Word Dynamo is a new suite of adaptive, customizable, word-based games, quizes and flashcards from Dictionary.com. Fully personalized, all materials can be adapted to grade level (primary grades through higher ed & beyond), subject area and practice goals.
For example, a logged-in user can play games & take quizes that involved words found on SAT, ACT & GRE exams as well as those specific to certain subject areas like history, philosophy or math (grade level specific). All games/quizes are broken-down into the following categories, "Match, Listen or Write." An example of a matching game would be selecting the correct definition of a word from a list. All quizes are timed and upon completion a user is given a "brain score" and has the opportunity to level-up based on the completion of each activity and subsequent score. Users can also create a custom word list to use in a quiz or game and turn-into flashcards to practice at any time.
The games are simple, easy to use and from a preliminary try of the GRE matching game, fun to play thanks to effective game dynamics like the ability to level-up. I liked that I can share my score with friends on FaceBook and repeat the game to improve my score and level-up. As I mention above, I also like that the game can be played from a custom word list. Finally, the 3 different game types, assures that multiple learning styles and abilities can find a format that is appropriate to their unique needs. The games are adaptive as they become harder or easier depending on your scores and initially you are placed in a level based on a word test. The custom word lists are a simple, effective way to prepare for a test, presentation or simply improve your Scrabble score.
I find the built-in dictionary on my MAC desktop to be both a necessity and a fun way to build my vocabulary. I use the built-in dictionary on my Kindle in a similar way and appreciate its seamless integration with my reading material for easy in the moment checks of words like "tautology." Ironically & frustratingly with the matching game I played there was no review of wrong answers. I found this frustrating and eliminated the value of the ability to look-up a word after getting it wrong (beforehand would obviously negate the whole point of the game).
As we develop learning apps and tools "gamification" is a recurrent consideration and an important point of difference. This suite of games is a great example of the "just enough" to be fun approach without unnecessary or gratuitous game dynamics and as a result a great model for game and UX development. Whether you are a student in school or a life-long student of the world, efficient effective ways to learn information outside of the traditional classroom setting is an EdLab focus area.
While overall, a suite of effective vocabulary based study aides, the lack of instant review of mistakes slows-down the speed of acquisition and provides a great reminder of the importance of instantaneous user feedback. A great example of the positive effect of providing immediate supplementary materials to help a learner grasp a question they answered wrong can be found in my exploration of Stanford's online Artificial Intelligence course.