Science Academy Software has developed a new business model or paradigm for Education. It is a web-based "pay to play" educational game site named ScienceAcademy.TV for high-bandwidth clients. This article discusses issues and rationale behind Science Academy Software's educational game portal ScienceAcademy.TV -- home to a new online educational game called "BasketMath V3.
Why "Pay-to-Play" educational games online?
Users get to have a learning experience in form of a game. It's appropriate for audiences for instruction, testing, drill and practice. Web channel distribution allows learning to occur any time any place. The entertainment value of software contributes to pleasing user experience. It's low cost alternative to traditional classroom instruction and educational software distribution. Everyone benefits from subscribing (learning).
Traditional Educational Software Delivery Issues
A school teacher buying educational software, in traditional sense, buys copies, lab packs or site licenses. They face a barrage of complex issues related to acquisition and use. Issues like:
1. Is software appropriate? This requires evaluation in form of asking: What is instructional component? Does software provide testing and assessment capabilities, is there a measurement of achievement? Are results immediate (we all know kids can't wait)? From a teacher's perspective, this means having students practice those areas of weakness to achieve mastery.
2. Can I use it in my class? Issues: will it serve my students? Is it safe? Are there school adoption procedures or bureaucratic red-tape to software acquisition? What political issues will I have to deal with, if any?
3. Utilization - how much of this software really gets used by students? Will software get reused after "newness" wears off? Students generally "burnout" or frequently use game in first 24 hours; interest thereafter declines.
4. Need for portability, Can I use it on all my PCs? Web enabled machines make learning possible anytime - at school, in after-school programs, or at home (learning occurs anytime any where).
5 Can instructional material be shared with diverse age groups or learning disabilities (people learn differently)?
6. Can instructional material provide support individualized attention (people learn at different rates)? It is great when you have a teacher, parent or tutor, but what if you don't? Educational software is next best alternative.
7. Value is based on educational and entertainment elements to software. Entertainment value is very important to delivery of educational software: Ideally, content should engage user -- a characteristic of most video games. Most children today have a video game orientation.
8. The role of obsolescence: Books and printed materials wear, tear, and go out of date. Software on disk or CDROM also go out of date or may not run on newer machines. Upgrades also contribute to logistical nightmare to school computers management and support. Not so with a Web application or services that can provide updates in a timely manner or "on-the-fly".