Words with Friends, education, and mobility

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch chances are you have heard of the Words With Friends craze. It's basically Scrabble across the internet between you and your friends. Before school let out dozens of my students were telling me about the game. Imagine that.... a game based around vocabulary and spelling being a hit with kids.

I've been playing for a few weeks now, and it is truly a blast. The game is turning out to be much more popular than the official Scrabble game for iOS. Why is that? Well:

  • There is a fully functioning free version (ad supported)
  • You do not have to be on a local network to play with a friend
  • You can play many separate matches at once
  • It has built in chat
  • It sends push notifications to your screen if it is your turn and the app is closed
  • It was designed with mobility in mind

These are all brilliant decisions, and makes me think about all the recent speculation surrounding the iPad's potential in education. As with any technology, it's going to be about the implementation/content in tandem with the device that determines success, and this is certainly going to be true of the iPad. But perhaps even more so with the iPod Touch and iPhone, as Words With Friends is showing us. Utilizing devices that students already own and can use on their own time is an excellent strategy.

There are of course many educational apps available for the iOS. But how many are as visually engaging and social as Words With Friends? None.

Could you imagine what would happen if educational experts and developers got together to create games like Words With Friends that students couldn't stop "playing?" What would the learning implications be in math, in science, in music? Let's not miss this opportunity.

P.S. If there are any developers out there who are interested in some ideas for music apps, I'm your man.