Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kodu Game-Creation Tool for Kids Adapted for the PC

I love Kodu and I’ve written about it before (my Kodu blog posts) and I am regularly asked “when can I get Kodu for the PCs in my classroom?” Well now there is a public beta of the PC version out (Kodu announcement) and it doesn’t require Xbox controllers even!

Microsoft is pushing to bring computer programming back into the classroom – and back into the realm of the imagination.

That push comes through Kodu, a game developed by Microsoft Research that invites users to create their own worlds while teaching them the basics of game development. Originally designed as a learning tool for youngsters using Xbox 360, Kodu is now available in a public beta for the PC. The move to the PC platform stands to make the game more attractive to schools. By eliminating the need for controllers, schools don’t need any special equipment – students can start building worlds with just a PC and a keyboard.

The announcement also talks about and has some links to educational usage so far. Good stuff is happening. For example:

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in Victoria, Australia, recently deployed Kodu in an extensive pilot program across 26 of its schools. Students there also are enthusiastic, says Richard Olsen, assistant director of ideasLAB, a research and development lab that explores what technology makes possible in schools. “As soon as I walked into a classroom with a big box of controllers, the kids looked at me like I was Santa,” he said. That enthusiasm continued throughout the three-month pilot. “I really believe that we learn and form knowledge by building things. The beauty of Kodu is that it’s so simple to create whole worlds, yet children gain these complex understandings.”

This is really exciting. Really!

To download the PC beta and get more information about Kodu, please visit research.microsoft.com/kodu.

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