USE, MODIFY, CREATE

An approach designed especially for STEM, the use, modify, create approach eases students into learning a topic – reducing anxiety, and supporting growth.

To begin, students are introduced to a program, and learn how to properly use it. Then, they modify the program, before using what they’ve learned to create an entirely new program. In doing so, they gain an increasing sense of ownership over their project, which increases their engagement and motivation.

TIPS FOR USE, MODIFY, CREATE SESSIONS

1. GRADUALLY INCREASE THE DIFFICULTY

This learning approach is designed to build knowledge gradually, reinforcing what students have learned over time.

Zenva Schools is a great tool for this – as it features courses that gradually scale in difficulty, and each list any prerequisite knowledge needed. That way, when assigning projects, you don’t have to worry about your students losing confidence due to gaps in their knowledge.

Original Zenva Schools project and modified project by students from Blue Peak High School

2. GIVE STUDENTS CHOICE

Increase student engagement and motivation by letting them choose how they modify their projects. If they’re creating a game, let them pick new sprites or backgrounds to use, or set a new win condition.

When it comes to students creating their own games from scratch, set the basic parameters, and then let the students pick their own genre, favorite game mechanics, and aesthetics.

3. PROMOTE GROUP LEARNING

Have students form pairs or small groups, and have them work on modifying or creating projects together.

Students can play off each others’ strengths, and more quickly troubleshoot any issues that they come across.

SCHOOLS APPLYING USE, MODIFY, CREATE

At Ignatius Park College, year 9 students ran through Intro to Game Development with Unity on Zenva Schools, before building their own platformer in Create Your First 3D Game in Unity. They then modified their platformer, adding their own custom features.

Summary of game modifications, created by a student at Ignatius Park College

We started them off with the course and then after that they had, I think, three weeks or so to add two coded features to their game. At the start of that, we go through the planning, and do the mind map of all the possibilities for the game and what features they could include. And then you go into the implementation phase where they actually jump in and start implementing those features.

Jake Jackson, Digital Technologies Teacher at Ignatius Park College

After learning game development fundamentals, the programming students at Blue Peak High School competed in a game jam, where they worked in teams to create an 80s-style video game from scratch in just 24 hours.

One of them made a two-player Pac-Man, one of them made a Duck Hunt game where you can actually shoot the duck, one of them made a Mario clone but instead of Mario, they made it specific to their classroom – and that’s what was exciting to me, that they could actually take this knowledge that we’ve been giving them over the last however long, and they really could implement it in the real world.

Jonathan Black, Programming Teacher at Blue Peak High School

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