Play Testing Tip #2: Come with a protocol.
Arriving at your testing session with a plan for what you want your testers to take for a spin and what questions you want to ask will help you make sure you get the most of each session. Start with what’s most important to you (is the child able to navigate the game? Does he or she learn what I want them to learn?) and then follow it up with some nice-to-knows (can the child beat the highest level? Does he or she like the background music?). That way, if your session is cut short, you’ll still walk away with the information you and your team need to move forward with your game.
And be sure to watch and listen for those unexpected moments of insight! If you notice something interesting happening, going off-script is A-OK!
This video from the field features children collaborating to figure out how to take pictures of each other so that they can appear in our “Photo Friends” game. Add a dash of teacher facilitation and a thoughtfully designed game for math learning, and we have a very potent combination for learning with technology.
This child is playing our Lemonade Stand game for the first time. This was a HIGHLY debated game mechanic – using the accelerometer – kids lifting and shaking the tablet not only caused concern about damage but also that the mental energy consumed by learning the game mechanics would displace mathematical thinking. The “cognitive load” of learning and switching between multiple advanced game mechanics does not appear to be getting the way of his math learning.
It is such a joy for us to see children at our preschool partner classrooms using our activities! Take a look at some of these great shots from play testing:
An integral part of our development process is taking our games out to preschools to test with kids. The kids show us how they use the iPads, which inspires us to think about what’s still needed. Check out some of the highlights from the testing of our games!
Interest is high: are kids learning from iPads or are they novelty items? Will iPads be the norm in future classrooms? Are they the norm in present classrooms? Although many are skeptical, a new study finds that iPads in the classroom boost test scores. These questions directly relate to the NGPM project — how can children learn with tablets and what is the right blend of digital and non-digital activities?
Let’s spend some time in early January reviewing Motion Math’s offerings: they’re getting a lot of attention from Joan Ganz Cooney Center and others as seen in two blog posts here and here.
This week the team took our stack of iPad 2s out into the preschool world, and introduced the tablets to a lively group of children in Worcester, MA. We knew that the children would enjoy interacting with the tablets, but we did not expect them to adapt to the touch interface with such gusto. The multi-sensory experiences afforded by the tablets seemed to be right up their alley!
The NGPM team is still in the process of exploring how the interactive media experience will fit into the overall classroom experience, but one thing is clear, the power of the touch interface is that children can be the captains of their learning experience with little to no training. Can you imagine that feeling of dashing off onto the high seas, spurred only by your curiosity and a fearless spirit of adventure? Sure, it’s quite a risky maneuver, but imagine the payoff when you finally realize for yourself where it is you’re going!
Though it’s not recommended for daily use, here are some ways you can experience the iPad like a preschooler:
1) First things first, never worry about rules or instructions. If you don’t know what to do, try to figure it out. That’s the fun part!
2) Tap anything that catches your fancy.
3) If something cool happens, show your friends.
4) If nothing happens, just move on and find something else that catches your fancy.
5). Tap, swipe, or drag without fear of consequences. The worst that can happen is that you have to restart.
6) Still can’t figure out how to play a game? No problem. Make your own rules.
7) Clean hands are optional.
8) Last, but not least, take the time to marvel at all the exciting little things you’ve seen, learned, and done.
– Anna the NGPM Intern