London-based educational media company MarcoPolo Learning has launched MarcoPolo World School, a digital subscription-based preschool and STEAM service offering personalized learning paths for children.
Available on the Apple App Store worldwide and accessible in line, the US $ 5.99 service combines TV-grade mixed media lessons with contextualized learning activities in a sandbox-like environment.
The app currently offers around 100 one-minute lessons, but will expand to over 1,000 lessons and 10,000 learning activities as more content is added each week. A version for British English will also be launched at the end of the month, and other languages ââthereafter. MarcoPolo’s program director, Dr Nermeen Dashoush, Ph.D. Columbia University in STEM-Focused Early Childhood Education, led the creation and design of World schoolstudy programme.
In addition to STEM subjects, the platform includes courses in math, literacy, social studies, including music and the arts, as well as socio-emotional learning.
Popular anthropomorphic characters from MarcoPolo’s first original animated series, The Polos, and the developer’s suite of apps serve as co-pilots for children throughout the learning experience. In addition, the app offers a unique blend of natural HD live footage with high quality 3D and 2D animation. Additionally, MarcoPolo hired a former art director from Toca Boca to oversee World schooldesign elements.
One of the unique features of the app is a ‘Let’s Talk’ communication feature for parents that helps foster healthy interactions as it is linked to a lesson sharing feature for kids.
âWhen kids click a heart icon in the upper right corner of the screen, parents receive an email notification that a video lesson has been shared. By activating the Let’s Talk feature in the app, talking points around two questions and a fact related to the shared lesson are superimposed to help a parent communicate with their child, âsaid Justin Hsu, CEO of MarcoPolo Learning. âParents also receive weekly reports and analysis in the parent section of the product that help understand what a child is learning and how they are progressing. “
Before its worldwide release, World school app launched in Canada on January 11 and has provided MarcoPolo’s highest engagement rates to date for all of the company’s applications. World school This week also won a front page feature and a title banner on the App Store in the US and Canada.
Asked about potential school partnerships, Hsu said World school is made strictly for home use. âWith our previous app titles, schools bought them themselves, but we don’t market them. As a company, however, we are trying to distribute the product to various key regions of the world, âhe says. âA potential partner we are discussing with is one of the largest networks of private schools abroad. They may bundle our product as a home study program for children.
Hsu adds that partnership discussions are underway with a number of large media companies in emerging markets where there is not much access to early childhood education. He says the biggest challenge is ensuring the high quality of the content. âCreating the content is the hardest part. We blend 2D, 3D and HD footage using TV quality recorders. Quality matters, but it takes time, âhe says.
To help counter time constraints, MarcoPolo designed the product so that new content can be easily added on the fly. âWe have developed a production pipeline that constantly does more lessons that are attached to more contextualized games so that we don’t need to rebuild. The game engines change skin depending on the episode you’re watching, âHsu explains.
The launch comes amid a period of growth for MarcoPolo, which secured US $ 8.5 million last April as part of a funding round led by Boat Rocker Media, a Canadian company based in Toronto, with Horizons Ventures (Asia), Seedcamp (Europe) and the managing partners of DST. Global.
âBoat Rocker took a stake in MarcoPolo because they see us as the next generation of children’s developers,â says Hsu. âMuch of the reason they invested World school.
Boat Rocker’s agreement with MarcoPolo is also an exclusive global video partnership that will see the companies collaborate on new original animated and digital TV series for preschoolers, including polo shirts, which is currently in production with full episodes available to screen at Kidscreen Summit next week in Miami.