A Teacher's View: Optimistism about HTML5 and Construct 3

Post » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:56 pm

I am a science teacher by trade. My primary job is to teach science at a large public high school. About five years ago, my school district embraced the "1:1" concept, providing iPads to every student in the district. I got my hands on an iPad as soon as I could and started developing what I thought was going to be the "be all-end all" iPad physics app in Objective C. It launched and was successful. Apple flew me out to California and gave me a full-page spread on Apple's education website. The app was featured on all of the in-store iPads around the world.

It was great to have the recognition, but there was one fundamental problem: I couldn't iterate fast enough. From concept to release, it took 9 months and 1100 man-hours. Each update took several weeks of work, followed by at least a week of review by Apple. A week is an eternity in the classroom, and after three weeks, students have long forgotten what they struggled with a few weeks back. If I had an idea on a Tuesday at 3:30 pm, I needed a way to create interactive content and push it out to my students by Wednesday morning at 7:30 am.

My colleagues and I looked around for a long time for a way to do this. Initially we tried GameSalad, but found that it was too limiting, and the iPad app was too clunky to be used with students. When we found Construct 2, we were thrilled. We had it all in a single package:
• an easy-to-use interface so that all of the teachers could quickly learn how to make something useful
• native HTML5 development so that we could simply provide a link to our students, rather than going through a funky export process to deploy to something other than a ubiquitous web browser
• lightning-fast development time so that we could realize an idea for our students in a night, then improve upon it over the next few weeks to create something that was publishable for the world at large

Over the years, we have made simulations and tools that have been used by millions of students around the world. We don't really care about the money, just as long as we make enough to keep our websites going.

Construct 3 is a bargain if it allows us to continue to support development of the tool that has enabled us to be so creative for so many years. I haven't found anything else that comes close, and $150/year is a pittance to pay compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars textbooks publishers are paid every year by major school districts.
www.simbucket.com - HTML5 Science Simulations / https://www.airconsole.com/#!play=com.n ... obotrumble - Robot Rumble on AirConsole
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Post » Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:14 pm

cjbruce wrote:Construct 3 is a bargain if it allows us to continue to support development of the tool that has enabled us to be so creative for so many years. I haven't found anything else that comes close, and $150/year is a pittance to pay compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars textbooks publishers are paid every year by major school districts.


It's $150/year per student. Then again that doesn't sound bad enough if a school can afford to give students an ipad each.
That sound mindblowing for me coming from a third world country.
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Post » Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:29 pm

MPPlantOfficial wrote:It's $150/year per student.


It is ($150/year)*(1 year / 200,000 students) = approximately $0.001 per student. The students don't have to buy Construct 2 to benefit from the simulations, they just need a device with a web browser and an internet connection.

That is the power of the internet, and why Construct 2 is such a great enabling tool.
www.simbucket.com - HTML5 Science Simulations / https://www.airconsole.com/#!play=com.n ... obotrumble - Robot Rumble on AirConsole
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Post » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:21 pm

@cjbruce First of all, it's a bit peculiar that you create a new thread titled "A Teacher's View", about a day after I created a thread titled "An Educator's Perspective" (an-educator-s-perspective_t188645). Was it too much to reply to my thread?

Secondly, I believe your thread is a tiny bit misleading. It's one thing to use Construct to develop material, and a different thing altogether to use Construct to teach material. I believe a more accurate title should have been "A Successful Developer's View: ..." MPPlantOfficial's point rings true here. Directly or not, he points out that you're a single person, so obviously it's easy to say it's a bargain.

For example, an entry-level electronics online class of ours successfully deployed a whole bunch of interactive circuit testing and building simulation apps developed using Construct 2. A C2 license was purchased for each developer, and it was a "bargain" because of how many students have successfully used the exported apps. No brainer. Not the same as teaching with Construct.

PS: our town passed a referendum that granted the public school corporation millions of additional dollars in property tax revenue. They used around $2 million of it to buy each student in each of the public high schools in the area iPads for use in the classroom and at home. After a couple years of unanimous animosity from the teachers and the students, they discarded all the iPads at a catastrophic loss. They then switched to paying huge amounts of money to buy each student 2-in-1 Windows laptops. I haven't heard how that is going.
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Post » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:55 pm

CannedEssence wrote:PS: our town passed a referendum that granted the public school corporation millions of additional dollars in property tax revenue. They used around $2 million of it to buy each student in each of the public high schools in the area iPads for use in the classroom and at home. After a couple years of unanimous animosity from the teachers and the students, they discarded all the iPads at a catastrophic loss. They then switched to paying huge amounts of money to buy each student 2-in-1 Windows laptops. I haven't heard how that is going.


