Skoolbo Founder and CEO on the Importance of Fun and Play in Pedagogy

We know that kids learn better when they’re actively engaged, and education company Skoolbo knows that the secret to engaging kids in learning is by making learning fun. The company has developed Skoolbo Core Skills, a game that helps kids strengthen their Core Skills in literacy and numeracy. We spoke with founder and CEO of Skoolbo Shane Hill to learn more about the company’s vision of how they can engage children in learning.

Shane Hill, founder and CEO of Skoolbo

Shane Hill, founder and CEO of Skoolbo

What age group primarily uses Skoolbo games? What kinds of games does the company offer?

Skoolbo is designed for four- to 10-year-olds. We offer learning games in literacy and numeracy. The literacy component commences with letter and sound development and moves through phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, spelling and grammar. In numeracy Skoolbo starts with counting and progresses right through to multiplication and division. Children have fun learning while enjoying fantastic 3D worlds, amazing fun, multiplayer races. Skoolbo has developed powerful underlying algorithms which continually monitor each child and automatically provide a highly differentiated curriculum for each child.

How are you promoting Skoolbo to parents and teachers? Do you reach out primarily to parents, or do you market the games to schools and teachers?

Skoolbo is largely being promoted by word of mouth. We have created it so that it can be used both at home and at school. We are finding that around 60 percent of children are being registered by their teachers with the remaining coming directly through parents.

How is Skoolbo being used in the classrooms? Can you share any examples of teachers implementing the games successfully?

Many schools are using Skoolbo as part of their splitting of the class into groups. Teachers particularly appreciate the fact that even four- and five-year-olds are able to work independently on Skoolbo. Furthermore, the curriculum algorithms ensure every child is receiving highly appropriate content. Skoolbo represents an excellent station for one group of children, thereby allowing the teacher to concentrate on helping other groups during that time. We are delighted to have received some wonderful feedback from teachers, including:

As a school, AIS has been delighted by the level of engagement of our students and by the improvement of their skills both in literacy and numeracy. Skoolbo has certainly captured their attention and motivated them to earn points and to reach ‘Superhero’ status. Above all, however, it is the ability of the program to adapt to the skill levels of each individual child that has proven to be so attractive to us as a school. In this way, we know that each child is being challenged at his or her own level and is able to move forward at his or her own pace. This is a winning formula for us and is reflected in our results to date.”

-Sue Pike, Head of Junior School, Australian International School, Singapore

How can parents and teachers tell if the games are successful?

The best test of all is simply by watching how children interact with Skoolbo. They become excited, motivated and engaged. Teachers and parents are often surprised by the reaction of the children.

Teachers and parents also have access to their respective dashboards. They are able to see detailed reports on the children which highlight individual strengths and weaknesses as well as showing improvement over time.

What differentiates Skoolbo’s games from other educational games on the market?

We have made Skoolbo completely free of charge for children and teachers. Parents have the choice between a great free version and an inexpensive ($30 for entire family for 12 month subscription) premium version with additional reports and features.

Skoolbo is the world’s largest ever educational game. More than 50,000 development hours have gone into its creation. Every aspect of Skoolbo has

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one purpose and that is to lift learning. Some of the key pedagogies include:

  • Make it FUN!! This is by far and away the most important aspect in making e-learning work with this age group.
  • Highly individualized curriculum.
  • Immediate feedback and support.
  • High volume and fast paced.
  • A rewards scheme to promote desired learning patterns.
  • Highly meaningful reporting for teachers and parents

How are kids able to play Skoolbo without violating COPPA laws?

Teachers and parents grant permission for the children to play Skoolbo. Children are not able to communicate with other children through Skoolbo.

Do Skoolbo’s games address the Common Core Standards?

Very much so! The curriculum has been designed for Common Core Standards.

Any future goals/projects for Skoolbo that our readers should know about?

There are lots of exciting upcoming developments. We are continuing to release some wonderful new racing worlds and in early 2013 children will be receiving their pet dragons! The dragons should be a great motivational factor for learning. We are also about to release our “Great Job!” section which is a celebration party when children achieve significant learning milestones.

In December Skoolbo will release its HTML5 version. This is a scaled back 2D version which can be played through the browser. We have found that some schools have difficulty installing Skoolbo do to their school network protocols. Thus, the HTML5 version will be a great solution for those schools.

In 2013 Skoolbo will be expanding to 26 languages. Initially that will assist children learning to read in those languages and then this will be followed by a language learning program.

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Check out Skoolbo’s trailer, embedded below. Skoolbo is currently available on PC, Mac, iPad and Android.

Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.

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About Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.