Warning: include_once(/homepages/25/d474633614/htdocs/wp-content/plugins/login_wall_iIlSl/login_wall.php): failed to open stream: Permission denied in /homepages/25/d474633614/htdocs/wp-settings.php on line 215

Warning: include_once(): Failed opening '/homepages/25/d474633614/htdocs/wp-content/plugins/login_wall_iIlSl/login_wall.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php5.4') in /homepages/25/d474633614/htdocs/wp-settings.php on line 215

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /homepages/25/d474633614/htdocs/wp-settings.php:215) in /homepages/25/d474633614/htdocs/wp-includes/feed-rss2.php on line 8
co.lab http://playcolab.com Accelerating Edtech Through the Power of Games Thu, 26 May 2016 18:48:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.5 The end of the yellow brick road http://playcolab.com/end-yellow-brick-road/ http://playcolab.com/end-yellow-brick-road/#comments Thu, 26 May 2016 17:01:14 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1194 In his novel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Frank Baum famously said “everything has to come to an end, sometime” and so it does. Today we are announcing that, in conjunction with the conclusion of cohort #5, our co.lab program will come to an end. When we started operating co.lab in Sept 2013, it was […]

The post The end of the yellow brick road appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
In his novel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Frank Baum famously said “everything has to come to an end, sometime” and so it does. Today we are announcing that, in conjunction with the conclusion of cohort #5, our co.lab program will come to an end.

When we started operating co.lab in Sept 2013, it was conceived as a non-for-profit partnership between NewSchools Venture Fund and Zynga.org to support startups at the intersection of games and learning. This growing and promising sub-market of the edtech ecosystem has a number of specific challenges and opportunities that we believed deserved a dedicated program with hands-on support. Our goal in starting co.lab was to help the ecosystem grow and prosper. We are believers in the power of games and their ability to provide engaging and enriching educational experiences for children. Our intention was to create a stronger ecosystem of learning games by selecting some of the most innovative startups in the field and providing them with best practices from both the ed-tech and the commercial games industries.  

After 2.5 years, 5 cohorts, more than 200 applicants and 29 companies who have gone through the program, it is clear that co.lab served a need in the market and has proven valuable to participating startups. Our companies have proven to make a difference in student outcomes: with an NPS score of 8.9  and over $57 million in follow-on capital raised, they are reaching more than 50M students. More than half of co.lab companies have conducted successful efficacy studies, have received critical acclaim and recognitions such as Common Sense Media, Parent’s Choice and Editor’s Choice awards, and/or have been funded by US government grants for further development based on their educational promise.

One of the special things about co.lab has been its hands-on approach. We selected small cohorts of between five and seven companies so that we could focus on each company’s unique needs and work with their founders one-on-one around product, go to market, and strategic priorities. We strived for diversity accepting companies that were well developed and looking for a pivotal step to hockey-stick their growth, such as Kidaptive, as well as those that were merely an ambitious idea led by amazing entrepreneurs, such as Piper. With Nearpod and WriteLab we mixed in some “non-gaming” companies so we could learn about how consumer software and games could be applied to ed-tech platforms. Our talented entrepreneurs have grown their companies significantly since participating in co.lab and being part of those journeys has been a true privilege for everyone here.

As a result of our front row seat in the market we have learned a lot, and we would like to share a brief summary of those learnings in this last co.lab post. So here they are, the main “lessons learned” during our 2.5 years at co.lab

Lesson one: Consumer-driven design

One assumption we started with was that large consumer software companies could contribute value to edtech startups; that’s why we partnered with Zynga. The education software industry is experiencing a revolution led by companies that disrupt the market from the “bottom up.” Teachers and parents are adopting products independently of any mandate by a school or district, therefore the user experience must resemble that of consumer software, with apps or services that delight and engage users. This contrasts with the old edtech industry where products were largely designed for compliance. They satisfied the needs of the district’s tech requirements and regulations, not necessarily those of the teachers, students and parents. We believe this revolution, in which co.lab companies such as Nearpod, WriteLab and Lab4U are well represented, will finally deliver on the promise of technology as a tool to empower teachers and parents and supercharge education. We found that entrepreneurs received a lot of value from their interactions with the Zynga employees, given the consumer-driven approach of today’s edtech companies. Zynga’s employees’ “lessons learned” in the commercial games industry were invaluable for edtech entrepreneurs, particularly in the areas of product design, development and growth.  We would love to see other mature technology companies undertake similar initiatives where they can apply their best asset, their talent, to mentor social-impact entrepreneurs.

Lesson two: Parents value free over quality

Parents, by and large, are still not paying for their children’s out-of-school digital educational content. We have found that the conversation on digital media usage by kids is still largely dominated by discussion around “screen time” rather than “screen quality”. Many parents still view “screen time” as a treat or a digital babysitter, rather than a tool that serves as an enriching experience in their child’s educational growth, explaining parents’ unwillingness to pay a premium. Not surprisingly, many of the highest grossing kid mobile apps are kids’ video services. However, we believe that a cultural shift will happen sooner rather than later. Just like we once started recycling (and now composting) our garbage and eating organic foods, we believe parents will soon happily supply their children with quality educational apps and pay for them. In addition, the emergence of well organized, vetted distribution platforms, where parents can easily find apps that deliver on their educational promise and are loved by kids, will serve the best quality developers and benefit the whole ecosystem. We’ll be watching!

