The ability to successfully monitor and distinguish between emotions—both our own and the emotions of others—is one of the most important aspects of our development. Yet many of our students lack the social, personal, and emotional competencies that allow them to be socially and academically successful.
Although it might seem counter-intuitive for educators to turn to apps and online gaming to enhance students’ social learning skills, we believe that when used in tandem with personalized instruction and an engaging curriculum, social learning games can be incredibly useful.
5 Apps to Enhance Students’ Social Learning Skills
IF... is the brainchild of Trip Hawkins, the video game pioneer who brought us classics like Madden NFL, Medal of Honor, Desert Strike and the list goes on and on.
To create If…, Hawkins paired up with counselors and educators to create a world in which children explore their own emotions by role-playing social situations with their characters.
The game unfolds in Greenberry, a world run by cats and canines who just can’t seem to get along. Part of the gamer’s challenge is to change that. As students play, they’ll take part in a virtual counseling session with a community leader who teaches students deep breathing exercises and has a dialogue about feelings of loss.
The Social Express features a series of animated episodes that model real-world social situations. If you’re concerned about students passively absorbing scenes, think again. The Social Express asks students to make choices, help characters navigate common social interactions, follow social cues, and make the appropriate decisions so that they can transfer these skills into their daily lives.
Way is definitely one of our favorite social learning games. Students play in pairs and take turns guiding each other through each level using gesture and non-verbal cues. This helps students experience what it is like to trust and be trusted.
Social Skill Builder focuses on building friendships, problem solving, critical thinking, and perspective taking by asking students to work through video sequences and answer multiple-choice questions.
Misunderstood Minds is an excellent PBS documentary series that tells the stories of five families as, together with experts, they try to solve the mysteries of their children's learning difficulties. We like coupling this series with our lessons on empathy.
Even if you don’t end up screening the documentary, we suggest stopping by the website where you’ll find interactive activities that help students explore what it’s like to struggle with attention, reading, writing, and mathematics.