News + Ideas
News Release – Learning games continue to gain momentum as co.lab announces cohort #3
September 15, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – We launched co.lab — the first and only startup accelerator focused on the intersection of games and learning — one year ago. Today, we are excited to introduce the seven companies that will be participating in co.lab’s third cohort, which kicks off this week:
- CodeMonkey Studios is creating an engaging online game that teaches students real coding, from fundamentals to advanced programming subjects.
- Econauts, developed by the Learning Games Network, makes difficult-to-observe ecological phenomena visible to explain the relationships between choices that humans make and their environmental consequences.
- Kizoom makes fun apps that help kids recognize the power of their own brains, build cognitive skills and gain confidence and openness to learning new things.
- Mathbreakers is a 3D playground for mathematics where numbers come to life.
- MindBlown Labs creates highly interactive, experiential learning tools to empower young people to make better financial and life decisions.
- Montessorium creates well-crafted, personalized, self-guided learning experiences, utilizing technology to make Montessori educational approaches more widely accessible.
- Piper is designing kits that allow students to assemble their own working computers and begin their journey into creating lights, motors, and DIY hardware.
As children’s usage of apps — particularly mobile games — continues to increase, there are new opportunities for edtech startups to support students’ academic and social development. Over half of teacherssurveyed use digital games in the classroom at least weekly; many more are beginning to recognize the potential benefits of learning games, especially as tools to engage and empower lower performing students.
During the past year, co.lab has worked closely with 12 leading startups developing games that have collectively reached over 22.5 million users worldwide. These companies have represented a range of subject areas and approaches: early childhood development (Kidaptive, Kiko Labs), mathematics and quantitative reasoning (Motion Math, BrainQuake), literacy and creative expression (Pluto Media, Kid Bunch, Timbuktu Labs), special education (LocoMotive Labs), user-generated content (Pixowl, TinyTap) and platforms for social learning (Edmodo, Edcast).
Based in part on feedback from cohorts #1 and #2, we have designed ourprogram to be tailored to the specific needs of games-based learning startups. Bringing together the resources of our founding partners —NewSchools Venture Fund’s educational and edtech expertise andZynga.org’s access to best-in-class talent and resources from the world of commercial games — we’re able to invest a unique combination of financial, human and social capital as well as provide strategic and fundraising support. Building on its first year commitment, Zynga.org is also contributing an additional $1 million to support co.lab’s work.
Cohort #3 companies were founded by a talented and diverse set of entrepreneurs including educators, technologists, game developers, school founders, researchers from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the University of California – Berkeley, a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans and even recent college graduates. They are tied together by a willingness to push technological and pedagogical boundaries to expand possibilities for learners’ growth.
We are thrilled to help accelerate these startups’ progress by connecting their founding teams to expertise and best practices from the commercial games industry, feedback from students and educators, and – critically – each other. Working together, we plan to help them optimize their products to support learning in the classroom or at home, with an emphasis on scaling impact while strengthening the games-based learning community.
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co.lab is an accelerator that works with startups using the power of digital games to build transformative educational technologies for PK-12 students and teachers. Our model is built upon a belief in the need for innovation in education, and in games’ potential to enhance learning – by creating virtual sandboxes that encourage experimentation and engagement, offering new opportunities for collaborative interactions, and unlocking new ways to assess cognitive and social growth. Our four-month program is designed to add value to early stage edtech companies while generating knowledge that will help designers, educators, researchers and funders better understand challenges and opportunities related to developing high quality learning games and applications. Learn more at www.playcolab.com.
About NewSchools Venture Fund
NewSchools is a not-for-profit organization committed to transforming public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs so that all children — especially those in underserved communities — have the opportunity to succeed. We actively share what we’ve learned through our investments, bring together educational leaders from across the country, and advocate for smart policies at the federal level. Learn more atwww.newschools.org.
Zynga.org is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to the idea that social games are a platform for social good. Zynga.org works closely with Zynga, Inc., a leading provider of social game services, to engage millions of game players in social impact through content and campaigns integrated into games. In addition, Zynga.org works with other game developers to leverage games to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits. Earlier this year, Zynga.org collaborated with Games for Change to produce Half the Sky: The Game, which has amassed more than 1 million players since its launch in March 2013. To date, Zynga.org has developed more than 150 in-game campaigns, raising nearly $20 million for nonprofit organizations worldwide. Zynga.org is the cofounder of co.lab, a new learning games accelerator with NewSchools Venture Fund. Learn more at www.zynga.org.