If you love board games, you’re sure to remember Cranium from the late 1990s, where players compete with one another in a number of categories that require one to perform a wide range of activities: draw, answer trivia questions, unscramble words, whistle and a whole lot more.
Ginann Franklin, libraries and educational technology director at Currey Ingram Academy — a K-12 independent college preparatory school in Brentwood, Tenn. — is a big board game aficionado. It turned out so were a number of her colleagues. So much so that in spring 2015, a group of educators joined Franklin in creating Digital Brainium, a game utilizing 3-D printed pieces and a laminated board that tasks players to answer all sorts of questions related to digital citizenship. “Our LibTech team met weekly to review our schedules and brainstorm ways of making what we do fresh and interesting,” said Franklin. “During those meetings the idea of this game was born.”
And just like Cranium — which Franklin loves — Digital Brainium has four categories: digital data, digital drama, digital drawing and digital Mustangs, which relates to the school’s mascot. The game’s categories include facts, acronyms, true/false statements, acting-out clues or drawing clues in order to get a teammate to guess the answer. The Mustang category uses questions about the academy’s technology or information literacy policies or tools.
“The biggest success factor to this game is that it gets everyone actively involved and creates an avenue for discussion,” Franklin said. “For example, when teachers or students have to decide if this statement — ‘Legally, employers are not able to check social media when considering someone for a job’ — is true or false, it makes them stop and think about what they’ve heard or seen on this topic. As the game is being played, hopefully the teacher is listening to hear how students are responding.”
Another benefit, she added, is that by using this game with teachers during professional development it not only communicates facts, but also promotes a school culture of what it means to be a digital citizen.
And to spread the game to other districts, its files are available online for teachers and schools to customize for their education needs. While Digital Brainium is still new, word is starting to get around, and several school districts have used it.
“Our department places an emphasis on integrating new technologies into literacy instruction to ensure students and staff acquire and maintain a high degree of information and digital literacy skills,” said Franklin. “I’m sure other schools would love this game too.” —Lisa Kopochinski