Research Log of Web Science Students

Computer Science is not simply programming

5. Last Wii-k on MyMathVenturesHS… /*Part 1: RRL presentation*/

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I’m no good at writing documents and speaking in front of many people. I have poor proficiency in the English language. But I guess I have to overcome these weaknesses, or else… Practice, gulard, practice!!! T.T

Last Tuesday, we have presented our RRL’s to Dr. Caro. Here are the ones I have presented. We are required to present ten…

Tutorial Wii Remote in Java

This is a tutorial for those who want to use WiiRemote with Java. The tutorial recommends two possible libraries to use in recognizing WiiRemotes: moteJ and WiiRemoteJ, he used WiiRemoteJ in the tutorial. Also, the tutorial only shows how to setup it in Windows, so the softwares to be used may vary depending on the platform. He also gave a list of software that can be used in using WiiRemote for other languages.

The tutorial explains the basic classes/methods that can be used in using the WiiRemoteJ library. Methods include connection Wiimotes, listener classes for connecting to Wiimotes, etc. However, this part of the tutorial is not that detailed, and asks the reader to just look at WiiRemoteJ’s documentation, which is freely available.

Also, the tutorial talks about WiiRemote’s discovery mode. It says:

“If you now run your application you will set your application in discovery mode. However, you will also need to enter the WiiRemote in discover mode. You do this by pressing the 1 and 2 buttons simultaneously… After the discovery process is finished, the methods in your WiiRemoteUser object in your application will be triggered each time a Wiimote has something new to report. All you need to do now is do something useful with the Wiimote’s data such as the accelerometers.”

A source code is also included in the tutorial for a guide on using WiiRemoteJ’s classes and methods.

Time perception during video game play by adolescents (Tobin & Grodin, 2009)
Author: Wai Yen Tang

This is a write-up on Simon Tobin and Simon Grondin’s experiment on time perception and video gaming. The results of the experiment show that most subjects have underestimated the time they played the games. They lose their attention on time and gain focus on playing the video game. Also, when compared to a reading task, subjects have a small chance of overestimating the time they did the task when they played the games. “The authors made a curious argument in that even though reading may be less enjoyable, it was at least something to compare video games with another real life activity and showed how teenagers prefer video games than books or homework.”

This can be thought of as something influenced by how subjects enjoyed the task. But the authors argued that there are enjoyment differences among those who took the experiment, but this did not correlate with the results. They said that the video game presented a larger mental workload, such as planning and hand-eye coordination, than just reading.

/*this may explain why a student on a boring class where lessons are presented in pure lecture often ask, “Anung oras na? Magtatime na ba?” wouldn’t it be great for educational games to have the same effect? The students lose attention on time, and gain attention on the game and on the lessons presented in the game.*/

The Educational Potential of Modified Video Games
Author: Andrew Moshirnia

This paper focuses on the effectiveness of game modification in presenting educational concepts. Moshirnia defines game modification or modding as “a modification to a commercial or user-generated computer game, made by a member of the general public, which may introduce new artifacts (including new items, buildings, and weapons), characters (including enemies and playable characters), models, textures, skins, gaming areas (levels, maps, and buildings), rule sets, and story lines.“ He said that even though educational games exist and are being developed, they have little impact on the market and on an average gamer. Generally, they perceive these kinds of games as not fun to play. He continues that if educational games have the same graphics and game-play characteristics of the more popular games, then they could be more effective as an educational tool. The experiment had a modification of the game Civilization IV for presenting historical concepts. The results show that students have understood the concepts more in the game than in a pure lecture style of teaching, and since the game shares the same features of the original game, the experience became more enjoyable.

Students’ Attitude Towards Using Materials to Learn Algebra: A Year 7 Case Study
Author: Stephen Norton, Will Windsor

The study talks about study materials and material-based games in the student’s study of algebra. “…the authors implemented a Year 7 algebra intervention that focused on making the nuances and processes of algebra explicit using multiple representations at times within contextual settings, and examined the effect of the intervention upon students’ perceptions about the value of the learning activities. The research questions in this paper were: (1) Did students believe the specific learning activities enhanced their understanding of algebra? (2) Did the intervention enhance students’ confidence to undertake high school algebra?”

They noted that there are limitations in using study materials in teaching algebra since these materials, being particular models, may contradict the generality and abstractness of most algebraic concepts. However, these materials and learning activities helped most students in understanding algebraic concepts. These initially allowed them to see some “pattern” in the concept, and then slowly building up the picture of the concept in their minds using those materials. And after reaching the point that they already have that “picture” on their mind, they start to prefer more abstract methods such as mental and (more) numerical computations. However, they pointed out that a student’s ability to rely on mental computations reduces as the problems grow more complex. This can also be the case in making a game-based learning tool for algebra. Should the game include more complicated problems, the game might require the students to have their pen and paper on their sides, since mental computations may not be relied upon by the students playing (especially if the game is time-based).

