I have mentioned the Scratch video games my 8th graders designed with students in Vietnam before. We have finished the project and I want to tell you my evaluation of it. Overall we had some higher quality games created than last year, but we still did not reach the level of collaboration I had hoped for (I tend to focus on the negative as I am always looking for improvement). Here is a link to the mostly completed games that you can try out yourself.
The biggest struggle with this project is the time zone difference of 12 hours and lack of time overall for the project. One of the goals we had this year was to try to have students build relationships with each other. Students made and shared videos with each other at the beginning of the project. Unfortunately we never had time to make more videos and one was not enough for them to get to know each other. I would love to use Skype if we were closer in time zones. Students also used email to share their games back and forth but often forgot to send messages or did not explain themselves fully. Designing games is complicated and requires better channels of communication. Some of the groups worked on different versions of the same game.
I still believe this project is worth the effort to do and that it can teach students many things about programming and problem-solving while exploring cultural similarities and differences from another part of the world. Improvements would be to encourage students to communicate at home through chat, Facebook, or Skype. We also would like to try some easier activities to build community between our classrooms before we start a challenging project like programming. We also need to stress to the students the importance of clear, daily communication. Perhaps we should use a Google Doc that they could constantly edit their ideas, progress, and struggles in.
If you are heading to MACUL I will be presenting on this project focusing on the importance of building relationships in a session called Relate, Collaborate, Create. Stop by and join the conversation.