First Things, First
To download Kodu – you need to visit the Microsoft FUSE Labs Site. This page also gives you a good overview of the other software you will need on your PC. However, I have it running on quite an old VAIO, with XP installed (with all the latest updates) and it churns away quite well. If you are wanting to install on the C2K system you will need to ensure that the .NET and XNA software is up to date – a quick phone call should sort this out if needed as it can be quite an awkward download if attempting it yourself.
If you are doing this directly to the Xbox 360 – Kodu can be found on the ‘Live Marketplace.’
Getting to Grips
My first piece of advice would be to play about with the game yourself. There are some excellent examples that come with the download as well as examplar lesson plans and ideas. The best thing about these examples is that they can all be edited. This gives the children some great ideas as well as having the ability to see what is possible.
I personally feel that it is important for the children to have some self-guidance. They enjoy the tutorials without having to be dragged through them and can play around with the code and see what is possible. The tutorials introduce the menu system to the player in an easy to understand way. This simplicity is at the heart of the game – and it permeates throughout the whole experience.
It’s Child’s Play!
It is important that the children are given a good session at getting to grips with the system – both playing and understanding the coding. I found that emphasising that the computer will not do anything unless the children tell it to is a good way of focusing the ideas. As well as this, we refer back to the programming that was done for the Pro-Bot robots – they only went where they were told. As children are surrounded by ‘intelligent’ machines, this is (maybe) a good way for them to regain control. By opening the game, the children can see all the commands in action and the effect they have on the characters.
Download Kodu from FUSE labs, along with applicable software.
Play the game yourself – see what the mechanics are and add enthusiasm to the process. It can be as simple or as complex as you want. You will find that regardless of your level of confidence, the children quickly move ahead!
Let the children play with the game – see what’s inside!
Complete the tutorials (they are excellent) as well as watching the tutorial videos.
Plan ahead – Where is the learning in the curriculum???