Game Under the Cloak of Coding
The Foos is a mixed bag for me. The upside is student engagement. The downside is the ease in which students can take a coding skill-building app and skip around practice to simply 'play.' I would prefer to see this app make the playing aspect of the game an earned experience - finish a round of coding practice, play a user-generated game level. By making the gaming side so easy and attractive, it feels like the app is pulling many of our kids away from the creation of game programming and locking them into game consuming - at which they are already very proficient.
How I Use It
We launched The Foos as one of six coding apps for iPad during Computer Science Week. The app was pushed to all elementary school devices with a two-minute video introducing the app. It almost instantly reached legendary status among the students due to the game-like interface. While the app is designed to introduce the elements of computer programming and game design, it is easy to skip around the skills aspect of the app and simply play it as a game. Granted, the levels you are playing were created by other users, but without proper guidance students quick to consume in this app rather than create and share. Students in grades K-4 experienced this app last year and we are going to reevaluate how we use The Foos in the coming school year. This is a fabulously engaging app, but it is easy to ignore crucial skill-building and play it like a game.