What a whirlwind year it has been! So many exciting events. Here are a couple lessons we’ve learned throughout the year:
Teachers need easy access to great tools
After an exciting launch at ISTE including interviews on local TV followed by the NBC Innovation Challenge, emails started pouring in from teachers who were excited about Addimals’ focus on teaching strategies, but their schools didn’t have a budget for apps. This was particularly heart-breaking for us because we know firsthand how tight classroom budgets leave teachers purchasing resources from their own wallets. Yet in order to become a sustainable company and continue to build great tech for schools, we need a source of revenue. Luckily, our apps are only the first step towards our vision of using game-based learning analytics to help teachers track performance, target intervention, and differentiate instruction. Why not charge schools and districts for the data and make the apps free? Going free meant that tens of thousands of K-2 students were able to learn from Addimals this past school year.
Not all schools are 1:1
We began to hear from our teachers that Addimals worked great for an individual student, but they wanted the app to be personalized for each student. Most of our students were sharing the iPad, taking turns with a small class set or sharing a cart with other classes. If one student was doing really well in the app and then another struggling student took a turn, the game would be too hard. So we got to work designing Addimals 2.0, which includes individual student logins, so students can pick up any iPad and continue playing just where they left off.
Pilot first, dashboard second
With all these students using Addimals, we now had a ton of gameplay data. OK, time to carve out a bunch of development time to build a dashboard, right? Wrong. Our developers were swamped, and there wouldn’t be time to build our platform until summer. But teachers were using the app now, and we knew their feedback would be invaluable. Taking a lesson from the Lean Startup movement, we decided to start small. We took the gameplay data and hand cranked reports for teachers, starting with a few classrooms, growing to over 80 teachers in just a few months. Every two weeks, we generated different reports, getting great feedback from teachers about the types of data they found most helpful. Now we have all of that feedback to guide our development, so we are confident that our Learning Analytics Platform will actually help teachers because we designed it with their help.
This week, we’re headed back to ISTE with our latest multiplication app, Mt. Multiplis, available free for iPad and our Learning Analytics Platform launching for schools in September. Keep an eye out for us in Atlanta to learn more about our apps or share your feedback. Don’t forget to grab some chocolate! Check out our ISTE bucket list to find out what events we’ll be attending. We’d love to chat with you!