Osmo, a startup that connects physical games with an iPad experience, has raised a $12 million Series A led by Accel Partners with participation of Upfront Ventures and K9 Ventures. Accel Partners’ Rich Wong will join Osmo’s board of directors.
Finnish educational games startup Fantastec raised a $800k Seed Round from Booster Investment and a group of angel investors reports Arctic Startup.
The funding will be used to grow the team, create multi-platform titles and to expand internationally.
Planning to attend EdTech Europe 2014 on June 12th in London? Use the promo code EDUKWEST to get 20% off the ticket price!
‘We don’t deserve students’ attention, we earn it!’ This is a motto that I live by in my daily work, a thought perhaps echoed by many who teach adults or young kids. Students come to the classroom and go through motions, but are they really learning? As educators, we are competing with all sorts of media distractions for students’ time and attention. The internet and mobile devices have made it an even more fierce and head-on collision. But instead of fighting or ignoring it, we can actually take our cue from the media to make our work better.
Those who’ve seen Sal Khan’s videos can probably attest to his amazing gift in explaining complicated concepts and connecting with students. This ability is especially important in the lecture and input stage to introduce key concepts to students. It can also be found in many teachers, but not all. However, with the help of technology and multimedia, we can now centralize engaging and effective instruction and broadcast it to masses of students so that they can benefit from the best instruction.
There’s an crucial element in this types of lesson media, one that I call ‘edutainment’ where the content is as engaging as it is educational. Think about your favorite teacher at school and what they did to ignite your interest and engage you with the subject. You looked forward to their class and each class was a deeply rewarding and fun experience. You would never fall asleep listening to them. They were superstars in their arena. That’s what I am talking about.
At ChinesePod, we pioneered the concept of ‘edutainment’. It led me to firmly believe in the power of edutainment in inspiring students and delivering great instruction at scale. There are innate qualities which make one an ‘edutainer’ but there’s a lot that can be defined, trained and practised. I’ve often found that the best teacher presenters might not be the best curriculum designer or writer. Different skill sets are required. When setting up a team to curate edutainment content, I look for people with different skills to balance engaging star qualityand academic depth. If one overrides the other (and there are many examples of that), the content isn’t going to help students succeed. The pedagogy needs to be the backbone; the engaging factor brings it to life.
In the past year, I’ve had the chance to coach other language educators to produce and publish their edutainment content on OpenLanguage. I am very proud of the results we’ve achieved with teams such as Arabic Anywhere and Ruspod who are creating deeply engaging content with solid academic design.
One of the other products on OpenLanguage EnglishPod China was recently awarded Best Education Content in 2012 by iTunes China. And I keep mentoring new teams to help educators produce and distribute their language courses on OpenLanguage. I hope our work will help students get high quality edutainment content from the best teacher presenters and academic experts no matter what language they are learning.
But edutainment alone isn’t enough. It’s best used in the input stage to get the ball rolling. Students need tons of study, practice and feedback to internalize the language. I will write about my experience designing those in future posts. For now, let’s hold the thought and work to engage students.
In this interview from the LAUNCH Education & Kids Conference Alicia Chang talked with Dave Merrill, co-founder of Sifteo.
Sifteo cubes pack a clickable, full color LCD display, a variety of motion sensors and a rechargeable battery into a sturdy 1.5 inch block – perfect for hands of all ages to grab and play with.
Neighbor, tilt, shake, and press Sifteo cubes to play their expanding library of downloadable games.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tomasz Kowalczyk. He is a software developer from Poland and received his B.Sc in Information Technology in 2010 and his M.Sc in Computer Science in 2011 both from Military University in Warsaw, Poland. He is an author of many technology articles for Microsoft.
Tomasz is interested in natural user interface and gamification. You can follow him on Twitter @tomkowalczyk.
Education in Polish schools not necessary has to be boring and of little interest to pupils. A modern teacher is someone who always has to think how to enhance student learning and make his class entertaining and innovative. It is not always an easy task, but with the help of technology it is possible.
The potential of the technology that is around us can close the gap between education and entertainment. Making the best of the pupils’ reserves of energy in class was something we had in mind while working on this project. Natural user interface teaching method has come up with some interesting results.
Along with a teacher of English, Łukasz Rumiński, we decided to join forces and skills to breathe new life into Polish education. We have used Kinect sensor and three custom applications to find out how this method of teaching would be taken by the pupils. It is worth mentioning that all the work has been carried out in our free time, outside working hours, but the idea of making something great for the students has helped us take the project up to an acceptable level.
Each of the applications works using Kinect for Windows SDK and is targeted at pupils of different ages. It was tested at John Paul II Primary and Junior High School in Jamielnik, Poland.
Below you can find a short description of the custom and tested applications:
Kinect Human Body – application which uses Drag&Drop feature. It allows the youngest pupils to learn English words. The task is to drag the correct word into the correct place. The following video shows you a six-year-old pupil who has no trouble solving the task about the human body and having fun at the same time. This project has been well reviewed by the Coding4Fun web portal.
Kinect Numbers Game – Metro style application targeted at older students. Arranging numbers in the correct order is the focal point of this game. It also measures the time making it competitive for the pupils. The video below shows you Junior High school students.
Kinect Q&A – this project consists of two applications: question editor and hand gesture application. The teacher creates his set of questions and answers in the editor and sets the time for the answers. There are always two answers and the pupil has to choose one by using simple hand gestures. Every answer, whether correct or wrong, is counted and the results immediately pop up on the screen. When the game is finished you can also have a photo taken, which you can later share on Facebook via the application.
To sum up, we plan on developing these applications and create new ones as these have gone down well with the pupils and teachers – it is a highly motivating factor. Anyone willing to help our team feel free to contact us.