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Playing to learn

Keeping our kids engaged and eager to learn can be stressful and at times frustrating. I've listened to many parents complain about how difficult it is to try and pull their children away from gaming consoles and PCs, in an effort to try and get them involved in outdoor activities. The fact is, children these days are playing differently and learning differently.

Their imaginations are often stimulated by virtual toys instead of physical ones; they are creating avatars in their likeness instead of playing dress up, their toy phones now look like cell phones instead of the analog models we used to have in our homes, and there's no need for a Scrabble board because they can play online.

Chalkboards in schools are rapidly being replaced by interactive white boards and before we know it, notebooks will be replaced by digital tablets.

Educators and parents alike have come to the realisation that today's children require different drivers to keep them engaged, and this is where the concept of gamification becomes relevant. Just as social media was established to quench our need for social interaction, gamification follows similar principals.

The concept of gamification is not just applied to learning, but used by sales/marketing teams to build relationships with their customers. It's an attempt to engage and encourage participation through interactive features. With all that we know about the habits of children today, the concept of interactive learning seems a reasonable approach.

Gamification for learning is by no means a straightforward, out of the box solution, but requires a great deal of thought and planning when being applied in a classroom setting. Quest to Learn (www.q2l.org) school in New York is an outstanding example of how gamification can be successfully implemented in a classroom setting.

Online resources dedicated to learning through play are plentiful, so be sure to determine what area(s) your child requires assistance in before starting the search. There are sites dedicated to specific subjects such as www.IXL.com, designed to build math skills and offers content for preschool through P9. This site requires an investment of $9.95 a month or $79.00 per year but is well worth every penny.

Sites such as www.brainpop.com, www.funbrain.com and www.e-learningforkids.org offer a variety of subjects ranging from math to life skills. Each site has something unique to offer, so set aside some time to explore them.

Whether we choose to use the term gamification or e-learning, the end result should be the same: kids that are eager to learn! If you're interested in learning more on the topic, drop by the BTC booth (#52) at the Coldwell Banker Home Show on February 17 and 18.

Next week we'll start to take a look at home networking solutions.

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Published February 08, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 08, 2012 at 8:49 am)

Playing to learn

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