Sunday, 27 November 2011

How good a Santa are you??

So today you are Santa! How many prezzies can you drop down the chimneys of all the houses as you do your Christmas rounds?

Compete against your friends and we will announce the winner on Boxing day! Click below to see how good you are.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Zondle is actually a geek



Following a substantial increase in user numbers on zondle in recent months we have been working very hard behind the scenes to make sure that zondle is always available for you.

Today we moved over to a much more advanced hosting setup which will take zondle on to the next level. It has been a very complicated process, so please do let us know if you experience anything odd over the coming days.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the zondle community.

Without you zondle is nothing and we are very appreciative of all your feedback, support and loyalty to us as we step forward.

Thank you!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Recycling zondles!

Today we release a long awaited feature on zondle. The Recycle bin in the school designer.

This is such a simple thing, but now means that you can remove teachers and learners from your school by simply dragging them into the recycle bin in the school designer.

The following video shows how this works.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Zondle Direct link login released!

Due to quite a number of requests we have now developed the direct link login feature on zondle.

Basically this feature enables you to download a list of web links that you can hand out to your learners.

They then just click on the web link and are logged directly into zondle.

The following video explains how to set this feature up and get your learners on task even more quickly.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Halloween Competition Winner!!!

Zondle logo - games to support learning

Congratulations to Rubia Khan who shot down more pumpkins than any other zondle user last week. The game was a tricky one so we are especially impressed with Rubia's score of more than 100 pumpkins shot down. A t-shirt is on it's way to you next week.


Well done Rubia!

Remember you can still play the Halloween Pumpkin Shoot game using your own topic. Try it here.

PS Watch out for more competitions as we head towards Christmas!


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

zondle @Oakdale School


Oakdale School – year 5 Zondle Day!

Zondle were asked by the amazing Dawn Hallybone (@dawnhallybone) to come to her school in South Woodford to talk to the Year 5s about zondle and to create some topics around Space and some games too! We had such a great time that we had to blog about the experience as soon as possible (on the Central Line!).

Before the day, we received a bundle of Year 5 pictures in the post which were quickly scanned and put into the zondle builder so children could create games using their own characters and backgrounds.

How the day went
Preparation
We worked with 3 different classes (5P, 5T and 5H) for 1.5 hours each. The session started by thinking about the sorts of questions you could put into zondle. We explored why ‘bigger’ questions – Why is there Space? might not work so well in zondle as we needed a question AND an answer for these games.

It was useful that the children had worked on zondle before so they knew the basics of multiple choice and true and false questions.

After the children had written between 3 and 5 questions we raced (walked quietly) to the ICT suite where the children worked in pairs.

Logging on and creating topics
Once the children had logged on we moved them through the ‘create a topic’ section where they named the topic and then keyed in the questions, answers and wrong answers (distractors) into the zondle interface.

Some of the discussion around questions and distractors was amazing:
      You can’t say Buzz Lightyear was the first man in space that’s just silly…
      No, it’s one of the wrong answers, I put Neil Armstrong

My favourite question was: Would you fall through Jupiter? Yes, No, Kind Of!

Encouraging the children to think about writing questions for children in Year 3 really helped them to focus on the type of questions that were at the right level and had the right sort of incorrect answers.

It was incredible how much the children knew about space including what atmospheres were like on Jupiter and Mars, how many gas giants there were in our Solar System and what was the first animal into space.

Creating Games
We then worked step by step through the ‘create a game’ process starting with naming the game and adding a background – including some brilliant space backgrounds we had prepared earlier.

Children could then search for characters (including their own) to add to the background. It was amazing how the children ensured that everyone in the group had a character in the game.

Using the animation tool we showed the class how to move, resize and rotate (very good space topic word) the characters as part of the Introduction animation.

It was at this stage that the groups’ own knowledge and ability took flight and given the tools they then began to work on their reward animations.

Whoops!
Despite a slight glitch when some were logged out without saving (zondle’s fault – sorry) we created some amazing games with fantastic reward animations that the children could then play at the end of the session.

