Home arrow Community arrow FORUM arrow Technology matters arrow Entertainment consoles arrow Homebrew on the DS - education in the right places ...
Homebrew on the DS - education in the right places ...

Forum Menu

Home  Help  Search  Login  Register 


Pages: [1] Go Down  
Send this topic Print
Author Topic: Homebrew on the DS - education in the right places ...  (Read 2122 times)
Eylan
New Member
*
Posts: 7
Karma: 0
Offline Offline


View Profile WWW
« on: August 15, 2008, 10:06:57 AM »

In advance of this October's conference, I am hoping to stir up the debate about the types of games talked about at the handheldlearning event. Thanks to their sponsors, Nintendo, the organisers have sent a DS Lite to those who have registered early! Unfortunately, the game they sent with it is Brain Training - one of the least interesting (and most educationally questionable) games available for this device.

Yet, this machine has huge potential to support learning.

I have been playing with and talking to games developers about the growing field of homebrew apps for the nintendo DS.

It seems to me that the discussions about Guitar Hero and Nintendogs (as discussed in the Gamasutra article (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=19820) for the DS misses the point of using devices like the DS in schools. Although they are fun - and learning is happening,... they do not empower the learner to take the driving seat in their learning.

There are clearly some legal grey areas around this kit - but apps like  colors and pocket physics use the kit to great advantage (especially the pressure sensitivity).

Painting, Animation, modelling, simulations, game development... all possible with these simple apps.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/N5YBsiKhmoo&amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/N5YBsiKhmoo&rel=0</a>[/url]
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/km7tDKiDH3A&amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/km7tDKiDH3A&rel=0</a>
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/jJ2piF4tp1w&amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/jJ2piF4tp1w&rel=0</a>


http://www.collectingsmiles.com/colors/

Nintendo should be encouraged and shown how these apps will boost the use of their handhelds, and discouraged from seeing homebrew as a threat.

Are there any examples out there of these apps being used in the classroom? Does anyone know how the legal position plays out in a school context?

I am considering taking them into schools, but would love to hear from you all first!!

Eylan

www.ezekiels.co.uk
« Last Edit: August 15, 2008, 10:19:02 AM by Eylan » Logged
drobertson
Active Member
**


Posts: 23
Karma: 3
Offline Offline


View Profile WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2008, 11:18:41 AM »

Hi Eylan,
I have met quite a few people who have great ideas for developing 'homebrew' apps for the DS. I would suggest a different name because in my experience home brew is something that you don't really go back to, my father-in-law's wine for example ;-) and this I think is the case for some of what I have seen. I have been using DS and other consoles in Scottish schools for two years now and the whole point is that there are some superb games available that we can bring in to class, retro fitting them to help drive affective and cognitive growth. Not only that, the device has real cultural cache with children and games such as Dr Kawashima (couldn't disagree with you more on that one) are proving to be very successful in helping develop children's mental maths. We need to be very careful that we don't always enslave new technologies to traditional methods. Take Nintendogs for instance. We put this in a P.2 class (kids aged 6) and this drove a whole curriculum of investigation and collaboration all because of a wee dog that children shared the responsibility for. The learning was incredible and so much so that  parents who were particularly cynical at the beginning could not believe the impact that this had on their child's learning.

Yes let's look at how we can take things forward with home brew but let's look at what's already good that is available. Many of these games have incredible potential to engage all learners and not just those who might be switched on a by a clever physics engine. Hopefully we can meet up at HHL08 and I can introduce to my Nintendog Alice and show you how we've been using games like this and others for the DS and the other platforms.
Derek


Logged
Eylan
New Member
*
Posts: 7
Karma: 0
Offline Offline


View Profile WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2008, 12:08:52 PM »

Derek

I agree with you totally about enslaving new technologies with traditional methods! New pedagogies do not require new curricula or assessment regimes.

However, just because new activities relate to these traditional forms, does not negate their value in bringing learners and educators closer together.

I am often engaged with clients about the breadth of the gap between the leading edge (folk like you) and the majority of the teaching profession. This gap persists over time, and only appears to shrink when newer terms become acceptable jargon.

This may sound cynical and negative, but I think this challenge - to make more mainstream the best that the pockets of excellence are engaged with - requires fairness and patience to those for whom using Nintendogs in school is scary and apparently inappropriate!

While I was teaching (I was last in a classroom in 2001) I ran cross curricular projects using Sim City, Sonic the Hedgehog and even trialled the use of MUDs (remember those Multi User Dungeons?). My colleagues were utterly bemused, but I was allowed to get away with it because I could relate it to the curriculum and assess the work.

So - small and managable steps need to be properly explored, and sometimes a little homebrew hangover should be risked for the 'high' of learner and teacher engagement!

And of course, I look forward to meeting you and your friends (real and virtual) in October. I am bringing a Pecha Kucha presentation - so you will be able to find me then!

