I’ve been exploring quite a few means to teach coding in the classroom as a satellite interest around my passion project, however it all started with my wondering if lessons would be more engaging and fun for students if they could learn through playing games.
My youngest sister is currently a middle school student in grade 7 who gives the typical non-response when faced with the questions, “how was school?” and, “what did you learn today?” Thinking of her, and still having coding in the back of my mind, I remembered an app that she had shown me she was using about a year back called Episode Interactive. As stated on their website, “Episode is a mobile platform of interactive animated stories, made by people just like you! Write your script, create your choices, design your characters, and publish your story all from this site!” I was really impressed that her love of playing other peoples’ content last year urged her to learn to use the apps programming language to be able to write episodes of her own. She would spend time alternating between writing her story in this foreign language and then scanning over her code trying to figure out what went wrong to cause unexpected character interactions or even game-breaking syntax errors! While the app mostly features stories like “Mean Girls” and “Rich Witches,” I wondered if I could use what seemed like a great Choose Your Own Adventure style platform to create more engaging educational content.
Well, we all have to start somewhere, so I downloaded the app onto my phone and iPad and got to work online learning how to write the language. I already have some background experience working with coding languages, which is handy because it means I’m easily able to read the script. I spent some time playing around in the character creator to try and make characters that somewhat resemble my partner and I so I could learn to make Episodes creating fun little shorts about our every day life. There is also a huge library of backgrounds to choose from, which I am still browsing through. There is also an option to upload your own backgrounds which would likely come in quite handy to create more school environments like science labs. I’ve also been rediscovering a lot of Magic School Bus lately and think it could even be interesting to create my own Magic School Bus-like environments in-game. Right now I’m just playing through the tutorial seeing what happens when I manipulate the pre-written code to learn the basics before digging in and creating my own original stories!