XNA in the Classroom – Part 1

The APCS class started in XNA today. We didn’t get very far, but the enthusiasm level was palpable.

Class was only 35 minutes today (an early-release day, since tonight is the Senior Prom!), so there wasn’t much opportunity to do much anyway. I spent yesterday getting the Visual C# Express Service Pack 1 and XNA Express loaded on the 15 systems in the lab; also we purchased 4 XBox 360 USB controllers (okay, so that was last minute!), and this morning just before class I franticly ran around getting the controller software installed … almost. 3 of the 15 refused to load the controller software. (They worked later, after class was over of course.) 

When the students arrived they dove into XNA, asking me essentially every question on earth. My response for almost all of them was, “I don’t know, figure it out please.” You could say that it was a cop-out answer, but the fact is that THEY will be running this portion of the class, not me. I laid out the ground rules, that they had to keep a journal (a simple Word document) of what they did each day, and that their grades would be based on what they accomplished, not necessarily that they completed a game. It was refreshing to know that they thought this was more than fair.

Our first big snag came towards the end of the half-hour, however, when we realized that the computers, with their generic VGA-style video cards, probably don’t have enough video horse power to run the completed games. I’m in a quandary over how to handle this: Perhaps we can obtain a few high-powered video adapters (not the full 15, of course, can’t afford that), or we can test them on laptops that DO have enough power, see if they can develop games that don’t need the full power of an XBox, or perhaps even try to run things on an XBox 360. Barring one of these solutions (or another equally effective one), we might be dead in the water.



About Mr. I

After 17 years as a PC Software Engineer I gave it all up in 2000 to become a High School Computer Teacher
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