Seriously? Well that's just crazy. I have 3 children in school, different age groups, and they all use iPads successfully in class. I also teach classes with iPads sometimes. There are some very professional programming and learning apps that can not be found on any other platform. Apple's own Swift Playground is a great example of this. It's simple, engaging, and interactive. Apple has supported education and provided discounted hardware to schools since the 80s. The fact that your school is switching to more expensive windows computers is just crazy, imo.
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Post » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:59 pm

I have heard from some educators similar stories RE iPads. The device existing en-masse in US educational institutes is now the Chromebook which there is very limited supply of software that can run on it... Hopefully Construct 3 can fill some of that void.
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Post » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:25 pm

Tom wrote:I have heard from some educators similar stories RE iPads. The device existing en-masse in US educational institutes is now the Chromebook which there is very limited supply of software that can run on it... Hopefully Construct 3 can fill some of that void.


That's seems more reasonable. Chromebooks are cheaper, so I can see it replacing iPads in schools with smaller budgets, but I doubt they are as durable as iPads. I've seen plenty of iPads with cracked screens that still work. I haven't seen any Android or laptops with broken screens continue to work correctly. Chromebooks and Android devices are cheaper, but they are also made cheaper. I think children need a durable device to learn on.

And I agree, if Chrome has limited software, even better for C3!
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Post » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:02 am

CannedEssence wrote:@cjbruce First of all, it's a bit peculiar that you create a new thread titled "A Teacher's View", about a day after I created a thread titled "An Educator's Perspective" (an-educator-s-perspective_t188645). Was it too much to reply to my thread?

Secondly, I believe your thread is a tiny bit misleading. It's one thing to use Construct to develop material, and a different thing altogether to use Construct to teach material. I believe a more accurate title should have been "A Successful Developer's View: ..." MPPlantOfficial's point rings true here. Directly or not, he points out that you're a single person, so obviously it's easy to say it's a bargain.

For example, an entry-level electronics online class of ours successfully deployed a whole bunch of interactive circuit testing and building simulation apps developed using Construct 2. A C2 license was purchased for each developer, and it was a "bargain" because of how many students have successfully used the exported apps. No brainer. Not the same as teaching with Construct.

PS: our town passed a referendum that granted the public school corporation millions of additional dollars in property tax revenue. They used around $2 million of it to buy each student in each of the public high schools in the area iPads for use in the classroom and at home. After a couple years of unanimous animosity from the teachers and the students, they discarded all the iPads at a catastrophic loss. They then switched to paying huge amounts of money to buy each student 2-in-1 Windows laptops. I haven't heard how that is going.


@CannedEssence,

First off, let me say I am a huge fan of your post. It was very carefully considered and thoughtfully written. It is what inspired me to write about my own story. I didn't want to post under you thread for two reasons:
1. I didn't want to steal your thunder. You did a very good job of explaining your point of view, and aside from a nod of agreement, there wasn't really anything I could say without detracting from your thread.
2. I wanted to add a slightly different story to the mix.

To say that I am a successful developer is a bit of an overstatement. For me, software development is a hobby, not a vocation - teaching pays all of the bills, and it is what I love to do. I spend 90% of my productive time throughout the week teaching/grading/planning/talking to parents, and the remaining 10% in Construct 2. My point is that Construct 2's greatest strength is that it enables someone like me to develop useful tools for the classroom at a rate that simply would not have been possible in any other way. Over the years I have seen teachers get creative with things like interactive PowerPoints ("Jeopardy") and really cool Excel spreadsheets (i.e. the "Professional Vector League Draft") for use with their students, but this is the first time in my career that I have been able to make full-up HTML5 simulations quickly enough to implement and deploy over the course of a high school unit (typically 2-3 weeks). Construct 2 is a fantastic enabling tool for the classroom, and nothing else comes close to its functionality. Sure, there might be other tools out there that are better for more traditional development purposes, but Construct 2 is the only one that does what it does so well.

I think it is awesome that you guys used a Construct 2-generated circuits simulator with your electronics class. In my opinion, that is a success for Scirra's product as much as any other. I am happy to tell other teachers about this amazing tool for the classroom.

Lastly, I would love to teach an entire class using Construct 2. I think you are absolutely right that we can and should be promoting computational literacy with all of our students. Computer game development happens to be an awesome way to do that. Unfortunately for me and my students, the financial trade-off for putting iPads in the hands of all of the students in our school district was that they removed all of our classroom computers. I love the things that the iPad does well -- the immediacy of filming an event in slow motion, taking a screenshot, and marking it up and doing calculations right on the screenshot, for example. I hate that my students have lost the ability to analyze that motion in Excel on a real computer, or make a computational model of that same motion in Construct 2. Losing our classroom computers is a political battle that I fought and lost, and it is still a pretty bitter pill for me to swallow.

The reason I posted this in the Construct 3 forum and not in "Open Topic" is that I believe that the legacy of Construct 2 is important enough to me that I don't want to see it die. Teachers have a long a history of paying to support things that they believe to make the world a better place. I am happy to pay for Construct 3 if it means that Construct 2 will continue to be supported by the developers, and that the legacy of Construct 2 will live on for as long as possible.
www.simbucket.com - HTML5 Science Simulations / https://www.airconsole.com/#!play=com.n ... obotrumble - Robot Rumble on AirConsole
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