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Video Games In Schools: An Award Winning Idea

November 4, 2011 — 

Microsoft recognizes Dr. Reynold Redekopp as an innovative teacher for letting students make, play and teach video games in the classroom.

Education Instructor, Dr. Reynold Redekopp was selected as a Microsoft Canada Innovative Teacher for his integration of technology into curriculum and daily practice in his grade 9 high school classroom at Transcona Collegiate. Here he worked with his students on video game development using Microsoft’s Kodu software. Kudo is designed to allow kids to create games on the PC and XBox using a simple visual programming language, and offers children the opportunity to be creative, learn to solve problems, to create stories, and to develop computer-programming skills. Dr. Redekopp was invited to the 2011 Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum held in Washington, D.C. November 7th – 10th.

In his grade 9 class, Dr. Redekopp asked students to work through the logic of Kudo code to complete a few video games with different aspects of play. He found that this activity engaged students from all academic and gamer/non-gamer backgrounds resulting in the development of a wide variety of games.

Dr. Redekopp explains: “Anyone can make a video game using Kudo. The tool is easy to grasp and allows students to dive in and begin to think creatively about their projects. In addition, the type of video game created depended on the nature of the student. Some of them never really developed a game as they spent most of their time creating the terrain and scenery for a game, however, the 3D environment allowed them to create amazing spaces. Those who were more fascinated by the game play quickly learned Kodu’s simple When-Do logic system to create their action. None-the-less, this diverse group of students were actively engaged in the game building process ”

Once the video games had been completed, the class selected five of them to be entered in the Canada Kodu Kup. The students decided which games to submit by voting for their top 5. These included a soccer game; an adventure game; and three chase and shoot games.

Impressed by the grade 9’s grasp of the technology, Dr. Redekopp asked his class to create Kudo instructional materials for a class of grade 6 students who they would later mentor. The mentorship component of the class was valuable for both age groups and demonstrated how quickly grade 6 students could pick up game development.

Dr. Redekopp explains that, “Often the students understood the logic within minutes of exploring the various options available to them in the coding environment, and having a mentor certainly helped to build confidence in the students’ development abilities. Plus the game context was a natural conversation starter for the students, so it made building relationships a lot easier for both groups. These strong relationships and the pleasure of creating video games fully engaged the students from start to finish.”

Dr. Redekopp was pleased by the effectiveness of this project to help foster creativity, logic development, and team building in the students, and was particularly impressed with the success of the grade 9 students as mentors. Dr. Redekopp noted:  “One of the most interesting partnerships was with two grade 9’s and a mentally delayed and physically challenged grade 6 boy. The grade 9’s listened carefully to what their partner wanted and helped build an action game that brought shouts of delight from all of them.”

To learn more about integrating technology and Kodu game development into your classroom visit http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/kodu

Dr. Reynold Redekopp

Dr. Reynold Redekopp

Dr. Reynold Redekopp completed his PhD at the Faculty of Education at the University of Oregon and teaches the following courses in the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Manitoba: Teacher and Technology; Teaching and Learning Mobile Devices; Themes in the Senior Years; Internet Pedagogy; and a Seminar in Educational Technology. In addition, for the past thirty years he has worked as junior high, and high school teacher. Dr. Redekopp coordinates a program called “Girls in Gaming” which was established in 2007, and was designed to encourage girls to consider careers in information and technology (IT). He was also instrumental in the development of the inaugural TEDx Manitoba event held in Winnipeg on February 15th, 2011. Later this month Dr. Redekopp will be traveling to Madrid, Spain to present a poster project titled “An Overview of Current and Innovative Input Devices in Education in Relation to Teacher Education ” at the iCERi 2011 international conference of education, research and innovation.

Dr. Redekopp is also an active participant on Slide Share, a presentation social network site. You can see a collection of his presentations at www.slideshare.net/rredekopp. To learn more about Dr. Redekopp, you can also visit his blog Redekopp’s Rant at http://rredekopp.blogspot.com or follow him on Twitter @rredekopp.

For more information on any of Dr. Reynold Redekopp’s projects, presentations, or resource materials please contact redekopp [at] cc [dot] umanitoba [dot] ca

 

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