Saturday, May 15, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

We all know that kids love video games. Game-based learning, or GBL, can be an effective way to introduce new concepts and immerse students in material that has defined learning outcomes. Although much of the hoopla surrounding GBL refers to video game formats, game-based learning isn’t a new concept. Many traditional board games and card games fall under the umbrella of game-based learning, such as those offered by GameWright and others.

Digital games offer an expanded palette with which students can make decisions, strategize, make mistakes, and experience consequences in a risk-free environment. The added challenge of competing against each other or an online adversary motivates students to try new methods and to think critically about how to achieve their goal at each stage of the game. As they experiment with various strategies and information gleaned from the games’ plotlines, students actively learn to persevere and learn from their mistakes, while also absorbing content in the prescribed subject area(s). But is game-based learning really effective? According to studies, the answer is yes. My colleague Peggy will address the effectiveness of GBL in her column this week, and we will post links to studies about the value of GBL on our Twitter and Facebook pages in the coming week. My picks this week are:

Quest Atlantis
Subjects: Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies
Grades: 4-9
Quest Atlantis is a 3-D multi-user environment where students are required to participate in simulated and real world activities that are socially and academically meaningful, such as environmental studies, researching other cultures, interviewing community members, etc. Working in a secure environment, students work cooperatively with other characters in the virtual world (created by students from around the globe), which presents questers with many different global viewpoints. Quests are aligned to McREL standards. Quest Atlantis is a product of the Center for Research on Learning & Technology at Indiana University School of Education.

Lure of the Labyrinth
Subjects: Pre-algebra
Grades: 7-8
Lure of the Labyrinth is an online, interactive math game for middle school pre-algebra students. Students venture into an underground world populated by monsters in order to find their lost pet. In their quest, they progress through three sections of a shadowy factory; each section relates to a different math topic such as proportions, variables, equations, geometry, order of operations, etc. Students infiltrate this world by assuming the guise of a monster, and successfully solve mathematical puzzles before they can advance in the game. The game is aligned to both national and state math standards, and features a comprehensive educator’s guide to help teachers successfully incorporate the game into their regular curriculum. Lure of the Labyrinth is a product of Learning Games to Go, and was developed by The Education Arcade at MIT, FableVision, and Maryland Public Television.

The Ants Go Marching…..
Subjects: Math, Arithmetic
Grades: 3-6
Students battle hungry ants at a picnic in this interactive division game. Students are shown an equation, and must select the correct response from five suggested answers. They must answer quickly, however, or a hungry ant will steal their food. Students must correctly solve each problem before advancing to the next, and there are various levels of difficulty from which to choose. The game is a product of Exhuberant Games, an educational game company founded by multimedia programmer and illustrator Natasha Oliver.

~Joann's Picks - 5/14/2010~

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