Eylan
« Last Edit: August 15, 2008, 12:10:41 PM by Eylan » Logged
Graham
Hero Member
*****


Posts: 1154
Karma: 42
Offline Offline


View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2008, 12:53:51 PM »


This may sound cynical and negative, but I think this challenge - to make more mainstream the best that the pockets of excellence are engaged with - requires fairness and patience to those for whom using Nintendogs in school is scary and apparently inappropriate!



Hi Eylan and thanks for starting this discussion!

The last line here about Nintendogs being scary in school is an interesting one.

I've had the pleasure of observing or being actively involved in a number of mobile learning projects both in the UK and overseas. In the main many of these projects were using PDAs or smart phones with esoteric operating systems and various programs intended to improve learning and teaching.

Where everything worked, wireless connectivity was perfect, the teacher was ultra-IT literate to the point of zen and none of the 30 children "skied off-piste" the use such devices has proved very useful. But the reality in many classrooms is that things are far from perfect and devices that are being used whether the new breed of under-powered laptops or new breed of smart phones require a significant investment in CPD not to mention issues surrounding how to manage (control???) a classroom of 30 kids who are at different stages or having problems with their device.

Something that inspired me when visiting schools in Scotland was how consumer technologies like the Nintendo DS, Wii, PSP, PS3, etc had a low skills threshold that teachers, even those facing retirement, found non-threatening and easy to embed within their own teaching practice whilst still motivating learners. The tech really didn't get in the way of the learning or the teaching.

The very fact that the devices were designed for consumers and that the games were immediately understandable made them non-scary. Even parents, initially cynical, have come on board.

It's worth reviewing the video's in this article:
/content/view/46/0/

Particularly the clips of the interview with the head teacher.

I wouldn't say Home Brew is bad, although entirely not supported by Nintendo, it's just that by bypassing Nintendo's quality control we may well end up seeing some pretty shoddy, over priced, material appearing.

By the way, the reason that Home Brew is disliked by Nintendo is the possibility for copyright theft of existing software titles where people have copied multiple existing DS games onto a single rewritable cart as well as those who have also encoded mp3 audio, copyrighted video and pornographic material. Nintendo are naturally keen to maintain the family value of their brand. As is often the case, the few spoil it for the many.


Logged
Eylan
New Member
*
Posts: 7
Karma: 0
Offline Offline


View Profile WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2008, 04:01:32 PM »

Hi Graham,

It seems like ages since we last met - so it is good to be in stimulating discussion with you in readiness for October.

Thanks for your reply and links. I certainly take your point about the lower skills threshold of consumer devices like the PSP and DS - and I too have seen and heard how this makes for greater accessibility.

But, what you probably hear less of, and perhaps the teachers out in these forums will concur, is the rumbling in the staffrooms and corridors about the idea of using this technology more. In many ways it is a problem across the education sector. The best teachers inspire each other more than they do their peers in their schools! Viz the problem with Maths teaching and ASTs.

NOW - don't interpret these observations as me being negative about handheldlearning - cos you know I am a fan. BUT, my role for my clients is to help those working with teachers and children create and prepare resources to be accessible a wider community of users than those exemplars that inspire and drive us all forward.

So - barriers do not need to be taken down to the lowest common denominator, but rather we need a differentiated approach.

Focussing on one or two approaches, or demeaning those who try 'edutainment' or serious games as a way in, risks damaging the openess of this shift in the use of technology in learning.

As for the legal issues and the problems with Nintendos licences being ripped off - I discussed this with a voice deep in the UK games industry (identity withheld) and there is a lot more that the publishers/developers can do to pressure Nintendo to shift to a more open set-up - to allow mash-ups etc,...

It was interesting to hear what he had to say about opportunities that were being taken with the opening up of the iPhone - and I think we can assume that this is another area ripe for discussion in October - not least because there should be some new apps that we will all be talking about using in schools.

The future is bright - we'd better all be wearing shades!
Logged
Graham
Hero Member
*****


Posts: 1154
Karma: 42
Offline Offline


View Profile WWW
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2008, 12:48:32 PM »

But, what you probably hear less of, and perhaps the teachers out in these forums will concur, is the rumbling in the staffrooms and corridors about the idea of using this technology more. In many ways it is a problem across the education sector. The best teachers inspire each other more than they do their peers in their schools! Viz the problem with Maths teaching and ASTs.

NOW - don't interpret these observations as me being negative about handheldlearning - cos you know I am a fan. BUT, my role for my clients is to help those working with teachers and children create and prepare resources to be accessible a wider community of users than those exemplars that inspire and drive us all forward.

So - barriers do not need to be taken down to the lowest common denominator, but rather we need a differentiated approach.

