Today a group of 5th grade boys Skyped with Lindsey Hill of Evanced Kids. Recently, Matthew Winner posted on his blog about a beta testing opportunity for Wandoo Planet, a kids’ interest genome project. I signed up to be a beta tester and it wasn’t long before I got an email inviting me to join.
I tried out the product myself and had a lot of fun clicking on the fun little characters carrying signs with words of interest. I could give a thumbs up, thumbs down, or a heart to each sign. This helped the program start finding other topics I might like. When I reached a point where I felt done, the program took me to a tree with branches for each of my love categories. Within these categories were suggested books and movies I might read or watch. If I saw a book I knew I wouldn’t like, I could delete it so that it could be replaced by other books. I also learned that I could add additional branches to my tree.
This week, my tech crew of 5th grade boys tried out Wandoo Planet for themselves. I tweeted a picture of their beta test and immediately started having a conversation with Lindsey Hill at Evanced Games. She wanted to hear their thoughts, so we set up a time to connect.
After some quick introductions, the boys launched right into talking about what they liked and what they wished or wondered. The boys talked about:
- Being able to search for specific topics rather than wait on the animals to bring the topics to them
- Trying to cut down the time it takes to build your tree
- Wondering which age groups the product would actually be for
- Wondering how topics are suggested to them.
- Wanting mini games within the program. Educational mini games that tie to the book topics that are suggested.
- Wanting more choices to choose from
- Wanting to start with broader topics and narrow down to specific
- Wanting the tool to be available on the computer, iTuness, and Google Play
- Wanting music and sounds
The boys found out that several of their ideas and suggestions are already being worked on, but aren’t yet available in the beta version. I loved that these students experienced the idea of a “rough draft” from their writing classrooms and how those rough drafts are being revised several times. I want to help them make that connection more when we meet again on Tuesday. This was a great real world example that revision impacts more than just writing a paper for class. It’s a big part of many of our careers.
The powerful piece in this is that these students’ voices were heard. Lindsey told them that every comment they made was going to be carried to the developers to improve Wandoo Planet for future users of the tool. I am really excited about this tool because I think it is one more piece to help students discover their interests, connect to books/games/movies/sites that support those interests, and more. As a librarian, I see this being a way to give students ideas for growing the collection to include things that matter to them.
This group is going to continue to use Wandoo Planet on Tuesday and then reconnect with Lindsey on Wednesday of next week along with Shannon Miller and her students in Van Meter, Iowa. We can’t wait!