I’ve recently come across two websites that seem potentially useful in the classroom but that are definitely intriguing in their own (non-classroom) existence. I’ve been enjoying them outside the classroom for very different reasons, and while at this time I can’t say how they could be used in a college literature or writing classroom, I do think the potential is there at least.
This attempts to be a video game. That’s right, I’m writing about video game technology. Kind of. Somewhat. This website, as the name suggests, is a Role Playing Game that is intended and created to encourage the acquisition of good habits and the loss of bad habits. Habits are absolutely individualized; this could be used by players who want to eat healthier or exercise more or those who’d like to quit smoking. For the student, it might be used to combat procrastination or encourage better writing practices (writing everyday, planning out the steps for a project, etc.). The site is very loosely a game; each player has an avatar that they can customize and purchase (with play money) armor and weapons to equip their avatar, there are quests and challenges that players volunteer to complete (although I’m not quite familiar with this aspect), but the main point of the site is that you create your own list of habits, daily activities, and to-do lists and your avatar gains experience points, health, and play-money as you record your good habits/actions or loses health and possibly dies as you record your bad habits. Obviously, the site depends on self-recording and honesty, so as a classroom tool, this will only work for students who are actually interested in stopping habits of procrastination or creating more effective writing habits. But it is an interesting and fun way to keep track of one’s actions. Moreover, one component of the game is the forming of communities to support each other (via chatrooms, for instance), so students can join student or writer communities already created on the site or could potentially create a community specifically for each individual class section.
Currently, I’m using the site to track my dissertation writing progress, as well as encourage healthier eating habits and less soda consumption. I’ve only been at it for a couple days, but I’m so far enjoying the easy tracking ability. I’ll have to wait and see how long I stick with it.
CBS This Morning had a piece on this website during their broadcast Wednesday morning, May 7, 2014. This site is intended to encourage the teaching and learning of computer science (coding) in K-12 classrooms. It contains several video tutorials, class activities, and online games to teach young students about coding and as far as I can tell, all the content is free. Again, I’m not sure how this might best be incorporated into a college writing or literature classroom, but I can see potential and am enjoying learning about coding myself. I could see potential use in a technical writing environment that focuses on composing clear, repeatable instructions since that is in effect what coding is (giving the computer clear and repeatable instructions). There could also be potential in regards to an exercise emphasizing the need to read, comprehend, and follow directions as students (and future employees), and the activities also encourage the development of basic problem-sovling skills.
As with the previous site, I’ve only used this for a short time (about a day) but wanted to take note of a potentially useful online tool.