Hi Eylan

I'm not entirely sure I understand this line of reasoning. I think the point with consumer electronic devices and, in this case, games is that they are more inclusive and more widely accessible than any other technology. As we know more people on this planet now have a mobile phone than don't and we are rapidly reaching global saturation. Likewise gaming and entertainment devices with their own economies of scale are leaving the PC industry in the dust despite their valiant attempts to be more inclusive, e.g. EEE PC, OLPC, etc.

I'm also not sure what you mean by "lowest common denominator" in this context. Surely you don't mean the games that are costing upwards of $5 Million to produce and many that now feature near photo-realistic realtime rendering with compelling gameplay (You need to check out Little Big Planet for Sony PS3!). These games along with films, internet and other media aimed at young people benefit from budgets and production values that, regrettably, education or edutainment materials can only dream of. Yet it is these games and other media that set the benchmark for expectation.

Good teachers and not just the elite can draw rich learning from these games as has been demonstrated by many teachers in Scotland and now in many cases in England and other parts of the world.

The sad truth is that, generally, even good teachers and education professionals who can engage a classroom don't make the kind of software/games that young people want to play which is why "serious games" has never taken off in any meaningful way. To me  serious games feel analogous to a "serious party" where something that is intrinsically entertaining has been disassembled by academics to see how it ticks then reassembled but without the magic sauce thus resulting a really boring party.

I don't think we can beat around the bush on this one any longer!

As for the legal issues and the problems with Nintendos licences being ripped off - I discussed this with a voice deep in the UK games industry (identity withheld) and there is a lot more that the publishers/developers can do to pressure Nintendo to shift to a more open set-up - to allow mash-ups etc,...

I can't imagine who you were speaking to and it's not for me to say what Nintendo may or may not do but I also can't imagine what pressure a developer or publisher can put on Nintendo.

"We won't put our software on the No.1 selling handheld gaming device unless Nintendo open up their platform?"

I doubt that would have the Mario brothers quaking in their boots. That's just not how the gaming console business works. It's not like the PC industry where operating system providers are gagging for developers to support their platform. It's counter-intuitive, as a developer or publisher you are often seeking permission to get your titles on to a platform.

It was interesting to hear what he had to say about opportunities that were being taken with the opening up of the iPhone - and I think we can assume that this is another area ripe for discussion in October - not least because there should be some new apps that we will all be talking about using in schools.

Yes, Apple have once again rewritten the rule book and re-energised the handheld computing space. I hope that Apple will use the opportunity of HHL 08 to expand on the opportunities made available by their relatively open environment. The SDK is a breeze and the distribution system effective.

The future is bright - we'd better all be wearing shades!

Oh yes!

 Cool

Logged
Eylan
New Member
*
Posts: 7
Karma: 0
Offline Offline


View Profile WWW
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2008, 08:38:57 PM »

Thus spake a true evangelist!

It is hard to disagree with much of what you say - not least cos I am often saying similar things to other people.

I have ridden several waves of digital enthusiasm - attending the first cyber punk conferences in the early 90s - and looking to the way that the market in education works - and have always been grateful for those lighting the way - such as you!

However, there is very little money in the education sector - and although teachers do have these technologies as part of their lives - you are right that the money needed to really engage kids in the same ways as 'real games' is not there!!!!

I agree that serious games are a confusion of terms. BUT, a device (especially mobile ones) need to be multi purpose - so why can't the ds be used for serious learning??

As to your point about making Nintendo quake in their boots - I am not talking about blackmailing them - but about the pressure that we can all bring to bear by valuing a successful project/product and calling for more. Platforms need apps that broaden their appeal - look at WiiFit!

As to the legal aspect of homebrew - I have posted a clarification on my blog.

So - let's keep talking - but I think the answers will be on the back of napkins at the HHL conference - after a few drinks - and some inspiration.

Over to you!  Grin
Logged
epokh
Active Member
**


Posts: 52
Karma: 1
Offline Offline


View Profile WWW
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2008, 12:22:00 PM »

Hi,
I played a lot of interesting homebrews and I realised that the following themes are very good for learning:
  • language games and lessons: a very interactive and funny way to learn foreign languages like japanese (JapaneseAccademy is a must and is free!)
  • music composing: like elektroplankton or equivalent homebrews
  • strategic games
  • quiz games about different topics: geography and so on

When I have time i will do a list if somebody is interested, a good source of homebrwes is here:
http://nintendo-ds.dcemu.co.uk/NintendoDS-HomebrewGames.php
and here
http://nintendo-ds.dcemu.co.uk/NintendoDS-HomebrewApplications.php
Logged

Pages: [1] Go Up  
Send this topic Print
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP

Powered by SMF 1.1.5 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC

© 2008 handheld Handheld Learning

Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!

Login

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 02, 2008, 03:06:56 AM
Username:

Password:


Login with username, password and session length
Forgot your password?

Polls

What did you enjoy most at HHL 08 this year?
  



RSS RSS