Special Guest Post from Maria Paz Zuniga:
Learning Shift is an educational video game company, with a particular focus on second language learning. The mixture of academia, education and expertise in the videogame industry makes an ideal combination to make this type of product, since educators work together with designers and programmers. Our games are simple, online and are designed to be played both inside and outside the classroom, for educational institutions or individuals.
Our informal learning approach based on game mechanics is meant to support not only the learning of second languages, but also improving education as a whole. This is driven by the fact that one of the basic values of Learning Shift is to do research in order to validate the educational mechanics of our games.
With our teaching and gaming design experience we’re creating effective tools that would not only support students with their language learning, but also empower teachers by reaching students in a more motivational environment.
¡Caramba! is our first game and is designed to help students with their Spanish vocabulary practice. This highly addictive game has three different modes. The first is called “espiritu libre” where you can practice your Spanish making words you already know or some others you discover while playing. The second mode is designed to narrow the number of possible words so some students can practice Spanish related to a subject (airport, medicine, engineering to name a few). For instance a teacher can reduce the semantic fields to the ones related to a certain unit checked in class. Also, in this mode, players can join a particular group –managed by a teacher– and see their progress. Our final mode is the multiplayer one where players can challenge other people from all over the world in a real-time match.
Part of our goal is to give back to the community. With Caramba! we’re are using the games our players will play to create a crowdsourced Spanish dictionary, that will be open sourced, and more importantly, they will contain regionalisms from different countries.
Word games can help students improve their vocabulary since they will encounter more words and more often, a key to vocabulary learning. They will be motivated to learn more words to score higher, and they will also acquire both good spelling and a higher degree of morphological awareness, i.e. a better understanding of the functions of word beginnings and endings (e.g. in-, des-, re-, -mente, -oso/a, etc.) because the longer the word the more points they will get. With the expert game, it will be easier for students to practice words that belong to one particular topic and explore even more words from the same field.
Finally, in Caramba! Players are able to see the meaning of the words and tweet them or share them in the social media, increasing their chance of remembering them.
Adventure in the Andes is an adventure game where players will be immersed in a fascinating quest of learning a language! Coming soon!
For more information visit: http://learningshift.cl
Samantha Kotey is the editor for AvatarGeneration and has a background in educational technology and virtual worlds. A mom of two, she is passionate about all things related to toys and technology.