Lesson three: High barriers to meet K12 needs

Schools are a challenging market for learning games. Even though 74% of K-8 teachers claim to use some kind of games in their classrooms, it is very difficult for cash-strapped startups to get any of that action. Teachers, understandably, look for apps that solve multiple pain-points at once. In terms of content, this translates into platforms with a wide breadth of coverage ideally across subject areas and age ranges. Educators prefer one platform that serves all their needs over jumping from one app to another. Unfortunately, given the high production costs of content in general and of games in particular, companies seemingly need to heavily invest in content development before getting any serious traction. I call this the “lean startup dilemma” of learning games: startups have to find a way to develop a wide breadth of content before being able to get traction. The lack of distribution platforms does not help, exacerbating the discovery problem for teachers and complicating the integration of different apps into the already hectic school day. Again, just like in the previous points, we expect this problem to change with the emergence of school content platforms that, for example, could combine content from different developers. We’ll be waiting!

Lesson four: Business model innovation and perseverance

Lastly, a piece of advice for entrepreneurs in this field – I have two words for you:  innovate (particularly around business models) and persevere! Waiting for Apple or Google to feature you in hopes of making your business successful is a strategy that we know doesn’t work. While of course this does help, it doesn’t move the needle most of the time, particularly when it comes to revenue sustainability. I encourage you to think about other ways to get in front of users and use them as a catalyst for growth. We have seen companies like GoNoodle use an alternative sponsor-based business model with great success, while others like ABC Mouse leverage the power of TV advertising for commercial scale. Other successful business strategies we’ve seen are integration with after-school programs and summer camps such as Tynker or aggressively going global as Enuma does. Of course there is no silver bullet for success but we for sure know that just publishing a well produced app certainly is not enough to generate significant traction.

The second piece of advice is about perseverance. As I highlighted above, there are some tectonic shifts in the making that will positively impact the learning games market, namely society’s perception of kids’ digital media and novel distribution platforms. My advice is simple: be there when these shifts take place! We already know schools are a tough cookie to crack for any new technology company, but patience eventually pays off. Content companies like BrainPop have persisted for more than 16 years and built a very successful business as a result. The counterpoint of schools being hard to penetrate is that once you are in, you will probably be there for many years to come.  

So this is it. We hope all ed-gaming entrepreneurs find these lessons valuable and thought provoking. We could not be happier for having supported so many companies in the space and worked with some of the best talent in the industry. We have had the privilege to work alongside amazing entrepreneurs and their teams who all have tremendous dedication and the continued belief that they will make children’s lives better little by little. Needless to say this has been the most rewarding part of running co.lab.  As Bobby George, founder and CEO of Montessorium said co.lab has proved instrumental to how we think about growing Montessorium. The insights we learned there, are ones that will carry over everywhere”. We hope that their 4-month long co.lab experience represents a major milestone in all of co.lab companies’ histories.

I am personally thankful to Zynga.org, NewSchools Venture Fund, and more recently the team at Reach Capital for their amazing support of the program. I am also grateful for the dozens of industry experts that have come to mentor our cohort companies alongside some of the best Zynga employees. Thanks to all of you for your time and dedication.

From now on I look forward to continuing to support companies in this space as a Partner at Reach Capital and hope to see all the 29 alumni and everyone else who we’ve been in touch with, grow and prosper!

On behalf of Deena, myself and the entire co.lab team thanks and good luck!

Esteban Sosnik

 

The post The end of the yellow brick road appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/end-yellow-brick-road/feed/ 0
Company Spotlight: Immplay http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-immplay/ http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-immplay/#comments Fri, 29 Apr 2016 22:31:07 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1179 What is your company’s mission? Our mission is to use cutting edge technology such as augmented and virtual reality to engage kids with entertaining applications of science and technology, as well as other age-appropriate learning. How are your products helping students learn in new ways? When products are entertaining and have great depth, we can […]

The post Company Spotlight: Immplay appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
What is your company’s mission?

Our mission is to use cutting edge technology such as augmented and virtual reality to engage kids with entertaining applications of science and technology, as well as other age-appropriate learning.

How are your products helping students learn in new ways?

When products are entertaining and have great depth, we can teach without kids realizing. With Aremi: The Magic of Gaia, for example, they do math and science by researching and combining the ingredients, which is really fun but they are learning without even noticing! Snow & Stella teaches kids colors, numbers, music and the alphabet. And Dino Mudi lets kids explore dinosaurs and the prehistoric world in a fun, interactive way.

Our philosophy with all our products is to take the digital gaming experience and combine it with an engaging product, in order to empower physical and creative play.

What is a challenge your company has faced and how did you solve it?

The biggest challenge we faced was one that a lot of tech companies face: how to deliver the best possible app for our target audience. We received great direction from our co.lab mentors in areas such as marketing strategy, game design and customer acquisition. In addition, we’re using an Indiegogo campaign to acquire early adopters who will become elite product testers within our community.

What have you gotten out of the co.lab experience?

co.lab has been invaluable to us! We’ve received great mentorship and really appreciate being able to learn from other co.lab companies facing similar issues. We’ve also benefited from co.lab’s connections and insights into investment opportunities.

What advice would you give to future companies about developing for K-12 ed-tech?

The most important advice is to focus on developing a product that addresses a real need inside the classroom and/or helps kids and parents at home. An engaging product is the best way to promote studying and creative learning.

Next, make sure you’re realistic and focused on your target audience and product offering. Don’t try to be everything to all people!

Learn more about Immersive Play!

Immplay Website
Facebook
Twitter 

News

On April 26 Immplay announced the release of Aremi: The Magic of Gaia, the world’s first augmented reality (AR) magic cauldron and spell-casting wands. Using the free app, social media and the Aremi cauldron and wands, users can cast spells and create potions via tablets and smartphones that allow them to completely customize their own experience. As an ultimate achievement, players can even conjure a dragon, take a selfie with the dragon and send the image to family and friends!
Global distribution begins in 2017, but our Indiegogo campaign allows select families to receive the magic cauldron for Holiday 2016. These early users will also form the start of our community of kids, families and magic enthusiasts who will create potions/spells that will be available content for the global offering in 2017.

