August 2008 Volume 9, Issue 1

Serious Games: Get serious about having fun while learning!

Games are on the horizon and in our back yards. Educators have used games from the time teachers and students began to gather. Of course we can learn from games! Until recently, we had dig for educational application of old games that were "just for fun." We learned to adapt TV games, dominoes, concentration, and Chinese checkers to fit our educational purposes.

The new kid on this block is Serious Games. SG are games designed to educate, and they are delightfully popping up all over the Web. I had the fun of taking a SG workshop from CCCOnline, whose faculty are always ahead of "the game" when it comes to using technology for learning. Below are a few selections from that session and other sources, some of which we enjoyed together at this month's Director's Meeting at El Pomar.  - very popular and addictive game. The game opens right up on the site and all you do is select the right definition for the word. If you miss a definition, it will return off and on as you play until you get it right. For each correct answer, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. The vocabulary automatically adjusts to your level among 60 levels. You can also hear the pronunciation of the word. You may also choose among different subjects (multiplication, capitals, chemistry, foreign languages, and more).  - A game designed to illustrate the impact of our lifestyles on the Earth. It's part of American Public Media's™ special series, "Consumed," which explores whether the modern American lifestyle is sustainable in the long run.  - Diner Dash combines fast-paced puzzle action with a build-your-restaurant-empire theme. You'll start with a run-of-the-mill greasy spoon and end up in a dream restaurant that will take your breath away!  - Karma Tycoon rocks the gaming world by offering you a thrilling ride through the world of social entrepreneurship as you earn Karma in virtual communities across the US. The game helps you help your community by doing as much as you can to help others. You keep building karma until you become a Karma Tycoon! Denver is one of the cities listed.  - How do online social networks work? Create your own social network and find out. There are hundreds of thousands of active networks on Ning, and your students can add theirs to the bunch.  - A major crisis has developed in the Indian Ocean, on the island of Sheylan. We’re sending in a new team to step up the World Food Programme’s presence there and help feed millions of hungry people. Please help WFP's emergency operations to help the people of Myanmar. Raise awareness and funds through your program!  - Darfur is Dying is a viral video game for change that provides a window into the experience of the 2.5 million refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan. Players must keep their refugee camp functioning in the face of possible attack by Janjaweed militias. Players can also learn more about the genocide in Darfur that has taken the lives of 400,000 people, and find ways to get involved to help stop this human rights and humanitarian crisis.  - (This one costs $25 for a single user. I didn't try it, but it sounds very useful.) Plants are the foundation for life on earth. The air we breath, the food we eat, and the gas in our cars - all come from plants! Your mission is to save our dying plant! Inside the lab you will be able to alter the environment (air, light & soil), and venture within the three main organelles to figure out the best conditions needed for our plant to survive and thrive.  (Free Download) - an educational video game that introduces basic concepts of human immunology to high school and entry-level college students. Designed as a supplemental learning tool, Immune Attack aims to excite students about the subject, while also illuminating general principles and detailed concepts of immunology.  - Making money in a corporation like McDonald's is not simple at all! Behind every sandwich there is a complex process you must learn to manage: from the creation of pastures to the slaughter, from the restaurant management to the branding. You'll discover all the dirty secrets that made us one of the biggest company of the world.  - Your goal is to achieve as many sales as possible and to promote your products effectively. Each level will get harder as you progress and there are mini games to complete along the way as well. Your final sales figures will be your end score and you will be able to upload this to the high score chart.

Go to - Scroll down the page, looking along the righthand column. Toward the bottom, you'll see a long list of games Serious Game Play. Enjoy experimenting. Some cost; others are free; some need downloading; others are played online. Send your students on a serious-games hunt and send us your recommendations! The site has all sorts of games to investigate. Some are educational and some are not.


Colorado Tech Ladder and Certification

Adult Educators!  Your state program wants to reward you for continually upgrading your skills on behalf of Colorado adult learners. 

As online and other technology resources stumble over each other to appeal to learners through increasingly innovative and fascinating ways, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Some would say that the sheer number of quality materials available becomes intimidating to teachers and to their learners.

We want to make it easy and enjoyable for you to access and use some of the fascinating resources that will support your instruction the most. To that end, we are offering the following:

A Tech Ladder Skills List, which will help you identify computer skills at different levels. You may want to share the list with your students! You may want to offer classes at your program to teach students the skills you or other staff are learning. You may want to give students a similar certificate for each level that they complete.


Tutorials and other “helpers” to allow you to practice skills at your own pace.


Access to coaches who can walk you through challenges in acquiring skills.


Certification at four different levels.


State-awarded PD hours.


A small gift for completing a level.


Recognition for your achievement through CLICK and Tech Beat.


Great personal satisfaction and student gratitude.

The Tech Ladder Skills list was adapted from the Massachusetts Technology Self-Assessment Tool.  (

You are invited to..

  1. Review the items on the self-assessment checklist under the four categories: Qualifier, Bronze, Silver and Gold and identify your own skill level.

  2. Check those items that you are competent to do.

  3. Set up a session with Leecy or another assigned “checker” to go over the checked items with you. That can be accomplished f-2-f or over shared interfaces, such as Elluminate.

  4. Circle the number ID next to the items that are next on your “wanna-do” list.

  5. Access the tutorials that cover the items you want to learn. Leecy is available to walk you through any challenges you face in that process. She will also be delivering 45-minute sessions on-demand, covering different skills, as announced on CLICK. Links to tutorials (see the link below) will begin to appear as of September and continue to grow as the weeks go by.

  6. Attend one of three hands-on, instructional-technology workshops that will be scheduled during the year, offered at three different levels if enough participants sign up.

  7. Once all items are checked and reviewed under a category, you will receive a Colorado Department of Education/AEFL certificate, listing all of the competencies on the back of the document.

  8. You will be sent a small token (i.e., an instructional CD, a thumb drive) of appreciation for your curiosity, creativity, and commitment for completing the steps toward integrating technology in your contact with Colorado adult learners.

NOTE: Since certification is optional, to benefit from the resources and assistance, you need not complete the steps in order or even stay within a level of certification. For example, you may want to work with images in one level and with formatting a document in another level.

To access the resources related to this opportunity, go to your content website!

Think Again

Complete the grid below using all of the letters below so that each row and column containing two or more squares is a word when read from left to right or from top to bottom.


Click on the puzzle to see the answer.