Playtesting GeoForge in Roxbury, MA!
Testing ideas with real students in real classroom contexts is an important part of Killer Snails’ process for building new experiences. In February of 2020, we visited 5, 6, and 7th grade classes at Roxbury Prep - Dorchester and Roxbury Prep - Mission Hill in Massachusetts to test out GeoForge, a new experience that allows students to work together as planetary scientists.
In GeoForge, students use their personalized digital science journal to learn about key concepts in earth science, and explore different planets in virtual reality. Students working together in teams can see and interact with each other in virtual reality, a brand new feature we were excited for the students to try.
Every user test is a chance for us to watch, listen, and learn from students who are seeing a project like GeoForge with a totally new perspective. A class period trying out a new Killer Snails experience means students will be using computers and mobile phones in a Google cardboard, and balancing working independently and coordinating with their group. Meanwhile, Jessica, Noelle, Chris, and Corinne are making sure things are working the way we expect, solving problems on the fly when they don’t, and recording anything unexpected to think and talk about later. It can be a challenge!
The students at Roxbury Prep - Dorchester and Roxbury Prep - Mission Hill were fantastic at pointing out what they liked, what they didn’t like, and sharing their ideas for planetary missions and tasks. We appreciated their patience when they found technical bugs or problems, and their creativity when they worked together to explore a new terrain, discovered how to race their rovers, and bounce and glide on low-gravity planets in VR. We learned so much from the conversations we had and especially the questions students asked, which help us to see if we’ve made assumptions about the design or content in GeoForge that the students do not share.
Thanks again to the teachers, students, parents, and administrators who welcomed us into their schools! We loved meeting, sharing and learning with you.