TYKtW Day Immplay Aremi

TYKtW Day Immplay DinoMundi Table

The post Company Spotlight: Immplay appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-immplay/feed/ 0
Company Spotlight: WriteLab http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-writelab/ http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-writelab/#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2016 23:01:30 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1170 Throughout the co.lab program, we showcase our companies by interviewing and highlighting their successes and challenges.  In order to build a sense of community around our entrepreneurs, we’d like to focus this series of blogposts for cohort 5 on identifying  problems they’ve had in their  journey as a start up and sharing their approaches to solving them. […]

The post Company Spotlight: WriteLab appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
Throughout the co.lab program, we showcase our companies by interviewing and highlighting their successes and challenges.  In order to build a sense of community around our entrepreneurs, we’d like to focus this series of blogposts for cohort 5 on identifying  problems they’ve had in their  journey as a start up and sharing their approaches to solving them.  By sharing their experiences and challenges in building a company and an educational product, we hope to create new ways to inspire our entrepreneur community.

What is your company’s mission and goals? (Why did you start your company?)

We founded our company to empower all students to write with confidence.

In the typical classroom, students don’t receive the feedback they need to substantively improve their writing. By the time their instructors have reviewed and commented on their work, students are already thinking about their next assignments, and they’re no longer interested in how they can improve their old essays. As a result, students continue to write poorly, improving little if at all during the semester. We built WriteLab to solve this problem.

How are your products helping students learn in new ways?

WriteLab gives instant, actionable, and specific feedback on any piece of writing. We use natural language processing to analyze student writing, suggesting revisions and asking questions to help students improve their clarity, concision, logic, and grammar. We also highlight what students do well. When students see what they’ve done well, they repeat those effective techniques. Our platform helps students learn as they write, coaching them through the writing process and helping them evaluate their decisions. For the first time, writers can get instant, substantive feedback on their work.

What is a challenge your company has faced and how did you solve it?

As we created WriteLab, we aimed to build an end-to-end writing solution. We wanted to guide students from the seeds of an idea to a first draft to a polished and publishable paper. We were excited to dive into building a new writing platform, and we took on several parallel projects. We found ourselves working on too many tasks at once, and we didn’t get any quite right.
We took a step back and asked ourselves what our core value was. We then made sure that we could do these tasks better than anyone else, and that our work would add to a student’s classroom experience.

What have you gotten out of the co.lab experience?

co.lab’s mentors have helped us ask ourselves the right questions. Through co.lab we created a roadmap to product-market fit. We also worked with mentors to improve our core user experience by focusing on our technology. co.lab’s mentors pushed us to consider how we stand out in the crowded marketplace of writing tools, and they helped us see that we can succeed by improving our language parsing algorithms, and therefore our user experience.

co.lab also helped us connect to employees at other edtech companies, who worked with us to improve our design and the experience for first time users.

What advice would you give to future companies about developing for K-12 Ed-Tech?

Take the time to reflect on what matters most to your founders and other stakeholders. Align your work with your core beliefs and your team’s strengths.

Learn more about WriteLab!

WriteLab Site

WriteLab Blog 

WriteLab Facebook Page

WriteLab Twitter

The post Company Spotlight: WriteLab appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-writelab/feed/ 0
co.lab Announces Cohort #5! http://playcolab.com/co-lab-announces-cohort-5/ http://playcolab.com/co-lab-announces-cohort-5/#comments Fri, 04 Mar 2016 23:44:14 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1154 co.lab is delighted to announce the launch of our 5th cohort on Monday March 7, 2016. In the almost 3 years that co.lab has been operating, we have supported 29 educational games startups across a wide range of subject areas including math, STEM, literacy and 21st century skills such as coding, creativity, problem-solving and design […]

The post co.lab Announces Cohort #5! appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
co.lab is delighted to announce the launch of our 5th cohort on Monday March 7, 2016. In the almost 3 years that co.lab has been operating, we have supported 29 educational games startups across a wide range of subject areas including math, STEM, literacy and 21st century skills such as coding, creativity, problem-solving and design thinking.  Our companies have a collective reach of $3 million monthly active users, including teachers, parents, and students, and have raised more than $45M in capital, with $17M raised in past 6 months alone!  

At co.lab we believe that high-quality digital educational experiences hold the promise of driving student achievement, engagement, offer opportunities for collaborative interactions, and unlocking new ways to assess learning. co.lab is addressing these issues by supporting a diverse community of entrepreneurs who are working together to develop and distribute high-quality educational content that builds upon emerging knowledge and best practices from across the games-based learning ecosystem.  

We bring together the resources of our partners; Zynga.org’s access to the best talent and resources in commercial games and Reach Capital’s investment and edTech industry expertise to provide our companies to provide a hands-on mentorship approach.  We customize the experience of each company depending on their specific needs for each area of support.  This year we’ve redesigned some of the key components of the program including an even stronger focus on product support and expanding our Educator – in – Residence program.  

Most importantly, the program has received great accolades from our alumni and the industry.  “Being part of co.lab has been incredible for Nearpod. Deena and Esteban are very committed to helping the companies succeed and they put a lot of effort into providing resources and support to make that possible. Through co.lab companies can get help with everything from business model help to how to navigate the complex privacy laws to how to best design a user’s first time experience. We look forward to giving back to the program by welcoming, mentoring and sharing our experiences with the new cohort members!” says Guido Kovalskys, Founder and CEO of Nearpod and cohort #4 alumnus.

Cohort #5 comprises of an incredibly talented group of entrepreneurs with products ranging from PreK all the way through high school, college and beyond.  co.lab welcomes representatives from around the world including Brazil, Chile, Canada, and both East and West Coasts of the US.

