Written by: Anne Richards, VP Product Development
For the past year and a half I’ve been leading the team creating After the Storm, a new learning game here at Classroom, Inc. In After the Storm, students take on the role of editor-in-chief of an online news magazine in a city that’s just been hit by a major hurricane. They must read and write their way to success while juggling the storm’s aftereffects, the needs of their staff, and the demands of a professional environment.
This week brings an exciting new development, as we’re launching a short, standalone version of the game, After the Storm: Day One on BrainPOP’s GameUp. For those outside of the learning games and edtech communities, just why this is such an important milestone might need some explaining.
BrainPOP is a group of educational websites focused on supporting teachers that contains an enormous amount of resources and curriculum, including short animated movies, lesson plans, and an educational games portal, GameUp, which features free access to games across a wide variety of content areas. As of this week, GameUp includes two of Classroom, Inc.’s games—After the Storm: Day One and The Sports Network 2.
Needless to say, we love having BrainPOP as a partner, and have plenty of good reasons to be interested in their work. But, beyond our own experience, anyone who’s interested in learning games—or education in general—should be paying attention to what BrainPOP is doing and learning from its approach. Here’s why.
BrainPOP Makes It Easy
One of the great things about collaborating with BrainPOP on After the Storm: Day One has been getting the GameUp team’s input on how the experience should best be shaped for teachers and students encountering it for the first time. The full version of After the Storm that we’re using with our school partners is 20 hours worth of content—great for a semester in a classroom or in an afterschool program, but very different from the average GameUp game, which is generally playable in one sitting.
For After the Storm: Day One, we created a shorter (15-to-20 minute) version of the game that serves as a great way to bring in new users and let people who are unfamiliar with what Classroom, Inc. does experience it for the first time. To support this version, we made a brief animated introduction as well as supplementary teacher resources including discussion questions, mini-lessons, and lesson plans to help extend the experience. These resources have proven valuable, not only to visitors to After the Storm: Day One on BrainPOP, but also to all of the teachers using After the Storm in their classroom.
BrainPOP Has the Trust of Its Audience
BrainPOP is used in over 20% of schools in the United States—not to mention many internationally—and that’s not even counting the many parents, homeschoolers, and other individuals who sign up for their online resources. You don’t get to those kinds of numbers without having the trust of your audience.
BrainPOP has built a reputation for quality, thoughtfulness, and robust support for teachers, and a big part of that is consistently talking to teachers and keeping their needs at the forefront. The company is always asking the question, “What do teachers need and what’s the best way to provide that for them?” and it shows in the relationships it has built with the teacher community.
BrainPOP Curates Carefully
One of the most exciting things about having one of your games featured on GameUp is that it puts you in some pretty phenomenal company. BrainPOP curates its games very carefully and considers a wide range of factors, from their curricular value to the length of experience appropriate for classroom use, and thoughtfully pairs games with supplemental lessons and materials that allow teachers to quickly and easily integrate the games into their classrooms.
Clearly, BrainPOP has been a terrific partner for us to get our games in front of its vibrant and informed community of teachers. It’s wonderful to work with an organization that, like Classroom, Inc., is figuring out how to best serve teachers and students in the fast-changing world of educational technology. As we launch After the Storm: Day One, we’ll continue to learn through this partnership, bringing lessons back that will inform our development moving forward.