Reporter Greta Kaul wrote a fine story on MINNPOST.com last year. The title was: “Almost 50 years ago, Oregon Trail™ revolutionized educational software. Can the game’s creators do it again?” It’s a great question. It’s now exactly 49 years since Oregon Trail. And RE@L has a positive response: “YES!”
You can read Ms. Kaul’s story by clicking here. The title of her report does ask a key, thought-provoking question. Ms. Kaul: “Can the games creators do it again?”
The tech tools of learning today are far better than they were 49 years ago. So is our understanding of learning products. RE@L emphasizes STEM-based and the lasting power of project-based teaching and learning. We followed the old wagon tracks, and we know where the new trails are going today, thanks to Don Rawitsch and his team. There’s more on our RE@L “Trail Boss Don” below.
In case you need a refresher on this 49 year old classic Oregon Trail™ game, here’s Ms. Kaul’s description:
“Conceived for a class at a public school in Minneapolis, “Oregon Trail,” is among the most popular educational computer games of all time. It loaded students in virtual covered wagons and sent them from Missouri to Oregon in a simulation of 19th-century westward expansion, contending with broken wagon axles, cholera, snake bites and river crossings along the way…..the game has been elevated to cult status: versions of it have been preserved for play online, and it’s not hard to find t-shirts and coffee mugs emblazoned with pixelated oxen and nostalgic phrases like “you have died of dysentery.”
Dysentery is no joke, folks. But that word itself actually “binds” together hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and parents around the globe who have played Oregon Trail™. They still have their memories of the “OT game” and the importance of avoiding sickness and swollen creeks. If you don’t believe it, read the comments posted by readers at the bottom of Ms. Kaul’s article, cited in the MinnPost link above.
Co-inventor of OT, Don Rawitsch, RE@L’s VP of Product Development, was a key leader at MECC in bringing these real world questions and problems to computer screens and kids everywhere. Don reminds us: “[Kids] don’t want an adult feeding them all this information. They’ll get it themselves. That was a big part of Oregon Trail’s popularity…” The great news is that RE@L’s “1Up on Vaping” takes a similar trail for kids’ learning.
So, what’s new in our RE@L journey that takes off where OT stopped? There’s more than one answer. Here’s one: a real-world, RE@L-STEM Focus. And here’s an excerpt of what reporter Kaul had to say about it:
“A unit on water quality, for example, would teach kids concepts like pollution and ecosystems. Then, it would give them the tools to test water — either virtually using kits through the portal, or out in the field in real life, with built-in geographic information systems…students would be connected with someone in a career related to water quality….The curriculum is designed to align with district, state and federal standards.” That’s a hopeful answer, and our RE@LSTEM Learning Products has it!
Here’s how RE@L’s President and CEO, Paul Gullickson, explains it: “The idea [behind RE@L STEM] “is to help students get excited about careers and keep people employed in the U.S.” RE@L’s software design team is looking at other real world learning examples and has this answer to the posted question….from forensics to vehicle traffic flow and invasive species.”
Paul continues: “Each [STEM] unit will include a classroom learning aspect — reading materials, videos and slideshows, a field experience piece, which can be done virtually or in-person, and a real life piece, which involves watching a webcast or video chatting with a local professional in the given field.” Our first STEM product is the powerful, new 1Up on Vaping. It too allows the students to “get the right answer themselves.“
It just doesn’t get more real than that. That’s why we are “RE@Learning™.”
Dale LaFrenz, Chairman of the Board, and Paul Gullickson CEO and President, give our readers a resounding affirmative “YES!… we do know how to work around that [issue], we’ve done it before. We will do it again!”
Former Oregon Trail Boss, now RE@L’s VP Don Rawitsch, still leads us on the right trail!
RE@L thanks Greta Kaul for this well-told story of the 49th Happy Birthday of Oregon Trail. We celebrate the beginning of 1Up On Vaping!
Stay tuned.There’s more to come!
Happy Birthday to RE@L’s new “1Up on Vaping!”
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