For some, it might be a bit difficult to see Words With Friends (WWF) as an educational application. At the same time, it’s extremely easy to see. It’s an interactive exercise at using the English language. Like many other smartphone apps and social networks, WWF is primarily used in social contexts currently. However, given the ease with which the app allows users to connect with other users to play, WWF could very easily be integrated to a class at nearly any level; from lower school to a college doctorate-level class. The beauty of WWF – like the board game, Scrabble, upon which it’s based – is that they game can adapt to the literacy of the user. Players can “pass” on turns or exchange their letters. This means both young students and those working on their doctorate in English alike can benefit from WWF’s use, and use words at their level of understanding. Also, unlike many educational apps, WWF is extremely addicting. Users can play dozens of games at a time with different friends – or strangers if they choose – and make their next play at their convenience. This means middle school students might plan their next word at lunch, and college students might do so on the bus. It would probably be okay with their teachers if they colluded with friends on the best word, but their opponent might not appreciate it. A teacher could have a “beat the teacher” contest with students, and award a prize for a student who beat them in a game. Since the app is so addicting, a school could likely help create a more literate culture in multiple classes and grades; students might even continue playing their friends over the summer.
Although a game like this might get overlooked as a legitimate educational tool, it’s many features – building on the classic Scrabble board game – make it an excellent tool for schools to use to improve proficiency in English.
PS – This assignment was adapted from Jane Hart’s 10 Tools Challenge: http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/blog/2013/01/08/take-the-10-tools-challenge/