We’ve been working on a huge number of changes over the last months, getting ready for the 2018-2019 School Year, with the launch we’ve dubbed “School 1.0. Beta” We are excited today to announce this new launch, and it comes with a lot of new features. First, after many requests, we are now available on Chromebooks!
We also added new Sequences with storylines of quests within each Module, a new Cells to Organisms Module, a refreshed Teacher Dashboard, optimization to work across low-end machines, and many small changes for usability and experience.
Tyto Online is now available on Chromebooks, installed as an Android application via Google Play. You can view the Google Play page at this link. Most Chromebooks released within the last few years support Android applications now, but you can view a complete list of which Chromebooks support Android apps.
Please note this has not yet been modified for full touch support, and is intended for a trackpad and mouse.
Along with this, we’ve added Google Single-Sign On support. Teachers can import students from Google Classroom right through their dashboard, and Chromebook users can automatically log into the game with their Chromebooks (signed into their correct Google account) after authenticating and giving permissions once.
One of the innovations of the Next Generation Science Standards is working through subject areas with storylines — coherent sequences designed to build off questions that arise out of student explorations into a problem or phenomenon. The goal is that students always understand why they are learning something, and not just because they were told to!
We’ve designed our own storylines for Tyto Online, new Sequences where students learn about a bundle of standards through a coherent storyline that dives into a driving question or problem. These sequences are now considered the main storylines of the game and have been added to all our Modules — if a teacher has students do all the Sequences in a Module, they will have addresses all the Module’s standards.
For example, one of the Sequences under the (also new) Cells to Organisms Module starts with the phenomenon of a biodome where most has been accidentally set to night for a week, while one small part is daytime. Plants have turned yellow and animals are lethargic.
Students start by examining the ecosystem and then look at the cellular level to see what is happening, discovering chloroplasts and asking questions to guide them down the process of learning about how plants generate energy to power the ecosystem. Here’s a flow of the quests, below. We’re working on documents that will show these for the Sequences to teachers ahead of time so they know exactly how we planned on flowing it and could link this better with their classroom instruction.
Cells to Organisms Module
We’ve added a new Module that covers NGSS MS.Structure, Function, and Information Processing and also the photosynthesis/cellular level standards from
MS.Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems! This Module does not have a Sandbox at this time, but has four new Sequences.
The overall story is to assist Nurse Practitioner Marysol in the community clinic at Tyto Apartments as you learn about diseases, body systems, digestion, and energy! The four storylines are:
- Outbreak. People in the student district are getting sick! The students help a Nurse identify amoebas in the water, examine the unicellular organisms, and discover how living things are made of cells.
- Panic! At the Microscope. People become worried that cells are everywhere! The players then study how cells help build body systems, learning how they function and what can go wrong.
- Let the Sun Shine In. One of the biodomes has a malfunction and is stuck on night, so the plants are yellow & animals lethargic! Students use this phenomenon to explore photosynthesis.
- Helping Hands. Elektra has a prosthetic arm, but Phantom Limb syndrome and limited functionality are frustrating her. Help her improve the prosthetic!
Updated Teacher Dashboard
We’ve also made some major updates to the Teacher Dashboard, and have more coming soon! Keep an eye out for more posts and future videos diving deeper into this subject.
Updates to Creating Classes
- You can now import your classes from Google Classroom and enable single sign on for your students.
- You can now use a student code to allow students to set up their accounts and add themselves to your class. This method is also useful as students can add themselves to multiple teachers’ classrooms with a single account.
- You can still use the old method of manually creating or editing accounts, if you prefer.
Updates to Explore & Assign. This has been completely reworked to better fit the new structure of our game content, which includes:
- Overview. Explaining the NGSS and overall storyline and goals of the Module.
- Sequences. View the Sequences available and which standards they address. Click through for information about each Sequence and each Quest within the Sequence. You can assign specific quests or an entire Sequence to students.
- Practice Quests. This list of Quests is everything available that covers the standards, so if your studnets need additional experiences in new ways, check here.
- Enrichment. These include quests that go above and beyond the standards. Some Modules have more than others, depending on how inclusive the standards already were for the topic.
- Search. Search by Performance Expectation, Disciplinary Code Idea, Science/Engineering Practice, and Crosscutting Concept to find all available content in a Module that fits exactly what you’re looking for.
- You will also notice that there is a new Sidebar that shows Upcoming Assignments and has a search for Subjects or Classes. You can use this to keep track of what you currently have on your agenda for a class while searching for new content to assign!
Track Progress. This is currently unavailable as we have MAJOR updates for this, too, including showing educators exact work-product so you can see which students used strong or weak arguments in a quest, and more. This will be available again within the next few weeks!
I know we’ve already talked about a lot, but there’s a little more to share! We’re not going to go into detail about every little thing we’ve updated, because there’s far too many, but here’s some remaining major notes:
- Graphics Optimization. You will notice if you are one of our Windows or Mac users that your graphics look simplified. We decided to make the updated we made for Chromebooks across the board, so that people with less-powered Windows or Mac machines can play now. We need to do more testing to see what exactly can be supported now, but if you had a machine before that couldn’t run Tyto Online, we suggest you give it a try!
- Class-Specific Servers. We’ve also made it so that classrooms have their own servers by default, meaning that students will only be able to see and chat with their peers in that class. If a student is part of multiple classrooms, they will be able to choose which one to log into when they log into the game. They will not have access to a Public server at this time (like the screenshot below, which is for a non-student account) until we implement a way for optional parent opt-ins, since that would open them up to strangers across the world.
- No need for Right-Clicks or Mouse-Overs. We’ve incorporated some updates to the User Interface meant for Chromebook across platforms as we felt these were great, simplified features. That includes getting rid of the need to right click, which confused some students before who weren’t used to using right clicks! Now you can just CLICK on anything and it works! We also minimized the need for mouse-over information. You’ll see some changes because of this, like the inventory having pop-outs with more information instead of mouse-overs that you can then click to use or delete the item.
- Research Mechanic. Part of the new content includes a new quest mechanic, the Research Mechanic! This is basically a Wiki in the game where students select to use or not use various resources (from articles to forum posts) and select useful citations from them. This is often used then with our argument builder.