September 2011 Archives


The brains behind the hit online game FarmVille may well have created something special,  if recent ideas are anything to go by. Not only is the game fun and engaging, but also rewarding and educational! The type of game is called a ?Time Management? game. The object of these games is to have good time management. The better your time then the better advancement will be. This alone is an excellent life tool to teach to children (and some adults I know), but it not only teaches basic time management, but all the nuances of how complicated it can be to manage a project, and how a small mistake can set you back a long way.One of the biggest attractions about the game is the mathematical problems that users are required to solve. Players must be able to recognise prices of items that they can buy for their farms (e.g. trees and crops) and add and subtract them to see provisionally what their left-over budget would be. In this sense, the game could play an instrumental role in the development of a child’s skills of using numbers in realistic scenarios. Users must also consider and plan what crops to buy, basing their decisions on the return investment that they would receive. Gamers must learn all about identifying which crops and animals would make them the most money. This task is better suited to older children, as it may prove too difficult for younger players. The fact that the game offers something for everyone demonstrates that it has a real scope for a wide range of players. Yet another educational aspect of the game, which had 72.5 million active users in January 2010, is the responsibility associated with managing a farm. Players must time-keep effectively in order to harvest their crops at the right time. If they fail to do so, they lose money and therefore are unable to buy as many items as they would like. This lesson could relate to the importance of punctuality and attendance in real life, as it carries a real message that there are indeed consequences for actions. The fact that farm owners can request their Facebook friends to be ‘neighbours’ (this only works if the friend is also an active player) adds a moral dimension to the game. Over time, players learn the importance of being a good friend by helping out on other people’s farms. Although this is more of a social lesson than a classroom-based one, it is still an essential life skill that young people must know in order to grow up to be good citizens. Some say that the game could also help those who do not how to use a computer to do so. Navigating the option menus using the mouse and click functions is a necessity – something which could act as a platform in going on to master the art of computer use! So – could the game be used educationally? It is certainly possible! It could prove particularly useful in mathematical development, as many of the activities involved are about money and time. Adding to the lengthy list of benefits is the fact that the teaching connects with real-life circumstances. For instance, players learn about variations in prices, as well as how to provisionally add and deduct to see if you will have enough left over to buy something else. There you have it: a game that is not only enjoyable and captivating, but also rewarding in terms of learning! Could it really get any better?

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