I was pretty excited when EA did a sale on some of their popular (and expensive) apps in the weeks leading up to the new year. I had especially wanted to check out Madden NFL and Need for Speed but did not want to shell out the money for the apps. However, when the sale started I decided to purchase 4 of their apps, each for $0.99: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Madden NFL 11, Scrabble, and SimCity Deluxe. All the games have pretty nice interfaces and great visual appeal.
Despite some negative reviews that I have seen on the app store and online, I think that SimCity Deluxe has all of the elements from the desktop version that make it a useful simulation tool to use with students. I designed a integrated 2 week unit for my 6th math grade class using the PC version of SimCity 4 Deluxe and we are currently in our 4th year of using it. Many of the design and reporting elements from the PC version are contained in this app so it would be really interesting to see if the kids got more/same/less out of experiencing the simulation environment on a hand held device.
I think people who are less excited about this app probably think of SimCity as simply a game. However, I believe are plenty of opportunities to take the best parts of this well-designed program and creatively appropriate them for use with students.
Header photo by Robert S. Donovan