After posting my reflection on the Adventure Game I was reminded of Fantastic Contraption. This is a puzzle game that require logical thinking, but because of the design of the game there is no one answer, you can be very creative. It’s also very social as you can share your “contraptions” with others. I have seen some very innovative and interesting “contraptions” from others within the game. You can also return to your “contraptions” to improve them and make them better. This is a much better puzzle game and more engaging for me than I found with Lost in the City. I thought I should try and have a go at the puzzle game recommended on the ocTEL site. Alas the site was blocked, I was using the free public wifi at the local library. So despite wanting to try out the puzzle game recommended I couldn’t.
So how about I look at Fantastic Contraption instead? Well this is a fun engaging puzzle game. It requires logical thinking and elements of trial and error. Unlike something like Lost in the City, there isn’t a single solution you need to find, there is an infinite number of solutions to each of the puzzles. You can also go back and fine tune your solutions.
This is quite engaging and there is an element of satisfaction when you find a neat or clever solution. There are levels that can appear to be unsolvable and these initially proving challenging can after a while be somewhat demotivating. If there is a level that you can’t solve, you probably will stop playing the game. However as the “recipe” doesn’t really change much across the different levels, you can have enough of the game and when the next game comes along you will probably stop playing, I know I haven’t played for ages.
As for what can I learn from the game, well that’s a more challenging question. I am not entirely sure if there is too much I can learn from the game, there’s elements of physics and logic, but I am not sure how useful the skills learned will be in real life and how transferable they will be. When it comes to problem solving, I would have thought logical and fine tuning a solution would be useful, but I don’t see how this game would result in gaining those skills. If anything the game doesn’t “teach” those skills, and it would be difficult to learn those skills from the game. What is a more likely scenario is that this kind of game would appeal to someone who already has those skills.
I think another interesting point from all of this is the fact that I couldn’t access the puzzle game from the ocTEL webiste. Site blocking is an issue with any kind of MOOC or TEL activity when the learner has to access a third party site as part of the learning and that an “administrator” has deemed to be “unsuitable”. The key question is how easy is it to have the site unblocked. In my case probably unlikely as I am using the public wifi at the local library. What is also quite interesting, but could be worrying for learners, is the comment “The request was logged”. You could imagine a learner thinking that if they went to too many blocked sites they would lose their internet access. It’s an interesting aspect of this MOOC that I suspect hasn’t really been thought about.
Site blocking is still prevalent on public wifi, train wifi, school and college wireless too. For example CrossCountry Trains blocks YouTube and iPlayer as there is insufficient bandwidth on the train. A lot of sites are also blocked on 3G connections due to the default content control on these services. I remember a VLE I worked with in the past was blocked by Vodafone Content Control.
When designing TEL activities (and MOOCs) as mentioned in a previous blog, consideration must be given to alternatives for those occassions when sites are blocked. Also it makes sense to check out how these activities and tools work away from university and college systems, on free wifi or 3G networks.