Hats Off and Thanks
Hats off to Lewis’ amazing animation of a character drifting off into the Sun before disappearing. It was very atmospheric.

Hats off too to Cassius who finally taught me how to score a goal on Penalty Shoot Out.

Thanks Dawn and everyone at Oakdale for making us feel so welcome and working so hard in Space this Wednesday. The children should all feel very proud at being able to develop so many great topics and wonderful games. The teachers were so helpful with the children and kept it all on track plus they were very comfortable when the 9 year old was the ‘expert’. Amazing!



Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween pumpkin shoot

FOR ONE WEEK ONLY!
zondle's Halloween competition!

A t-shirt for the user with the highest score by Friday night!
zondle loves 'Halloween' - ghosts, ghouls, pumpkins, and best of all 'trick or treat' sweets and candy!

While we go out 'trick or treating' and scaring the neighbours (or neighbors!), we thought you might like to have a go at our BRAND NEW halloween competition.

Can you help the witch to shoot down as many pumpkins as possible, while answering some questions all about Halloween? Click here to play the zondle 'Halloween' competition!



The user with the highest score on Friday night will win a zondle t-shirt and the title "Pumpkin Punisher 2011"!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

How are my learners doing on a particular question?

Today we release a new feature on zondle. Thanks to @BAFDiploma for this suggestion.

The new feature enables you to very quickly see learner progress for a particular question in a zondle topic.

Simply click on the number of questions displayed by topic, click the progress icon next to the question of your choice and you will see a list of progress for your learners.

You can filter by teaching group to see exactly the learners you need.

The players who are struggling the most are listed first so you can quickly see who in your teaching group is having problems with a particular question and focus on helping them to understand it.

This short video gives an introduction to this new feature. Any feedback is, of course, very welcome.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Zondle tools – phoneme / grapheme correspondence

Today we released a new area of zondle called "zondle tools". This area of the site will contain little tools that we have developed for the main zondle site, but which can just as well be used as in-class teaching tools.

The “phoneme picker” is the first of our zondle tools and thank you to @cerirwilliams for suggesting that we make this available. This tool enables you to pick a phoneme and view the grapheme correspondences for it. Then you can drag the graphemes onto the word bar to make words. Clicking on the phonemes or graphemes sounds them out.

If you have any ideas for other tools that you would like to see on this page please let us know.

We hope this is useful and look forward to hearing your feedback.

You can access zondle tools at any time from the “more” menu in the bottom bar of the page.

Click here to try the phoneme picker now.



Saturday, 1 October 2011

Help your students to learn how to enter accented characters with zondle’s “type the answer” question type.

Thanks to mpierre38 for your suggestion. We have now added the ability for the “type the answer” question type to accept normal keyboard input for accented characters (e.g. “vous êtes”).

This should help learners not only to learn the translations for the words, but how to type them as well.

Of course you can always use the “type the translation” question type if you would rather learners didn’t have to know the key combinations. With this question type accents appear as buttons that the user can click.

We have also enabled the “type the answer” question type to be reversible. So now you only have to enter the questions once to ask the learners to translate, for example, English to French and then French to English.

Any feedback would be very welcome.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Zondle grade books – see all your student data in one place!

Today we added a new way of viewing your learner progress on zondle. The grade book shows a list of all the learners in a teaching group, all the topics that they have played and details the learner progress for those topics.

This gives you a much quicker way to see an overview of the progress for a teaching group in multiple zondle topics and quickly see who is falling behind and may need extra support.

Thank you to mscoxenglish for this idea. We really appreciate your feedback and ideas.

The following video gives an introduction to this new feature.



Any feedback is, of course, more than welcome.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Finding your learners’ progress just got easier

Today we added a new feature to zondle to make it even easier to find the progress information for your learners.

Thanks for Frau Mahler for suggesting this idea.

