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​700 Technology Dr, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Post Mortem

Project Introduction

The semester we are tasked by the Alice Project to work on an collaborative experience that explores the idea of collaborative learning, as Alice is currently a single user experience that has no multi-user capabilities, and are hoping to understand if collaboration can be a viable future direction for the project.

We tackled this problem by developing Alice Together, a 2-player web-based experience where two students can collaborate to build an animated scene together. They achieve this goal by going through four different activities

  1. Picking a prompt that answers the basic question (Who, What, Where)
  2. Selecting objects from asset library
  3. Building the 3D Scene
  4. Animating the scene through Block Coding

Over the semester we have brough Alice Together to Schools and Computer Science educators and we think the experience is a great fit for an introductory level in-class activity for students with no programming experience to have fun and build a fundamental understanding of what they can do with coding. We have also tested out our theory by implementing Alice Together in a Computer Science Class at Saint David’s School and the two sessions we hosted turned out to be successful.

What went well

  1. Fast Iteration. Over the semester we were able to compile at least one build per week with new features and improvements. We think this contributed a lot to our success, as it supported us to test our design by demoing to instructors, clients, and hosting playtest with our target audience.
  2. Effective Team Communication. Because we’ve had only four team members, we did not have to allocate too much time on communication while always staying on the same page. This gave our team a lot of heads down time to work under a cohesive creative vision.
  3. Finding Champions Outside. Because of the long history of Alice, we were able to find stakeholders outside of the ETC to champion our project. For example, our client Melanie connected us with former Alice developer Donald Slator who helped us enormously by constantly giving us feedback from the perspective of an educator, and setting up playtests to let us host class sessions with his students.

What could’ve been better

  1. Overall Direction of the Project. Although our team was excited about our idea, we all overcommitted to the project to different extents, especially on the programming side. We have a programming-intensive project and the workload forced our producer to allocate most of his time programming for the entire semester. We wish we could have one more team member for extra programming support, given that it’s less likely that we can change the project to a less programming-intensive direction.
  2. Communication with our Instructors.Over the semester we send out an update email every week to communicate all the changes we’ve made to our project. But we did not put emphasis on some of the reasons behind our decisions. This has occasionally led to confusion from our instructors, especially when some of the issues they pointed out in the meetings were not addressed properly right away. We wish we could communicated more clearly on WHY we made some of the decisions to do, or not do something, either because of prioritization, or feedback from target audience, etc.
  3. Playing our Games as Developer. Something we wish we could’ve done earlier in the semester is to consistently spend time every week to play our game and test the boundary of our game. This will help us a lot to understand our experience from user’s perspective.

Lessons learned & Conclusion

We think overall we have a successful semester because out client, the educator we met, and our target audience all seemed to be satisfied with what we delivered. And looking back we think collaboration is indeed a viable direction worth exploring further in Computer Science Education. After developing and playtesting with our experience we found out that collaboration has been a really great addition to the experience which gave our target audience motivation to explore and learn.