The 21th century classroom on a budget

 

Yesterday we stumbled across Ubi, an American company producing software that can transform “any surface into a multi-touch display”.

Kinect+Projector+Computer=Interactive whiteboard
The technology alone is interesting enough. Using a combination of a regular projector, a Kinect for Windows a Windows 8 PC and Ubi’s software, you can make your own huge scale multi-touch display. The simplicity of the concept is appealing but it is the educational value of the technology that really gets our blood pumping.

The cost of upgrading the classroom to modern standards can be overwhelming and the reason why some schools haven’t adopted the new technologies, despite the advantages. Especially interactive whiteboards have, according to some studies, the ability to boost the educational impact on students. This, of course, requires the teachers to be familiar with the technology before the optimum teaching experience is reached. If the teachers do have the technology readily at hand and have experience using it, both teacher and students can benefit from it.

A more affordable classroom
This could be where Ubi enters the scene. The combination of generally cheap, commonplace components, and Ubi’s software could usher in a more budget friendly version of the 21th century classroom. By saving 30 to 50 percent on hardware, the amount of classrooms getting mordernised grows.

As an educational software developer, Savivo has briefly delved into the territory of interactive whiteboards and consider the technology promising. The way activities and exercises can take on a collaborative aspect is really interesting, and a way to break the mold of rigid education in new ways. The way not only the participants but also an audience get to take action makes the hardware an obvious part of future education.

The future of educational technology is bright!
Ubi’s software and the hardware solution necessary looks to be quite sensible and we applaud any technology that gives teachers and educators new possibilities and tools. We hope to see more inventive and highly usable solutions in the future!
Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 12.12.45 PMOur English Word Battle game, for use on interactive whiteboards.

The smartwatch war begins, which is why your child should be able to tell time

It has been brewing for a long time, the battle of the smartwatches. When the Pebble, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign earning a record-setting 10.2 million dollars, breathed new life into the concept of watches with the capabilities of a small computer, life was at the same time given to a new battle for the consumers’ favor. A battle Samsung seeks to win over Apple.

As reported by Bloomberg, Samsung is getting ready to present their new smartwatch, Samsung Galaxy Gear, at their press conference the 4th of September, ahead of the IFA consumer electronics tradeshow in Berlin. This will surely force Apple to present their coming smartwatch, nicknamed iWatch, too.

Can you tell time?
What does this mean? There are the obvious benefits, like being able to check mails, messages and more without ever needing to pull out your smartphone. You just need to peek at your watch and all your information needs are satisfied. But it’s not just pure technological bliss. What happens to the regular watch as a cultural and shaping element, for example?

According to a YouGov survey, almost 60% of 16-34 year olds use their phone as a timepiece instead of a watch. At this point, with smartphones and digital watches as the primary way to keep time, why should young people learn to tell time on a traditional clock? In short, because the analogue watch is a valuable part of our cultural heritage.

Jokes and expressions
We don’t need to mention all the various analogue clocks set up across the world. Famous clock towers, clocks at train stations and so on. The modern man will probably be exposed to analogue clocks at the very least twice every day, even if he might not notice it.
An aspect of clocks that might not be immediately obvious is how they have shaped our language. In English, German and a number of other languages expressions such as “clockwise” and “counterclockwise” describe turning. In military brevity code, a unindentified radar contact (a Bogey) is described according to clock positions.
These things are worth preserving, as they are a vital part of our lingual and cultural history. If the analogue clock is allowed to become some sort of arcane knowledge, a part of our history is lost. Jokes, like the one between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (“11 o’clock!” “What happens at 11?”), loses all meaning.

Apart from changing all clocks around the world to digital ones, and judging from the outrage BBC got for their 1980 April Fool’s joke that won’t be happening anytime soon, the only other thing to do is to preserve the analogue clock.
Here at Savivo we know the importance of knowing the analogue clock. The advent of smartwatches shouldn’t be ignored, but by giving children and young people the skills to decipher the analogue clock, smartwatches won’t cause us to lose part of our culture.foto 1Mingoville Fun Clock is created to make it easy to teach children how to tell time on an analogue clock. Some adults are even using it to learn how to tell time in different languages.
Fun Clock is available on Apple’s App Store, Google Play, Windows Store and Amazon Appstore.

A salute to the “dumb” phone

At Savivo, we have always been working on as many digital devices as possible. Almost all our products are available across Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, with a few available on Windows too. Just last month, we proudly released the Android version of our popular Mingoville Preschool. Our programmers tirelessly work on implementing new technologies, more efficient code and more functions, and new potential platforms for our products are always considered.
With this in mind, seeing a headline called The Death Of The “Dumb” Phone Is Near made us stop and reminisce for a while.

Trip down Memory Lane
Back in 2008, Savivo (under the name of Mingoville) released the first non-web based product, the Mingoville English Sudoku game for mobile phones. The game was inspired by the Sudoku game from Mingoville English and had three levels of difficulty. The game was designed to improve English listening skills, through listening and recognizing English words.


