CandyFactory: Cloud-Based Educational Game for Teaching Fractions


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Virginia Tech


Nowadays cross platform software development is more expensive than ever before in terms of time and effort. Meantime with increasing number of personal devices, it is harder for local applications to synchronize and connect to the Internet.

In terms of educational games, they can be divided into "local educational game" and "web educational game." "Local game" indicates the ones either on tablets, mobile devices or PC, which is an application on the corresponding platform. This kind of game mostly does not have backend support nor cross platform features such as the iPad version of CandyFactory. For one specific game, if the developer wants it to run on iPad and Android tablets, they need to develop two applications based on corresponding development framework, which is time and effort consuming. "Web game" indicates the ones on websites, which support cross platforms, but do not have backend support. Usually they are pure JavaScript or flash games with no backend recording the performances and the achievements.

Software development for each individual platform is time and effort consuming. In order to achieve cross platform development, many programming languages and platforms like Java, Python, and JVM appear. Among all the cross platform approaches, cloud-based software development is the most universal solution to this problem. With web browsers built into every operating system, cloud software can be compatible with almost any device. Moreover, "Software-as-a-Service" (SaaS) is becoming a new software engineering paradigm and cloud-based software development is more popular because of its flexible scalability and cross platform features.

In this thesis, we create a cloud-based educational game, CandyFactory, based on an iPad version of CandyFactory, and add backend to it to record user performance as well as achievements. Firstly, we re-develop the whole game from the iOS platform to the cloud-based Java EE platform. Secondly, we add new features to improve the game play such as ruler functionality and achievements animation. Thirdly, we add backend support to CandyFactory, including user account creation, course creation and performance report generation. With this functionality, teachers can monitor their students' performances and generate course reports. Moreover, teachers can view a specific student's report in order to provide more specific and effective help to their students. Lastly, with the advantages of cloud-based software development, we can update the whole application at any time without forcing the user to reinstall the update or re-download the game. With the hot update, the cloud-based CandyFactory is highly maintainable.

The cloud-based CandyFactory runs on any computer that supports minimum 1024x768 screen resolution. The computer could be iPads, Android or Microsoft tablets, Windows or Mac laptops and desktops, and any other computer with a web browser. The advantages of cloud-based educational games over local educational games and web educational games are: firstly, they have cross platform features; secondly, they have backend data collection support; thirdly, they are consistent even if users log in with different computers, their game record and history will always be the same; lastly, the teacher can always keep track of his/her students' performance and provide more specific help and feedback.



Cloud software engineering, educational game, fractions, game-based learning, mathematics education