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The New Classroom Jeopardy!

By Charles G. Doe - Posted Nov 1, 2005
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:4 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Educational Insights, 18730 S. Wilmington Avenue, Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220. Phone: 800/995-4436; E-mail: classroomjeopardy@edin.com; Internet: http://www.educationalinsights.com/ or http://www.classroomjeopardy.com/.

Price: $499—Classroom Jeopardy! Unit. $250—Additional scoreboards with three remotes each. $15—Each additional game cartridge. $25—Each additional pre-programmed game cartridge.

$80—Classroom Jeopardy! Link. For owners of the older edition of Classroom Jeopardy!, this edition makes sessions created with either edition compatible with each other.

Audience: Manufacturer recommends students in grade 3 and up and ages 8+.

Minimum System Requirements: The base unit must be plugged into a television set with a/v jacks; the unit requires its own power outlet. The wireless remote operates with the installation of eight AAA batteries.

The Classroom Jeopardy! Editor software requires a Macintosh or Windows computer with a CD-ROM drive. The Classroom Jeopardy! Link requires a USB port.

Description: The new Classroom Jeopardy! updates the technology that enables educators to use the Jeopardy game show as a classroom learning tool. Used with a classroom television, the system provides the lights, sound effects, and some of the music from the long-running television program.

The system's base unit plugs into the television, clues are displayed on the screen, and students respond using wireless remotes. The game is operated with a wireless host remote control. Questions and answers can be written by teachers or students, using the provided software on a Macintosh or Windows computer.

Specifications: The Classroom Jeopardy! base unit sits on a television and is large enough to display scores that the entire class can see. The game ships with three player remotes, a single host remote, an antenna that picks up the remote signals, a game cartridge with five sample games, and the Classroom Jeopardy! Link that connects the game cartridges to computers. Also included is the Classroom Jeopardy! Editor software on CD-ROM, an 88-page Teachers Guide, and smaller items for set-up or game play.

Warranty: Classroom Jeopardy! is guaranteed to be free from defects for one year from the date of original purchase, for the original purchaser only. Damaged or defective parts must be returned to Educational Insights. If the problem is "factory defects in materials or workmanship," fees ranging from $3 to $15 are charged for handling and inspection. You pay your own postage; the part is replaced or repaired at no additional cost (to the original owner).

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Installation is easy. Batteries are inserted into remotes, the base unit is plugged into a television, and the software is installed on a computer. The only problems may be created by the wide variety of a/v jacks found on various televisions. Clear instructions in the Quickstart Guide section of the Teachers Guide help with any potential problems. Installation Rating: A

Features: I reviewed the original version of Classroom Jeopardy! about 4 years ago. Despite some awkwardness, it was an excellent idea at that point in time—and it has gotten even better now. The addition of the Internet, a user group, and some additional features make the product a powerful—and much easier to use—learning tool.

In case you're not a fan of television game shows, some background information may be helpful. The Jeopardy television program has been on the air for more than 20 years (and comes to DVD in early November). To play, contestants choose one of six categories and a dollar amount. A clue—actually an answer to a question—appears; contestants then attempt to be the first to provide the question that matches the answer. The contestant providing the correct question acquires the dollar amount.

A complete game consists of Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy (double point value), and Final Jeopardy. Participants qualify to participate in Final Jeopardy if they do not have a negative score (dollars are lost for incorrect answers) or a score of zero. In Final Jeopardy, the contestants can substantially raise their scores by selecting a dollar amount from their winnings and correctly providing, in writing, the question that matches the answer provided simultaneously to all of the players.

Classroom Jeopardy! play begins with turning on the television and base unit and pressing Begin on the host remote control.

The students use numbered remotes; the names of three teams or players are written on erasable cards under the base unit's scoreboard. The first player is selected by the game unit and identified by a light that appears above the name of the student or team.

The game board with categories and point amounts is displayed on the television screen.  Just as in the television program, when a point amount is selected, an answer appears on the screen and the student who signals in first—by pressing a button on a wireless remote—gets to provide the question. The program even plays the iconic Jeopardy "thinking" music that has been heard on television for decades.

A green light appears over the name of the first student or team to signal. If the answer is correct, points are added to the scoreboard.  If the answer is incorrect, points are deducted from the score. When the round is over, the highest point total indicates the winner.

The teachers manual recommends dividing the classroom into three teams with students sharing the remotes. As many as 10 base units can be connected; each can keep score for three students. With a large enough investment, a 30-student class could use the game, with a remote for each student.

Students thoroughly enjoy playing Classroom Jeopardy! It has a high motivational value. The program becomes an even more powerful tool for teachers when they create games tailored to curricular content or guide students in creating their own games.

One of several improvements in the new Classroom Jeopardy! is the Editor software that allows users to create games on a Windows or Macintosh computer. In the previous edition, games were created by plugging a keyboard into the base unit; that can still be done using a Windows keyboard with the correct plug.

There is now more flexibility in game creation. The games can be created on a classroom computer and placed on a game cartridge with the new Classroom Jeopardy! Link and its connection to the computer's USB port. In addition, games can be uploaded to the Classroom Jeopardy! Web site and shared with other users. Downloaded games can be saved onto a cartridge using Classroom Jeopardy! Link.

Although Classroom Jeopardy! isn't overly complicated, using it with a minimum of teacher or student frustration requires advanced preparation by the teacher and a bit of instructional time with the students. Not all students are familiar with the game; some will have to be taught the basics. The teachers manual includes an excellent, two-page student handout that goes over the rules and processes. This should be used with students before attempting to begin the game.

The Classroom Jeopardy! Teachers Guide is a large glossy book that provides an excellent resource, both for learning to use the game and for dealing with any problems that may arise. The guide gives instructions for using the Classroom Jeopardy! game, the Classroom Jeopardy! Editor, and even has a page of "Hot Tips for Hosts." Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: Note that I said earlier this version is "much easier to use." While it has been simplified, the new Classroom Jeopardy! still has a fairly high learning curve—as  might be expected with a fairly complicated learning tool. The helpful teachers guide makes the process fairly easy. Once learned, Classroom Jeopardy! is easy to use, for teachers and students. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Excellent customer support is available by using the toll free telephone (800/995-4436) and fax (800/995-0506) numbers. Support is also available online and by e-mail. The ClassroomJeopardy.com Web site offers an excellent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Classroom Jeopardy! is an outstanding educational tool. I recommend it for use with all grade levels, from 3rd or 4th on up. This program is well worth the expense of purchase. Where budgets are tight, grade levels or departments may be able to find a way to share the purchase. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Charles Doe, Media Specialist, Hastings Area Schools, Central Elementary School, 509 S. Broadway, Hastings, MI 49058; 616/948-4423; charliegd@iserv.net.


 
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