Learning Beyond Walls- Games and Wikis!

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Part of the Cool Sites series
Many of you have started school already and are integrating new technology in your curriculum. Wikis are one of my favorite tools for encouraging learning beyond the classroom walls. I’m sharing with you this post I originally wrote for one of my favorite blogs, ELT Digital Play, back in May. I hope you find the tips useful when creating your class wiki!
Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom Walls
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 or studying your subject 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.
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:
“If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns” – Rita Dunn
Challenge:
Try integrating wikis or games into course content to motivate students to learn beyond the school walls.
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