Gaming to learn: How TVO is making math fun for 21st-century learners

In a week’s time, TVO’s mPower will be in Ontario classrooms! mPower is a creative online game that teaches fundamental kindergarten to Grade 6 math skills while enabling students to have fun and learn more about the world around them.

We’re proud to champion technology to help reinvent learning in Ontario and support student success. Leveraging TVO’s expertise at the intersection of curriculum, pedagogy and digital media, TVO worked alongside teachers and students from across Ontario over an 18-month period to collaboratively create this free online game-based math resource for use in Ontario schools.

It all began with the learners’ needs: our in-house team of educators talked to Ontario teachers and also looked to trend data to identify the areas in which students needed the most math support. Then, our educators and games team conceptualized ways to bring the math curriculum and game play together: a medical clinic as the backdrop for exploring whole numbers and fractions; and biomes around the world as the setting for geometry, quantity relationships and symmetry, to name a few.

From concept to prototyping and pilot, each step of mPower’s development was informed by the ideas, expertise and input of Ontario’s teachers. mPower was also rigorously play-tested by both teachers and students. Their insights were instrumental in helping TVO make meaningful improvements and enhancements in game concepts, mechanics and instructions. To keep kids engaged while playing, the team also added layers of gamification like card collection and stickers.

In one play-testing session, we discovered that a five-year-old child had never seen a computer mouse! This certainly speaks to the prevalence of touch-devices in their lives, but also presented other considerations, like ensuring mPower accommodated young learners who didn’t yet have the fine-motor skills needed to operate a mouse.

As a novel approach to the play-testing process, TVO created the Game Design Club, a unique partnership with a Toronto school that saw students field-testing the Grade 3-6 games bi-weekly over six months. Students also had the chance to create their own video game. For TVO, the experience provided a successful model for user input and feedback, and enabled a richer understanding of mPower’s users and their developmental needs across Grades 3-6.

mPower for kindergarten to Grade 2 will be available to Ontario teachers beginning August 29, and a pilot of the Grade 3-6 games will roll-out in October. Take a peek at mPower now and hear what teachers have been saying about it.