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Legends of Learning
Pros: Slick games library with great features. Reporting informs instruction. Modifiable questions and content playlists.
Cons: Games and content aren't well integrated. Support for wrong answers isn't up to par.
Bottom Line: This is a polished, addictive way for students to review content, but the games don't get students to apply their learning.
Teachers can best use Legends of Learning as a supplemental curriculum, perhaps to reinforce new content or to review before quizzes or tests. The playlist tool is a useful option allowing teachers to string together games, videos, and assessments for their classes. Teachers can customize these assessments and also mix in a little free time in playlists. Take note that many of the games come with discussion questions. The discussion questions can give students a more meaningful experience than just using the games alone. While students work through content, teachers track which answers students got right or wrong and can modify instruction or play as needed. Teachers can also run reports to see how classes and individual students are performing or their usage, though to get the full set of data, teachers will need a premium account.
In addition to playlists, students can chip away at the Awakening game. Teachers can set focus for students to make sure this time is used effectively. Awakening might be a good standby to fill gaps in class time and offer rewards or remediation that's a little more self-directed.
Legends of Learning is a learning platform that features a library of games that cover science and math content. It has games and standards coverage for kindergarten through eighth grade, but we recommend it for third through eighth. It's probably best used for upper elementary. Teachers can select games and sequence them alongside videos (pulled from other sides) and assessments. These playlists can then get assigned to students and tracked by teachers. Students can complete these assignments or play a game called Awakening game. This experience mimics popular Pokémon games. Students receive "beasties" that allow them to do certain actions (attacks, shields, etc.) after answering a question correctly. As students venture through the world (with locations like an arcade and a schoolyard), they battle monsters or engage in simple mini-games that earn them coins to buy new things for their avatars or upgrade their beasties. Teachers can assign a focus for students as they play Awakening, which will give them questions from a certain standard, like rounding decimals to the nearest tenth.
The type and quality of the games students play vary, but they're a lot like mini-games one would see in other game libraries for kids. Some games come with colorful graphics and wacky characters, while some have music or robot voice-overs. Most games review content through a series of multiple-choice questions that pop up before you can make your next move; others are memory games, simulations, or interactive diagrams. Some feature fill-in-the-blank questions. Each game is labeled as Instructional or Quiz, but teachers will want to try each game first to be sure it's delivering what they expect.
A special premium section on Legends of Learning is called Math Basecamp. This can help children practice their basic math facts and see how their mastery is coming along. The Math Basecamp does offer valuable feedback to students and teachers in terms of seeing what facts they can answer quickly and where they still need work. However, as with many of the other games on Legends of Learning, the content of Math Basecamp isn't all that different from a worksheet. Students answer a series of basic questions as fast as they can. As they do so, an on-screen avatar will be doing something like building a camp or hopping from one log to the next as each math fact is correctly answered.
Teachers are bound to find something related to what they're teaching on Legends of Learning. All topics include several games each, allowing educators to choose the ones they like best. Many content questions seem to be repeated across games for the same topic, so students might not experience new questions just by playing another game. However, in general there's an impressive variety of games and content, and it's easy to put together playlists for students and track their performance. There's a ton of visual polish as well, and a highly motivating currency system that'll keep students playing. The Awakening game in particular will keep students coming back for more practice.
The big issue is that the games are more gamification than game-based learning and, at their worst, games are completely unrelated to content. Students play a game for a bit, pause to answer questions or have something explained to them, and then continue playing the game. This undoubtedly will help them with recall, but it isn't challenging students to apply content in novel ways. Some games also introduce content, and they do so via short text explanations read by the computer. This robotic voice-over can get a little irritating, and students might struggle to learn content this way. Making matters worse, when students answer incorrectly, they receive no feedback other than the correct answer or a prompt to try again. Other competitors do a much better job of helping students see what they did wrong.
Will elementary and middle schoolers like these kinds of games? Probably. Legends of Learning is a far more polished and immersive experience than a lot of other libraries of educational games. Just make sure to set your expectations. This isn't necessarily a destination for deep and meaningful learning, but it could be a great, reliable go-to to provide backup for your curriculum and track students' recall of key science and math knowledge.