Now you can locate your learner in the school designer and just click the little graph next to their name to see all the topics they have played and their progress.

The following video gives an overview of this new feature.

Zondle builder - for phonics and spelling questions

Yesterday we added audio for 1200 words to the zondle builder. This means that you don't have to record audio yourself and you can now enter phonics and spelling questions into zondle even more quickly.

The following video gives a very short introduction to the zondle builder in case you are not already familiar with how it works.

The zondle builder enables you to quickly and easily enter phonics and spelling questions to be played in any zondle games that your learners choose. Filter our extensive list of words by region, phonics scheme, CV structure, no of syllables, initial, medial and final phoneme positions in any combination you like. This generates a list of words. Select the ones you want and just click "add questions to topic" and bang you have a zondle phonics topic of your choosing which your learners can play. You can then monitor their progress. Magic!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Zondle junior automatic login released!

Yet another great bit of feedback from Primary Pete (@primarypete_) enabled us to release a new feature today for zondle junior. The zondle junior automatic login deals with a common in-class scenario where there are multiple users on multiple computers. Before today you, as a teacher, would have to log into each of those computers every time you wanted to use zondle with the class.

Now you simply tick a checkbox in your profile to indicate that you would like to use the automatic login. Then log in on any computers that you would like to use.

From that point on all just visit the zondle junior site on those computers and they will automatically log you in.

Thank you Primary Pete! What a star.

This short video gives a very quick overview of this zondle feature.

Organising your school is now even easier!

Following suggestions from a number of zondle users (thank you Primay Pete - @primarypete_ and Lindy M) we have just added a new feature to the school designer to make it easier to manage your learners. Just start typing their name into the text box at the top of the “all learners” list and the page will filter the learners accordingly.

This very short video shows how it works.



The following video shows much more detail on the school designer and managing your school and learners.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Zondle junior oneClick login released

Our zondle focus day brought up some interesting ideas. One of which raised by Primary Pete (@primarypete_) and Ceri Williams (@cerirwilliams) was the notion of a one click login to enable teachers to more easily use zondle in class. Once the teacher has logged in teaching group members just click on their zondle avatar and start playing. How easy is that!?

The following video shows how it works. Now the zondle phonics and spelling topics that you create can be played even more easily in class.

zondle in under ten minutes

Our good friend Ian Addison (primary school teacher and ICT co-ordinator) suggested that we did a very short video showing how quickly you can get started with zondle. We reckoned this was a great idea and so knocked one up for his undertenminutes.com website.

If you don’t already know about undertenminutes.com then it’s one to add to your favourites. It enables users to see how to use technology in education in a series of videos of under ten minutes.

Ian says: “This is about the same length as my attention span and perfect for showing at the end of a staff meeting.”

So, if you want to see how quickly you can get going on zondle, just check out this video and undertenminutes.com.


Monday, 8 August 2011

zondle affiliate program released

Would you like to get more recognition for the content that you put on zondle?

Would you like to publicise your school, organisation or company?

Would you like to do all of this in a way that helps learners around the world?


This is where the FREE zondle affiliate program comes in.

You send us a link to your website and your logo. We will then check out your site and, if it is deemed appropriate, we will then add you as an affiliate on zondle.

When a user finds a topic created by one of your team they will see your logo next to the topic. Rolling over the logo brings up a bigger logo which links to your website.




More than one user can be linked to your affiliate account, so you could have all your staff or teachers creating topics that would carry your logo and web link.

Apply to participate!

Extended user profile released

Would you like people to be able to know a little more about you on zondle? Maybe so that they know that you are a qualified teacher or an organisation creating topics on zondle.

This is where the new extended user profile comes in. Tell other zondlers about yourself, where you are based, link up with them via twitter and share your web address.

Then, whenever your name appears on zondle a user can just click it and see your profile straight away.

Of course, this is all optional. You don’t have to include ANY information if you don’t want to.

Click here to see my profile.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

New friend features on zondle!

