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Seriously Interesting at Serious Play

Hello! This is Tiffany, the Creative Director at DreamBox Learning. Last week, myself and two other DreamBox employees attended a local conference called “Serious Play.” The conference included a 3-day track of presentations and speakers devoted entirely to games for learning, so that was our focus.

Serious Play Conference

At DreamBox, we don’t think of ourselves as making games. We deliver effective, “just in time” curriculum: The right lessons at the right moments, constantly adapting to keep kids in their optimal learning zone. But we pay close attention to gaming because we realize there is much to learn about keeping kids engaged and focused.

Did you know the average kid will spend 10,000 hours playing games by the age of 21? This is the same number of hours kids will spend in school from 5th grade through high school graduation if they have PERFECT ATTENDANCE. 10,000 hours is also the magic number of hours of practice required to reach mastery, as detailed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” and Daniel Levitin’s “This is Your Brain on Music.” All told, gamers spend 3 billion hours a week on collaborative problem solving. Imagine if kids spent just a fraction of that time learning math!

Here at DreamBox Learning, as we work to expand our product to include math for older grades, we are incorporating some of the best practices from the gaming world to help make our product relevant and engaging for older kids. A 4th grader is very different from a kindergartener, and we want to make a product that feels right for a wide age range. Good games give us great examples of intuitive usability, task-based goal progression, high engagement, good reward systems and more. Plus, they’re fun to play.

We believe that math is inherently fun, and that giving kids the chance to interact with math in new ways will help them become thoughtful, successful young mathematicians. Serious Play gave us some great new ideas on how to apply good gaming standards to rigorous math curriculum to deliver highly effective, highly engaging math to kids through DreamBox Learning.

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