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Pros: Kids will appreciate the break these games offer from the tedium of practice.
Cons: The games are pretty basic, offering just a light wrapper on traditional question-and-answer style structure.
Bottom Line: It won't transform anyone's teaching, but it offers a fun change of pace for review/practice and a nice starting point for teachers looking to experiment with game-based learning as creators and consumers.
Many teachers use Zondle as a reward for students who finish early. It also has a lot of potential as a homework review tool -- students are more likely to actively log on and play games with friends than they are to complete a worksheet or do flashcards in the evening. Zondle does try to offer a lot of support to teachers, and there are some whole-class games and activities, as well as some purchasable extras to help students focus on particular topics.
Editor's Note: Zondle closed on May 1, 2016.
Zondle is a place teachers can go to find, create, and share games focused on classroom content. Teachers set up their classes and assign topics (basically content to be covered) and questions to each student. These topics/questions can be created from scratch or borrowed from what has already been created. When students log in, they can choose from their topics and then pick from a selection of games to play that "teach" these topics. These games are very simplistic templates, and the questions teachers add tend to layer in the learning. For example, players might see a multiple-choice question at the top of the screen and have to gobble up the worm displaying the correct answer. Other games devolve into the chocolate-covered broccoli approach where learning isn't even integrated into the game itself; instead, students answer a question then play a game as a reward.
While the games on Zondle aren't very good representations of what games for learning can do, they'll offer something different than worksheets. It's helpful that teachers can tweak content, adding their own questions to personalize the experience to each student. And there's a huge variety of subjects available, so teachers likely won't have any trouble finding the information they want to review. Still, it's hard to claim Zondle is doing much more than offering a new way to deliver flashcard-style practice. Although this type of question-and-answer review has its place, it's not likely to hold students' attention for long, and doesn't do what games are great at: building higher-order thinking skills.