This is not a long post or a detailed how to about Kodu. I merely want to flag up how great this software is for upper Key Stage 2. Essentially Kodu is about giving children a meaningful and quite exciting context to learn some aspects of programming. They have to compile strips of instructions based on when (a condition occurs for example see a red apple) and do (an action , for example eat the apple).
I have worked with two Year Six classes this week and the cries of “woah” and “sick” were many as they saw the games that others had built. In terms of this forming part of a coding/programming/computer science curriculum, Kodu is an easier and perhaps sexier way in for many teachers. Though do not expect to just leave the children to get on with it, as it is so much more satisfying if you get to grips with it yourself first. This week the task was to instruct the “Kodu” character to move with the arrow keys (though you can use Xbox controllers) and locate apples. They then needed to score a point for eating a red and have a point deducted for eating a blue. I gave some input but also added some challenges, which the children relished.
Their next task was to design an island, though we will move on to a Martian landscape, in order to help them get to grips with the design tools. This was perhaps down to the trial and error, the editing, improving and experimenting which the children were involved in. Working with Kodu does not feel like a million miles away from sitting at my desk in 2Simple Software. That feeling of creating something, of problem solving, of innovating on a piece of code, of breaking something and putting it back together, of looking online for answers… And then the satisfaction of looking back or sharing what you have made with others. That is what Kodu offers and that is what I would like to see more of this sort of challenging, mind taxing and yet creative ICT. As much as I love my iPad apps and my free online tools, there is still nothing quite so challenging and coding based on an iPad. If all we ever do is wheel round trolleys of iPads and present children with apps, then i think we present an image of ICT which is one of watered down simplicity. We also fail to equip them with the belief that they could build an app or a game.