It’s always a pleasure to find truly good educational games, and we have discovered a treasure trove. GlassLab Games, a relatively new learning game development house associated with the Institute of Play, brings together team members from the worlds of commercial games, educational technology, and academic research in learning and assessment. The result: games that are both engaging and educational.
GlassLab’s most recent offering, Ratio Rancher, is designed to teach the fundamentals of ratios to 6th- to 12th-graders. Pre-release field testing of the game showed that in a matter of days, players learned concepts that normally take months for students to grasp.
Understanding ratios is important, because they are integral to 42 percent of middle school and high school math. Yet most students score poorly on ratio and proportion questions in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam. When more than 400 students played Ratio Rancher for three 40-minute sessions, the students showed significant learning gains.
The premise of the game is that the player is a rancher taking care of creatures with precise food needs. As more creatures are cared for, the food need increases proportionately. And as creatures get older, their food needs become more complex, gradually increasing the difficulty of the game.
The game itself is attractive and funny. The animals, which look both cute and disturbing, poop after being fed, and will vomit if fed too much. Although the game includes an animal care manual, at times the player must experiment with feeding, adding a sense of discovery and exploration.
Ratio Rancher includes real-time reports that track student learning and progress, a feature it has in common with all GlassLab games.
If there is a drawback to Ratio Rancher, it is that you may have trouble getting it to work on browsers other than Google Chrome. In addition, it doesn’t play well with older systems such as Windows XP.
Do you know of good learning games you would like to tell others about? Write to our editor at SpecialEdTechEditor@gmail.com.