Immplay ImmPlay is setting out to prove that you can build a successful global business out of fun and games! Immplay has a global presence in over 20 countries with the creation and development of high-quality and high-tech toys for children.

Junior Explorers –  Junior Explorers an edtech company teaches kids about wildlife and nature through award winning fun, interactive learning experiences.

Kindoma – Kindoma is a video calling and messaging app specifically designed for young children and their loved ones – think Skype for kids with added interactivity, such as reading, drawing, or playing games.

Lab4U -Lab4U develops technologies using built-in smartphones sensors as science instruments, giving everyone the opportunity to have a Lab In Their Pockets.  Lab4U is a 2nd time participant of co.lab and we are excited to continue the work they started with us in cohort #4.  “We decided to return to co.lab in order to get to the next level, especially around product where Zynga mentors are a great asset,” says Komal Dadlani, CEO and Co-Founder of Lab4U.

WriteLab –  WriteLab is the world’s most advanced writing platform. WriteLab’s algorithms analyze your writing and generate comments to help you draft, revise, and polish your writing. Upload a document, copy-and-paste, or type directly into the WriteLab editor. WriteLab will respond to your writing in a matter of seconds.

Additionally, we are excited to support School of Games, as a co.lab “guest startup” in cohort #5.  School of Games was founded by a Zynga veteran, Anshul Dhawan along with his wife Arjita Sethi.  School of Games has the vision of giving quality education to every child in the world and is producing a product that uses speech recognition to help narrow the “word gap”.  Anshul was inspired by his participation in co.lab as a mentor since the start of the program to venture into the EdTech industry as a way to bring about a change in the world.  We are excited to have School of Games join the co.lab family for cohort #5.  

The post co.lab Announces Cohort #5! appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/co-lab-announces-cohort-5/feed/ 0
Company Spotlight: Lab4U http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-lab4u/ http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-lab4u/#comments Fri, 16 Oct 2015 18:57:46 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1050 Throughout the co.lab program, we showcase our companies by interviewing and highlighting their successes and challenges.  In order to build a sense of community around our entrepreneurs, we’d like to focus this series of blogposts for cohort 4 on identifying  problems they’ve had in their  journey as a start up and sharing their approaches to solving them. […]

The post Company Spotlight: Lab4U appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
Throughout the co.lab program, we showcase our companies by interviewing and highlighting their successes and challenges.  In order to build a sense of community around our entrepreneurs, we’d like to focus this series of blogposts for cohort 4 on identifying  problems they’ve had in their  journey as a start up and sharing their approaches to solving them.  By sharing their experiences and challenges in building a company and an educational product, we hope to create new ways to inspire our entrepreneur community.

What is your company’s mission?

We believe that everyone learns best by doing.  However growing up, we struggled with this concept in our own science education. We want to change that for future students.  At Lab4U we are giving students the opportunity to learn by doing by transforming mobile devices into scientific instruments to improve science education. Our mission is to improve science education by changing the way science is taught and how scientific experiments are performed by delivering low cost and engaging solutions for science education around the world.

How are your products helping students learn in new ways?

Lab4U improves science education by democratizing the lab experience at schools, through the delivery of low-cost solutions. We develop technologies using built-in smartphones sensors as science instruments, giving everyone the opportunity to have a complete lab in their pockets.

We are helping students learn in a new way by giving them the opportunity to experiment and explore science by themselves. We believe science education should spark student’s curiosity by allowing them to measure, calculate and analyze in real time. We help students explore science as a true adventure.

What is a challenge your company has faced and how did you solve it?

As a Start-up and as  young entrepreneurs, one of the most difficult challenges has been to build a good team.  Choosing the correct people has been truly challenging. To solve this big problem, we asked for advice and we pushed ourselves to learn fast.  We failed, but have always tried to fail forward.

Honestly, we hear lots of people criticizing our mission and our products. We have learned to trust our gut, choose our advisors and defend our beliefs. We also had to learn how to speak up for those beliefs, how to make others see what we were seeing, and how to communicate our vision.

What have you gotten out of the co.lab experience?

As an early-stage company, we value knowledge, experience and mentoring. Those were the key aspects of our co.lab experience.  The access to expertise and resources co.lab offered us was truly invaluable.

What advice would you give to future companies about developing for K-12 Ed-Tech?

The only advice I would give is: ask for help, learn fast, listen to others and to your gut.

Learn more about Lab4U!

https://twitter.com/Lab_4U
www.facebook.com/labforu
www.linkedin.com/company/lab4u

 

The post Company Spotlight: Lab4U appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-lab4u/feed/ 0
Company Spotlight: codeSpark http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-codespark/ http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-codespark/#comments Wed, 16 Sep 2015 22:12:45 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1038 What is your company’s mission and goals?  Our mission is to provide computer science education for all kids, everywhere. We aspire to be the global standard for introducing young kids (5+) to computer science and coding.   I was originally inspired by my daughter Naomi.  She took a LEGO robotics class in 1st grade and […]

The post Company Spotlight: codeSpark appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
What is your company’s mission and goals? 

Our mission is to provide computer science education for all kids, everywhere. We aspire to be the global standard for introducing young kids (5+) to computer science and coding.  

I was originally inspired by my daughter Naomi.  She took a LEGO robotics class in 1st grade and was the only girl and youngest kid by two grades.  I went looking for what I assumed existed – tools to teach her the “ABC’s of computer science” and found very little.  My co-founder Joe joined me because he’d been thinking about better ways to teach computer science for over a decade and had always wanted to try teaching via a top notch game.

How are your products helping students learn in new ways?

Our product doesn’t use words.  Our 100% visual coding system allows non-readers and non-English speakers to play.  Also, we start students with structured challenges and then gently introduce them to our creative sandbox.  There is no “blank page” challenge until a player shows mastery of many small creative challenges.  

