Presenting students with scenarios, and getting them to explore,
comment on them is an effective way of learning. The
CHALLENGE Builder/Player combination is an authoring tool for constructing
(in the Builder) and presenting
(in the Player) problem-based scenarios. No scripting is required and scenarios can be constructed almost as easily as
using a word processor.
CHALLENGE "session" (run in the Player) provides students with
simulated observations of a some kind of reality, usually one where an
assessment is required and/or there is a problem to be solved.
The system can aid the students in their assessment by providing clues
and hyperlinks (or not) as the case may be. It can also guide the student
through the deductive process.
CHALLENGE Player is not an expert system. In a CHALLENGE scenario,
it is the
students, not the machine, which carry out the interpretation and gathering of
information. The software simply
provides a sort of virtual reality they can work in, and may (or may not) guide
them. It uses the metaphor of the
game". In such games players
moved from room to room, inspecting objects and clues and drawing conclusions,
which could then enable them to progress further.
A lot of thinking and deduction is involved.
These same mental tasks also occur in trying analyze a situation or solve
core of a CHALLENGE session is the teacher-constructed scenario.
It is the scenario that presents students with a problematic situation.
scenario may be anything. A political problem, a failing business, a sick
animal (or crop), a grumbling volcano or falling kiwi numbers. The students are
dropped into this problem, and given whatever resources (locations, objects
people, tests, references sources) the tutors deem fit.
students feel they have enough information to draw some conclusions and provide
recommendations, they would normally type this into the computer.
Students can then be given a model analysis and provided with immediate
feedback, or (more commonly) the student input will be extracted later by the
tutor, printed out and graded. In
the case of the latter, feedback is appended their input text. Student activity is tracked, so feedback
can be customized depending on whether or not students carried out particular
can be allocated a price tag. This
gives some incentive for the students to limit themselves to tasks and tests
appropriate to the likely problem, rather than trying all the menu options.
It mirrors the real world, where such procedures do indeed cost real
then, are the "data" used by the CHALLENGE program.
The software provides a "builder" where scenarios can be
constructed or altered to suit. A
scenario "player" program presents the problems to students.
The Player program
The CHALLENGE Player would normally be
installed on the machine the student will use, although it can be run directly
from a CD-ROM. Here is an example of a CHALLENGE scenario designed for
10-year olds in the Player. A collapsible menu of places, objects, people
and tasks are represented. The information pertaining to these shown in
the bottom left-hand pane. Hyperlinks to the web, or other parts of the
scenario can be added to the displayed text, and a "more info" icon
can provide hints.
The Builder program
This allows scenarios to be constructed or
amended. Scenarios are built up using
a series of "nodes". Each node represents a place, object,
action or test. The scenario creator simply adds the required nodes and
fills in the details of what the students will see. Nodes can be given different
functionality by the application of pre-defined design templates.
Here is a screen shot of the scenario above,
shown in the builder.
The Builder comes with a built-in Player for
testing scenarios. Computers that have the Full Builder software installed can also read the decrypt log/report files produced in
the stand-alone Player.
Students can also be construct scenarios in the