Similarly, a math Sudoku game was produced to tie in with Mondiso. The principle was the same: By letting the children have a fun game on their Flash-supported phones, they could learn English and math everywhere! With almost 20.000 combined downloads, the games were received well.
These two mobile games weren’t the last. A series of SkoleMat games was produced, each around a specific mathematical discipline.

And now, it seems like the old phones, cruelly called “dumb phones” to distinguish them from the smartphone, are on the decline. Research company Gartner expects smart phones to sell 1.82 billion this year. For the first time ever, more smartphones have been sold than traditional mobile phones. It is especially Android smartphones that is responsible for the decline.

The Silver Lining
But every cloud has a silver lining. In this case the silver lining is the possibilities smartphones give our developers.
Multitouch screens allows for more natural interaction with the games, more powerful mobile processors makes the games more beautiful and more advanced, while the various functions of modern smartphones open up for new options.

Let’s not mourn the passing of the old mobile phone. Instead, let’s celebrate the brave new world the smartphone has created. We are working on several new products, all taking advantage of the capabilities of smartphones, and we are looking forward to sharing them with you!Sudoku_wrong.jogIf you’ve got a hankering for playing our Sudoku game, it is available on both iOS and Android phones. Do try it out!

Doing homework with Mingoville

Edutainment and educational games are on the rise. But one thing is to find a game that educates children, another is to find a game that supports homework and evaluation of the students. Mingoville does both things. It teaches children English, all the while giving teachers the ability to assign and evaluate homework.

If you are signed in to Mingoville.com as a teacher, you have some additional options compared to regular users.
Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 3.46.58 PMPlanning and evaluating
With the Planning tool, you are able to assign homework to your students, with both optional and mandatory assignments. The assignments can be chosen from all the different activities and missions from Mingoville. If needed, you can assign different assignments to different children, depending on their expertise and current level of learning.

When it comes to checking the homework, Mingoville also makes that easy. Thanks to a clean and efficient interface, checking a student’s performance in a nice, graphical way has never been easier. Using our Evaluation tool, you can sort the students by Name, Scoring and assigned homework.
UntitledAdministration and use in the classroom
You can also sign up new students, assign them to teacher profiles and manage their accounts, using the Admin tool. If you are a Danish teacher, and your school uses the UNI-C login, you do not have to create new users as they are already registered.
It is simple to use and create your own curriculum using Mingoville, and both teachers and students will be able to use the software with no difficulty.

We also have various supplemental materials to use outside the computer. Bingo cards, cartoons related to the Illustrate the Story missions in the game, and downloadable versions of the karaoke songs. These supplemental materials makes Mingoville a good choice for both on- and offline education.

Remember, signing up for a Mingoville trial is easy and free. You can get started by pressing this link and press the large, green “Sign up for FREE” button.

Education on the app market

What is the definition of an educational app? We’d argue that it is a program, or game, which teaches you something you didn’t know before, or expands on previous taught skills and abilities.
But simply learning something new isn’t really enough. Most normal games teach you something, even if it just is “Touch this and it’s game over”. Having a creative content doesn’t cut it either. After all, playing with a virtual puppy or with virtual blocks might inspire you and stimulate your imagination, but downright teach you something? Probably not. For it to be an educational app, it would have to teach you something that makes you better and more productive, or gives you some necessary skills.

Little educational value
Take a look at the app market of your chosing, under the educational category. Right now, just looking at the Top 25 over paid apps, you might see at least 5 apps, which doesn’t exactly fit into the category. Some of them are simple toys without any kind of educational content, even if they are fun and creative toys.
Why, then, do these apps continue to pop up, and in some cases, dominate in the Educational Apps category?
sadmingoThe answer might be, that there’s no real control over what categories you assign your app to. No one makes sure that the app where you make sandwiches to anthropomorphic animals is indeed educational or more fitting for, say, the Games category.

Is the answer seperation?
Perhaps the real problem is, that there’s not category fitting for children games or apps. Them being shunted into Education might make some sense, from a developer’s point of view. But it does cause some problems.
First of all, genuine educational apps and games are easily lost in the heap of often well-made but not very educational apps. This makes it difficult to find the right app without wading through a sea of unrelated content.
Secondly, it makes for poor return of investment for any teachers looking for potential teaching aids. No teacher has the time to download and try out that many apps, hoping to find the burried treasure.

The solution to this problem could be a seperation of general children oriented content and educational content. I’m sure there’s some overlap between the two categories, but it would cut down on the trouble and hassle potential purchasers face, when looking for educational content for their phones and tablet.

Apple’s doing it. Google..?
Back in June, when Apple presented their new iOS7 operational system for mobile platforms, one of the, to us, major updates will be the introduction of a category for children. Instead of having apps and games for children spread across the entire App Store, they will in the future be showcased in a single, curated category.
Our hope is that Google will follow in their footsteps and introduce something similar. Google Play for Education, launching sometime this fall, might possibly be the answer to our prayers. Either way, fall 2013 looks to be very interesting for educational apps!happymiingo