It’s an approach that has worked for decades for LEGO.  First you build what’s on the box, then you tinker and then finally, when you are ready and confident, you create things from scratch.

What is a challenge your company has faced and how did you solve it?

Most learning games are not fun.  Our first challenge was creating a learning game that not only teaches coding but is also something kids want to do!

Our solution was to look at popular game mechanics that have high engagement like Angry Birds and Super Mario Bros.  Then we focused the design on our target age group (5-9) and engaged in non-stop user testing.  After that, we built paper prototypes and learned which mechanics were universally loved and what we could and couldn’t do with our “no words” interface.  Then, we built digital prototypes based on those findings and tested weekly with our core age group.  

What have you gotten out of the co.lab experience?

We met interesting EdTech investors, entrepreneurs and innovators  at co.lab.  We also connected with top researchers and knowledgeable Zynga execs who were able to provide solid tactical and strategic advice. Most importantly, we got tons of great feedback and data on how to avoid common mistakes in games and edtech.  We benefited from lessons learned by other  companies in the same space and believe those lessons give us a meaningfully better chance to be successful.

What advice would you give to future companies about developing for K-12 ed-tech?

Put the teachers and the kids first.  It’s hard to get out and talk to them but you MUST.  You must observe how learning really happens in order to impact it.

Learn more about codeSpark!

The post Company Spotlight: codeSpark appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-codespark/feed/ 0
Company Spotlight: Pixel Press http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-pixel-press/ http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-pixel-press/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 20:24:29 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1033 What is your company’s mission? When we started Pixel Press, we were inspired by both the imaginative power of the video games we grew up with and the development of creative tools that helped us tell our own stories, which vastly improved throughout high school, college and eventually into our careers. As adults, now many […]

The post Company Spotlight: Pixel Press appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
What is your company’s mission?

When we started Pixel Press, we were inspired by both the imaginative power of the video games we grew up with and the development of creative tools that helped us tell our own stories, which vastly improved throughout high school, college and eventually into our careers.

As adults, now many of us with kids, we wanted to continue that trend, making it easier to create and share content and to develop those skills and mindsets at an earlier age. Our mission is to make games for the whole brain by merging physical and digital worlds, to develop boundless experiences that empower people of all ages to create, share and play.

How are your products helping students learn in new ways?

Kids universally love toys and video games, but parents and teachers don’t always see the value in these experiences.  Our products get kids building, thinking, sharing and growing through a unique combination of hands-on, brains-on activities that leverage a mix of off-screen and on-screen activity.

Our latest product, Bloxels, set for release this holiday season, starts the video game creating process with physical colored blocks. Players are challenged to put down their screen and think strategically. Each block has many possibilities and eventually becomes part of an on-screen experience that combines design, logic and experimentation – manifesting itself as story built around a video game that can be played and shared with others.

What is a challenge your company has faced and how did you solve it?

The physical to digital space is relatively new and there are a lot of challenges with the experience that can only be solved through trial and error. We’re constantly monitoring how our players are using our products and incorporating that feedback into the next generations of our experience. What has been the most challenging is evaluating the integration of physical and digital components. For example, we can’t rely heavily on data driven screen tracking, as it doesn’t tell the complete story. We find we have to spend more time observing our product in action and learn by getting out there and watching how kids interact with our product in real-time.

What have you gotten  out of the co.lab experience?

Co.lab has been an incredible ambassador to our company – which is based not in the Bay Area – but in St. Louis. We’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people during the program, such as Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin (sold to Disney in 2007) and currently the  CEO of Fresh Grade. Lane gave us the opportunity to learn from his experiences building a platform not entirely different than what we are building, and has provided an open door to leveraging his expertise the future.

These types of relationships, along with those that we’re able to cultivate by just being in the Bay Area on a regular basis, have been a huge asset to our company.

What advice would you give to future companies about developing for K-12 ed-tech?

As with most companies, it’s important to focus on solving problems. However, many of us on the entertainment side crossing into education have never been a part of this business outside of being a former “customer” ourselves. As a result, it’s easy to form invalidated opinions on the problems and potential solutions.

Spend as much time as possible learning the problems from those working in education and only state you are providing a solution when you have their validation. True to the concept of education, we’re constantly improving this process ourselves.

Learn more about Pixel Press!


projectpixelpress.com
twitter.com/pixelpressgame

 

The post Company Spotlight: Pixel Press appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-pixel-press/feed/ 0
Company Spotlight: StoryToys http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-storytoys/ http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-storytoys/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 19:05:57 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1018       What is your company’s product? StoryToys is a developer and publisher of a portfolio of educational and entertainment apps for kids. We create original content, and content based on much loved characters such as Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Sesame Street’s Elmo. What is your company’s mission? One of the original […]

The post Company Spotlight: StoryToys appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
Storytoys_barry

 

 

 

What is your company’s product?

StoryToys is a developer and publisher of a portfolio of educational and entertainment apps for kids. We create original content, and content based on much loved characters such as Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Sesame Street’s Elmo.

What is your company’s mission?

One of the original goals we set was to “fix” ebooks for kids. So often the tactility and substance of the real book is lost in the translation from paper to screen, reducing the book experience to something flat with limited interactivity.

We set about creating products that were simultaneously familiar and trustworthy to parents, but new and exciting for children. Aidan and Kevin, our co-founders’ goal was to create the world’s first “digital” pop-up book. They did so with Grimm’s Rapunzel, and the response to this was incredible. Parent’s loved the fact that the app looked and felt like a “real” book, and kids loved that the “book” felt like a game. We discovered that our success would lie in carefully balancing the needs of the parent (the customer), and the child (the consumer).

How are your products helping students learn in new ways?

