Learning with Facebook Games
You may often hear in popular media about using games for educational purposes. The old school of thought may seriously questions the very idea of using games for learning and maybe rightly so. Games back then were seldom conceived for making people learn. They were simply for entertainment. The gaming industry has come a long way and today there are all sorts of games that not only entertain but also educate.
Speaking of games, something that got me hooked into playing for hours (before I started my Ph.D.) was on Facebook. This Social networking site (SNS) was not originally intended for seeking pleasure through online games but for networking with people. Nevertheless, today’s Facebook is not only an addiction for checking updates, posting interesting stuff and sharing with others, keeping up with friends and family but also a great learning tool for many. At least I learn about many important news items through status updates and links posted on Facebook.
In this post I wanted to shed some light on some interesting Facebook games. I am not sure how many Facebook users play some sort of games that have a learning angle. I am not concerned about owning Farms or Mafia Wars at all. It would be interesting to know how many teenagers or adults alike who are active Facebook users play online games that actually improve vocabulary and improve mathematics skills.
Geography has been one of my favorite subjects. My love for geography found a natural vent when I ended up playing a game called Geo challenge (by Playfish) for hours. I was not an avid fan of such games which sometimes seemed very “childish” but I did end up learning about world capitals, cities and country flags. The spirit of competition also kicked in when some friends started beating my score further pulling me into winning and beating the highest score.
When I look back (I guess every activity has its time), I feel that I gained something valuable; simply because I feel more informed about the world at large. Although it was a simple online game, it would have helped me even more in my 6th grade geography where I remember doing something similar but surely in a very boring manner. Here comes in a pertinent question, if kids can be introduced to such games, would it help their general knowledge about the world? My answer would be in the affirmative. I feel that the positive potential of online games especially in the realm of learning and more precisely through edutainment still needs to fully exploited.
Another similar game that I know of has to do with improving vocabulary and to some extent spellings. Known as Word Challenge (also by Playfish), you can play for hours trying to figure out alphabet combinations to create a word. This mental exercise can also be quite useful for practicing words especially when someone is at a rudimentary level and intermediate level of English language learning.
There are likely to be other useful online games on a SNS such as Facebook or out on the wider web-space that can be explored. Therefore, learning is transforming greatly today and technology in education holds the key to an exciting new world for learners. It is keeping up with these developments that often proves challenging!
(Also posted on www.ideaplay.org)