Ululab

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a semifinalist.

Ululab: Using video games to learn fraction concepts

Montreal, Canada
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

An engaged, curious kid is a great natural learner. We create video games that open the door for really complex subjects, like Slice Fractions. The game received Apple Editor's Choice and has an average rating of 4.9/5. We want to recreate this type of engagement for all critical subjects.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

video games were our best tool to globally teach kids about critical subjects?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Kids are either not engaged with some dry school subjects, or have only a superficial understanding of them.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is to use video games for subjects that are hard for kids to grasps conceptually. We have already shown that this approach works really well with academic studies on academic-grade games (see the "impact" section), and have since created a startup that produces industry-grade quality video games. Our first title, Slice Fractions, got universal praises and is getting kids excited about a complex school subject. We can't wait to engage them on a variety of important topics.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A curious kid is a great natural learner. We have seen kids several times asking many questions about the video games they are engaged with (think Minecraft). Our initial metrics show that Slice Fractions highly engages kids. The retention rates are as high as regular successful games, even if they are learning about what is typically considered a dry math subject. One of the big advantages we noticed is that teachers are able to use our games as conversation starter about subjects that would be either too complex or just too boring to engage them with.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Qualitatively, we did several playtests in classroom settings to verify kids learned different fraction concepts as they played. Formal quantitative research with our university partner (University of Quebec in Montreal) is ongoing to measure both conceptual and formal gains from playing the game in a classroom setting. Previous efficacy research made on a game created by the same designer has shown significant and massive improvement on a standardized international conceptual test (http://www.mecanika.ca/pdf/telecharge.php?pdf=mecanika_GLS.pdf).

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Tools that help teachers focus on conceptual approaches are rare in traditional school settings, even though research indicates students often do not understand important concepts behind hard school subjects. We plan to produce tools schools cannot afford to miss on, given the leap in conceptual understanding they will provide. We are also picking subjects that are appealing for schools worldwide. Distribution: Technology in schools, either through tablets or other devices, will be mainstream within 10 years. We will distribute our content on devices most schools use.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The company is already profitable, but we are looking to grow the team and are in the process of securing seed funding.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

A lot of educational video games were created in the past 30 years. More recently, some companies that understand game design well, like "We want to know" (Dragonbox), delivered great math games. Our approach differs in two ways - We create games that have production value that is comparable to the games kids are already playing (e.g. Cut the Rope or Angry Birds) - We are putting the emphasis on conceptual understanding, which is often where kids struggle the most in schools. There are enough "drill" practice material out there, we need kids to understand why and how important subjects work.
Team

Founding Story

After having worked on big video games projects like the Halo series, Francois wanted to work on games with purposes beyond pure entertainment. A few years spent in academic studies showed him the potential games had to transform education. The results convinced two of his good friends to create a company together that would deliver the best kind of video games kids really deserve.

Team

Francois is in charge of R & D and design for Ululab. Dany worked for over six years at Microsoft. He is in charge of planning, general management and production. Jean-Guillaume is a teacher and a journalist. He is in charge of communications. We work full-time for Ululab. We are backed by several groups (like Montreal Inc) that help us with our business development needs. We are talking with investors to grow our production team.
About You
Organization:
Ululab
About You
First Name

Francois

Last Name

Boucher-Genesse

About Your Project
Organization Name

Ululab

How long has your organization been operating?

Project
Organization Country

, QC, Montreal

Country where this project is creating social impact
What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, Regional government, National government, Other.

Supplemental
Awards

We are truly honored to receive praises from different profiles such as academics, parents and gamers.

- Gold Medal Winner 2014 -- International Serious Play Awards, Education Category
- Winner of a Parents’ Choice Gold Award 2014
- Children's Tech Review Editor’s Choice for Excellence in Design (98%, highest note given by the reviewers)
- Apple Editor’s Choice around the world
- Best Family Friendly Game 2014 -- Indie Prize Showcase Awards (Casual Connect)

The best honors come from parents and teachers using the app with their kids. Their comments on the App Store are heartwarming (rating of 4.7 on average for a game about fractions!)

Primary Target Age Group

3 - 5, 6 - 12.

Your role in Education

Other.

Please specify which of the following best applies:

Other.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Public (tuition-free), Other.

Intervention Focus

Curricular, Extracurricular, Online Learning, Parenting, Products or Services.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Equip Adults to Drive Change in Learning: Providing creative learning experiences for teachers, parents, working professions and others that empowers them to drive change in any part of the learning ecosystem.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Need

Insights on how to distribute technology solutions at large in schools worldwide

Offer

Design expertise on how to create impactful educational video games (10 years of experience)

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

We created a game about the hard math subject of fractions, since it is the bottle neck of math education everywhere in the world to grasp. The game focuses on conceptual understanding of key math concepts behind fractions, as it is usually what kids need the most at this stage.

Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details
INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?
SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.
MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?
FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?
PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.
COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.
VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?
IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time
IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

Not Applicable - yet! (we are at the idea stage or start-up)

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?

Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:

Please select

Number of Volunteers:

Please select

APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Other (please specify)
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.
randomness