I recently read an article discussing 10 Benefits to Playing Games in the Classroom, and it made me think about how much technology is available to teachers and students to create and individualize games. It doesn’t take much Google searching to find many articles and dissertations sharing the pedagogical benefits of learning through gameplay. What is more difficult, however; is finding the appropriate tool for your students and your specific learning content.
Whether you are new to creating online classroom games or have been teaching through online games for a long time, there are always new options coming online to discover. Most of these resources are simple to use; others take more technical skill to understand and create and develop your learning activity.
These five sites include options for beginners through experts. All are free and offer a variety of different learning opportunities through gameplay.
- Arcade Game Generator – this site is the easiest of all to use and is from Class Tools, a favorite resource for many teachers. Get ideas for your games from the many samples shown before creating your game. Follow the easy directions to add your questions and answers or upload a spreadsheet already on your computer. After adding items, the Arcade Game Generator creates several different games using your questions and answers. Games include Pong, PacMan, Asteroids, and more. This site also creates flashcards using your information.
- ProProfs Games and Puzzles is another straightforward game creation tool that focuses on word games. Choose the create option to make sliding puzzles, word searches, crosswords, and more. Options within each type of game allow personalization in difficulty levels, and some offer an opportunity to set the maximum time for gameplay.
- Sugarcane is a bit more sophisticated looking than the previous sites, yet is also simple to use. Explore some of the features by playing games already on the site before attempting to create your own. Step-by-step directions make it easy to add and personalize your content and design visually attractive games that even include images. Use one data set to create up to 18 different game formats.
- Baamboozle is a little different than the other game tools because it offers interactive game play between teams. Baamboozle keeps track of scores throughout the game. Follow directions to add questions, answers, and point values for items. This site is perfect to use as an introduction to any unit to assess prior comprehension of knowledge, or at the end of your unit for a whole-class or small group review activity.
- Answerables is for the more tech-savvy teachers to use in creating a game-based virtual world for students. Answerables also includes an online learning management system to create events and assignments as well as provide feedback. It also offers opportunities for independent learning activities as well as collaboration between students.
As you and your students create learning games, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Content and development of learning skills are the most important thing to consider. If students aren’t learning or developing skills, it is just a game.
- You don’t always have to be the game-maker. Let students create games for their peers or individual practice. You can learn a lot from what students include and what they think is essential.
- Think about how to use games for collaboration or to allow for student creativity. Have a toolbox full of different game-creation options to allow student choice in learning.
- Try out some of the games at various sites on your own to learn what interests and motivates you. Think about how others have added content and how you can use your content to fit your learning style and classroom situation.
No matter what resource you use, games are always a good idea to encourage learning. Check out TeachersFirst Edge Study Aid Creator resources for many more suggestions for free online game tools.
Have you tried some of these games? If you have ideas and suggestions for others, share in the comments below.