Last year, I downloaded the HISTORY of BIOLOGY from SPONGELABS. It was great!! I loved the game itself. The graphics were wonderful and the tasks were stimulating. Students worked away at the puzzles learning seemingly unconnected topics in biology by solving puzzles. It is sort of a scavenger hunt, meets National Treasure and AP Biology. However, as you get further into the game, you start to see how all the pieces fit together. This is analogous to learning science. You do not always know why something will be useful and then at some point in time later, it is the crucial piece of the puzzle. It is a nice analogy to science.
Particularly interesting was the combination of the HISTORY of BIOLOGY with a SMARTBoard. Half of the class worked on the game as individuals on laptops while the other half of the class worked in small teams of 3 and 4 at SMARTBoards. It was fascinating to watch the teams work together to solve the game. Although the students at 1:1 laptops were in close proximity and gathered around tables, their interactions were very limited. Just because students are arranged in a collaborative shape, each with their own tech, working on the same problem does not mean that they will actually COLLABRATE. However, the students gathered around the boards were talking, discussing, in some cases arguing, and working as a team. The SMARTboards improved the communication and the social constructivism. The SMARTBoards turned an activity that uses technology into a 21st Century Learning activity by encouraging all those 21C skills such as communication, critical thinking, media literacy and the like.
Some educators have been looking at SMARTBoards as TPR’s- Traditional Pedagogy Replicators. Combining the HISTORY of BIOLOGY game from Spongelabs, with SMARTBoards is a wonderful example of how the boards can transform STUDENT learning. The key is having students using the boards with wonderful resources like the HISTORY of BIOLOGY.