How I Use It
This app was utilized on three devices in a small group. Students were competing against each other to raise the most money. The app is intuitive and took little instruction on the part of the instructor. Students played for approximately 30 minutes in casual mode and then reviewed their progress with each other, reporting on the final dollar amount earned. (Another mode includes the option to play to a certain goal, i.e. to a dollar amount or to build a certain style of home.) In reflecting with students, this app seems to align better with time management practice rather than budgeting skills.
Students felt that in fact the app and its gameplay didn't align well with units involving financial planning and/or budgeting. While they were entertained, they noted no significant increase in their understanding of financial literacy concepts.
In an Internet filled with sims, the price tag for Build-A-Lot is a big turn-off. Granted for the price tag, you do get a product that can save progress, is stable and provides technical support. From an educator's perspective, a paid simulation will allow for some sort of report to be provided to the teacher, to help analyze gameplayer decisions. This is not a feature that is currently available in this game and a key element in progress monitoring and assessment. Another key element of the game is strategy, and from a teaching perspective, this is where the true learning lies. However, the inability to track and analysis these decisions is an important facet missing from a paid app.