Join us as we welcome the next step in game-based computer science education and a new chapter in the CodeCombat story.
August 28, 2019: Today the team at CodeCombat is proud to launch Ozaria – a new computer science program, adventure game, and immersive fantasy world! Prologue: The Sky Mountain is available free for all educators in the United States to use with students starting now. It is the first part of what will be a comprehensive computer science curriculum that has been designed from the ground up to ensure students build real world skills and have an amazing time doing it.
Computer Science Instruction that Captivates
Ozaria [pronounced Oh-ZAR-ee-uh] is a story-driven game – because storytelling is at the nexus of human emotion, imagination, and information sharing. When students customize their hero in Ozaria, they enter a vast world filled with the echoes of a rich history – one with many rulers and kingdoms, myths of ancient magic, and legends of a darkness long defeated.
The Hero lives in a small and peaceful town named River’s End with their mother, Astra, and a dog named Mouse. Soon, something begins to change as winters become longer and crops start to die. The Hero awakens to find their mother has disappeared, leaving only a letter and map to Sky Mountain. Now, with the help of an ancient device called the Acodus, their mother’s assistant, Vega, and their companion, Mouse, students will discover that only through the lost magic of coding and the development of their programming skills can they trap the darkness and save their world. This unfolding story creates a powerful student-centered learning experience, with each student’s investment in Ozaria’s story paralleling the investment they are making in their own learning journey.
Play to Build Real Skills
Like CodeCombat before it, Ozaria is built around the idea that learning should be fun. In today’s world, kids are inundated with entertainment that grows more engaging each year. Every app, video, game, and advertisement is created with the goal of capturing and holding their attention. To compete in this environment, we believe education must find ways to hold students’ attention and capture their imagination. We are focused on empowering computer science educators to make learning to code a captivating experience – like magic. After all, programming gives everyone the ability to explore new ideas, to build something from pure imagination, and to interact with each other in new ways. Our goal is to inspire a connection to the creativity and imagination inherent in computer science by building educational games that are creative and imaginative.
Nick Winter, CEO and Co-founder of CodeCombat explains how games are the bridge between education and engagement: “Market forces lead games to create finely-tuned pacing and scaffolding, where players quickly learn to excel in complex game scenarios. By creating Ozaria, we are building a game with real world skills for game mechanics, so that these forces act in your interest. Play becomes learning, learning becomes play. This is the promise of game-based learning. Flow. Grit. Growth mindset. Collaboration. Personalization.”
Creative Capstone Projects
Each Ozaria unit will conclude with a Capstone project that provides students the opportunity to apply newly learned concepts in their own way. From games to choose-your-own-adventure stories – students will be able to see the real world opportunities that computer science can open up for them while building a portfolio of work that showcases their creative identity. Educators can use Capstones as a form of summative assessments, with clear rubrics on assessing student performance and checking for the application of key core concepts.
Projects are introduced with a set framework and goals, but hold potential for nearly unlimited ideation. Students are guided through the creation process, while still having the opportunity to mold their work into their own personal creative expression. After they are done, Ozaria will have sharing options similar to CodeCombat’s game development and web development projects. In Ozaria, when students are finished building their Capstone projects, they will be given a link to post their work to their classrooms and to share with friends/family who can play or experience the project they were sent.
Teach with Support
In Ozaria, educators play a crucial role in facilitating student learning through curriculum resources and tools. Each unit throughout the curriculum has one or more lesson plans that outline learning objectives, common student misconceptions, key terms, and CSTA standards. In addition, Ozaria has implementation guides, rubrics, and a comprehensive teacher dashboard that helps teachers to track student progress, check student code, and view data on level completion.
Why the change to Ozaria?
When CodeCombat first launched five years ago, the demand for computer science was in its infancy – most schools just needed one hour of code! Thanks to the sustained advocacy of computer science educators and organizations, progressive school leaders, and new state requirements, much has changed since the early days. We wanted to be proactive in building a product that can be used for the long haul, as computer science curricula needs continue to evolve.
With varied teaching mechanisms and a powerful story that is built to capture the imagination, we see Ozaria as the evolution of CodeCombat and the Oregon Trail of this generation, a game that still captivates and cultivates a love of learning. Ozaria is the next step in our goals to expand computer science access and inspire the next generation of students to build a connection to the creativity and imagination inherent in computer science.
What does that mean for CodeCombat? What program should I choose?
If you are a trendsetter and your classroom is more adventurous, start with the Ozaria beta and get the best of both worlds. Your students will experience the beginning of Ozaria before transitioning back to CodeCombat for any content beyond the introductory unit (see implementation guide on best transition path for you). Our team is also deeply focused on expanding Ozaria content. The second unit (7-8 additional hours) is currently being worked on and may be available depending on when your students finish the Prologue.
While this path is less traditional, great education technology products rely on innovative educators who are willing to share feedback and participate in the development of something big. We are also building each unit of Ozaria to be the best possible way to educate students on the concepts covered and see these learnings as transferable between the two games.
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Introducing Ozaria – The New Computer Science Game from CodeCombat is written by David Chase for blog.codecombat.com