“Professor S.” is the most innovative learning game for fourth grade students of elementary school. The game can be used both at school and at home. The story follows Professor S., a slightly confused scientist, and his assistant Jeanette, who have built a time machine. However, during their first time jump, something goes wrong. Jeanette is transformed into a skeleton and the time machine breaks, leaving the pair stranded in the distant past. In their desperation, they turn to the pupils for help – an exciting treasure hunt through time and space begins.
Teachers and parents can slip into the role of the professor and/or Jeanette and experience exciting adventures together with the kids – not only virtually but also in real life. In this way, media literacy and internet competency are taught in a playful way. Every time Professor S. and Jeanette contact the children, they have a quest for them. All quests are designed around the curriculum of the fourth grade of primary school. Although “Professor S.” is focused on media literacy, the tasks fit seamlessly into other subjects of the curriculum. Playing the game therefore does not take away time from “normal” lessons but rather compliments and enhances teaching in all subjects.
The children solve complex tasks both individually and as a group and learn to share their results with other students. They create media, work, research and art and learn to devise their own problem solving methods rather than being passive consumers of knowledge and content. Technology is understood as a tool, which is only used where it really makes sense: in communication and the creation of media. “Professor S.” connects media literacy and learning with an engaging story while contextualising abstract subject matters with their corresponding practical applications. It creates a bridge between fantasy and reality. In short: learning becomes engaging and fun.
The platform that “Professor S.” is played on is comprised of a website and a physical interface – the time portal. The website is used to deliver video content, game content, messages and real world events, which can be scheduled using a dedicated interface.
The time portal is used to deliver physical objects that refer back to the video content and the story. The platform is used to distribute learning games, episodic media content, documentary films, feature films, micro games and real world events. It facilitates the communication between children and teachers, as well as the exchange of experiences and educational material among education professionals. This exchange is stimulated by the use of game mechanics.
The next stage of development will see the distribution of documentary and entertainment films as well as micro games through Pay Per View and subscription models. The content will in part be produced in-house by LudInc and in part be sourced from third party producers. A strong editorial line will be applied to the selection of content. Our aim is to create a one-stop shop for high quality films and games specifically designed for our target audience. The content also fits around the curriculum of the fourth grade of elementary school – the result will be an online entertainment portal that resembles HBO for children with a strong educational mandate.
During this next development phase, we plan to adapt the “Professor S.” platform for the use at home. Elements of the content and communication produced in school will therefore be accessible from home. The goal is to generate revenue from the sale of premium content to home consumers. We will develop and curate films and games which can then be purchased through premium subscriptions or one-off micro payments.
Naturally, the “Professor S.” platform can also be used for games that target other age groups. That is why “The Wildemouse” is currently being developed in collaboration with the academy for children’s media.
“The Wildemouse” is a game that works similar to “Professor S.” and it is specifically designed for the second grade of primary school. Unlike “Professor S.”, the story in “The Wildemouse” is told using animation. Like with “Professor S.”, the use of computers in the classroom is limited. In “The Wildemouse”, small peripheral gadgets are used, which are hidden in a physical interface – the owl’s nest. “The Wildemouse” resembles an interactive Powerpoint slideshow. The teacher controls the presentation through remote control. However, no “slides” are being triggered, but events such as a rustling sound in the owl’s nest, a sound recording of an animal calling or an animated film, which “magically” appears on the smartboard or on a screen attached to the owl’s nest.