Guest Post #1 : Video Games and Wikis

By grahamstanley  

It is my great pleasure to introduce our first special guest on Digital Play – Shelly Terrell is an English teacher, educator, blogger and all-round inspiration when it comes to educational technology.  In this post, she puts the case for using a wiki to support digital play with learners.

Did you know that the average time spent playing video games per week is 18 hours? Imagine if your students spent 18 hours a week practicing their English voluntarily. Perhaps, you won’t be able to persuade your students to practice English for this amount of time, but you can get them to practice their English outside the classroom in a fun way! Many of the free games online are fantastic for language learning. My class time is highly focused on having students speak English, therefore, we rarely spend a lot of class time playing online games. Instead, the games are put on my class wiki for students and parents to enjoy at home. These games are optional, but I find that most of the children will play them at home with their parents guidance.

So what do you put in a wiki?

A wiki is like a class website, but easier to design. Wikis are free for educators and are advertisement free if you sign-up at Wikispaces for Educators or PBWorks for Educators. Both of these sites provide you with a variety of tools to embed (insert on your wiki page) to help students collaborate and build a language learning community full of resources. Below are some ideas to consider:

  • Have a translation button to help students and parents understand the website

  • Use video tutorials like the one below to help students and parents navigate the wiki

  • List the vocabulary and grammar the students are supposed to learn with each game

  • Conduct a parent workshop to teach parents how to help their children play the games and reinforce the language at home

  • Supplement the games with related songs, stories, finger plays, activities and/or videos

    • In the English Story Time wiki, I list an English story the student can read that relates to the theme in the game

  • Have students use other web 2.0 tools to provide support and excitement for the game

    • Have students design their game characters using the Voki website or upload drawings of their characters in Blabberize

  • Have students write reviews of each game and how they believe the gaming experience can be improved. Encourage the students to share this with the game designer, because they will be motivated if the game designer responds.

Adding the “social” to game-based learning…

Have you watched anyone recently play a game on their Wii or PS3? You will notice that these games have virtual worlds and that players can speak through headsets to other players that are located in another part of the world. Several of our students already play these games and they enjoy them, because they get to compete with others, complete tasks with others, and interact with others. Language is learned through social interaction so it is important to add this dimension to the games we choose for our language learners to play. Wikis are great tools for adding the social networking aspect to your game-based curriculum.

Consider these ideas:

  • Embed a Wallwisher so students can easily add in gaming tips

  • Embed a Google Doc where students add tips and tricks to pass certain games stages

  • Embed a forum where students can discuss game strategies. Wikispaces comes with a discussion page.

  • Have students create graphs and charts on your computer’s software and post them on the wiki. These graphs can chart their progress on their games like how much time they took to complete a level.

    • These graphs add a competitive edge as students compete to raise their rankings.

Useful links:

What other ways do you envision wikis enhancing game-based learning?

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a freelance technology teacher trainer, the VP of Educator Outreach for, and an English language teacher based in Germany. Explore her Teacher Reboot Camp Blog for tips on professional development and integrating technology effectively into the classroom. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter, @shellterrell.

“If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns” - Rita Dunn

One Comment

  1. Posted May 31, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for a great post Shelley, some very useful ideas here. What I especially like is that you make it clear that games can be extended into further language work (in this case, via wikis). One of the most common complaints heard about computer games being played in classrooms is that students are ‘not really learning’. Your post clearly makes the case for the games themselves to be surrounded by continued useful language production. Thank you!

4 Trackbacks

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