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GameSalad for Education Online Creator and Curriculum Subscription Review by Renee Knoblauch

GameSalad, Inc.
https://www.gamesalad.com

Technology is such an important concept for our children to learn today. Given the ubiquitous nature of technology in our children’s lives, we have an opportunity to teach our children this critical skill to succeed in the future. GameSalad for Education Online Creator and Curriculum Subscription is an innovative way to teach computer science, STEM, and STEAM concepts to your child in grades six through twelve.

Game Salad, Inc. is an online platform that allows you to create your own games. It is very user-friendly for both beginners and developers with its interface. GameSalad is a drag and drop game creation platform that does not require hours of coding to get results. GameSalad for Education will give you the skills as a teacher to enable your student to create games without you needing the knowledge of gaming and coding technology yourself.

Students can start with step-by-step instructions to build simple games and graduate to building their own games. Along the way, they gain confidence, learn fundamental programming skills, and take pride in their creations. Students can load their creations on their mobile devices or upload them to the web to share with friends and family.

GameSalad for Education can be used for an individual student or for a classroom setting. After you have created your account and have gone over the coaching material yourself. You can set up a coaching question and answer session with them too.

Google Chrome is recommended for the browser and a minimum of 2GB of RAM for any computer.

There is a teacher dashboard that you can access and monitor your student’s work. This section has several components to aid you to be successful as a teacher regardless of your knowledge of gaming. It teaches you how to teach the course. There are lesson plans which are already created for you. However, the schedule is flexible enough to adjust to your homeschool or classroom. Each lesson plan has an overview of how long each lesson takes. The course even has quizzes throughout the lessons. Teaching material is available for each lesson with activities for the student projects. GameSalad curriculum guides you through the program step-by-step. There are PowerPoint slides and video tutorials for my student. There is a rubric for each lesson for me to access how to grade the activity. There are various handouts for students to help them plan for what they want to create. There are vocabulary words that pertain to each lesson too.

There are several units that build upon themselves and get more complex with each unit. If you follow the order, they will increase in complexity.

On the same dashboard, I can click back and forth between the dashboard and the creator dashboard section. You can easily manage one student or a classroom in this section as it is conveniently all in one place. The creator section is where your students will be exclusively working in this area creating their games and taking quizzes.

You can assign assignments for your students in your teacher dashboard. Once they sign in, they only see the tutorial that you have assigned to them.

Once you are ready to start with your student you just need to invite/enroll your student by copying a link and sending an email for them to access the program. For a student to log in they do not need a real email themselves. You can create a bogus email as it just functions to log into the GameSalad system online, which must be in the format of an email address.

There is a built-in auto-save while your student is working on their project. This is a nice feature, so they do not accidentally lose their hard work.

Within the Creator Dashboard, they have access to the “Cookbook” which is tutorial videos and a question and answer section. There is an online forum to ask questions too.

The platform is great for those students who have no experience and those with gaming/coding experience with building a game. They can follow the steps of the tutorial exactly as it is laid out or customize the game too. This feature really makes it appealing to kids of all levels and abilities. Students can assign attributes and characteristics, object interactions with how the game actors interact with one another and choose their own background. My son likes that you can create additional levels and add a more complex element into the game. You can import your own graphics and sounds outside of GameSalad’s library. There is even a lesson in the “Capstone” game level that they can create an original game from scratch. You can even have several students collaborate on one game with each student working on a specific area.

Each unit teaches different concepts that build upon one another from algorithms, variables, object-oriented and interface designs, looping, AI, data structures, and many other concepts.

Once they are ready to publish their game, they can make the game public in the GameSalad Arcade which is only accessed through the GameSalad community. They can make the game private and share it with the teacher, friends, or family by sharing a link. They can publish their game to several types of platforms to IOS, Android, and HTML5.

I used GameSalad with my fourteen-year-old son. He is very adept with coding and has been doing coding for a while now. He was familiar with GameSalad prior to him using it. He was anxious for me to get him started.

I spent a few days going over the Instructor Guide and watching some of the tutorial videos. I had a bit of a challenging time figuring out how to assign the lessons for my son. I contacted GameSalad and they were extremely helpful in helping me assign lessons for my son. I am not technical and appreciated the help I received to get started.

My son enjoyed the drag and drop format and seeing instant results. At the same time, he knew what it takes in the background with coding to make each step possible. He liked that he still could customize certain aspects to make the game to his liking. We could have jumped to the Capstone area for him to create an original game. He felt that by starting from the beginning it gave him more knowledge seeing what goes on with the other end of coding. He felt that following the assignments helped him see an established order of putting games together step-by-step.

With it just being my son, we looked over the teaching resources together and explored areas that he was unfamiliar with. We did not use all the teaching resources as a lot of it is better suited for a classroom setting. He learned new concepts throughout and has benefited greatly so far. I look forward to seeing what else he will take away from the lessons.

My son is self-sufficient and has really taken his time going through this. He is adding his own elements and has gone at a pretty slow pace. He goes back and forth adjusting attributes often.

He liked the video assignments and thought they concisely explained the steps. He watched the video lessons and would stop throughout the video and shift over to the creator dashboard to work on his game. He went back and forth with each lesson. He also added his own extras to the games.

GameSalad has other options outside of GameSalad for Education for other gamers like GameSalad Pro and GameSalad Basic subscriptions.

GameSalad for Education Online Creator and Curriculum Subscription is an amazing way to introduce computer science to your kids while creating fun games.

Product review by Renee Knoblauch, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2020

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