We have made some major changes to our new version of DoodleMaths. These changes have been so wholesale that we have had to release it as an entirely new app. So why go to the effort and expense of making these changes when we already had a perfectly decent product?
Here are the changes, then you can judge for yourself if it has been worth it!
- Let’s start with the obvious: it’s now a universal app. This means it auto-adjusts according to the device so that it looks great on all Apple devices. Now DoodleMaths appears in both the iPhone and iPad sections of the App Store. This is a much better fit for our market: consumers are looking for serious maths apps on their iPads and, generally speaking, expecting to find more trivial apps in the iPhone section of the App Store. Our modest sales so far have been almost entirely as a result of word of mouth: hopefully now we will appeal to far greater sections of Apple devotees.
- Upgraded the content. We have made huge changes to the database of questions. Over 1000 questions have been added; over 100 questions that contained glitches have been rewritten; harder modules have been split into two or more easier modules where perhaps the level of challenge was too great; explanation screens have been made considerably clearer. For this we will be eternally grateful to a handful of early adopters (Clare, Maggs, thank you!) whose children have fortunately been addicted to the app and have communicated with us regularly about their progress.
- We’ve made significant changes to the feedback algorithms. These are the formulae which analyse the work done so far and use this data to determine what comes next in the work program. For example, we now track your child’s accuracy on every single topic area: where accuracy is low, these topics get fed back into your child’s 7/8/9/10-a-day until the accuracy improves. If accuracy drops too low, they learn the topic again via their New this Week, or even learn any prerequisite topics that are required. Whilst these improvements won’t be immediately obvious, from an educational perspective they are hugely beneficial.
- Motivational Features: Your child’s ‘Back Pages’ now contains a section called ‘My Doodles’. This allows children to create their own doodles which then appear intermittently in the background of their questions: the idea is to provide them with the incentive of seeing their work in the body of the app.
- Multi-user capability: this was one of the key features requested by users, and will also mean that the app will be more appealing to schools who have a few iPads but do not have a 1-to-1 program yet.
- Siri compatability: we are fortunate that Nicola is both a teacher and a budding voice-over artist, which allowed us to record the explanations for those with literacy difficulties. But we were never going to be able to do voice-over for all the questions. We have now coded the question text so that it can be highlighted and read out, and this is our first step towards embedding Siri fully into the app.
Other than that, we have ironed out a few minor glitches (the never-ending problems with the email facility have been resolved) and prepared the app so the new content can be loaded more easily (an KS3 version and a US version are in the pipeline.)
When we first released in August last year, we were confident that we had the best tool for learning maths in the App Store. Unfortunately, we were surprised by how little people trusted apps, and whilst apps are popular, people usually expect them to be free – hopefully our compatibility with the iPad addresses this. However, I do think that this reflects the fact that learning apps (with a few exceptions) are still pretty low quality in comparison to the web-based competition. We are confident that native apps can provide a platform for a far more interactive, engaging and safe learning experience than the web, and we will continue to develop and improve DoodleMaths over the coming years in the hope and belief that those pioneers who agree with us will successfully persuade the majority. Spread the word!