Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Diana Hughes, the Director, Adaptive Games at Age of Learning, Inc. about ABCmouse Mastering Math
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
Today, 60% of children in the U.S. are not proficient in math by the by the time they reach fourth grade (according to The Nation's Report Card). Globally, there are similar challenges facing young learners when it comes to foundational math skills. This lack of proficiency can have devastating long-term consequences because math ability is a strong predictor of later academic success. ABCmouse Mastering Math is designed to meet this critical need by helping children develop a solid understanding of fundamental math concepts. At Age of Learning, our purpose is to help children everywhere build a strong foundation for future academic success and to foster a love of learning at an early age.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
We are actively working to expand the game to cover more grades and harder math. Expect to see many new Shapey games in the future!
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the creation of this app?
Seeing kids interact with and learn from our games has been very rewarding. Our game development process is extremely kid-focused and involves continuous user testing with children to gain insights. We conduct user research and efficacy testing in our office and onsite at local schools. It's incredible to watch a child sit down with our game for a few minutes, have a really good time, and walk away knowing something they didn't know before.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
Our coolest feature is the Personalized Mastery Learning System (PMLS)–a system which selects learning objectives for the child and adjusts the difficulty of games based on how he or she plays and performs. The PMLS makes it possible to give every single child a customized educational experience–exactly what they need, when they need it.
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
You would think that teaching young kids (3-5 year olds) something simple like counting would be easy, but we are here to tell you that it's quite difficult. The math is deceptively complicated and our young players aren't nearly as unsophisticated as people tend to assume. It has been a wonderful challenge making sure we accomplish the deep learning required without sacrificing the surprise and delight that players at this age need.
Which other mobile apps or technology have inspired you?
It's a little old-school, but our biggest inspirations are math manipulative toys, like those you find in classrooms. We have shelves full of ten frames, counters, base ten blocks, unifex cubes, and more that we regularly play with as part of our design process. Math manipulatives give us two strong advantages:
- They allow a child to understand WHY a mathematical principle works
- They feel like toys, which means they're easy to build fun gameplay around. We are actively working to expand Mastering Math to cover additional grades and more difficult math.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
Test your app with users as often as you can because your users will always surprise you. Some of our best features were discovered and developed through the user testing process. Also, don't discount the power of mobile apps to change the world! The widespread adoption of mobile devices worldwide means that you have the chance to use your talents to make the world better for millions, even billions of people. It's an incredible opportunity, and one we find extremely rewarding.
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
We are currently available on iOS and Android for both tablets and phones. Touch-based platforms like these are very natural interfaces for the children we reach. We plan to stick to these platforms for the time being, but as technology evolves, so will we!
Click here to download on Google Play
Click here to visit on iTunes App Store
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
Mastering Math's combination of learning science, adaptive technology, world-class curriculum, and highly-polished production values help make learning math an enjoyable experience for young children. Other products offer some components of that equation, such as adaptive technology that recommends quiz questions, or a polished game with limited curricular efficacy, but nothing we've seen provides as complete a package as our Personalized Mastery Learning System and Mastering Math app.
You can view ABCmouse Mastering Math here
For more information, visit: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/abcmouse-mastering-math/id1200573768?mt=8