I am attending the ICLT conference in Singapore this week and had the opportunity to view many of the exhibitors. The one company which really caught my attention is Skoolbo, an innovative company which will soon release a virtual 3D learning environment for children ages 4-10 to learn numeracy and maths skills. Skoolbo's founder and CEO, Shane Hill, also created Mathletics, Spellodrome and World Math Day.
Skoolbo is a graphically beautiful 3D world where children can race against peers or virtual characters as they practice literacy and math skills which are "randomly" chosen for their skill level. Mr. Hill pointed out that the aim is to keep children engaged in the game for at least three years through an engaging environment, progressively challenging content and unique rewards. The games are set up to reward children every 15-20 minutes of play and after achieving 5000 points (approximately 6 weeks of play), there is a graduation ceremony which includes a party hosted by family members in Jib Jab style animations. Children can also collect points/coins which can exchanged for cool rewards such as super hero costumes. The feature that parents and teachers will love, is the ability to receive detailed progress reports as well as the opportunity to receive emails and alerts notifying them of important developments in student achievement.
The demo of the software on the computer and iPad were both very impressive, and it is one of the best children's educational game apps I have seen so far available for tablets. I was very surprised to find out that the full version will be available for free to children and that parents and teachers will get most available features available free of charge as well. There will be a premium version available for both classrooms and families which includes more comprehensive reporting for $29.95/year. This is an amazing bargain when comparing it with similar products.
Skoolbo is currently available in closed beta for computer users, and when fully released in the next couple of months, will be available on PC, Mac, iPad and Android tablets. To get started, you can download the free Zalairos Adventures app which includes stories to introduce the characters in the game.
Keep an eye out for Skoolbo when it is released. I think that children, parents and teachers will love it for its beautiful graphics, fun gameplay and educational value. The fact that it is free won't hurt either.