As one could tell from the “About Us” section of this blog, we’re designing and developing a virtual world for education. It’s called Edorble, and we’re excited that in a few months we’ll be able to release a free beta for teachers. We think it will be a personal, playful, and powerful learning environment for online teachers and students. It can be used for synchronous or asynchronous learning.
Our company, Worlds Beyond Studios, got accepted into a start-up accelerator program called LaunchU at Oberlin College. The program is forcing us to rethink the difficult questions most startups have to face: how will we make money? are we sure there’s a market for this? what do we need in order to really get this thing off the ground? how will Edorble be different from the competition? We’re in the third week of the month-long program, and our answers to these questions, which will be delivered next Saturday in a pitch to a panel of investors, are getting more compelling every week. Needless to say, so is our product, which is being developed under the smooth guidance of our gifted co-founder, Cederik. Sem and Nero, our two artists, continue to produce exceptional work with passion and motivation. We couldn’t be happier to have this talent see our vision and be a part of our company.
I (Gabe Baker, CEO) wanted to write briefly about what informs our product development, and afterwards I’m going to request a favor from all educators who are interested in the virtual world/reality space.
So, how are we designing Edorble? There are three main factors, which I’ll list in order of least to most important: my gut instinct, the research, and our interviews with teachers, students, and administrators.
Instincts: I’m an online teacher, and I think I’ve got a good idea of what other teachers might like. I know this is presumptuous, silly, etc., but that’s why this is the least important factor. I certainly have a good idea of what I would like. :)
Research: My main course of study as a graduate student at UCSB is education technology, and I focus on virtual worlds. I stay immersed in the research having to do with virtual worlds being used for educational purposes, but have the sense to read the research with a few grains of salt. Sample sizes are often frustratingly small, and every student, class, and school is different. Also, most of it is done on higher-ed, and we are trying to make something that will have particular appeal to K12 online teachers and students. Also, the research generally pays far more attention to teachers than to students. We want to delight students, and the research can’t help us here (yet). All that being said, the research done on existing virtual worlds has certainly helped to shape our vision for the product.
Talks: The most significant factor is the conversations we have, in person or online, with online teachers, students, and administrators. Just over the past week we’ve had the privilege of visiting a number of online schools or schools with online programs (Ohio Connections Academy, Lorain Digital Academy, Cleveland State Center for E-Learning, Lorain Community College), and the feedback we receive from these meetings is simply invaluable. People telling us whether they think this is crazy (it’s happened), awesome (thankfully has happened more), what they’d need to see, the potential problems they’re concerned about, and their feature wishlists.
My request: if you’re a teacher or administrator interested in virtual worlds, let us know what you would like to see in Edorble. Or, let us know what you don’t like about what’s out there now. Reach out to us with any questions, concerns, comments, or thoughts. Help us make this thing the best it can be! Comment here, on the Facebook post where you found this, email us at email@example.com, or tweet us at @edorble
We look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. If you’re an investor interested in the education technology space, we’d be glad to tell you more about our project.