Published in Print: June 13, 2012, as Online Games Tapped by West Virginia to Improve Education Bits & Bytes
Online Games Tapped by West Virginia to Improve Education
Students love to play computer games, and the West Virginia Department of Education is tapping into that love through a website called Learn21. The site offers all kinds of games that help students in every grade level brush up on their studies. Fifth grade students in Dottie Pownall's classroom at Orchard View Elementary in Martinsburg have played Probability Pond, a math game offered on the Learn21 website that features a big green frog. The frog can eat fireflies in colors of blue, yellow, purple, and red. The students have to determine what the probability is that the frog will eat a particular color. The students take turns guessing the answer and entering it on a large smart board in front of the room. Special education teacher Sharon Collins led some lessons this year, incorporating as much technology as possible. "Almost every day, we find something online through Learn21 or other resources and incorporate it into our classroom," Collins says. "With having an inclusion classroom, we have students who have vision problems. We have students who have speech problems, learning problems. We have an autistic student in our class, and then we also have regular ed. students, and it really appeals to their different types of learning styles." The state education department started Learn21 two years ago. The website offers online games that go along with the curriculum. Teachers can use the games in class, and students can access the website from home if they want to practice some more. Donna Landin, the department's e-learning coordinator, says Learn21 is meant to help students in a variety of ways. "They could find content on the website, go into that content, complete a game or an interactivity that went right along with what they were learning in their classroom, so it was either supplemental, or it helped them get at areas where they were having some problems, or it could accelerate their learning," Landin says. Learn21 also offers the opportunity to review material. "They can go back and pick up concepts that they had gone over formerly, maybe in previous grades or earlier in the year," Landin says. Vol. 05, Issue 03, Page 11
Can first-person shooter skills really be taught?
A development studio in Scotland thinks they can – and it has the browser-based instructional game to prove it
FPS Trainer ... you too can shoot people with ease
Some gamers are just naturally good at killing people. They have the fast responses, the pinpoint hand-eye coordination, the Rain man-like ability to memorize maps and power-up locations. Meanwhile, the rest of us bumble around in the darkness hoping to achieve a kills-to-deaths ratio that doesn't utterly shame our entire ancestral line. Now Play2Improve, a fresh-faced development studio based in Scotland's games industry capital Dundee, thinks it can help players in the latter camp. Launched recently as a free-to-play browser game, FPS Trainer is essentially a coaching aid for would-be virtual assassins. With simplified visuals that separate maps into different strategic zones, the idea is to help players develop the tactical base necessary to start dishing out effective slaughter. "FPS Trainer provides you with the necessary knowledge for playing online," says designer Paul "acts!" McGarrity, himself a professional gamer who has triumphed in several major LAN and online events over the past decade. "It cuts out months of laborious practice time in FPS games by teaching the core skills and methods which experienced and professional players use when competing at the highest levels. "We do this by introducing the strategies for managing resources, controlling your opponents, positioning yourself, using the terrain or...