The focus of this entry, Legends of Learning, is something I've been excited about since I first heard of it several months ago. I have talked about it in interviews, and shared it in professional development sessions. In short, Legends of Learning (hereby shortened to LoL) takes two of my passions in learning -- personalization and games -- and combines them in a unique and compelling way.
While the content is currently limited to middle school science, LoL has stated they will expand their offerings to other contents as well as to elementary and high school levels.
How does it work? As a teacher,you first need to register with an email and a password, along with your school information. (Students simply need their teacher's code to join his/her "class," give their first and last name, and create a username. Conversely, teachers can also create student accounts and rosters/groups when at the "playlist" dashboard.)
Once in as a teacher, you can explore and play any of the games offered. First, you can browse by three science topics: earth, life, and physical. You'll then see learning objectives listed (by standards). Finally, you can look at individual games. Once you find ones you like, you can begin creating "playlists" by dragging and dropping them onto the playlist bar in the order you like. (Bonus: an indicator gives you a feel for how long it might take to complete all of the playlist games.) When you are ready, you can launch the playlist. With some built-in assessment questions (unfortunately, you cannot customize or add to them), you can get a feel on how well students are comprehending the material as well as how far and fast they are proceeding in the games, all in a real time teacher dashboard in a very easy to follow user interface.
It should be noted that teachers begin with so many free "coins." Each time one student plays one game, it costs one coin. While there are ways to get more coins without spending money (see "Downsides?" below), at some point you will likely have to consider a one year license purchase (available for quote request but not listed on the LoL site).
There are several useful, even innovative, features built into Legends of Learning:
Managing Students, Freeplay, and Pause/Stop
The dots representing the students march across the playlist as they complete their games and assessments. You can click on any of them to see which student they are, and how accurately they are answering multiple choice questions in real time.
If any student dot turns red, that means they have opened up a new tab and are no longer interacting with a game. This is by far one of my most favorite aspects of Legends of Learning! What an easy way to manage students to stay on task!
If a student completes all of their assigned games and there is still time remaining, a student can do "freeplay" -- that is, play any of the games available in the assigned science objective. An instant answer to the student who asks, "What do I do when I'm done?"
Last but not least, you can pause a playlist at any time to do a "catch and release," or stop it entirely.
Quick Comprehension Overviews
Post-play Data Reporting
Once the playlist is over, you can click on the orange "Question Data" button in the bottom right to see how students performed. You can view this inside the LoL dashboard, but you can also export this data as a CSV file.
One final positive about LoL is the depth of its onsite resources and research information around game based education. If one is looking for why and how gaming improves learning, or looking for other educational games to use, LoL's site is a solid place to start.
How could you use it? Since you are not limited in how many playlists you create, you could make them for differentiating to a group of students or even down to personalizing for one student. It could be a different way of "flipped learning" by delivering content or building schema as games for homework, then use classtime to apply student knowledge. And what better way to slip in direct instruction of content during project based learning science units at the student's choice of time, place and pace?
Downsides? You always hope for free tools, so the inevitable cost of students playing the games is a bit of a bummer. However, you can share a referral code to colleagues which, if it results in a sign up, will get more coins for you! You can also earn coins by giving critical feedback on the games themselves. However, your opportunity to try it at no charge should give you enough evaluation time to see if it makes a difference for instruction and learning before paying anything. As already mentioned at the beginning, the current limitation of only middle school science content hinders larger amounts of classrooms being able to use the material, but I believe patience will pay off in expanded offerings in the future.
Have you tried Legends of Learning? If not, what are some other educational game websites you feel make an impact on student learning? Respond in the Comments below.