Published on June 22nd, 2015 | by What2Learn0
Teaching with Kodu
Described as ‘Logo on steroids’, Kodu is a fantastically engaging and powerful tool to use with Computing classes. It is produced by Microsoft and can be downloaded for free at www.kodugamelab.com/. Use of this tool will develop computational thinking skills including algorithms, iteration, the processing of inputs and outputs, variables, testing procedures and much more. Pupils will not even notice they are learning these skills which will make the transition to full programming languages such as Python much easier later in their education.
Preparation for delivery
Kodu requires downloading and installation to your computer network so will require the involvement of network administrators. Although the in-built tutorials within Kodu are excellent, it is still essential that the class teacher attempts all tasks first to ensure they understand the software and are able to quickly troubleshoot issues that arise in lessons.
Length of unit: 5 lessons plus (the open-ended nature of this resource combined with the wealth of in-built tutorials means you could spend much longer than five lessons working on Kodu). Once the suggested tutorials have been completed your pupils may be ready to start working independently on designing and creating their own games within the Kodu environment.
The instructions for the unit of work that follow are based on using a selection of the in-built tutorials. To access these tutorials select ‘Load World’ on the opening screen of the Kodu software. It should be noted that there are some excellent resources freely available if you would prefer a more worksheet-based approach, notably at the website craigsargent.wordpress.com.
At every step in the in-built tutorials the user is told exactly what they need to do (see below). It
is not possible to progress beyond any one single step if it has not been fully completed which
prevents the user from doing lots of work without success.
Pupils could be given the instruction to work through the following tutorials in order. Although having an element of teacher-led delivery is essential in the lesson you will find that pupils make progress at very different rates through these tasks. Those that are completing tasks quickly should be allowed to move through the tutorials at their own pace.
Activity One: ‘First tutorial’
Pupils will need to be shown how to access the tutorial ‘First tutorial’ (located in the Load World menu – see below) and how to follow the sequence of instructions in the tutorial.
Completed solution for Activity 1:
Activity Two: ‘Programming Kodu to find apples tutorial’
This tutorial introduces the use of automated inputs (the Kodu seeing objects) leading to an output in the form of movement. Apples will be placed around the environment and the Kodu will automatically move towards them and eat them.
Completed solution for Activity 2:
Activity Three: ‘Adding and painting terrain tutorial’
This activity introduces pupils to the ability to start designing and editing the environment in which their game takes place. It will provide them with techniques of painting with different kinds of brushes and different kinds of materials. It will also introduce the ability to extend the size of the game world.
Activity Four: ‘Score tutorial’
Keeping score of player activity is a common feature of computer games. More importantly, the process of creating code to fulfil this task introduces a number of very important concepts central to computational thinking. This tutorial will firstly show how to keep score of activities completed within Kodu. It will also show how to develop the code so that the game can carry out actions as a response to the score reaching a certain level (in this case the game ends when five apples have been collected.
Completed solution for Activity Four:
After completing the above four activities pupils will have a good comprehension of how to work within the Kodu software. The following tutorials (also available from the ‘Load World’ menu) would represent a good sequence for them to independently follow at their own pace:
• Glass walls tutorial
– Learn how to program characters to stop them falling off the edge of the world.
• Kodu and the Golden Apple 1
– Teach K odu how to meet up with his friend.
• Kodu and the Golden Apple 2
– Teach Kodu how to lead his friend Cycle back to her farm.
• Kodu and the Golden Apple III
– Can you teach Kodu to follow the white path in an effort to save his friend Cycle’s farm?
• Kodu and the Golden Apple IV
– Learn how to give Kodu two distinct behaviours: one to get a start, the other to trade it.
• Kodu and the Golden Apple V
– Learn how to take interactive control of Kodu