To answer this, it’s important to go back to why we developed DoodleMaths in the first place.
DoodleMaths was developed by Tom Minor and Nicola Chilman, both maths teachers frustrated by the existing maths apps and websites on the market. Many schools have invested heavily in “chocolate teapot” digital resources that have failed to raise standards over the last 10 years. Why have they failed to raise standards? Two reasons:
- Most digital resources replaced what teachers were already doing with worksheets – they saved a teacher time in setting and marking activities, but in many cases replaced a superior resource with one that is inferior – worksheets are great for showing working, for instance, and drawing a hexagon is far better at learning its properties than simply identifying one on a screen.
- Often these digital resources would fall by the wayside after a couple of months – children and teachers would simply forget they were there.
These are the reasons why we built DoodleMaths as an app and not a web-based resource. Apps are permanently on devices, quick to get started on, and also employ touch-screen technology which allows for a much more immersive experience – one much closer to pencil and paper. These devices are often with us permanently, and can be used off-line too. And apps can send us little reminders (local notifications and push notifications) that they’re waiting to be used. Apps are habit-forming.
Of course, we also built DoodleMaths so that it constructed personalised work programs for individual children, ensuring a never-ending stream of relevant work to be studied by them, all in bite-sized chunks. Something almost-impossible for a busy teacher to do. But you probably already know that…
So, back to ‘My Friends’. We were well aware, from customer feedback, that the primary motivator for a child doing DoodleMaths was a reminder from a parent or teacher. In fact, here are the stats to our survey question “What prompted you open DoodleMaths last?”
- It was a class activity (32%)
- Parent told me to do it (28%)
- It was my homework (10%)
- I like doing the questions (9%)
- I wanted to visit my pet/robot character (9%)
- I wanted to maintain my streak (6%)
- The app reminded/prompted me (3%)
- Other (3%)
We wanted more features that would make a child want to open the app. We haven’t repeated the above survey yet, but we do have some great ‘before and after’ stats:
- Before My Friends release – Average number of sessions per child per week: 2.6
- After My Friends release – Average number of sessions per child per week: 3.1
- Before My Friends release – Average session length: 10 minutes 25 seconds
- After My Friends release -Average session length: 11 minutes 50 seconds
- Before My Friends release – Average questions answered per week: 48
- After My Friends release -Average questions answered per week: 57
So children’s desire to see other children’s progress, read their ‘kudos’ messages and climb the leaderboard is driving usage more than ever before – independent usage, without the need for a teacher or parent to nag. And its usage we’re after – like anything, DoodleMaths is nothing but another chocolate teapot if it’s never opened!