Game-based educational softwares -math

30 01 2012

It seems that everywhere I turn I hear someone pontify on “how to gamify”, or to claim to be an expert in gamifying education. Last week, a colleague told me that she had a consultant help them gamify their company’s training sessions. As I asked her to explain what the consultant said or did, it turned out to be a lot of hot air. So, the buzz word now seems to be “gamify”….and it seems that we are back to the old arguments about slapping a fun audio on a couple of flashy and flashing objects on an online quiz test making it a game. How disappointing.

Today, I came across a couple of games whose developers qualify as game-based. I’ll let you be the judges:

http://www.arithmequick.com/ (free trial) “gives students a great place to practice basic math with instant grade-level assessment. The main game is to color a grid with appropriate colors” (quoting the developer).
🙂 it’s a great quiz. Nice to review specific math topics in a different format than paper exercise. Good for self review (instant assessment). Possibly a good app that teachers can download on the class’ iPads. But this is not offered as an app.
😦 this is not a game; This is a quiz. Also, notice that the “game” goes up to grade 8+. I don’t know about you but my 4th grader at home is way past coloring rewards. The byline “Math Makes the World Go Round” promises an interesting story line….which does not exist.

http://www.learnalot.com/ ” is a SMART-accredited, game-based learning portal that uses high-quality resources to facilitate skills-based teaching in maths. Its aim is to make teaching and learning genuinely fun and engaging for students aged 11-16″ (quoting the developer).

😦 Now call me picky, but I am not thrilled by the opening picture. Too reminiscent of what others have done.

🙂 Once the game started, I was getting into the story very quickly. First there is an interesting story. Second, it’s an epic story. Third, despite the Voki-like appearance of the mission dispatcher, the game uses audio, video, and text to deliver the message. Each mission have the option to try again if you can’t or aren’t satisfy with your results. The graphics are clear, the music not distracting but adding a hint of urgency to the mission. I think that it approaches what I’ve seen at the beginning of what Tabula Digita was offering.

…more to come

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26 03 2012
Charles L. Belna

I am a retired university professor and the author of http://www.arithmequick.com.

At one university where I taught, 60% of incoming freshman were placed into High School Remedial Math.

My greatest shock as a professor was to see so many students struggling and to find that most of them had been struggling since elementary school.

My greatest frustration was that there wasn’t enough time for me to help even a few of them catch up.

I wished there were a simple inexpensive electronic program that would challenge those students until they were up to speed, but it just didn’t exist.

Dedicated to developing that program, I began studying computing and teaching it in three elementary schools.

In those schools, I worked with students and teachers for three years to develop a CD version of ArithmeQuick .

By the color coding assessment, parents and teachers could see at a glance whether or not students had mastered the basics at their grade level.

At one of the three schools, the 8th grade class ‘brain’ played ArithmeQuick and the color coding showed at a glance that he had only mastered some of the basics well below the 8th grade level. His parents bought the first home copy and several months later the colorized grid showed that he had mastered all the basics at or above his grade level. His parents were thrilled that the problem was identified and solved by the same program.

ArithmeQuick has now evolved into an online challenge that gives students a 24/7 arena to hone their basic math skills with instant grade-level assessment.

For just $10 a year a parent can use ArithmeQuick to make sure their child is up to speed at his or her grade level and stays there. And, they get an email connection to me, Dr. Chuck.

In no way did I try to sell this as ‘game-based educational software’. But, the students really do get caught up in the ‘game’ of coloring the squares and the job gets done!

You might be surprised – your 4th grader might need to solidify some basics (which is the reward, not the coloring). For example, if he or she has mastered the Basic Facts at his or her grade level, he or she should be able to color all 81 squares green or orange in less than a half hour – a small price to pay in time to be sure all is well . . .

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