Today we released a little feature to make it easier for your learners to friend one another within zondle. Zondlers have always been able to add friends, but it was always a little clunky.

We have now added a much more responsive mechanism for zondlers to accept or reject friends requests in real time in class.

When a zondler has a friend request the next time they move to a new page they will get a little message slide down from the top of the window with the friend request and an option to “accept” or “reject” the friend request.

Doing it like this means that it never interrupts game play and therefore shouldn’t distract the learners, but also means that they can accept the requests easily.

Of course, any feedback is welcome. Here is a little intro video to explain all of this.

Zondle now in Portuguese - Zondle agora em Português

The latest addition to the zondle language support is Portuguese. Again we have used Google Translate to achieve this so we expect it to not be perfect and would very much appreciate feedback or help with improving the translation.

What language would you like zondle in? Let us know and we will add it!

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A mais recente adição aos idiomas que o site zondle suporta é o Português. Novamente, nós usamos o Google Translate para fazer a tradução e assim nós não esperamos que ele seja perfeito e gostaria muito de feedback ou ajudar com a melhoria da tradução.

Que língua gostaria zondle para apoiar? Deixe-nos saber e nós vamos adicioná-lo!

Friday, 5 August 2011

"Listen to the word and spell it" zondle question type - pedagogy improved!

We had a great suggestion from tacmyers to improve the pedagogy of the “Listen to the word and spell it”. She said:

“On the spelling games- I would love to have a feature that would combine the best practices for both visual and auditory learners. For example- you have spelling questions where you can listen to the word, or spelling questions where you can type the word when it disappears. I would love to see a version where you can hear the word, then watch it disappear, then type it. I would also LOVE to see (or hear) the word spelled out either as it is being typed- or when it goes together and repeated one final time

EX she (word is said) then it disappears

I type s-h-e the computer says s--h-e /she

This would hit so many more modalities-- not to mention making high frequency words easier to learn for kindergartners. Can it be done?”


We have now adjusted the question type to accommodate this new functionality. Any feedback is, of course, welcome.

See a working example of this improvement.

Thank you tacmyers!!!

“Type the answer” spreadsheet importing now supported on zondle

As you may already know you can import spreadsheets of questions into zondle to make setting up your topics even faster.

A few days ago Voglmeier requested that we add “Type the answer” to the spreadsheets that can be imported. This question type was itself added to zondle as a result of a user asking for it!

We are pleased to say that we have now added this new functionality so you can now import “Type the answer” questions into your zondle topics.

Thank you Voglmeier for feeding back that this would be useful! It’s exactly this kind of feedback that enables us to make zondle better for you!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

New games list display released

Hello zondlers! As you may be aware we had a zondle development day recently with key members of the zondle community (@cerirwilliams, @largerama, @primarypete_, @mscoxenglish and @mscoxenglish’s daughter who is just about to join Apple as a management trainee).

We have very much taken on board the feedback from that day and one of the things mentioned was a more efficient games list so that learners could more easily find games, add them to favourites and basically have fun more quickly.

Today we released the new game list system. It works much more quickly using JavaScript, JQuery and AJAX to return a basic list of game images in a fraction of the original time. Details for the games are then loaded separately when the user rolls over the game image. In short, much more, much more quickly.



The game list is separated into more useful sections:

My favourite games
Recommended games
My games
All games

…all of which are displayed on the one screen. No more paging through the games which is another significant speed enhancement.

You can easily add games to their favourites so that you can find them again easily. Favourites appear at the top of the games list now.

Oh, and of course, just click on the game image to play.

We would love to hear how you get on with this new enhancement. Have fun!

Click here to try it out!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Primary Pete, on zondle.com

This blog, written by Primary Pete, gives some of his views on zondle. Thank you for your kind words @primarypete_

----------------------

A week ago I was told about Zondle by @cerirwilliams after asking on Twitter for any suggestions for software that supports basic skills development, which I’m sure will become a focus for many schools with Ofsted’s agenda shifting. In my opinion, Zondle is a game changer. For background information helping to explain why, please read this post on my current strategic thinking regarding the direction that ICT needs to develop within my specific setting. To find what Zondle has to offer… read on!

