Related IES SBIR Awards (2)
2009 Fast-Track (Phase I & II), $850,000; 2010 Phase I, $100,000
(Sokikom was formerly Virtual Learning Technologies)
An Empirical Approach to Developing Web-based Math Learning Games to Improve Elementary School Student Outcomes; An Online Intelligent Tutoring System to Advance Learning in Math Games
Sokikom is a web-based program that engages students in grades 1 to 6 in guided, discovery-based, situated learning games. The games cover standards-based concepts such as fractions, measurement, operations, and geometry. The games are self-paced and adaptive – they adjust to the skill level of the individual game player. When students do not know an answer, the games provide cues to scaffold learning. The games can be played by individual students or with fellow students through the multiplayer option, thus fostering collaboration and friendly competition and potential peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Formative data from the gameplay is provided to teachers to inform further instruction.
Research & Development:
The initial prototypes of four games and a prototype of the adaptive component were funded by Institute of Education Sciences (IES) awards in 2009 and 2010 from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The components of the gaming prototypes and the adaptive system were developed with contributions from computer scientists, graphic artists, content experts, and games designers. Over the course of the two projects, dozens of iterative cycles of user testing were performed with 47 teachers and more than 1,000 students. This research was used to make refinements to the prototypes. At the conclusion of the 2009 project, two 3rd grade classrooms played the games for a month as a supplement to regular classroom math instruction to assess the initial promise of the prototypes to facilitate learning. Compared to a control group of two classrooms that followed regular instruction and did not play games, playing Sokikom was associated with significantly higher scores on end-of-unit math tests for items that aligned to game play. Research results from pilot studies at the end of both projects found that the games functioned well, could be integrated by teachers within standard classroom practice, and were engaging to students.
Path to Commercialization:
Since its beta release to the public in 2011, Sokikom has been used by thousands of schools in all 50 states and by more than 100,000 students. The commercial version of Sokikom is now made available to students, teachers, and parents through the company website and through learning management platforms such as EdModo and Google Chrome. In March 2013, Sokikom announced that it had raised $1.025M in seed funding from private investors to scale up and more fully launch its technology-based gaming platform.