How I Use It
As I was moving through units of study (space, ecosystems, ocean, matter and energy, motion and forces, etc), I would assign content in Legends of Learning that complimented our subject matter. I found the ones who did the LOL were much better informed in our class discussions and assignments earlier in the unit than those who chose not to do the games. I found that the studies are correct in that gaming is an avenue into engagement, however, LOL takes it further than other educational gaming platforms with the content and the questioning through gameplay.
One thing that could be frustrating for my students and families at times would be when a game did not work, did not have clear enough instructions, or did not show as complete when they completed it (some games started over instead of completing for some reason). However, as I noticed those games, I was able to contact support to let them know. I suggest having a team play through the games to test them more regularly then having a few coders to fix whatever small glitches that may be occurring at the time.
I am thrilled with this teaching tool. While it could be complicated for some of the students at times, I found the overall enjoyment and engagement allowed them to learn the content more thoroughly than just my in-class activities. LOL is superior to many other programs in that the content is continually embedded in the games whereas other games have too many distractors (changing avatar features, upgrading your room, etc etc.). I appreciate the designers of LOL for not throwing in extrinsic motivation in the form of distractors because this gave my students the opportunity to focus and feel like they learned something.
I would love to see more areas beyond NGSS in the games. I moved up to middle school content at times (I teach 5th grade) because I was running out of content in the additional areas I taught this year. I do appreciate the standards-based instruction, but we know all standards don't cover everything in our wonderful world of science. Hooking the little ones on science is so important in our 21st-Century teaching.
One other critique is complexity of some of the games just went over the heads of even my "average" learner, so I would not be able to use this with any students with significant disabilities, unless they were intuitive on gameplay, perhaps. I tried using the lower grade levels, but the content itself is too simple. A differentiated gameplay would be nice with 5th grade content- similar to HiLo books.