Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Curiosoft Learning Games examined

I noticed that participants in a K-12 technology summit being held soon at Portland State University would be introduced to learning software from Curiosoft. I hadn't ever seen their software so I checked out their website and downloaded some of their demos. I selected the version for ages 8+. My initial reaction was that these games with their rather primitive animation would not satisfy any eight-year-olds I know who are already playing very graphically sophisticated video games by that age. Although they do include some educational information, I think they are just too basic for ages beyond about 5 - 6. I was also confused why the Jr. Vet demo required the child to engage in an "asteroids"-type arcade game when they selected the antibiotic to clean an animal's wound. It's as if the game developers decided they had better introduce a familiar shooter-style activity to keep the child interested. I realize it has been said that shooters improve eye-hand coordination but the activity seemed totally out of place in the scenario presented.

Then I downloaded one of their "genius" thinking game demos, Think Like Einstein. The trainer level allows you to work with celestial bodies and experiment with moving them around to observe the effect they have on a light beam that you are trying to deflect into a capture box . More objects are introduced as the game progresses although, in the trainer level, the objects are not placed into particularly challenging arrangements. I also didn't take the time to figure out what changed if you put a bowtie on an asteroid. This introduction of an object totally out of context seemed rather strange. I think it would have been more realistic to have piles of different minerals that you could add to an asteroid that the child could then observe changed its behavior. Maybe that would not be fanciful enough. I did like the game's objective to emphasize the observation of cause and effect. I am still doubtful about the use of the game above the age of about 6 however.
Post a Comment