Time, “Hey, Word Geeks! Now There’s a Website for You”

April 23, 2013

Jeffrey Kluger, “Hey, Word Geeks! Now There’s a Website for You” (Time Techland blog, Apr. 23, 2013)

“The [Vocabulary.com] system acts like a personal trainer,” says Ben Zimmer, language columnist for the Boston Globe and the site’s executive producer. “We work with the student to reinforce memory and mastery of the word.” That, of course, skews any real competition among the students; refs hardly stop the game to perform calisthenics with players who need it. But a completely even playing field is not the point — learning is. Still, to keep the energy of the game going, the system posts regularly updated leader boards and also allows participating schools to compete with one another.

Teachers can keep an eye on all of this, with back door access to the work all of the students are doing so they can see how they’re progressing. They can tailor their lessons for a particular group of students and then enroll them in an online class, choosing which kids belong in which group and teaching them in ways appropriate to them. “It’s an efficient use of teachers’ time since they don’t have to work on things kids know already,” says Zimmer. “They can drill down and see how every student is doing.”

Read the rest here.

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