We design our products primarily as entertainment products, but ensure that they have a strong pedagogy underpinning them. This ensures a high level of engagement. Kids don’t really see them as learning tools, but fun stories and games. This has resulted in play session rates that run 4-5 times longer than benchmark interactive books.  Our Farm 123 title, which was our first “Original IP”, and remains one of our all-time best-sellers is a great example of this.

What is a challenge your company has faced and how did you solve it?

We are constantly evolving our business in line with the market. By 2012 it had become clear to us that the App Store had become oversaturated with interactive book titles based on “classic” IP. Discovery became a real challenge for us, and we were seeing diminishing returns from successive product launches, and marketing initiatives were not delivering results. We determined we needed differentiated products, but could not afford to take the risk of switching to entirely original products. So we set about identifying key third party brands that we would like to license, and integrate into StoryToys products. We knew that if we did so, we would benefit from organic discovery online and in the App Store, and our thesis was that a licensing programme would not only deliver strong sales to the licensed products, but would also lift our other products if we integrated a cross-promotional framework. This turned out to be correct. We now run a careful balance of licensed product development and original content, and our sales ratio is about 70% original content.

What do you hope to get out of the co.lab experience?

co.lab for us has many benefits, from being co-located with a great group of companies, to the knowledge gained from the co.lab team and the guest office hours. One of the key benefits has been access to mentorship within the broader Zynga organization. Last year we embarked upon the development of a major new product which we hope will ultimately become the primary focus for the company. We’ve invested everything we know about making kids products into this, but we’ve had knowledge gaps, due to the fact that our monetization model for this new product differs significantly from our previous products. Our Zynga mentors have helped us figure out these gaps, and we’ve been able to apply a wealth of Zynga learnings to our new product.

What advice would you give to future companies about developing for K-12 ed-tech?

I can’t speak specifically to the later grades here or to companies selling school-targeted products, as we focus on consumer sales. For companies looking at the app market, I would note the competitive nature of the Pre-K to K3 category, and advise every company to deeply research every corner of the app store before committing to a specific idea or theme. I would then spend a lot of time on the product depth, visual and interaction design of the product. There are many tremendously sophisticated apps available for this category and standing out will come down to flawless execution.

Learn More about StoryToys!

StoryToys Showreel
StoryToys on the App Store
StoryToys on Google Play
StoryToys on YouTube

The post Company Spotlight: StoryToys appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-storytoys/feed/ 0
Company Spotlight: Nearpod http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-nearpod/ http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-nearpod/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 01:48:42 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=1008   What is your company’s product? Nearpod is a learning platform that has been specifically designed for the use of mobile devices in the classroom. What is your company’s mission? Our mission is to empower educators to create learning experiences that engage and inspire millions of students around the world. Our product aims to magnify […]

The post Company Spotlight: Nearpod appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
NearPodTeamPic

 

What is your company’s product?

Nearpod is a learning platform that has been specifically designed for the use of mobile devices in the classroom.

What is your company’s mission?

Our mission is to empower educators to create learning experiences that engage and inspire millions of students around the world. Our product aims to magnify the teacher’s craft as a facilitator, instructor and lecturer by enhancing their live instruction with mobile devices.

How are your products helping students learn in new ways?

Using Nearpod, teachers easily create engaging interactive presentations and insert a variety of real-time assessment tools. During class, they launch a Nearpod Presentation and guide their students as they use their tablet, smartphone, or other web enabled device to have an interactive learning experience. With a combination of self-paced and instructor-led activities, students can navigate teacher-curated content, collaborate by sharing one another’s work, compose short essays and participate in multiple types of formative assessments. As a result, student engagement levels rise significantly and teachers can assess understanding in real time, which ultimately leads to improved learning outcomes.

What do you hope to get out of the co.lab experience?

Our priorities for co.lab are to use the principles of design thinking around the following challenge:  ”How can the principles of gamification improve the teacher’s experience using nearpod? Our aim is to rapidly prototype different versions of our key findings throughout the course of our time at co.lab. We plan to leverage the gaming expertise in the co.lab community (cohort members, Zynga employees, broader gaming community) to achieve this goal.

What is a challenge your company has faced and how did you solve it?

Nearpod was originally founded in Miami in 2012, and the transition from being a tech upstart in south Florida to a fully-fledged Silicon Valley startup proved to be our formative challenge. On the one hand, bootstrapping the company in Miami allowed us to connect with local schools to advance our product and develop an early revenue stream–a rare step for startups, which are typically concerned with growth over revenue. At the same time, we had little-to-no access to Venture Capital funds, a connection that is helpful not just for the financial resources they offer, but also for the mentorship and shared expertise.

While Nearpod didn’t have early access to Silicon Valley Venture Capital, we did have access to teachers and classrooms in Miami who provided us rich insights about how to develop and improve the product. In the early stages of development, we iterated and tested Nearpod with teachers many times over until we had a solid, classroom-ready product. Investors would express skepticism towards our ability to build a business around teachers and school. So we tested various pricing strategies with teachers and schools until we got to a model that worked: we converted free teacher users into paid school contracts.

While VCs were wary of working with schools, we came armed with proof that our go-to-market strategy was successful in Miami. Still, we had to be persistent.  After pitching New Schools Venture Fund for a third time, we were able to show them the potential of our product and they finally agreed to make a seed investment in Nearpod.  That ended up opening  up a world of opportunities, including a fellowship at Stanford, access to expertise, and to a greater network of advisors who helped us accelerate our growth.

What advice would you give to future companies about developing for K-12 ed-tech?

