Spellbee.org, the first-ever online, multi-player spelling bee, was launched to coincide with last spring’s National Spelling Bee by the Dynamical & Evolutionary Machine Organization (DEMO) laboratory at Brandeis University. Using the same philosophy of competition that drives corporations in an open economy, Spellbee encourages students to compete against one another in the hope that their skills will improve out of an inherent desire to succeed. Each player isn’t simply spelling, but is using a variety of skills. Players are first shown a set of words ranging in difficulty. Based on this list of words, they then pick the challenge for their partner. Next, they listen to an audio presentation of a sentence while reading the sentence on their computer screen with one word missing. Finally, they have to spell that missing word–the one picked by their partner. To play Spellbee, children log on using only a nickname. No personal information, such as name or eMail address, is collected and, for safety’s sake, no “chat” or eMail contact is allowed between players on the site–they communicate only through the choices they make in a game.
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