Research shows that play is incredibly important for early childhood development. Elementary school classrooms often ring with student laughter. However, we sometimes need reminded that the “serious learning” conducted at the collegiate level doesn’t, by default, have to be seriously boring or superbly stressful. College learning can also be fun, entertaining and engaging. Students’ knowledge retention rates have been shown to increase when learning games are implemented in class (Barclay et al. 2011). Students play games such as Portal 2, — arguably a physics learning game in itself — on their own time to unwind. And yet, a learning game doesn’t have to have spectacular graphics or complex game play to be fun and effective. For example, The Blood Typing Game does both! The following resources highlight several aspects of electronic learning activities for use both in and out of class. By all means, if you get excited, create your own game.
Studyblue boasts a usership of over 1 million learners who use their free learning applications. The Tap, Snap, Speak mobile application allows you to take a photo and transcribe your voice to quickly create a visually appealing and personally meaningful flashcard with your phone. By creating flashcards on and for a mobile device, learners can study content wherever they go, making use of those precious few minutes waiting for the laundry to dry, working out at the gym, or riding on the bus to study with unique flashcards they have created themselves.
FreeRice is a trivia learning site that also has a social justice mission to help alleviate world hunger. Free Rice began as an English language vocabulary learning site, but has since branched out to include other subject matter. Users can even suggest new material for Free Rice to develop into trivia new games. For every correct answer selected, Free Rice claims to donate ten grains of rice through the World Food Programme. Sporting 60 levels of difficulty, this site is a useful way to expand one’s vocabulary or review other subject matter. Interestingly, many students use FreeRice to take a break (i.e procrastinate) from their other coursework.
StudyStream is a language learning site that aids in learning new languages through computer moderated reading, listening and writing exercises. Opportunities for auditory learning include music videos of popular songs which play while the song’s lyrics scroll along in both the primary and secondary languages. Learners can slow, pause or click on words to define them as they listen and read simultaneously. A similar feature allows learners to complete a spoken phrase by choosing the correct vocabulary word. Informed by good linguistic principles, Studystream groups words into families, color-codes parts of speech (such as nouns and verbs) and provides definitions with example sentences when you scroll over unclear words. Thus far, Studystream features English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese.
WISC-Online is a repository of digital learning resoures that includes “learning objects” which are similar to interactive presentations such as this lesson on lewis dots. These lessons can be assigned pre- or post-lecture or used to augment in-class lecture time. WISC-Online also sports a game building feature which allows you to generate original games by entering your content into various game formats inluding Jeopardy, baseball, tic-tac-toe and others. Students can play the games on their own time to study or they can be used as an in-class or lab activity. The site also features an area completely devoted to electromechanical learning!
Barclay, Sean M., Meghan N. Jeffres, and Ragini Bhakta. Educational Card Games to Teach Pharmacotherapeutics in an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education March 2011; 75 (2) Article 33.
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