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  • Zynga Co-Founder Offers to Teach Kids Math Through Gaming
Technology Articles > Entertainment > Games > Zynga Co-Founder Offers $2M to Teach Kids Math Through Gaming

Sokikom, a startup company who knows teachers of K-12 students need all the help they can get when it comes to motivation to learn. The company recently announced that it has come up with $2 million in funding from a variety of sources, half of which is a grant from a branch of the US Department of Education, the Institute of Education Sciences. The other half includes donors such as the former Chairman and CEO of Intel, Dr. Craig Barrett, and Steve Schoettler, co-founder of the online gaming industry giant Zynga.

Sokikom is not a familiar name with the general public, but some teachers know all about them as they've been testing the beta version. Finally, the company is ready to bring this online learning forum to the public. It motivates students through game play, making it fun, although the students are actually developing their math skills with the goal of improving their performance on standardized tests.

How Sokikom Makes Math Fun

The math lessons disguise themselves as a multiplayer social game, kind of like Moshi Monsters and MinoMonsters. The player chooses different regions of the game world on a map. Each region focuses on a different math skill, allowing teachers to customize the child's experience to suit their needs, or allow the child free reign to explore where they please.

The diagnostic assessment associated with each region senses when the child either needs more challenging material or if they are having a hard time, adjusting the lesson to suit them, whether they are in kindergarten or fifth grade. If the game sees the child just doesn't get the material presented, it will send the child back to the proper game level for their needs.

Creators really wanted a way to personalize the experience for students of all ages to make it more enjoyable. I mean, who wants to play an impossible game, and what teacher wants to monitor every second of the child's time spent playing the game to assure they aren't in over their heads? This is the key to success: keeping them motivated and not feeling discouraged because they “just can't do it.”

Great for Teachers and Children Alike

Teachers love the fact the game collects data on each students' performance and compiles realtime mastery reports that compare them to classmates and others in their grade level, how quickly they are able to answer the questions they are asked, if they are succeeding in correcting their mistakes the first time, or if they are having a difficult time understanding certain questions.

Because it is an MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online game), kids love it even more. This brings the class together to compete in realtime, meaning you can split the class into teams where they are working together to get the highest cumulative score rather than every man for himself. This helps improve the experience even more by bringing in the element of excitement. I mean, let's face it: math is usually no fun for the typical student. What better way to help them get excited than a battle royale pitting one half of the class against the other?

The Future?

Yes, math is the area that the majority of students in the US struggle with. This was a great subject to focus on, and the team at Sokikom is made up of former math tutors and teachers. However, the team recognizes that the way this game works can be applied to just about any subject and be just as successful.

In today's world where kids are running virtual bakeries and tending virtual farms, as well as caring for virtual pets and monsters, this style of learning game seems like the perfect idea. Can a game turn a struggling mathematician into a math whiz? We can only hope.