  1. Get inside schools. Teachers, students and parents work together in a unique ecosystem.  Without a fine understanding of that ecosystem, your product will likely fail to live to its potential. Knowing your user is not just good product design; it will lead to  insights that will improve your venture and can improve K-12 education beyond that.
  2. Experiment monetization and go-to-market models early.   Don’t wait until you feel you have complete product-market fit or massive traction to explore monetization strategies. Do that early on.  Get to your first 10 schools and/or 1k teachers or parents early, and nurture them to ensure they are extremely successful using your product.  Those early users will be your best allies.

Find out more about Nearpod!

Nearpod Launches Partnership with Common Sense Media

Blogpost on Why Nearpod Chose Reach Capital

Teachers Talk about Why They Love Nearpod

 

The post Company Spotlight: Nearpod appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/company-spotlight-nearpod/feed/ 0
Learning Games to help stop the Summer Slide! http://playcolab.com/learning-games-help-stop-summer-slide/ http://playcolab.com/learning-games-help-stop-summer-slide/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 01:00:28 +0000 http://playcolab.com/?p=952 “Summer slide,” “brain drain,” “learning loss,” are all ways of describing what happens to your children’s minds over the summer months when they are not continually engaged and stimulated.   Research spanning over 10 years shows that kids score lower on the same standardized tests at the end of the summer than they do at the […]

The post Learning Games to help stop the Summer Slide! appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
“Summer slide,” “brain drain,” “learning loss,” are all ways of describing what happens to your children’s minds over the summer months when they are not continually engaged and stimulated.   Research spanning over 10 years shows that kids score lower on the same standardized tests at the end of the summer than they do at the beginning of the summer.  During the summer months, your kids may ask for more screen time than normal. Most parents are concerned about their children’s screen time, but if you set consistent limits, are involved in choosing age-appropriate content, stay involved in their screen time by co-viewing and co-playing and reflect on the experience together, screen time can be beneficial and help extend the learning for your child. Digital games are a great way to keep your child’s mind actively engaged and learning.  Games naturally build comprehension, literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  As we are half-way through the summer, here are our picks of great apps and online games from the co.lab portfolio and beyond that will keep your kids learning through the summer and stop that summer slide from happening!

Pre K (3-4 Years)

 

MyVeryHungryCat

My Very Hungry Caterpillar
Developer:StoryToys
Platform:iOS, Android,windows

StoryToys Entertainment has a wonderful suite of interactive digital storybooks and game apps.  In My Very Hungry Caterpillar, players help the Hungry Caterpillar find food and grow.  Players scroll left and right to explore the world and can touch on fruit to feed the caterpillar and other objects keep him happy.  There are food and happiness meters at the top of the screen that show your progress.  The Caterpillar eventually turns into a beautiful butterfly (after 5 days of play) and the cycle starts all over again.  This app is magnificently animated and will surely keep your little ones engaged and learning about the metamorphosis process.

intro to lettersIntro to Math screen520x924

Intro to Letters and Intro to Math
Developer: Montessorium
Platform: iOS-Letters, iOS-Math


These two great apps from Montessorium teach your early learner how to read, write and understand letters and numbers.  The apps provide simple, intuitive interfaces for kids to trace letters and numbers, hear  letter names and sounds spoken, and record and listen to the letters and numbers they recite.  All of Montessorium’s apps are based on the methodology of Montessori and allow kids to move learn at their own pace.

Kikos_screen520x924

Kiko’s Thinking Time
Developer: Kiko Labs
Platform: iOS


Kiko’s Thinking Time from Kiko Labs engages children ages 3-6 with a series of mini-brain training games that help improve their cognitive skills like memory, inhibition, cognitive flexibility, reasoning, focus and spatial skills.  Kids help Kiko on her quest for treasures and meet other animals along the way in her village.  The game includes a motivating reward system and a parent dashboard that keeps parents updated on how their child is progressing through the app.  Kiko’s Thinking Time was designed with Harvard and UC Berkeley neuroscientists, with support from the US Department of Education, and it was created with one goal in mind – to help children succeed and prepare for school where executive functioning and reasoning skills are critical for success.

K-2nd (5-8 years)

 

endless-spanish-feature-480x300

Endless Spanish
Developer: Originator
Platform: iOS


Endless Spanish is a fantastic follow up to the great hits from Originator including Endless Alphabet, Endless Reader, Endless Numbers and Endless WordPlay.  Endless Spanish introduces children to frequently used Spanish words by allowing kids to build the word and then putting it into context in a sentence.  The adorable endless monsters provide the fun for this engaging learning experience.

the_foos

The Foos
Developer: codespark
Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle, Safari and Firefox


The Foos is a great way to introduce your child at an early age to the ABC’s of computer science through a combination of structured challenges and open-ended play. The “no words” interface makes this game accessible for kids as young as 4 years old in over 150 countries to play. Your child is guided through multiple levels and worlds with an adorable set of characters (The Foos) by creating a sequence of actions; for example, move once to the right and then jump to catch a star.  These sequences are created by dragging and dropping the picture blocks from the bottom into your desired order.   With each sequence, your child is not only learning about sequencing, loops, and conditional statements, but also developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and perseverance — all 21st century skills our children need today.

todo_screen640x640Todo Math
Developer: Locomotive Labs
Platform: iOS

Todo Math offers 3 ways for children to practice their Math skills, including 1). a guided “mission-based” path, 2). free choice where the child can choose any activity in any order and 3). play-based monster quizzes.  Games include practice with counting and cardinality, number operations, mathematical reasoning and time and money.  With 600+ activities and games  all aligned to Pre-K-2nd math standards and activities, Todo Math will keep your child engaged and having fun while they learn key Math concepts and skills.

brainzy2Brainzy and Book Builder
Developer: education.com
Platform: Online, iOS


From education.com, Brainzy is a comprehensive online learning program that covers reading and math skills for kids ages 3-7 years old.  The program includes 50 songs and videos, 50 ebooks and 300 games that provide a fun and engaging learning experience for your child. Brainzy can be played on a browser on your computer or tablet but they also offer an app called  Book Builder  that is a wonderful choose your own adventure style reading experience.

