Monday, 14 October 2013

The Path to Percentage Perfection.

Today I had the pleasure of seeing students go through a map that took over 20 hours to create, 15 or so of those hours were just yesterday. This was my second attempt at a treasure hunt map with inbuilt questions. If you cannot guess from the title the topic for exploration today was percentages.

So this map has been designed with the feedback I received from my year 8 students that did the integers treasure hunt at the end of last term that continued into this term incorporated. The feedback I received was fantastic, what they liked was most was that it was in Minecraft, that it required them to solve problems to advance in the map and that they received rewards for getting the correct answers.

Their main dislikes were the poor wording of some of the questions, the lack of a story line (why are we here answering these questions?) and that the travel time between points of interest was too long and made it far too easy to get lost.

So todays map had a storyline, that I don't think the year 10s actually got into at all, which is interesting, they seemed more interested in just getting the loot and rewards on offer. The travel between points of interest was drastically reduced through the use of teleport blocks and the wording of questions was carefully checked for clarity.

So how did it go? Fantastic, after the initial confusion that always arises when a new type of task is begun and students still refusing to read any instructions they are given. The main issue arose from students travelling in pairs and causing issues with the scoreboard system. For which there is a fairly simple fix, just tell students to wait for their friends away from the exit door, most will comply because it means they do not need to wait for me to check their score, find out what it needs to be and then change it. Today I just fixed it on the fly and it really was not that much of an issue.

So compared to the integers map, which had 6 (I think) single chance EduCrew answer systems in place and took the fastest students over 2 hours to complete, this percentage map had 8 two chance EduCrew answer systems in it, and the fast students took only about an hour to complete it. So it is much more streamlined. There could be other reasons why things happened quicker today, these students probably did not use their in-game journal as they should have, whereas most of the year 8s did, but I think the reduced travel time, and less chance to get lost made a massive difference to the time taken.

So what would I change for the next one? I would go back to putting the 4 possible answers into the info block so that students could choose which answer they want before going in, instead of getting into the answer room, realising their calculated answer is not an option and having to try to re-calculate, meanwhile blocking anyone else from answering. I would also add in a 'help' wall at the first question that provides students with some support in answering the question, scaffolding of some description to prevent students 'giving up' through frustration and randomly guessing.

I am going to pay students for their in-game journal too, so how well they documented their calculations will determine the added bonus pay they will receive. They will also receive a payment proportional to the number of questions they got correct. This is over and above the rewards for getting questions correct while progressing through the map, and also the treasures that were found along the way in hidden chests. This should improve the use of the in-game journal for next time as students will understand that it is the main article they they receive payment for, so should take more care to use it correctly.

I did not record any video footage today, I did however record the audio for me to listen to. I may publish parts of the audio overlayed on a flythrough of the map to my youtube channel in the future as well as tweaking some of the exploits students found today and then I will put this map up for download on the google group. Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment below.

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