Across the U.S., student engagement is declining.
By the time students reach high school, 2 out of 3 them will become disengaged, according to Gallup’s 2015 figures.
But one Kansas City-based startup is working to change that by making fun a top priority. Edtech startup Edcoda created the 3D, online role-playing game Coda Quest, which aims to instill excitement and adventure in a variety of school subjects.
Edcoda founder Clarence Tan said that as opposed to trying to sneak fun into traditionally boring topics like fractions, he inverted the engagement challenge. A fun gaming experience is core to the company’s learning product, Tan said.
“When students play these games, they instantly sniff out the fractions and say, ‘You know what, nice try! I don’t want to play this game,” Tan told the crowd at 1 Million Cups Wednesday. “So we’ve flipped the script. With Coda Quest, we didn’t focus on education first — we built a game that was fun. Then, we sneak the educational material in.”
In the game, students create their own wizard avatar and set out on quests that encounter teacher-created questions along the way. These questions stemmed from pre-built curriculum and are customized by grade level, academic subject and state standards. Subjects include English, math and others.
When students answer questions correctly, they collect “coda stones,” allowing them to cast spells to protect furry creatures. Students can collect hats and other accessories to upgrade their wizards. Tan said elements of Coda Quest were inspired by games students already spent time playing outside the classroom, such as Candy Crush and Minecraft.
The vision for Edcoda is two-fold, Tan said. In addition to the Coda Quest game, it also includes a management system that offers teacher insight on the back end. Similar to Blackboard Learn, teachers can use Edcoda technology to create lesson plans and communicate with students. The backend also allows teachers to see how students are performing in real time and analyze reports on their progress.
Tan said there aren’t many in the industry combining these concepts together, which he believes gives Edcoda an edge.
“Other companies tend to focus on one or the other — entertainment or adaptive learning,” he said. “We went with a more holistic approach. Edcoda is helping students have fun and helping teachers reduce their workload. With the data, teachers can make instant interventions with students when need be.”
Although the firm has employed its technology in more than 100 different classroom, Tan is looking for more user experience data. He added that he is willing to work with school district to put Edcoda in the hands of students at lowers costs before he begins to prioritize revenue.
To learn more about the game, check out the video below.