I have the tendency of jumping in head first and building software before figuring out the market dynamics. I did that with Garden Nut and Local By Us – both of which failed. Fortunately, with kids apps, I was trying to solve a problem that I have, not a hypothetical problem I thought others have. It is succeeding. As I build more apps, and get involved more in the teaching and app development communities, here’s what I’ve learned about the three actors – parents, teachers, and developers (kids don’t really have a direct voice in their learning)
- Need help and think technology is a potential answer
- Have high aspirations for their kids
- Trust the teacher, like the technology
- Struggling to figure out how to use rapidly changing technology in the classroom
- Want better technological teaching tools
- Believe developers are not listening to them, not understanding them
- Trying to build for the education market
- More focused on gaming and graphics
- Believe teachers don’t appreciate their hard work
As a parent, teacher and developer, I often find myself on all three sides of the debate at different times. We all want to do what’s best for the kids. We each believe we know best.
I had a conversation with a game development company recently about using their games for education. The question that came up is – do games such as Angry Birds, World of Goo, or Portal teach kids about physics?
My parenting response is – Go experiment on someone else’s child. I want my kids to learn something that will get them a job in the future, not waste more time playing silly games.
My teacher response is – After playing level 10, will students be able to calculate the trajectory of the projectile accurately and tell me where it will land in (x, y) co-ordinates?
My developer response is – Interesting idea. Physical phenomenon is simulated. So, care-givers won’t have to invest in a lot of equipment. Plus, kids love playing games.
When I design an educational game, it has to pass all three criteria – the parents, the teachers, and the developers. The more I satisfy the three voices in my head (I’m only a little bit crazy), the better the game turns out to be. The more successful it will be.