Interactive multimedia sites are the new way to learn. Each week I seem to get more and more pitches about new subscription sites for parents to purchase to enhance their children’s learning. Since I pledged to always write about the best of the best, I’m really excited to tell you tell you about SmartyCard!
SmartyCard is a brand new parent-approved “learn, earn, play” website for kids ages 6 to 12. It launched last week to rave reviews at DEMO09 in San Francisco and I had the pleasure of being part of a pre-launch demo with Chris Carvalho, General Manager of SmartyCard, and Aaron Burcell, Vice President of Marketing. Chris and Aaron have amazing resumes but what really impressed me during our call was that they are dads who have used their professional background to figure out how education can prosper in a fun environment.
SmartyCard is the first “learn, earn and play” experience to provide real and virtual-world rewards to millions of families that believe learning at home can be fun and rewarding. The online site features educational content from e-learning leaders such as Learnstar, Ignite Learning, and Learning.com and gives kids ages 6-12 the opportunity to engage in fun and interactive online games, quizzes and lessons.
The site is very easy to navigate from the minute parents set up an account. Parents must sign up and create an account for their child before they can enter SmartyCard. Once on the site, children roll over animations to select activities in subjects like reading, math, social studies, and science and set the level of difficulty (easy, medium, or hard). Right now the site includes quiz based content and science and social studies tutorials from Ignite Learning. I like that the site provides helpful hints if a kid is having difficulty answering a question and then the positive reinforcement of earning points for play. All the game play occurs on a single easy to use dashboard on a completely ad-free site.
I love that all of SmartyCard’s learning activities have been correlated to state standards for education and provide real learning experiences that reinforce classroom instruction. I can be assured that when Little Miss Techie or Captain Computer get a little older that the learning they are doing in SmartyCard directly relates to the state curriculum standards being taught in their schools.
As the kids learn, they earn and redeem points for popular rewards at iTunes, ClubPenguin, WebKinz, Star Doll, BellaSara, and other popular prizes. Parents put money into their child’s account with a credit card and the dollar amounts become points in the SmartyCard world. If the minimum $10 is added to the account, a child can play to earn 5000 points and redeem them for rewards. While some rewards unlock online worlds especially designed for children (BellaSara, Club Penguin, etc), a child can elect to use points to buy products from SmartyCard’s Amazon store. All Amazon rewards have been carefully screened by a group of SmartyCard employees who are parents too. If a product is something that won’t go into the home of a SmartyCard employee then Chris and Aaron said it won’t appear on their site.
SmartyCard’s incentive based learning model reinforces the universal values of hard work and educational achievement and can function as a digital allowance. Some parents have told SmartyCard that the digital allowance for educational learning on SmartyCard replacing the traditional type of allowance of chores for pay. You can try SmartyCard for free but you can unlock more interactive learning activities when you create an account and fund play through the point system.
Unlike other e-learning tools, this online edutainment platform is extremely parent and kid friendly. It puts out-of-the-classroom learning in the hands of both parents and their children, allowing the entire family to grow together in achieving educational success.
There are distinct child and parent portions of the site. Parents can access Play History, Reward History, and Purchase History. In the Play History portion of the site, parents can see each activity their child is engaging in including their performance, their responses on each quiz question, whether their child has passed or failed a quiz, and the amount of time spent logged into SmartyCard. Reward History allows parents to see what their child has obtained for points and Purchase History enables parents to see what has been purchased.
As you know, I’m pretty picky when it comes to sites and even more critical when it comes to naming sites as my Website of the Week. I was most impressed with SmartyCard’s curriculum content, ease of use, and selection of incentives for children to earn. It is truly a site that I would recommend to my colleagues to use with their students in our 3-5th grade classes and something that I would let our kids use to reinforce classroom learning when they are older.
For another tech savvy parent perspective, visit Beth Blecherman’s TechMamas site for her SmartyCard review where she discusses how SmartyCard has developed a safe online educational gaming experience for kids.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama