School Run: learning mental calculation while having fun
Math can be a tricky subject for many students. In France, 42% of children get into middle school with some serious challenges. To address the issue, traditional approaches have been facing a dead-end. That’s why School Run is offering a fun and innovative way to help learners improve their mental calculation skills through a mobile game.
School Run is a project lead by two engineers: Dibrilou Diagne and Swann Sude. Their passion for education brought their attention to the issues facing students. They decided to build a mobile app to address one of them: mental calculation. After a couple of months of R&D, they built a minimum viable product (MVP) and made it available on both Android and iOS. They made a few demos to teachers who loved the concept. Some couldn’t help wait to use the app with their students. Nawal Barki is one of them. She has been using the app with its learners since the beginning of the school year and the results are outstanding.
“Students are so quick to master the app and they manage to improve their capacity to perform mental calculations while having fun. The pedagogical value is very clear and the content is in line with the curriculum. What a different innovative way to overcome difficulties and build competencies.”
Nawal Barki, primary school teacher
Nawel’s motivation for the project and her insider’s perspective made her a privileged partner to the School Run team. She is now acting as a mentor for the founders bringing her expertise and network to the table.
Other teachers such as Amin Zaini also support using School Run to solve what seemed as an impossible problem.
“Pedagogical video-games are great tools that I can leverage as a teacher. School Run is, for me, a learning supplement that students can use at home. It helps build student motivation and brings diversity to the kind of activities I can assign.”
Amin Zaini, 6th grade physics teacher
Today, the School Run team has enough feedback to work with to improve on the MVP and build a second version of the app. They will be reinforcing 3 aspects in particular:
- Gamification: the game-like aspect is important to insure maximum engagement from learners. So, the team is building a “Challenge mode” that allows students from the same classroom to take part in small online mental calculation competitions.
- Adaptive learning: the user experience will be personalized to each user. The algorithms will be adjusting the difficulty level of the exercises to optimize the progress and avoid that students get discouraged.
- Tracking: the teacher will be at the center of the learning experience and will be able to track the progress of each student. He will also be able to detect the major difficulties that he can address in the physical classroom.
In addition to the technical development of the 2nd version, the team is making a huge strategic move. School Run is building two offerings. The first offering consists in the app that will be accessible to everybody to download for free. Teachers can recommend it to their students and every learner can download it and use it autonomously. As for the second offering, it is targeted at curriculum publishers for them to complement their content with specific activities on the School Run app.
The team is currently incubated in Station F. They take part in the Pepites Starter Program where they are closely coached by teams from Schoolab and the Region Ile-de-France. Let’s just say that they are evolving in a great ecosystem for them to succeed and face all the challenges an EdTech Startup needs to overcome.