Thursday, 29 August 2013

Farming Session 2 - 29 August

Unfortunately, I was away sick last week, and we had to miss an important session. So, here we were at Session 2, and with only one session left after this before I am on leave overseas.

After reminding students that I would be asking them who they had worked with, and who they had helped, they were underway.

There were a lot of technical issues at the start, but things mostly settled down until some students were experiencing too much lagging near the end. I thought we had ultra-fast broadband and had been snupped for fast wifi.....

I got myself into Teacher Creative mode, so was able to fly and have a look at the activity from above. But, I still caused a problem by being in the game and not sleeping in a bed at night, so eventually exited and just watched in the room. I hopped back in at one point, because Jg1025 wanted 12 planks while he was mining, so that he could help everyone with access to special tools. So I gave 12 planks to everyone.

Two students had missed the first week (NOCH and D1amond) and were a little overwhelmed at first, at being thrust straight into survival mode with others already underway. One fitted in quickly to another team, and the other felt they weren't able to join other teams that were already big, but when I asked, several students said they were very happy for this player to join their team.

Comments overheard during the session:

"Quiet! It's too noisy, I can't hear the chat." - nice that students want to hear themselves talking amongst each other....
"Don't take our crops!" I asked why someone would do this... The response was, "I bone-mealed them and they wouldn't have survived otherwise." Say no more.
"My pigs have been stolen..." They had been fenced in properly, apparently...
After 45 minutes I asked Ladder56 what crops he'd planted today, "Oh, I'd better get onto that." Hmmm, what is this project all about?

Crops planted or harvested today included pumpkins, potatoes, and carrots. There was also some cooking and eating! Roles evolved, with some students helping their team by doing specific jobs such as collecting seeds, bone-mealing (fertilising) crops, harvesting, mining, building expanded houses, exploring, cutting wood, or crafting sticks or making tools for other members of their teams. Diamond focused on surviving.

I will add more to this post when I have time. I want to diagram the relationships, like last time. But, I do note that every player helped others at some time.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Farming Session 1 - 15 August

The session got under way after I had gone through the Brief for this Challenge. It is farming-related, focusing on growing crops because this is the main theme for the school this term. Of course, my main interest is in the collaboration and engagement of the players - so I'm looking for ways to observe how players support each other, work together, and whether they build a community.

The game is being played in Survival Mode, on easy level. But, this seems to mean that I can't fly over and see what everyone is doing, and if I want to be on the Map, I am in danger too! Is there any way to change that (so students play in Survival Mode, but I don't). Changing my own player settings doesn't seem to help...

Springston Minecrafters Farming Brief

It was VERY noisy at times, particularly near the beginning, because players were entering the world that had been made last week, and it was almost dark so creepers were already attacking before players had a chance to get established. Of course, there was the excitement of finding out about the map they were on, too. My Principal, sitting in the office directly across the hallway, mentioned how loud the voices were and that the students didn't seem to realise. But this is largely a typical group of noisy boys anyway, and there was an awful lot of excitement happening! It was all completely focused on the game, and no one seemed to be at a loose end today.

Some players went off exploring, and as the session passed they found that they were too far from the other players, and came back to where the action was, where they could more easily establish themselves, and where they could be part of the larger group. 

With this diagram, I am trying to show some of the relationships and groups that developed during the first session. Each player has an associated colour, and you can see the lines of that colour representing the links they considered they had made with other players by the end of the game. At the start, everyone was working on their own, some being more anxious about that than others. But partnerships soon began to develop, once the creepers started to attack. Also, with some players helping others, they began to build a connection. Soon there were mainly three clear groups (with one or two still on the periphery to some extent). Some players had built their own farmhouses, but they were too far away, so they apparently destroyed them and eventually formed a larger group that seems to have Jg1025 as the leader. By the end, there were two main groups (one on the left of the diagram), and there was another smaller group (on the right). 

I asked students who they had helped during the session, and everyone had helped someone at some stage, sometimes many times - helping them survive, giving them materials, giving advice (OwlsRCute possibly not being quite skilled enough to help, but working collaboratively, and grateful for Jg1025's assistance when difficulties arose). In fact, Jg1025's assistance of practically every player was fantastic, and I could see the other players gaining a respect for this player's skill and knowledge, and being grateful to be included in his group. This was especially interesting because it was this player who had been banished by the group in the Kiwiana game, for disrupting the play and not focusing on the goals of the project. This change in motivation and obvious willingness to help has led to a noticeable change in his status and was a highlight of the session.

