Today I had the pleasure of taking 16 year 7 and 8 pupils to Technocamps at the University of Glamorgan. It was Activities Day at school so these pupils had chosen a day of Kodu games programming over white water rafting, Oakwood or a trip to the cinema. Yes it was 16 boys but I’ll deal with the gender issue in another post.
Previously I’ve been concerned that the games that come with Kodu act as a distraction for pupils who will just play games rather than code, but not today. They were totally absorbed and enjoyed every minute. After lunch they couldn’t wait to get back and work on their games some more. Some designed outlandish worlds, some added detailed coding to characters, some thought hard about interactivity but they all had a lot of fun. They also had 4 hours of coding.
In a school environment we can’t normally provide this. One or even 2 hours a week means that pupils have to restart everything afresh (including their brain cells). As Malcolm Gladwell explains in Outliers, time is essential for developing talent. Now I don’t suggest these kids need 10,000 hours on Kodu and if they spent all their waking hours doing this instead of going to theme parks, the cinema or just playing outside they may well be poorer for it. But time is needed.
Most of them went home saying they were going to download Kodu and carry on later. Some are going to come along to a lunchtime club tomorrow. But for me, it was really nice to be able to give them that time to play around, without learning objectives (but to REALLY see that they were learning – the Technocamps team know how to put on a good workshop!).