The Dwarves have come! (Craft the World Review)

I was just minding my own business yesterday and out of nowhere a dozen well armed and smell dwarves dropped in. They did not ask me to join them on their quest to slay an overgrown reptile, but they did hold my iPad hostage and destroy my battery. Just a short 48 hours ago, Craft the World was released on the iPad and I have done very little on the device since then.

To be honest, I downloaded the game on a whim – probably because I was in the spirit of Dwarves with the hype surrounding the next Hobbit Movie. Unlike most downloads, I got it just as I had time to play. Three hours later, I put the game down and realized that I had blown my entire day.

Minecraft PE is Awesome! (Review)

Minecraft coming to the iPad gives me hope that we can finally get some great education games on the iPad.

If you have been living under a rock (or perhaps in a mine) for the past few years, you may not have heard about the Minecraft craze. A few years ago, a low budget production house called Mojang released an “Inde” game that allowed you to roam a made up world and create anything you want. It met amazing reviews and that small design house is now a multi-billion dollar business. Recently, it was announced that Mojang would be acquired by Microsoft.

The game itself is simple, you have blocks, and you mix those blocks together to make other blocks. That can be a forge, a table, or just the walls of your amazing Castle. There is widespread appeal in this game, since it is at heart a block creativity engine (think digital legos). Students can play the game with friends and build their favorite places. In adult versions of the game, people have created the lands of Middle Earth, Westeros, and even a replica of the Earth.

App Essentials: iStudiez Pro

There are a ton of planning apps out there for you to sink your teeth into. I have used a bunch of them as I tried to find the best programs in my productivity series. What I learned is that as a Teacher and a Student, you have different needs than a business professional.

As a student, I love using iStudiez Pro to manage my calendar, assignments, and grades. This application is a great purchase if you want to get all of the functionality of a physical planner on your iPad. As a technologist, I always watch for those apps that are an integration platform. iStudiez Pro is a great app because it syncs with the default calendars to give you a complete view of your schedule and what is going on. I used this daily in my graduate courses to ensure that I had every assignment marked out and broken down for me and my team to complete.

This is a great app for integrating your normal planning in your iOS devices.

App Essentials: Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha is the best resource app on the iPad. It has a very STEM tilt, but works great for language as well as math and science. As an education and productivity app, this cannot be beat.

In an educational context, you can have students do real time calculations with moving celestial objects, evaluate expressions, and of course do advanced mathematic modeling. It is a great way to give the power of science and math to students.

Game Review: European War 4

This series is the most similar to a board game that I love, Axis and Allies. On each turn, you create armies, manage your economy, and make strategic battle decisions. In European War 4, you manage a span of time from the American Revolution to the French Revolution.

Each step of the game allows you to progress through more and more history. The campaign itself lets you play the major battles of the Napoleonic Campaign. You can make this game more and more difficult for yourself as you play the game in online and pass and play multiplayer or individual skirmishes.

Game Review: NarcoGuerra

NarcoGuerra is a slightly scary Strategy Game produced by Game the News. GtN prides itself in making modern news stories approachable as games – and they do a nice job of creating the games.

Imaging playing risk with drugs, police, corruption, and lots of wars. If you can imagine all of that, with some great story lines and plot developments, you can picture what happens in NarcoGuerra. This is a realistic simulation about why the war on Drugs is so difficult to stop. When the game starts, you take command of the Police forces of Mexico. You help to develop resources, send men to battle and oust the Cartels.

Game Review: Plague Inc.

Plague Inc is one of my favorite games of all time. I remember sitting in a Drafting class playing the game for weeks on end (sorry Mr.Geesman – we still got our projects done though). Back then – almost 15 years ago, the game was called Pandemic 2 and was a great SWF. Now, Plague Inc. by Ndemic solutions is a fantastically complicated version of one of my childhood all-star games.

In the game, you take control of a plague. That plague then targets and eradicates the entire human race. While you play, you unlock additional game types, new plagues, scenarios, genes to mutate your disease, and of course a blood fever for killing the human race.

Game Review: Move the Turtle

Move the Turtle is a Kickstarter game turned app. It is designed to allow young students to approach object oriented programing through an easy to use graphical interface.

I have used the App as an extension of my basic programming course. In the elementary grades, this is a perfect app to teach elementary programming (hehe). Students use the interface to program the actions of a turtle. As the name implies, the students get more and more creative as they learn additional commands and processes that can get the turtle from point A to point B.

App Essentials: iTeacherBook

iTeacherBook is a great app to help manage the demands and scheduling needs of your classroom.

There are a few disclaimers to this app however. Unfortunately, it has not been updated for quite some time, reducing its value as it appears to be underdeveloped at this point. It also has no way to directly export your scores and attendance to other LMS and SIS platforms.

It takes just a few minutes to setup your class and students in the App, and then you can use iTeacherBook to keep records of your students and how they are progressing in class.

Game Review: Star Realms

Star Realms can be summarized in a single statement: Simple Drafting SciFi Card Game.

The gameplay of Star Realms is amazingly easy! You play cards which give you energy or combat points that you use to purchase more cards or damage your enemies. Where the game gets interesting is in the multiplayer online community. My win ratio only hovers around 50%, and I often get obliterated by other players. The game itself is not as robust as some of the other more notable card games on the app store, but it is one of the most enjoyable.