iD Tech CampsNot Educational

June 23-27, 2014
ID Tech does not teach what they advertise. We want to tell you that our son just finished a week with ID Tech Camps in Houston, TX, in a class called 3D Game Design with Minecraft. I DO NOT recommend it all. This is the class description: With millions of players worldwide, Minecraft is one of the most popular video games in history! Whether you are a veteran or new to the game, this is your chance to explore, build, and develop new skills. Learn how to host your own server, install and manage Minecraft mods, and accelerate your Minecraft game creation skills. Put your construction skills to the test with individual and team-based 3D design challenges. Finish up by designing and building your own roller coaster, then publish your very own Minecraft map. I had called ID Tech before we enrolled to verify that they would indeed learn to set up a server for Minecraft and was assured that the students would learn to download mods and to set up a server and would also learn 3D game design. At the camp, we were not told what to expect other than what was advertised. Each day I would ask him what was covered in class.

On Monday evening, he told us that the students had the opportunity to get tickets for helping other students that would be used for prizes. He was not told what the prizes were but we assumed it be something suitable for a kid who loves computers and Minecraft. He indicated that they really hadn’t done much other than play Minecraft. The next day, I asked the staff for notes or an outline or instructions for what they were supposed to be covering. They said "sure" but none were given. On Tuesday he said they did some stuff with MC Edit. I googled it and it’s a free app for in-game editing. It’s not game design. It is only for enhancing Minecraft play. Wednesday he said they recolored some items within the game. They didn’t alter anything, just recolored some items.
On Thursday I told them I wanted to go to the classroom to talk to the instructor as we were not seeing the instructor when we dropped our child off, just the parking lot coordinators. This seemed to make them nervous. The students were using laptops and two classes were in one room. All the students sat at laptops and were facing toward walls and windows except for the wall with the whiteboard. Students would have to turn away from their computers to see anything on the whiteboard. I asked the instructor about written instructions and he said they would be on ID Gameplan. No explanation of ID Gameplan was given or had been provided previously. Thursday evening I asked my son to go to that website and saw that their were stars and circles, etc on there. We didn’t realize at that time that the stars and circles represented learning modules that would change colors when the student actually clicked on them. Almost all were hollow or not filled in. We did not know the full extent of the items that had not been covered. We did know that they had not addressed building or installing servers. We were asked to come 2 hours early on Friday to see a presentation of what they had done. We realized then that it would not be a complete day but did not realize how short the day would be. Apparently it was not even half a day of instruction. We asked about learning to install a Minecraft server. Apparently the instructor had installed a server file on my son’s laptop. There was little to no instruction on where this came from or how it worked. They had spent quite a bit of time trying to use the trial version of PowerPoint on the laptop to put together a presentation.

That Friday, our son showed us Minecraft play as we watched the laptop. We thought there would be a presentation of all students. There was not. Each group of students and their families were asked to go outside and stand in the grass and his instructor gave the students a certificate. And everyone was asked to wait there while someone else did something in the classroom. Then we were allowed back in classroom. Our son still thought there would be a group presentation time and he added some additional text to a slideshow via a trial version of PowerPoint. My son asked him when the presentation would begin. The instructor said “you can show your parents your presentation”. That was it. There was no group presentation. And earlier in the week they were told there would be prizes that they could win with tickets that they were earning for helping other students etc. The prize was getting to throw a pie in someone's face!

When we got home, I had him log into the ID Gameplan and realized the stars and circles were modules that when you clicked through them the stars or circles filled in as attempted or done. His stars and circles were 90% not attempted.

I then clicked on the module dealing with servers. There was an area that looked like it would be instructions for installing a server on a Mac. But it was only a link that led to the Minecraft Wiki page of instructions and a link to some Youtube videos that are not associated with ID Tech.

My son has completed several self-taught classes through another company called Youth Digital and understands that concept but in this instructor led class, he had depended on the instructor to help work through the modules and that did not happen. I took a screen shot of the “not filled in” stars and circles.

And if your child has food allergy issues, you should be concerned. Our son can't have gluten. When I found out that his lunch was tomatoes on the 2nd day of class, I called ID Tech and then I spoke with a lady who seemed to be coordinating things on location. She said items had posted ingredients and that our son could read the ingredients. She told me about the pizza, the salad station with pita, the sandwich station with all kinds of breads and that the hamburgers come with buns. She was smiling and quite proud of herself. I asked her if she was aware that gluten problems meant he could not have wheat, etc and she said stated “I’m in the teaching profession so I am used to dealing with all kinds of food allergies". She clearly had no idea!! We talked with our son at length on what to eat as he was going to have to fend for himself. It seemed he ate cold cuts and French fries after the day of tomatoes. It seemed that there was nothing specifically or uniquely GF. Our 11 year old was supposed to read ingredients and determine if an item had gluten in it. Adults have problems doing that! The $55 for lunches that accommodated gluten free was a waste.

Our son had just finished a two week game design class at SMU taught by SMU instructors. The differences were like night and day. The SMU taught class was professional and educational. The ID Tech class was not. Don’t let the association with a reputable university fool you. What was advertised was not delivered.
Learn how to host your own server, --Not covered at all until Friday morning then only a short amount of time allotted.
install and manage Minecraft mods—touched lightly
and accelerate your Minecraft game creation skills—lots of game play and use of an in-game app called MC Edit.
Put your construction skills to the test with individual and team-based 3D design challenges-- not done at all.
Finish up by designing and building your own roller coaster not done at all.
then publish your very own Minecraft map—not done.

Jan 11, 2015

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