HOW TO SUPPORT EDUCATORS WHO WANT TO USE THE CREATING GAMES APPROACH TO TEACH IT COURSES
This paper is about the challenges educators face when teaching IT courses using the Creating Games Approach. This approach was developed by our team to facilitate the acquisition of programming skills. It is suitable for children and especially for girls because it does not focus on programming itself or the programming language but on a product which becomes important to the learner. We thereby try to directly implement Papert's constructivist approach. In doing so we are in the process of developing a concept which can be practically applied in schools (i.e. secondary educational institutions).
The paper furthermore lines out the development of our approach using the comparison of literature and describing the procedure of our first test- and development phase. Different methods are evaluated and compared with the constructionist approach thus establishing the basis for the Creating Games Approach.
In 2010 our concept was tested with more than 100 pupils at Austrian schools. According to the Design Based Research Approach our concept was improved iteratively and will serve as a basis for developing courses for key players, decision makers, and educators at Austrian schools.
The challenges concerning the problems teachers are facing using this approach can be categorized in three fields: Knowledge and motivation of the teachers and their colleagues, support and openness of other involved parties such as parents or headmasters, and the challenges concerning content and technology.
In this paper we will focus on the first challenge, describe some of these problems in detail and show possible approaches to support those who wish to use the Creating Games Approach in their classes. The previous experience and knowledge of the instructors turned out to be very important factors because the Creating Games Approach includes almost every aspect of media design. Therefore the instructors must have knowledge about and experience in playing and creating games, consuming and designing interactive stories, dramaturgy, game design, interaction design, programming, design and writing. The method turned out to be very work-intensive and it needs a lot of flexibility.
The paper will also explain the framework project touch::tell::IT which aims at finding methods to enable gender-specific tuition for IT subjects in order to eventually increase the number of female students in technical university programs and professions. In this project different learning and teaching approaches, ideas, and concepts were collected, tested and in a further step put together to develop teaching methods that help to improve the position of girls in IT courses and as a result increase their chances for a successful career in the area of ICT.