TYMTR_imageTeach Your Monster How to Read
Developer: Usborne Foundation
Platform: iOS


Aimed at 3-6 year olds, Teach Your Monster How to Read teaches your child how to read by offering mini-games in a cute, colorful, monster world.  Kids start by creating their own monster which personalizes the experience and gives the player a sense of ownership.  The monster blasts into space and then crashes.  Kids can play 8 mini-games to help get their monster fix his spaceship.

2nd-5th (7-10 years)

introtoUSIntro to United States
Developer: Motessorium
Platform: iOS


Like the other suite of apps from Motessorium, Intro to United States is based on the Montessori method.  Kids learn names, shapes, location, and the animals of each state through a variety of game play including shape identification and matching, labeling and tracing. The content is scaffolded so the child gets level-appropriate practice.

brainventures3Brainventures
Developer: Kizoom
Platform: iOS


Brainventures is the newest app from Kizoom that focuses on teaching kids that they have the power to make their brains grow and become stronger!  Through a series of mini-games, kids practice skills like pattern recognition and hand-eye coordination through fun and engaging activities.  Designed by neuroscientists, Brainventures is inspired by research on the growth mindset which shows that when kids understand they have the ability to make their brains stronger, they perform better in school and become more successful in life.  Let your child train their brain with Brainventures!

motionMathCupcake

Motion Math: Cupcake
Developer: Motion Math
Platform: iOS


Motion Math offers a suite of apps that span ages 4-10 and cover anything from number lines to fractions, decimals and percentages.   These Math apps don’t just drill and kill but teach conceptual knowledge focusing on the process of reaching an answer rather than the answer itself.  In Motion Math: Cupcake, kids run a cupcake delivery business and learn about word problems, proportions, mental math and the coordinate system by buying ingredients, designing cupcakes, setting prices and delivering to customers.  In addition to fun play patterns, players can adjust difficulty levels and there is a detailed teacher and parent dashboard so you can keep track of your kids as they progress in the games.

codemonkeycodemonkey
Developer: Codemonkey
Platform: Online


CodeMonkey is an online game for children ages 9 and up to learn coding. The game teaches coding through step-by-step tutorials within a number of levels.  What sets codemonkey apart is that children write actual code to solve puzzles.  The cute set of characters lend to a delightful and fun experience.

mathbreakers

Math Breakers
Developer:Mathbreakers
Platform:Online Download Mac, Windows, Linux


Mathbreakers is an online downloadable 3D Math game in which students learn fractions, integers and negative numbers in a virtual world.  Kids can also use the video game and level editor to build and share their own math puzzles, games and monsters.

5th-8th (10-14 years)

pixelpress_floors

Pixel Press: Floors
Developer: Pixel Press
Platform: iOS


Floors is a unique app that allows kids to become video game designers.  What’s unique about Floors is that players use a pencil and graph paper to draw their game levels.  Then, they take a picture of their game and their creation is turned into a digital video game.  The game can be fleshed out by adding characters, power ups and other details.   You can also play other kids creations, so there is a whole community of designers and players!

the.sandbox-pixowlPixowl’s The Sandbox
Developer: Pixowl
Platform: iOS


In Pixowl’s The Sandbox, you get to play god by creating worlds with all the elements (water, soil and stones) at your disposal to make rain and electricity, grow plants, or raise mountains.  You can earn mana, your currency, by completing challenges and earning achievements along the way.  Build and create your universe  through 300 levels and over 200 elements or completely destroy it through with Sandbox!

marsgenone

Mars Generation One
Developer: GlassLabGames
Platform: iOS


From GlassLab Games in collaboration with NASA, Mars Generation One is an immersive gaming experience that not only focuses on literacy and STEM skills but also  helps develop key 21st century skills like persuasion, reasoning and leadership skills.  Players are students of Argubot Academy and are asked to make important decisions to build their community on Mars by building arguments for every choice they make.

WT_GameBanner_940x300-600x191Brainquake: Wuzzit Trouble
Developer: Brainquake
Platform: iOS, Android


Wuzzit Trouble is a great puzzle game for all ages that focuses on mathematical conceptual thinking.  Players rotate cogs of a wheel to help release the cute Wuzzits and earn stars.  As the levels progress, additional variables are added to encourage more abstract problem solving. The starring system allows any player to progress through the system, but more advanced players are rewarded with more stars.  While many learning games mask learning with the fun of the gameplay, in Wuzzit Trouble, the game IS the learning.

minecraft-hd-wallpaper-2018-2118-hd-wallpapersMinecraft
Developer: Microsoft
Platform: Online, iOS, Android, Xbox 360, Playstation 3


You’ve heard the hype, but what’s it all about?  Why are so many middle schoolers obsessed with Minecraft?  The game and phenomena around Minecraft can be difficult for parents to understand.  Minecraft is like building something with legos, but then taking an adventure inside that world through jungles, oceans, deserts – all while being chased by monsters!  Minecraft is a super creative tool that allows players to build and destroy.  Kids are in control of their worlds and can build their own safe spaces, exploring at their own pace and risk threshold levels.   Completing challenges is rewarded with the presentation of new challenges which provides for endless replayability.  Minecraft offers kids a place to express themselves while sharing and learning from others through the extensive online community.  And if you’re concerned about the educational value,  Minecraft is great for learning! It teaches concepts like logic, focus and perseverance, problem solving, goal-setting, science, economics and literacy, and encourages kids to be creative and curious.

 

The post Learning Games to help stop the Summer Slide! appeared first on co.lab.

]]>
http://playcolab.com/learning-games-help-stop-summer-slide/feed/ 0