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Carl Heine is developing a series of online learning games to teach elementary ages the essentials of search. We're looking for feedback and suggestions as we begin the development cycle.

Here's link to a launch page for two question to query games.

These are not yet polished. If you want to start over, just refresh the page.

Please post your feedback here?

Thanks in advance!

Dennis O'Connor
Information Fluency Partners

Views: 150

Replies to This Discussion

Good little is available for the younger ages on about a quick automatic game session that has the computer making all the choices, selecting words & moving into box, moving some words out, and finally scoring well? That would visually explain the mechanics. It took a few minutes for me to discover the exact mechanics of the site...then it was cool! Also, love the speed racer & buffalo, but how about something for the gentler users? butterfly?
just ideas...what you 've got is great. Iwant to try it out with some 4th graders...
Something on butterflies is a good idea--will try to incorporate that in the next one. Maybe I should include a little animation about dragging and dropping the words in the box--might clear up some of the confusion as to what to do to play (an introduction that may be skipped).

I'm curious if you see a session where the computer makes the choices (essentially a movie) as directions vs a game that requires player interaction. I think I could see the computer making choices and then having the student predict (e.g., click the appropriate button) whether it's going to be a good search or not.
I have been using the Information Fluency site with my junior high students for several years now. I have to say that I am still confused at times. I like B. Walter idea above about an online game or simulation to demonstrate good keywords. It would be great and very helpful if you could develop a skills game like this especially if they could win points :)

I have used the Modules for junior high students and only wish that other search engines would be used Google is the only way to go - even thought I have introduced other search engines, metasearch engines, and directories. They want everything easy and fast regardless of the returns.
A simulation that demonstrates a couple of Keyword Searches and the reasoning behind the 'right' choices certainly can be done. It's not a game, but more like a guided tour of turning a question into a query. Might be good to introduce the Keyword Challenges or resort to if one isn't have much luck with one of the games.

Google doesn't have to be the only choice, although it has advantages over other commercial search engines. In order to open a different search engine in a browser window, there would either have to be multiple buttons (choose a search engine) or leave the one button and link it to Yahoo (for example) instead of Google.
Here's a sample demo based on your comments. Let me know how it meets the need you are describing. There is no opportunity to score points--other than watch the Wizard get a perfect score. But perhaps this combines directions for using the Keyword Challenge games and shows how a good searcher thinking about searching.
First I played did the 3 examples (because I picked up the post in my feed reader, and it was at the top!) then I clicked through to read the rest of the thread, and found the example. I really like that! The addition of audio explanation would be superb, so that each user could work at an individual pace. The "silent" version would be fine for a whole class exercise with beamer (projector), with the teacher reading out the text. I'll use it with my classes, and let you know what the kids think.
Carl, I love the tutorial. I think Kathy's suggestion of an audio track makes sense as well. I'm not sure we could sink the audio with the video. As each sentence types it's way across the page the eye naturally tracks the wording. I can imagine an optional audio track that plays all the text, similar to what we do on the MicroModules.

When the time comes, I can do the narrations. Would stereo high quality MP3's make sense as the standard file type?

Audio would work fine, although it will make the file larger, possibly creating a longer download time. There may be ways to call the audio from files outside the demo. If you want to record it, make the recording as you watch the demo play--that's about the only way to sync them at this point. I'd explore the smallest compressions you can use and still have clear sound.

I was looking for easier ways to make the text unfold (I did it the hard way), but haven't figured out how to retain different formats using a coded typewriter effect. Plus, the typewriter coding is a little choppy. I may experiment with that effect on the last frame, where all the text suggestions just appear at once.

I was also thinking about a version where the Wizard's Apprentice creates the query. The Apprentice, not being as clever as the Wizard, could make poor choices and learn from them. That style of demo would be longer, but may be more instructive--and we could turn it into more of a game format: If you think the Apprentice chose all the powerful words, click here. Etc.
Thanks for posting this. I will definitely use this in my elementary school. I am always searching for quick and easy ways to get ideas across to 5th graders.

Karen Wiggins, Enfield Elementary School, Ithaca, NY
Karen, let us know how it goes? We're very interested in field reports!

Yesterday I presented a workshop at the Illinois School Library Media Association entitled, Information Fluency: It's Elementary! I invited everyone in attendance to join this ning and participate by trying out the new activities and reporting back, or chiming in with their 2 cent's worth about bringing search, evaluation and ethical use into the elementary grades.

For all the workshop materials and the new activities, most of which are in a lesson plan format, visit

You'll find instructional activities at three levels: readiness (most of these don't even use a computer, but prepare learners for the concepts they need to become searchers and investigators), practice using games and online tutorials and finally, going online and searching. There are five areas which I feel are essential for elementary students to understand before middle school: ways to search, using keywords, finding better keywords, evaluating the results and citing the information. You'll find lots more in the workshop materials.

I hope to use this ning as a development site for using and improving these resources. We may also spin this off into an online course for CPDUs or grad credit--if that happens, you'll get to author and be the first to test a new generation of materials. That could be exciting and highly useful.


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