Toronto-based edtech company Prodigy Education has expanded into games that teach fundamental reading and writing skills to elementary students.
Its latest title, Prodigy English, allows kids to scavenge and farm for resources they can use to build their own villages online. Each major action they perform in the game, from breaking rocks to chopping trees, consumes the player’s energy meter, which they can only replenish by answering curriculum-based questions. The game is available worldwide, and all in-game educational content is free to access.
Prodigy Education started developing the new title two years ago in response to concerns expressed by parents and educators that younger students were struggling to develop core reading and writing skills during the pandemic, says co-CEO Alex Peters.
“Similar to math, english curriculum is a ticket to learning all other content,” Peters tells Kidscreen. “If you can’t read or write, you have a very hard time consuming any type of knowledge. We’re trying to set up students for lifelong success by getting them to love the learning process.”
At launch, Prodigy English will focus on catering to students in grades one through five, but the company plans to extend its content up to grade eight with future updates. The title’s features and gameplay systems will also receive additional support, eventually allowing players to fish, care for animals and visit their friends’ towns.
To ensure the game’s questions meet educational requirements and enhance the student’s learning, Prodigy Education has hired an internal team of experts and former teachers with backgrounds in language arts to adapt the curriculum for each grade into approximately 500 essential skills, which include reading, rhyming, phonetics and spelling.
To monitor a user’s progress and skill development, both educators and parents can create a free Prodigy account to see classroom activity and gain insights into what the child is focusing on.
Parents are primary drivers of educational outcomes, and by making it easier for them to understand how their child is doing, they can significantly impact the learning experience, says Peters.
Parents can also purchase optional monthly or yearly memberships starting at US$9.95 per month, which allows parents to do things like set goals the child can achieve to obtain in-game rewards, view which questions are causing trouble, and access supplemental videos and printable worksheets.
Similar to Prodigy Math (the company’s first title), if a student finds the material too challenging, the game uses its adaptive algorithm to lower the difficulty. This helps lessen frustration levels, motivating kids to continue playing and learning. Personalized learning is becoming a prevalent trend in edtech, driven by strong market demand from both parents and children.