Over the last 3 years, our school has been a member of this exciting, cutting edge and innovative project. It is possibly a world first. The project is being sponsored by ACMI – The Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Victorian Department of Education (DET).
A number of schools across Victoria have been accepted into the program. The students involved come from a mix of city/country and primary/secondary, with a maximum of four students from each school. They are grouped in pairs from their own school but then matched with another pair of students from another school.
At the beginning of the project schools, teachers and parents have to fill in appropriate permission forms. The first formal day involves students and teacher coming to ACMI at Federation Square in Melbourne for a face to face meeting. This allows staff and students to get to know each other face to face, commence work in their small groups and go away feeling confident in the overall requirements of the project. Vincent Trundle, the manager of the project, outlines the tools to be used, the value of learning with games, its impact for the future and covers basic digital citizenship.
Unfortunately a number of schools could not be there physically but came in virtually through zoom. Two of the students in my girls’ groups worked in zoom with De De during the small group discussions. One of them competently shared her screen, pulled up her graphics pad and commenced sketching ideas for games sprites. It was though they were in the same room.
Students looked at using Scratch for coding the games, whilst teachers formulated the groups of 4 students. Each group has a teacher allocated and a games industry mentor. One students is a coder, another a leader, another a musical producer and the fourth student is in charge of the art work.
Initial discussions took place as to the name of the group, the type of game they wanted to create, the characters in the game etc. The tools to be used are:
- Google documents for sharing, archiving, collaborating and mapping the learning.
- Slack for communicating, connecting and collaborating. There is a chat area for each team and an overall chat for the whole community
- Zoom is used for videoconferencing
- Email is used only where necessary.
Once back at school, students are expected to use slack to communicate regularly, stating what they have been up to, share questions and general conversations etc. They are asked to meet with their groups, using zoom, at least once a week at a mutually agreeable time (during school or after school). Art work, music and other files are shared on the google documents.
This is an exciting project that embraces so many of the 21st century workforce skills both the present and the future. Effective collaboration is a skill to be taught and this makes a great platform to learn how.