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

Mingoville Develops Educational English Games for the Mobile Phone

Lots of interesting projects are under development at Mingoville at the moment. I think it is about time to give you a small update. One of the projects we will be spending a lot of time on the next 6 months is educational mobile games. We are certain that mobile learning will be a large part of our future. Mobile phones are spreading faster than laptops among our young English learners around the world. Mobile phone penetration in Tanzania and Kenya to mention a few countries is estimated to hit 100% by the end of 2013.

We have set a goal to integrate mobile educational games into all our web-based learning universes. Both media have their strengths and weaknesses for educational purposes. The main challenges for our web programs are the lack of adequate IT infrastructure both at schools and in many less developed countries. By developing mobile games, we extend the availability of free English for kids and we give the teachers and the kids an opportunity to learn fun English even though they do not have a laptop, if the WIFI is down or if broadband is not available.

English Sudoku on the mobile phone

However, most of the English mobile games that we have on the drawing board will be 100% integrated with the Virtual World to give the kids a complete experience of mobility and connectivity – the score on the mobile phone can be submitted to the Virtual World and any Mingoville item gained by learning on the mobile phone will be available in the Virtual World as well. It will always be possible to use the English mobile games independently of Mingoville Virtual World.

For now, our focus is on developing our math universes for the mobile phones. Our math programs follow the Danish math curriculum for all school kids – both in primary and secondary school – which makes the programs very suitable for a national project this size. The Mobile Math Library will contain more than 100 educational math games for the mobile phone. It will be distributed nationally to all Danish kids free of charge. The goal is to have all Danish schools to use the free mobile math library in class as a supplement to the traditional math tuition. It’s going to be free to download all the games to the mobile phone either through the mobile web or by texting – the data traffic is sponsored by the large Danish teleoperators. Denmark is our test market – when everything runs smoothly here, we will take the project abroad.

The knowledge we gain from the project will also be used to develop more English mobile games that allow the kids to immerse themselves into the language through their mobile phone. We are even looking into how a mobile barcode can be integrated into classroom activities. We have some great ideas that we will share with you later.

A while ago we launched the Mingoville English Sudoku in Mingoville Virtual World. We have developed the Sudoku English game for the mobile phone as well. Please notice that it is a beta version and it only runs on newer mobile phones. Go to www.mingoville.com – if you are on your computer you can either download the game by using bluetooth or cable (save the link, right click on the file and send it by bluetooth to your mobile phone). If you have web access on your mobile phone you can download the English game directly from www.mob.mingoville.com. Tip: You can share the game with your students by using the bluetooth in your mobile phone. It’s a great way of practicing English vocabulary and listening skills. To read more about how you play the game and the learning principles behind click here

We expect more English mobile games will be available in second half of 2010. All good ideas on how to integrate the mobile phone into the classroom are welcome – we are always open for suggestions.