Chapman University has handed me a challenge: Create a first programming class for students who are going to be part of a new minor in Game Design. Ok, not bad, oh wait, it also needs to get the students to a point where they can write programs in C# in a game design class. The audience is made up of “design” students as well as CS students, both are bright and motivated, but quite a bit different.
Usually as an adjunct in the 1980s or 1990s, I would usually get a call from a school stating that they needed a professor to do a class in programming or engineering, they would have a textbook selected and usually a syllabus that I would simply use in class. Quite often the school would have foils (that’s what powerpoint slides were called, because they were acetate foils that you would place on a light table thingie).
This changed in the 21st century, my past three gigs of being an adjunct has been to create a new kind of class that stimulates excitement about software and the creation of media like games, etc.
Using Game Design in a beginning level class is a challenge, but the paradigm of games can be exciting and a focus for the student. Of course, to do a fresh approach, the students would need to get experience with programming (coding), database, security, dealing with media, testing and deployment. Also, to make sure that the small private college gets their 15 minutes of internet fame, the students will need to blog about their experiences and to demonstrate their work with little or no friction. Philosophically, the class would never use a piece of paper, although, I would likely assign a book as some students like to have a book. Ok, except for the design students, they can use paper to sketch out their ideas, but I wouldn’t need to see those, unless they want to show them to me, but they would have to scan them in for me to observe.
So what should the student have to produce to succeed at the end of class? How to get the student to do teamwork?
Usually the students might produce the following:
The traditional, well as much a tradition might be for a young science like Computer Science (let’s face it, Civil Engineering is an example of a STEM curriculum with tradition):
And then there is usually a textbook, no comments on any of the textbooks, except that most students have no desire to have a book, at least till they take a class that doesn’t use a book. Although the C# books by Dietel are pretty good.
First change would be to the last two items: Intro to C in the Unix environment and Low Level programming in C. Boring. I would change those to:
Wow, that sounds unchallenging. But what would the problem sets look like (remember I am not looking at the department rubric or anything, just doing what I think is cool):
Well got some more to think about.