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Educational Technology - The Map Game, a Learning Tool
Originally Posted March 14, 2011

This is wonderful.  When this map game landed in my inbox from Ruth's mom, I had only the vaguest of ideas where all these countries of North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe are located.  I had a rough idea they were clustered around the Mediterranean, and that the Suez Canal is in Egypt.  But for the rest of them I didn't have a clue.  Twenty minutes later I could place every country without making a mistake.  My guess is, you can do the same.

Picture:  A map game that can teach you where all the countries of North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe are located in about twenty minutes.

Just click on the map to go the the website, or click on this link.  Then start dragging and dropping the names onto the map.
     I'm afraid most people will think of this as a test of their knowledge.  It isn't.  It's a very efficient way to learn.  So don't do it just once and then quit. 
 If you are anything like me, your first few attempts will be mainly trial and error.  And that's okay.  There's no pain in making a mistake with this game.  In fact, making a mistake and then finding out the correct position is how you learn so quickly.  And that's what you will do if you try this.  You will learn quickly where all of these countries are.  What a fantastic learning tool.
I don't know how you are going to feel when you can place all these countries, but I was totally thrilled.  Imagine, making this kind of learning fun.  Imagine, making learning into a game. 太棒了。

Think about what this kind of technology can mean to teachers - freedom from presenting material that needs to be memorized, allowing a teacher to concentrate on inspiring the students and monitoring progress. 

Picture:  Panda and Kobe work the game.  Twenty minutes later they could place every country without a mistake.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
Panda and Kobe do the map.  Twenty minutes and they had all countries memorized.

There's a lot of this kind of thing in the pipeline, and I'm going to see if it could be adapted for language learning, to help a student develop a vocabulary. 

Feedback on the Map Game, a Plea for Mastery
Originally posted March 19, 2011

 I've been getting feedback on the map game in my last post.  Some have told me they tried it, and couldn't get many countries right.  When I asked, they admitted that they only tried it once.  ONCE IS NOT THE POINT.  This isn't a test.  It's a learning tool.  Everybody who does the game for twenty minutes gets 100% of the countries right. 
     Last night I ran my young student friend, Hilary, through the game and made sure she kept re-starting it.  After a few runs through it, she was hooked.  Then she wanted to get all countries correctly placed.  That took her about twenty minutes, and I could see the satisfaction she got from the exercise.  So if you are tempted to do the game just once, just to prove to yourself how ignorant you are, please don't.  Twenty minutes later you can know where every country is located, and that will feel good.  Refresh the page and restart the map.

This game makes us demand mastery of ourselves.  That's different from what our school system asks of us.  School tests let us pass with a large percentage incorrect.  Why?  Think about the written test for a drivers license.  In China, a score of 90 out of 100 will let you have a license.  What?  What if one of the questions you got wrong was: Do you need to stop at a red traffic light?  You could say no to that and still drive away, a menace on the roads.  Do you want to see a doctor who got 95% on his final exam?  Technology like this learning game can give us mastery, and mastery is important.

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