Powerful game-design website that motivates and engages students to learn, without realising!
Gamestar Mechanic is an amazing resource to teach game design and programming. It teaches logical thought alongside the 'softer' skills such as being resilient and persevering when you cannot complete a particular mission. The open-ended nature of the site means children can go off in a direction that interests themselves, and there is always someone to help you should you become stuck! I also like the way there are structured missions to build skills acquisition, and then a range of challenging, engaging projects to use to practice and embed the skills learnt. All positive, and I suppose one way to improve the site could be to offer more diagnostic tools in the Student Dashboard. As it stands you can see levels complete and games published. Additions such as time spent on each activity may be useful as children will go home and use the website and you have no record of when this was done. One suggestion to improve an already amazing resource. Go and get game designing!
How I Use It
I use this website in an after-school club setting, learning alongside my students, although I have used it in a more formal classroom setting - both work well. I have found that children aged from about 8 years old get the most from the website, but could be used with younger children with support. The after-school club allows children to learn at their own pace, and once they have a basic understanding of game design, can either follow the more structured missions to learn more or develop games to be published and reviewed by the online Gamestar Mechanic community.