Using CodeCombat in the class
I used this as an introduction to computing and coding with students in a juvenile detention centre. Not everyone wanted to play, but those that did really got into and often didn’t want the lesson to end or leave, this never happens normally. Some wanted to play every lesson I taught them, from the start of the lesson, till after time was up, no loss of desire to learn and participate. This was not everyone, but definitely some.
Limitations in setting used
I had some issues with students not allowed to have access to email or chat facilities. The log on required an email address, I made email accounts and used passwords for the sign in that were different to email account logins. I had control of these and this was the only way I could progress with using this in the class. There was some risk in trying this and was definitely outside the norm for what these students would experience in a typical class at this school.
My use of CodeCombat
This is the final level for the first section. You not only need to move your character but you also need to place blocks between you, as a fence, and the enemies that are trying to attack you. The graphics of the game are really good, you have to think through what you are going to do and each level progresses you further into skills and coding.
I discovered codecombat after listening to an episode of TIDE (today in digital education) where Doug Belshaw (twitter, blog, discours.es) was using this to start coding at an after school coding club. I bookmarked the site and always thought one day I would come back to it but now I have and used it to learn for myself and in class with students. The engagement levels, of those who wanted to learn more about coding, was high. There was also a high allowance for learning with students who did not have a high literacy level.
I faced a fear and overcame it (previous article), making a go of something to try a new task and push myself out of that comfort zone. I learnt a new skill, used a new tool, and many students did also. I am glad I did this, more risk, bigger risks can lead to bigger rewards. Take the chance and try something new, see where it takes you.... But most importantly, share it with others.