Offline functionality: perhaps the only thing Facebook and DoodleMaths have in common

2 min read

In this day and age of mobile data, wifi hotspots and high-speed broadband, why have we invested so much of our efforts into making DoodleMaths work offline? Put simply, it’s part of our aim to remove all barriers that may prevent DoodleMaths being used. Almost half our team are teachers, and we are well aware of IT products that schools have invested in that end up sitting on the metaphorical shelf because they are difficult to use. These products have no educational impact at all if not used. Furthermore, in this day and age, with so many competing apps on devices, people tap before they think – and they tend to tap on the applications which they know will work. DoodleMaths is designed to be used for a few minutes daily. To enable this, it has to work offline. Think of the apps that you, as an adult, use on a daily basis. Switch your phone onto airplane mode and see if they still work. Most of the ones you use regularly will work offline: you’ll still be able to compose emails and iMessages to send later, check the weather according to the previously-cached forecast, and even scroll through Facebook – in fact, Facebook have put an incredible amount of development time into giving their application offline functionality. Why? Because for applications such as Facebook and Instagram to survive, they need to become habit-forming – if, say, 20% of the time they had no functionality because they were off-line, users would fall out of the habit of opening them daily. By the way, I think 20% is a fair and perhaps even low estimate – we still work with schools where children need to log in to the app in the IT suite where the wifi is good before taking the iPad back to the classroom, and we all regularly experience that frustration when something stops working as we go through a tunnel or a 4G dead spot on a journey. My own kids use DoodleMaths for 20-30 minutes every week whilst waiting for each other to finish swimming lessons; there’s no 3G, 4G or wifi in the waiting area. And forget about phones: many portable hand-held devices, such as iPads and Kindle Fires, have no 3G or 4G capability at all. If the apps on them all relied on a data connection, these devices would be completely useless outside the home. Like Facebook, DoodleMaths is designed to become habit-forming. Not just in terms of being able to work offline, but also through the notifications and reminders that users receive and the ‘Streak’ reward system for example. We do this to help parents: the first (easy) step to improving maths is to download the app; the second step (not so easy) – is to use it regularly!

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Article by Tom Minor

Doodle empowers learners to achieve confidence in maths and English. Our intelligent technology creates individual work programmes which are motivational, affordable and convenient to use.