Digital technologies are becoming an increasingly important aspect of today’s classrooms. There are various benefits they offer for teaching, and student engagement is often identified as top of the list.
Students find using digital technologies more fun. This is particularly evident with gamification and the use of games-based education programs, a key trend in eLearning. They motivate using instant feedback and rewards, offer a safe and controlled environment to encourage healthy competition and collaboration, and can be easily differentiated to suit individual students’ needs.
Recent studies, like the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies and the Australian Industry Group’s report, Tackling Foundation Skills in the Workforce, suggest adult literacy rates are well below what they should be, and focusing on child literacy is critical, for both individuals and the future of the Australian economy.
According to LiteracyPlanet CEO, Adam McArthur, these studies don’t simply highlight the importance of basic literacy standards – equally important is that literacy needs are changing:
“Foundational literacy skills are critical for future success, and as important as they always have been. Today, it is also about teaching students those 21st century skills, in readiness for life and work in a rapidly evolving digital environment,” McArthur told The Educator.
LiteracyPlanet, a comprehensive online literacy education resource founded and based in Australia, brings together content developed by educators and aligned to the National Curriculum, with cutting-edge digital game design.
It’s online, interactive, easy to use and accessible anywhere on desktop or tablet. It’s an example of the type of resource increasing numbers of schools and teachers are using to better engage tech-savvy students, and to implement blended and flipped teaching models.
The company recently published a special report for schools, eLearning in Australian Classrooms, that highlights the benefits of using digital resources for school teaching and how they can contribute to improved learning outcomes.
“Our team is passionate about child literacy, and providing a leading digital resource that is genuinely fun for students. Our view is that when kids are having fun and they’re naturally engaged, they learn better,” McArthur said.
With all of this in mind, LiteracyPlanet has today launched a free national competition for schools, to excite students from Years 1 to 9 into practising and developing their foundational literacy skills.
Called Word Mania 2016, it is based on one of LiteracyPlanet’s most popular exercises, a timed and interactive word building game. It’s an exercise that involves various literacy skills including use of basic language units like phonemes and morphemes, spelling, word recognition, vocabulary and word knowledge.
It will be the second consecutive year LiteracyPlanet has run Word Mania. In Term 3 last year, 105,000 students from 1,300 schools around Australia participated, quickly making it the biggest and most popular literacy competition in the country.
“We received a huge amount of positive feedback from both educators and students on how much they enjoyed Word Mania last year, and how it was genuinely improving students’ literacy skills,” McArthur said.
“This was also evident in the data over the course of the competition, with scores from the same students and schools steadily improving the more students played.”
This year LiteracyPlanet expects at least 150,000 students from 2,000 schools to participate.
Schools that already use LiteracyPlanet have automatic access to Word Mania 2016 and can contact 1300 565 696 to arrange competition logins for any students who do not use the program. Principals and teachers from schools that do not use LiteracyPlanet can register their school for Word Mania 2016 at www.wordmania.com.au.
Once students have a login they can play Word Mania for their school on their desktop and through the free LiteracyPlanet Word Mania app, available for both iOS and Android.
Word Mania 2016 is available for practise now, and the competition starts on August 1, 2016. There is more than $100,000 in prizes for schools, for both participation and skill, and regional and national winners.
How schools can participate in Word Mania 2016
New schools can register at www.wordmania.com.au
Word Mania 2016 Dates
Practice - now until July 31.
Competition Round 1 - Monday, August 1 to Friday, August 5.
Competition Round 2 - Monday, August 8 to Friday, August 12.
Final Round - Monday, August 22 to Wednesday, August 24.
A comprehensive Word Mania 2016 e-toolkit is available to download from the School Resources page on the Word Mania website. It includes all the competition details including tips and prizes, as well as creative activities and 590 minutes worth of literacy activity sheets for Years 1 to 9.