Edutainment apps are ones that have their grounding in Media – gaming or cartoons. They start with a video game. Add to that some equations to solve, or tests to score. The main purpose of the game is entertainment. They are good at engaging the kids. They have an element of luck and guessing, more than of understanding or learning. Examples are Math Bingo and Drills in multiple themes, Tower Math etc.
Educational apps start with learning exercises. Exercises are developed using books and educational research. Gaming elements may be added to improve engagement – including some cute characters, scoring and rewards. There is a gradual progression to help learning. There is very little element of luck, more of developing understanding of the topic to get further in the app. Example apps are DragonBox, Hour of Code and all of our apps.
Engagement vs. Learning
Games with an element of luck are the most engaging for those with least ability. So, board games with an element of luck are great for playing when the opponents have different abilities e.g. parent and child. They give the child a chance to win. As the kids get older, the age appropriate games involve more strategy and less luck e.g. chess. Games with an element of luck are addictive (e.g. gambling or the stock market). Edutainment games engage by using guessing or luck to help the kids advance. Learning is secondary. Usually kids will tire of these, and stop playing them after a few days or weeks. They will look for the next shiny toy.
Educational games are developed for learning. They don’t have an element of luck. Kids have to learn, problem solve and work to advance. Some kids will gravitate towards these games because they naturally like learning. Other kids will play them only if their respected parents and teachers guide them to. Usually, parents will ask their kids to keep playing these games for months and years.
Caryn wrote an insightful blog post differentiating Edutainment and Educational.
Edutainment vs Educational App Market
The app market is very highly developed for Edutainment games, specially for the younger ages. On Amazon’s educational top 100 list, the first page is largely Edutainment games for very young kids. Most parents are looking for a way to distract their kids for a few minutes, while they get a few moments of peace. Edutainment games let us do that without feeling guilty – look the kids are playing and even learning – or so we tell ourselves.
The Educational apps on either of the markets is very few. Teachers often complain about lack of truly educational content on any market. Educational apps are never featured, or promoted by the markets – they don’t have a wide appeal. Its a niche market.
What about Infinut’s Apps?
Our apps are educational. They serve a very niche market of parents who buy apps for their kids to (as one parent said it) –
learn or better themselves
I admit. We don’t do as well as an Edutainment game, we could build, would. Potential investors, and former co-founders would have us build edutainment games, and make more money selling them. I can’t bring myself to. I want kids to learn and better themselves.
For the few parents and teachers who manage to go through the fog of edutainment and finally find our games, they love them. They appreciate them. Their kids do better thanks to them. And, that’s worth more than money.
Whose responsibility is it?
Did edutainment market grow because we as parents and teachers wanted those apps that made us feel less guilty about letting kids play video games? Or, did it grow because the markets promoted it more? Do the markets put cute graphics and zero educational content on their featured educational lists because that’s what sells? Or do we buy cute graphics with no educational content because that’s what’s featured?