Zoombla, a math game for your iPhone or iPod

AppIcon120Zoombla created by Absolutely Learning is a math game that requires the usage of arithmetic facts to find a target number. First, a player creates a math equation that produces either the target number or a number that is useful in creating an equation to reach the target number. Then the player takes that answer to create another math equation while always attempting to reach the target number. Once the user reaches or matches the target number the user receives credit for the fewest moves used and most operands used.

The product was created as a math game for ages 8 and up.  Students in grades 3 – 6 can hone their math skills while older students in grades 7 – 12 can review their math facts in preparation for Algebra classes. This game also has uses for adults who want to practice their math facts, help their children, or increase life long memory skills.

Zoombla Solve 2 Screen shot Nov 17, 2013, 10.23.45 PMAbsolutely Learning recommends several best practices and uses for this product.  It can be implemented as a stand alone product for students who need reinforcement of basic arithmetic and tutoring, but it can also be implemented as a game where students who have the product downloaded upon their device compete head to head trying to score the fewest moves or the most types operands used.  The game is random which provides for unique outcomes and interesting explanations.  When used as a game it is recommended that students and participants reflect upon outcomes and discuss and answers to promote reflection and explanation of ideas.

The game records the most recent games played so that teachers, parents, and players can review recent work and progress, but that data is not recorded for the long term.  Once a the app is restarted it will reset the scores saved after the first round.

Absolutely Learning designs, develops, and distributes creative educational technology solutions for schools and unique training needs. By using the Xcode environment, Object-C coding structures, teaching experiences, and instructional design, Absolutely Learning is providing unique solutions for the modern learner who uses the iPhone and iPad. For more information about us please visit http://www.absolutelylearning.com or contact absolutelylearning@gmail.com.

Zoombla – Matt Moore

Time for Reflection

Computer Educational games and simulations are a great way to present daily facts and skills that you want your students to master while practicing in a fun, repetitive, rewarding, and instantaneous environment.  In these environments, students tend not to fear failure and will try again in an attempt to win the game by getting better at the subject matter or specific skill.  And there are many computer based or web based games that one can play alone or with others around the world.

Two common examples are Words with Friends and Funbrain where students compete with each other to improve vocabulary, spelling, logic, math, history facts, and other skills.  You, yourself, have probably played a computer based educational game that requires a knowledge of some skill or set of facts to do well.  I am writing the obvious, though, to try and build to the next questions.  Do students learn more than the skill when playing the game?  Do they discuss unique ways of understanding the skills?  Are they just doing?  Do they spend time reflecting upon accomplishments?

At Absolutely Learning we are currently creating computer based games that will increase understanding of skills as stated above, but we also want to give students and people direct time for reflection.  Students can work upon stand alone projects for a certain amount of time, but students should also engage in the face to face time of reflection.  Students need to become great communicators, and they like to discuss how they accomplished a goal with the educational technology.  Yes, these games are designed for people to share results upon completion as well as provide competitive solutions.  Great communicators are needed, and perhaps this is one way that you can have students practice their speaking skills.  Perhaps a student could share an answer for the class too.  These games give your students time to reflect upon the game played, the round won, and the solution solved.

If you are interested in what I am writing then please continue following this blog or send me an email.   There are games in development for the iPhone and iPad that will give your students and friends an opportunity to reflect upon how they accomplished a goal as well as learning valuable skills.  These are both stand alone products and group games that were designed for these purposes.

Band of Brothers

Sometimes, you do not need to be too original to find a great story.  In appreciate of Veteran’s Day, CBS ran a story about a musical group called the Band of Brothers, and while I am sure the great HBO series Band of Brothers comes to mind first this group is indeed real and worth your listening.  These real veterans who are coping with post war stress are finding that learning music helps them find renewed strength in every day life.  Most vets in this group are new to music and are overcoming physical obstacles from the war in order to create great music with big names such as Roger Waters from Pink Floyd.  It is truly a blessing to hear, and I recommend that you observe how music and the teaching and learning of it is transforming these wonderful people.  Music does heal.

My message for the week has once again been interrupted by the calendar and the greatness of Americans to find a reason to help others.  I am pausing to honor the day, and I am appreciative of what my relatives, friends, and your friends have done for our country.  It is definitely worth our respect and reflection, and I hope you take the time to pause and reflect too.

Next week, I will be back to an educational technology message, and guess what?  I am almost done with my first educational app for the iPhone.  I might even have a chance to release it this week.  I will keep you posted about what I have learned from iTunes U, great Objective-C books, google searches, and Apple’s developer resources.

Student Centered Instructional Design

Are your students learning from each other?  Do you create projects that require students to produce learning, share it, compare it, and make it better?  Could you use technology to complete that task?  Are your projects game oriented, project based, scenario driven, or exploratory?  Are your lessons student centered and do they encourage students to attempt, possibly fail, evaluate, redesign, and redo?  Why not?

Teachers need to put the student in the center of the learning tasks and they need to remove the focus from the front of the classroom in order to reach the modern student and produce great learning.  The instructional design of a project utilizing share, compare, edit, and redesign phases will allow the teacher to have more time to help his students, evaluate their work, put the student in real learning scenarios, and employ current learning strategies and standards that challenge students to develop life long skills.  The students in these types of classes also develop real world skills, and students learn how to learn.  Many of our most successful entrepreneurs promote this type of learning, and they frequently state that this is what they seek in future employees.

Life long learning is our most important goal, but without experiences that get evaluated and reworked students are not developing life long learning skills.  Lab environments with clearly stated goals and objectives, technology tools, and time for editing do produce the best examples of what our students can do.  We need to give them more time to explore and worry less about discrete items in lists, dates, charts, and tables.  They need to learn to use the information that is easily accessible to them, and they need to produce it in creative, interesting, unique, and meaningful ways.  Good instructional design is still as important as ever.