15 February 2013
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Information Technology: The Cradle of Modern Learning System


Finding hard to manage your kids to do their homework? Not something unusual; after a long day of school, extracurricular activities, games and sports, they are exhausted. Compare with yours own, and answer “Would you like to work at home after a hectic office shift and burning calories at gym?” Perhaps “No”, unless it’s too much demanding, the same goes with them.

After school they want to stay free, and live their lives in own way. However, understanding their moods you can make a difference, and result can be overwhelming. Try to make education fun and interesting that arouses their natural curiosity. And this can be achieved pretty easily by capitalizing on the Information Technology. For instance game-based education, embedded with visual models makes the learning intriguing. This requires weaving the computer or Internet game smartly with the academic syllabus. The process requires active involvement of child experts, developmental psychologists and educators, apart from software developers.

Exploiting the potential of technology, the Game-based learning process can bring a substantial change in the education paradigm. The target of a game is to stimulate a child to take challenge (think Angry Birds) and provoke him/her to overcome challenges through persistent efforts (think Guitar Hero). Apart from games often require the use of strategic thinking for success (think Chess or even Monopoly). These games, however, designed with core entertainment objective, share the principle of achieving success through accepting challenge, non-stop performance and strategic thinking and planning & execution thereof.

Let’s take an objective: learning number line in Mathematics, “Students understand a fraction as a number on the number line” and see what this looks like when built up into a successful game, currently played by over half-a-million students.

The penguin, JiJi, needs to get from the platform on the left to the basket under the balloons. Students, using tablets or mouse-based devices, need to drag the basket and balloons to where they think JiJi’s platform will roll to, and press go. The fractional pieces of the circle under JiJi’s platform roll out along the number line. In this case there are two one-third pieces, and if the basket is correctly placed, JiJi is lifted up and away, and they move on to the next puzzle. Otherwise the basket lifts up but without JiJi on board, and the students must try again. The puzzles get progressively harder, with different sized fractions, positive and negative pieces and fractions given as symbols (like ¼). The game is even played in reverse, where students have to determine how many fractional pieces are needed under JiJi’s platform to get to a basket, already set in position on the number line.

The challenge of the game is simple and easily understood with no written or verbal instructions, even by third-graders – figure out how to get JiJi to the basket. The engagement is unbelievably high, and the strategic thinking is all focused on translating between visual fraction models, symbols, and the number line. This type of game design works at the Elementary level but also is very successful for Middle and High school mathematics, as evidence by an upcoming game dealing with parabolas in Algebra. Points on a quadratic graph are represented by balloons that need to be burst by positioning a rocket, using either a manipulative tool, or a symbolic equation depending on the level.

By activating students’ critical thinking skills in these game-based learning experiences, we can help them build deep conceptual understanding of the mathematics. And because all 800 games in the program are built around mathematically accurate and appropriate schema, or visual models, which the students internalize, mathematics now has a context in which to make sense. For the first time, technology is being used to create a new type of learning experience, arming students with the thinking skills they need for success with the Common Core and the 21st century skills they will need for success later in life.

Ubiquitous Internet is a cradle of such education-based games. However, all such Web sites are not reliable or authentic, so you must follow the general Internet etiquettes, and equip your system with a compatible Internet security software or firewall.

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My name is Anurag Sharma.
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