Tabula Digita Announces Evolver Immersive Interactive Video Games for Algebra and Pre-Algebra

The article is about the release of Tabula Digita’s Evolver games for algebra and pre-algebra. These are additions to the Dimenxian series, a collection of interactive educational games. Evolver has multiplayer capability which allows students to play with others through the Internet or through LAN. Players can play as a team or as individuals as they go through mazes and obstacles which test their skills in the said subjects. Evolver also has its single-player version for pre-algebra which allows the students to take part in 20 missions for them to master topics in pre-algebra.

“Research shows that learning is greatly enhanced when students use critical thinking and problem solving skills in a collaborative environment… Students can be brought together collectively or competitively in order to better learn from and motivate each other.”, said Ntiedo Etuk, CEO and co-founder of Tabula Digita.


The following are some existing software/games which are used for teaching algebra to students.

Algebra Vision

Algebra Vision is an educational tools used to provide visual presentations of lessons taken in algebra. Each lesson has an animated demonstration for students to grasp the concepts they need to solve such problems. Also, the Practice option allows students to try what they have learned in the animated demonstration in solving related problems, which are randomly generated by the program.

Although not a game, it provides a better way of visually presenting concepts. The drag-and-drop feature is a great help since this gives the ‘feel’ of students actually solving the problem. One problem I guess is that there are concepts in it that are almost intuitively solvable, but is still required to be explicitly shown. For example, simplifying the fraction -5/-4 will not allow you to arrive at 5/4. You need to expand first -5 to -1*5 and -4 to -1*4, then cancel similar terms which is -1, to arrive at 5/4. The software might prove useful to those who really have trouble in understanding algebraic concepts.

Algebra Vision

Algebra Election: The game that strengthens your math and geography skills

This is a simple game which relates math and geography. The goal is to win 270 or more electoral votes to win the election and become the next President of the United States. The game requires a map of the US, a die, and a set of algebra questions which include a variable x in them. The variable’s value will depend on the electoral vote number of the state landed by your game piece. In turn, the questions will be harder to solve as the value of x increases.

Rules of the game are said in the site. This gives an example of a game which allows you to enhance your skills in algebra and, at the same time, allows you to learn things from other fields, geography in this example. And it might prove useful if you create a game for algebra wherein you are able to relate it to something very interesting, and so that interest may be able to motivate the players to perform well in the game and maybe in algebra also.

Algebra Election

Math Blaster Ages 9-12

This is a story-based game in preparation for pre-algebra. This allows the students to develop advanced elementary math skills such as completing equations and integer, fraction, decimal and percentage operations. Since it is story-based, it keeps the student’s attention in the game.

There are five game types here. Along with the story-based game mode, there is a game mode wherein you can play/repeat playing these stages. Each stage has 10 ‘lessons’ covered, each with varying difficulties. This allows you to practice on a specific lesson as many times as desired. The game also has a form of assessment at the end of the stage, depending on what stage you are in.

There is also a Pre-Algebra version of the game which focuses more on middle math concepts. The game contains “activities focused on decimals, integers, and rational numbers help students prepare for algebra as they learn how to graph numbers and find solutions on a coordinate grid. In addition, students develop critical thinking skills solving word problems and writing equations.”

Math Blaster 9-12

Math-tac-toe Desktop Algebra Edition

Math-tac-toe is a simple tic-tac-toe game with an algebraic twist. It is a single player game (without the AI) which flows like the ordinary tic-tac-toe game, except that you can only land an ‘O’ on the cell of the game board after correctly answering a question. A wrong answer will put an ‘X’ instead.

One good thing about this game is that it has its own ‘scratch pad’ with it. If you’re having a hard time solving a problem, you can open the scratch pad for solving purposes. It also allows you to use a calculator, although the option just opens the default calculator program of Windows. However, there are problems with the program. First, the player is allowed to place his piece on a cell where a piece is already placed. Second, the game has no AI, so the game is very much like a simple quiz program. Third, the game would be better if there will be a time limit for answering each question.

Math-Tac-Toe Desktop Algebra Edition

Math Playground

This site presents a variety of simple algebra games in Flash. One of them is the Algebra Puzzle. The objective is to find the numerical value of each object given the setup that the sum of all objects in each column/row is given. There can also be a single object in a row/column which makes solving easier. The game basically applies concepts for solving systems of equations. Although it is ‘more solvable’ on a 3×4 mode since you can arrive at 4 equations with 3 unknowns, there are cases where you need not to look at all rows/columns just to get the answer.

Another one is X-Detectives, where you play as an X-Detective to capture a man named Agent X. Before doing so, the game requires you to practice some algebraic lessons on the first 4 active buildings. For each building you enter, there are a number of game types which will allow you to use your skills in algebra. Some topics covered are symmetry reflections and translations, solving linear systems (which is more like the Algebra Puzzle game), linear functions and graphs, and operations with integers.

There are many more games here but most of them have almost the same gameplay (there is another game in there called Weigh the Wangdoodles which goes the same way as Algebra Puzzle).

Algebra PuzzleThe X Detectives


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