Following my previous article, I decided to explore the gamification available for teachers. After exploring different websites, I stumbled upon one which is both interesting and confusing. In this article, I will give you my opinion about using 3D.City in class.
3D.City is a free website which allows you to create your own city. There are currently three levels of difficulty: Low, Medium and Hard. When you open the page, you have the option to begin a new map or load one you used before. In the game itself, you can build roads and train rails to create a new city. You must build residential, commercial and industrial buildings for your city to grow up. Coal factories and nuclear factories are required to provide electricity to your city. Once you acquire positive comments from your community, you can build airports, stadiums and ports.
Instead of typing all the details about the website, here is a simple tutorial I made!
- It is free. Using free softwares and websites is important for teachers and students, because paying for real games (SimCity, The Sims or Cities: Skyline) is forbidden.
- The game looks nice. The animations are great and the cities look realistic. Look at SimCity or Cities: Skyline and compare!
- The player is free to build like he/she wants. The possibilities are not limitless, but there is a wide variety of things to create.
- The actual game is hard (reducing pollution, collecting taxes and increasing your population), but the city creation is easy. You simply need to build roads and houses!
- It teaches new words and concepts to students of every age. Dr. Allen Mendler says: »When are we going to ever use this stuff? is a protesting lament heard by most teachers several times a year. It comes from students with little patience to put up with ideas or concepts too abstract or irrelevant for them to fathom. » When playing with a game where you create cities, students will like to learn about taxes management and engineering.
- It is nearly impossible to manage your city without proper training. Tutorials are rare and there is no explanation when you play the game. Students might be dissapointed to see that their city is falling apart. The best way to counter this is to warn them about the difficulties of the game.
- It requires the teacher to know how to work with the website. If the teacher wants to allow each student to create their own city, there is going to be a lot of questions asked by students. The confusion is going to be hard to manage.
- While some students will like to create cities, others will think it is boring. It is hard to please everyone and there will be criticism coming from students.
- It is not appropriate for young students who want to work alone. If they are not familiar with English and computers, they won’t be able to create a functioning city.
- Creating the city is enjoyable, but the interface is confusing. Since you can’t save more than one game, students will eventually lose their city if they don’t save it correctly.
- The lack of explanation or tutorial is a pain. There will be problems when students create their cities!
OVERALL OPINION AND ESL APPLICATIONS
For a free website that offers a simple game to use with students or individually, I think 3D. City is a great application to use in the classroom. However, I don’t recommend building a city for each student. Like I explained above, the website is difficult to understand and students won’t feel comfortable working with it. What I do recommend is creating a city for the whole class. Doing so allows the teacher (who previously tried the game) to lead the creation and avoid disasters. Eliciting students’ participation with the development of the city is a great to way to develop interaction amongst them. Mike Acedo mentions: »Given that the class design is a collaborative effort, it will give students a sense of ownership toward the outcome of the class, and in turn, motivate them to participate and succeed within the class narrative. » In that manner, building a city becomes a fantastic activity to do with your class. Every students will feel involved in the process of creating an effective society while communicating in the second language.
The game also provides useful words for students to learn. The terms used in the game are not words students are used to see. Building the city slowly while explaining the functionality of the different buildings is a good example of the input the teacher can give to students. Teachers need to show the city on the projector or the Smartboard for students to see. Jack Richards and Theodore Rogers (2001: 44) regard pictures as one of the most important visual elements in the lesson. Students will love to put an image on the words they are learning. It is an effective way for them to remember.