Schooled by 5-8 Year Olds: More Mouse Struggles!

When we were developing DreamBox Learning K-2 Math, just creating the Mouse Tutorials didn’t solve our mouse problems (See our blog Schooled by 5-8 year olds: Mouse Skills Needed). With adults or intermediate users, we probably wouldn’t have had to worry about any of this. However, solving the problem for our primary audience has a big impact on whether they want to play DreamBox or not. We couldn’t ignore it!

We included the Mouse Tutorial games as a part of the First Time User Experience (FTUE). It’s a part of the opening game story. Users must pass the minimum (bare minimum) requirements for each level in order to enter DreamBox and begin the instructional math games. This ensures that most users have the basic mouse skills needed to use our virtual manipulatives. (Note: Our virtual manipulatives are vital to allowing students to “build” answers to problems instead of simply providing multiple answer choices for them to choose from.)

Math learning requires mouse education for younger students

What’s the problem? The problem is that we built this into the FTUE. Some kids love it! Some kids don’t! In the same way that the first page of a book and the first 10 minutes of a movie are important for hooking the reader or viewer, so are the first 10 minutes of a computer game experience. There are lots of solutions to this problem, and each is accompanied with varying degrees of development time. The most straight forward solution is, if can we generalize, that all kids that start at the kindergarten level receive the mouse tutorials. Anyone older doesn’t. The most involved approach, requiring the biggest commitment in terms of development, would be to create a mouse skills assessment at the beginning of the experience, just as we’ve included academic assessments throughout the math games. As with every decision we’ve made at DreamBox, we carefully weigh the pros and cons of each, ultimately leading us to a better experience for every child.