Monday, May 5, 2008

Mini-Course: Day One Complete

Phew!

Yesterday was the official orientation session, where we showed students and their parents around to the classroom and game lab, and today was the first actual day of classes. I think both went well!

At orientation, the parents seemed quite enthusiastic. The girls were quieter, but eventually asked lots of questions, which I thought was a good sign. They wanted to know how much time we were going to spend in the lab, how we were going to make the games, and what I meant by "you don't need to code."

The first student arrived to class shortly after I did (20 minutes early!). After I set up my laptop with the projector, I played a movie from the Good Game show, just for something to do before everyone arrived. I found that the projector played movies ok on the default settings, but that my slides looked pretty bad. I actually went into my video card's colour settings and brought down the brightness so my slides looked good, but then videos got worse. Can't win them all.

Once everyone had arrived, I dove right into my introduction slides. I talked about who I was, and asked them to interview each other to see where they were from and why they signed up for the course (they either said it was because it looked "cool" or because they wanted to know how video games or computers worked).

We talked about what computer science in general was, including the many other areas of interest it could be combined with (like psychology, biology, mathematics, and so on). There was a brief definition / introduction to games, and then a quick idea of how (in my opinion at least) the two were well related.

The next major section was to talk about women in computing. I particularly enjoyed this topic because they girls were really tuned in on the issues. They brought up ideas and suggestions on why few females get into the field, and how to fix it, that showed a lot of insight, and even agreed with the literature. When I had them read pieces of articles, then discuss their pieces with the rest of the readers of the same article, they seemed to have interested looks on their faces. They did an awesome job relaying the main points of the content they read to the rest of the class. Definitely a smart bunch!

Finally, in the afternoon, we went to the game development lab and went through some tutorials on GameMaker. Everyone just worked at their own pace, and when they were done the tutorial, they played around with their own ideas. From what I could tell, we should be getting some really good games out of them by the end of the week!

So that was my first day's experience of my very first time teaching a real class. I think the only thing I really need to improve is my knowledge of GameMaker for tomorrow's lab time. Speaking of which, gotta go finish up that tutorial I started a moment ago...

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