Understanding The Role Of Collaborative Educational iPad Games

Posted by Ryan Schaaf on

“During the digital age, the potential for technology tools to help change the products generated during class work are unparalleled. The SAMR framework helps to flesh out a pragmatic definition of how technology changes learning. Many programs are starting to implement tablet or BYOD initiatives with exciting, transformative results. This wonderful article from Jeff Dunn at Edudemic also highlights how an iPad game can promote competition and collaboration with the use of mobile devices; generating real-time data to help teachers with instruction.”


via Edudemic

In the modern classroom, teachers are always looking for ways to make learning fun and interesting. iPads, games, eLearning platforms and BYOD are all on the menu…. and let’s face it, technology (from DVD players to iPads) can make life a lot easier in the classroom.

The adoption of iPads in classrooms across the globe has significantly changed the way teachers think about teaching (at all levels). Most educators who have used iPads in the classroom now opt for a blended learning approach, using tablets, games and learning aids (like interactive whiteboards) as a way to engage students and support traditional teaching methods. The SAMR model suggests that the use of any new technology can either completely transform, redesign or enhance existing methods of learning.


As an example, the use of student response response systems (also known as “clickers”) might be considered as a “substitutional”, enabling instructors to pose questions to students and immediately collect and view the responses of the entire class instead of spending hours creating worksheets and then having to manually assess each student’s work.

Clickers are still widely used in classrooms (often in conjunction with interactive whiteboards) to deliver interactive quizzes. The majority educational iPad apps which are typically short form games used to support learning activities would fall into this category, but there are handful of disruptive technologies surfacing in the space which aim to completely redefine some classroom activities.

A Look At The Math Champ App

Math Champ (by INKids) is one such example. It offers a completely fresh approach to classroom math tests by mixing real time content, gamification, friendly competition and a unique but collaborative learning environment. In order to play Math Champ a teacher needs to ‘generate’ a game using the SERVER or HOST app which has an existing bank of questions aligned around Core Curriculum Standards (currently for grades 4-7). Students who have the Client installed on their iPad or iPhone use their device like an “clicker” to answer questions on their own device.

math champ app

Once play begins a question is sent to each device in real time using Bluetooth or WiFi. Each question has a specified time limit and each correct answer earns points for each player. At the teacher’s discretion, bonus points can be awarded for achievements like the fastest answer, and/or the first person to answer 5 questions in a row (configurable, along with the question content, and class information under settings on the SERVER app). INKids pitch “Math Champ” as a mathematics game designed for grades 4-7 where any student can compete head to head with any iOS device to become the class “Math Champ”. But the app delivers a lot more than that. The teacher’s app also tracks valuable student metrics, including data over a number of quizzes. This happens silently in the background while students are slogging it it out in a battle of the brains to win the “Math Champ” winner’s belt from the class math nerd.

Uniquely, Math Champ can also be used in conjunction with interactive whiteboards or an Apple TV to display the game’s leader-board where players can see who is coming first, who is in within striking distance and who has answered each question first.

math champ app

A Bit More About INKids

INKids a, small Australian startup that only entered the education space a few years ago, are working on ways to make taking a math quiz even more fun. Character animation sequences, mud flinging (like dumping ink on other players in Mario Kart), and a community to encourage content sharing are features that are in development now. The next release will include tools that allow teachers to create their own games (a feature that has put Futaba Classroom Games into the spotlight). While imperfect (several users have reported networking problems). This is an exciting game on a number of fronts Innovative app’s like this are paving the way for future implementation of interactive learning environments in schools.

Over time, apps like Math Champ have the potential to completely redefine existing classroom activities. There is also the possibility that tools that augment learning with gaming may eventually blur the line between effective and practical curriculum delivery and entertainment.

In the immediate future though, this is an exciting product with the potential to make teachers lives easier and interest children in learning as Laura Bramble from the Seven Hills School in Walnut Creek California says “My kids beg me to play every day at the beginning of class and they’d rather do this than anything else.“

What do you think?