Yesterday I posted about Games With A Purpose, a group of online games designed to be played with a partner. The activities on that site, I believe, are good examples of online games that could be quite helpful in English-language development. Most, if not all, bring a “value-added” element from being online — it would be difficult to duplicate the games in the classroom. The preparation needed to do so would just not be worth it.
I use the phrase “could be quite helpful” because the game as it’s designed really is not (of course, that’s not the reason it was created, either). It doesn’t promote the development of face-to-face relationships, which I believe is how educational technology can best be used — see my article Computers, Relationships, and English Language Learners. I also share my other reservations in yesterday’s post.
Now, today, I learn about an online game called You Dig. It’s basically a version of Pictionary. This online game has a design that’s perfect for English Language Learners — individuals can create their own “virtual rooms” and determine who they want to play with and their number. It’s also leveled by degree of difficulty.
However, there’s no “value-added” to a game of Pictionary being online. That can easily and more effectively be played in a classroom with a whole lot of more excitement. So I don’t see any reason to use it as a language development activity.
I hope that somebody will be able to “marry” the two — have a great educational game that bring a strong “value-added” by being on the Internet, and have a design that maximizes strengthening face-to-face relationships.