D1amond and NOCH were both away for this session, as was DOXINWHAT (but this player had unfortunately not returned the signed permission slip from a parent anyway).

There were a few technical glitches today, with a couple of players facing multiple freezes and restarts. Very upsetting for them and I don't know what the cause was.

Another problem that occurred (and, not being a player, I don't really understand this), but the players tell me that at night, a player can't sleep unless EVERYONE is asleep at the same time. So, they had to make sure everyone had beds, and then wait till everyone was in them...

I still had players asking to join the Minecrafters group, which is not possible at this stage, but they were welcome to come and watch during the break time.

Before this session I had done some Minecraft plant, crop, and farming researching, finding the following links to be useful (I have never planted crops)!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Kiwiana Project - final thoughts

A few jottings of thoughts, rather than anything coherent this time around. If I don't get the ideas down now, they'll be lost!

Questions I have:

  1. How far to set the boundaries of what students can do or must do in such a school project.
  2. Set criteria for success? But leave this open to choice, how it is approached.

Last week we didn't have a full session (most students were away at sport) so I just had the three senior students and our first job was to record their tour.

After that, I showed them the Minecraft EDU Tutorial...
OwlsRCute, D1amond and DOXINWHAT sped through what had taken me HOURS to make sense of and work through about three months ago! I thought I might have had an advantage, in that I have worked through it before, but no - they were much faster than me - in fact, they did most of it in half an hour. Talk about leaving me feeling inadequate...!

The team and I are keen to have teachers try this out in Term 4, so that'll be exciting to try - for those teachers who would like to.

We also discussed our new project and agreed on the following:

  • Farming (growing) theme as is the theme for the school this term
  • We generated a random world
  • Survival mode
  • Farming - must be crops - will specify number of crops? Variety?
  • Will only have 3 weeks to do this before I go away overseas for a holiday
  • Students will have a choice whether they work with others or not (some want to work with others - security? - others want to work alone)
  • Students may help others or work alongside and support each other
  • Form their own teams if they want to
  • DOXINWHAT pointed out some risks of survival mode - eg - running away from a zombie towards someone else's house, and having the house blow up....
I feel so lacking in skills that, I will have to play in Creative mode so I can fly over and see what's going on? Perhaps one of the criteria is that they have to keep me alive - now.... there's a thought! Ha! Not this time...

Points to note - different personality types?

  • DOXINWHAT prefers to work alone "I'm more of a loner"
  • D1amond keen to work on own too, but not so adamant about it - might like to be near-by, and help others or get help as suits?
  • OwlsRCute afraid of survival mode - agreed with me that you actually genuinely feel the fear - so this leaves me wondering about a benefit of gaming - ie - is this a good way to learn to overcome fears, and give things a go without worrying about real risk and failure? Certainly, in my younger days I was never a risk-taker, and always followed the rules. Then computers came along, and I started trying things out, exploring, trying again - I'm quite a different person now because of that.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

L & Pixels Tour and Commentary

Last, but not least, we have the final tour of the L & Pixels Team's section of the Kiwiana Theme Park. This guided tour was a joint effort, with navigation by OwlsRCute, and narration shared jointly by D1amond and DOXINWHAT (they took turns naturally, and helped each other out when there was a problem).

This is the senior team of Year 7 and 8 students - two very experienced Minecrafters, and one with a lot less experience. They've gone to a lot of trouble adding signs to explain the Kiwiana, and have built interesting theme items that perhaps show more of a food slant to the Kiwiana (and not the most healthy)!

I enjoyed their idea for the maze, with the glass ceiling - I wonder if they realise that getting lost in the maze was a typical Kiwi experience in some ways - as so many Kiwis (New Zealanders) get lost in the bush and need to be rescued!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Moas631 Tour and Commentary

Here is the Moas631 Final Tour, commentated confidently by 'Steve'. 

There were quite a few hitches along the way (some of which probably related to using my Macbook's unfamiliar trackpad for the navigation, rather than a mouse). Hence, you see a few things get accidentally destroyed. Never mind, it was still very interesting, and you can hear the other team members helping out along the way. Nice work!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Blocknchips Team - Tour and Commentary

The Blocknchips Team's final Tour, commentated by KINGFIRE, who did a great job in spite of a few things not going to plan. Still, a great tour of some very interesting Kiwiana construction. Well done!