Anyone who has worked in marginalized communities, especially in schools, is very familiar with the grant cycle. Something is funded, people are hired, everyone gets excited, progress is made and then the grant ends. What then? Too often, it is off to the new project and all the training, materials and efforts go to waste. With tens of thousands of students using Growing Math software, we couldn’t let that happen.
The Updates Happening Behind the Scenes
As part of the Growing Math project, we received evaluations from teachers of what they wanted improved and what was working. An issue mentioned many times was graphics. Students were using the games and videos on their phones at home and, with all of the different phone sizes, the text was not always large enough, or an image might overlap with text. This occurred mostly with the first games we had developed, when some of these smaller screen sizes didn’t exist or certainly were not being used by children in elementary school. (Remember when fifth-graders didn’t have phones?)
In the last month, we put a new version of Making Camp Ojibwe in the Play Store and the App Store and updated Making Camp Bilingual on the web. A new mobile version of Making Camp Bilingual and a web update of Making Camp Ojibwe will be out by the end of April. We are updating games in the order of the number of users, but our goal is to have an updated version of every game by the end of the year.
The maintenance you don’t see
Have you ever tried to download software or gone to a website for resources and it’s no longer there?
It’s not just that new screen sizes come out or new devices, like tablets. Software requirements also change. A few years ago, browsers started blocking autoplay. We get it, that’s annoying but that also meant when you went to one of our pages where a video automatically played, teaching about, say, the Ojibwe migration, that video no longer played. We made the needed changes BEFORE Chrome started blocking autoplay, so students could keep playing the games.
Without getting into the technical details, I’ll just say that behind the scenes changes are happening all the time. Either we think of a way to make the game load faster, or the powers-that-be decide that certain functions or features will no longer be supported and if we don’t change our code, it will eventually stop working.
New resources are coming …
We know educators are tired of having to come up with completely new lesson plans to incorporate the latest new, shiny thing rather than receiving support to build on what works. We do have three new games under development, one of which will be available very soon. We will get back to publishing new lessons and new units. First, though, we are making sure that what you have already included in your lesson plans stays up and running.