As a senior in college, and this being my last year of education I have played, created, and taken part in many ‘games’ during my school years. Games have been used in education for decades, in many functions such as sports, ice breakers, situational or simulation style and finally the most prominent, educational. I vividly remember attending a class in second grade that was entirely focused around computers, how the basic functions work and how to better master them as students. The class was instructed to go on a website called ‘fun brain’ to play games specific to the subject we were focusing on. This was a technologically savvy, interesting and useful website that engaged students to not only study their specific subject, but also understand the complexity of computers at a mild rate. The website is simple to navigate, and with its fun, colorful display and inviting graphics it attracts the attention children of all ages.
Through my personal experience, I can greatly understand how the idea of using gamification in schools has increased in popularity over the years, especially in the education of children. For example, in my computers class as a child, we had mandatory typing lessons so that we could learn to type fluently without the need to look at the letters on the keyboard. We were instructed to first type out a passage that was given to us word for word while our keys were covered. This often made the class unruly and distracted because of the trivial and dry nature of the exercise. However, once you had correctly typed your passage, you were allowed to go onto FunBrain.com and play any game that involved typing as a reward. FunBrain is an interactive, educational website where children ages preschool-8th grade can play games for a variety of subjects such as math, reading and spelling. It was created in 1997 and has been updating its browser with new educational games and interactive adventures to appeal to students around the country.
Funbrain currently has over 65,000 subscribed teachers as well as 35 million visits per month. With different web portals to utilize, teachers and parents alike take part in their child’s learning experience with specific care to what your child is exposed to while online. The web browser itself has no form of player to player communication and according to common sense media, it can give parents comfort in knowing they can leave their child on this site and not worry about explicit content. There is also a section of FunBrain called ‘Mom and Kids Playground’ which “helps parents introduce their preschoolers to the Internet and teaches them how to manipulate the mouse and keyboard”. This function of their main page helps teach young students the benefits of online education at a young age. Funbrain.com helps keep children’s attention while reinforcing in school education in a fun and interactive way.
I choose to play a game called The Plural Girls which was a typing and spelling game. In this game the player is supposed to change words into their corresponding plurals (ex. Grass = Grasses). The loading page gives players background to the goal of the game “Twin sisters Pearl and Flora lost their friends in the bubble machine. Help them get their friends out by choosing the correct plural form of the given word” This game have four methods in which to play, two easy and four medium. The player has the ability to choose the correct plural in Multiple Choice, or write in the correct word in “Fill in the Blank”. The first function helps students to recognize the correct spelling while the second function is spelling based, where even I found myself misspelling words without much thought. The reinforcement of vocabulary and quick plural changing helps to go as a fun exercise in addition to in class English class.
As I played this game I found myself focused around the goal of freeing all of the sisters friends as I attempted to get a perfect score. Every misspelled plural immediately made me angry and more determined to get eight out of eight and pass the entire level correctly. I did play continuously until I completed the goal and I found myself having to do some vocabulary recall back to grade school on the correct spelling of basic. It was surprisingly entertaining and helpful for vocabulary spelling in a light, short one leveled game that could be played by most ages. I believe that using this website in addition to inc class instruction can bring fun back to learning and create a colorful alternative to daily worksheets. On the other hand, many reviews on Common Sense Media say that while games on FunBrain.com are appealing in nature, they do not necessarily help the student learn a full concept. The website itself will correct a player if he or she makes an error, but it does not explain why they are wrong, or how the correct answer was found. Therefore the student must self correct or seek additional help in order to correctly learn the lesson.
In conclusion, I did enjoy playing on FunBrain.com and learning more about the pros and cons of online educational gaming. The use of gamification in education has been prominent for many decades, and I am positive it will only grow in the coming years. With advances in technology, programing and children’s schooling the possibilities are endless. For current students this website is designed as a fun alternative to everyday class work and can be done at home without the need for supervision by a parent. It can act as fun support for in class education and can be used as in class work as well. As a student who used and enjoyed Funbrain, I would recommend this website to younger students as well as parents for a fun alternative to boring exercises.