Updated: Sep 14, 2019
An introduction to Bitsboard using Google Sheets and Nearpod platform
I have an eLearning Workshop coming up at the end of November and I didn't have to ponder too long on the topic to tackle - Bitsboard!
I've been using Bitsboard for the past three years and have been pretty obsessed by it, becoming a bit of a Bitsboard bore to my long-suffering friends... Bitsboard, Bitsboard, Bitsbored!
I'm finding it all rather odd though... I've been asking among other teachers and nobody seems to use it or have heard of it. Although I can deduce it's because it's downright fiddly to set up and get your head around it. There's no PC version, everything has to be done on an iPad and to get any decent content costs money - up to US$50 for various packages - as listed on their iTunes download page here.
But oh the joys of Bitsboard once it's set up! I could see the value in it from the get-go which is why I persevered with its niggly knottiness or knotty niggliness. For me it's well worth the money as it's saved weeks of time, replacing the copious worksheets of yore, as well as the environment, of course. My colleagues are sold on it too and more of them are starting to use it in their lessons which is great to see.
So why is it so special? Ah the alluring algorithms.... Once you've set up a flashcard vocabulary list, the Bitsboard magic does its work, miraculously creating mini-games with progressively harder content. There are loads of games students can play and teachers can choose suitable games for them. It has some useful features such as scorecards, reward stickers and teacher reports. Students can't get enough of it - and it shows: it's been in the top 5 educational apps in the US for the past three years.
There are plenty of games to challenge students without it being too daunting either. If a game is too easy, then students can find a harder one. If it's too hard, then there's always something easier to play. It matches ability seamlessly and provides differentiated learning in a heartbeat. Students can repeat games to improve their scores - and that is the real draw, students are itching to get that 100%. Students are motivated and it drives their self-efficacy.
Once your content is created, you can share and sync with multiple students, whether it's a small group or a whole class. It's amazingly fast to create the flashcards. It takes me about 15 minutes to create a flashcard list of 20 words, pictures and matching audio. That's much faster than when I had to use PowerPoint. Audio is automatically added, but as Bitsboard is fully customisable, this can be adjusted too. For instance, if you prefer British English pronunciation to American English or vice-versa, you can record your own audio instead.
Bitsboard has a nice carousel of their games here and here's a simplified PDF version of my forthcoming eLearning workshop presentation on the set-up.
Try the free versions first and get the feel for it. It doesn't stop at learning English vocabulary either - other languages are covered as well as other subjects like mathematics, science, geography and so on. It's a valuable tool for any classroom. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S1LL79MFu4R-CYEe6pxjP5Wpb3WpH8At/view?usp=sharing_eil&ts=5d7c5606