Arduboy: An Open-Platform, 8-bit Game System and Potential Educational Tool
There are 12 days left on Kickstarter for the open-platform, 8-bit game system, Arduboy. For this credit card sized system, thus far backers have given over $356,000 well over the original goal of $25,000.
Arduboy is a small platform that you can fit in your wallet. It is a programmable device that can be used to make, play, and share games.
Games and tech have always been created as teaching tools for academic settings and the Arduboy promises to continue this legacy. Arduboy seeks to teach kids how to program. It attempts to make the learning process a bit more engaging and enjoyable.
The Kickstarter is offering an education kit at $300.
It includes 10 Arduboys as well as a free lesson plan for teaching C++. However, it is unclear how much the devices will cost once their Kickstarter comes to a close.
It should be made clear that Arduboy is not intended to be a standalone programmable device. It's a target platform that you can write software for, but you need to do the actual software writing on a computer.
While relatively inexpensive, the cost seems almost needless to schools.
It doesn't matter if the devices are cheap, the device becomes nearly irrelevant if your school already has computers.
Teaching programming on smartphones is also a viable option, although it comes with it's own challenges. Smartphones come with a sense of familiarity for children today, and it may be more realistic that this generation would have more interest in smartphones than 8-bit platforms.
One possible advantage of using the Arduboy in the classroom is that it becomes the standard device. A drawback to using smartphones is that they have a wide variety of specs. If your students all have different phones, it becomes much harder to create single assignments or to use one common textbook. That being said, it is possible to get educational deals on bulk orders of older model smartphones. Thus teachers can get a homogenous collection of smartphones if needed.
While the Arduboy is a fun device, other teaching resources like MinecraftEDU seem like better, alternative investments.
The upside to using Minecraft in the classroom is that it extends itself across many disciplines and can be used to teach different subjects as well as programming. While more expensive in the short run, installing Minecraft on school computers would give educators more bang for their buck, allowing them to use the game in virtually every subject area if wanted.
What do you think is the Arduboy the best viable option as a programming teaching tool? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.