-programmers – the workflow matches and supports existing analog/paper-based activities in the classroom, – the resulting digital contents are not just a PDF, but instead are interactive, game-like. • Open questions: how-to score or lives, orchestration of game development in classroom • Tests with teachers of a local school in Denmark (late 2019/spring 2020) – deploy Stick&Click and observe it within the classroom ecology, – goals: make P5 protoype user-friendly, capable of covering authoring of interesting digital games, and simplify/perfect the stickers+album metaphor • Finally: make a working mobile version (python+Kivy) -> touch!
  13. 13. Conclusion and ongoing work • So why? “friendly, classroom-centered interactive digital contents authoring” – pupils and teachers can create own digital contents – designed to be friendly towards non-programmers – the workflow matches and supports existing analog/paper-based activities in the classroom, – the resulting digital contents are not just a PDF, but instead are interactive, game-like. • Open questions: how-to score or lives, orchestration of game development in classroom • Tests with teachers of a local school in Denmark (late 2019/spring 2020) – deploy Stick&Click and observe it within the classroom ecology, – goals: make P5 protoype user-friendly, capable of covering authoring of interesting digital games, and simplify/perfect the stickers+album metaphor • Finally: make a working mobile version (python+Kivy) -> touch!

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