In short, Zondle is a platform for learning (through answering questions) where you can play short games between questions. In my opinion it has 6 aspects which make it a game changer.

ONE: The beauty of the games element is that you can drop whatever content you want into the learning part and still give children the option of playing any of the games, so with 10 topics (sets of questions) and 10 games, that’s 100 possible combinations. This really increases the longevity of any of the topics for Primary aged children. My year 1 class are currently addicted to ‘creating pizzas’, which I really didn’t see coming. However if they get bored they have plenty plenty more to capture their interest.

TWO: Topics can be shared. This is massive. Every single one of the sets of questions that you create can be shared in the platform. So for example, my primary focus for using Zondle is to support phonics and spelling development. We use Letters and Sounds. I found a few resources to support different sounds but wanted a complete set, so I’m in the process of going through every sound in every phase to create a system I can get our school to use. And it’s shared. So any other school can jump on and access the same topics. I.E. Instantly accessible pre-created, high quality (if I do say so myself) content.

THREE: Sticking with the same example, the platform is extremely innovative. I have been able to go further than simply creating a spelling program where the word is on screen, disappears and then you spell it. That is just one of the several (and growing) possible ways of creating a set of questions. I chose to use one of the special ‘phonics’ question builders which allows you to upload a sound file and then specify the individual phonemes that make up the word. Children then hear the word and click on a range of individual sounds (which play – that is all built into the system) to create the word, giving them the opportunity to use their phonic knowledge to help them spell. A critical basic skill. Unfortunately I work in the lovely North West and have a southern accent so there is that dialect issue (for me), however the children are so used to hearing it in other programs that they get it without any problem. And even if they did…

FOUR: Zondle customer support is immense. They are planning lots of exciting things in the future, e.g. different dialects. They listen to teachers and want to build a system for teachers and are extremely helpful when it comes to getting data into the system and supporting use of the platform.

FIVE: Assessment. I haven’t had a chance to use that element yet as I have only just got individual logins today (yes, a Saturday) for our school (we used a shared class login previously). My understanding is you can review performance in each of the topics, for each of the children (in the topics where there is a ‘right or wrong’ answer). Therefore you could set topics to users (you can definitely do that) and then using the assessment element, pin pointing class support based on performance.

SIX: Did I mention Zondle was free? I believe there are additional elements that you can pay for, but keeping the main platform free is the model they are following. Therefore it makes it a great platform for teachers to use, see the impact and then buy in elements that are of particular use.

The system seems to be well used in secondary, particularly for Maths and MFL and whilst I think the possibilities there are giant, the impact Zondle could have on basic skills in Primary education is even greater. One small word of caution is the platform currently has a login button for Facebook and by nature, anyone can create content so some could be created by children that were inaccurate or inappropriate. Zondle clearly takes E-Safety seriously though, with a CEOP button on the homepage and the ability to log issues with topics. Referring back to the 4th aspect, personally I think a completely separate Primary login page would minimize possible E-Safety concerns. And the fact that Zondle will undoubtedly listen to this kind of advice is one of the six reasons that for me, it’s a game changer. <– Update*** I’m not surprised to say that the Zondle team have now implimented a ‘Junior’ login section! You can visit it here: www.zondle.com/junior

Friday, 29 July 2011

The first zondle development day

Yesterday (Thursday 28 July) we held our first zondle development day – an invited group of teachers telling us their thoughts on zondle and discussing where they think we should go next...

Five teachers (@cerirwilliams, @largerama, @primarypete_, @mscoxenglish and @mscoxenglish’s daughter who is just about to join Apple as a management trainee) joined us (@bartoneducation and @wayneholmes) in a rather posh conference room in Birmingham, where we chatted for almost five hours.

The most important thing to say straightaway is what a fantastic group of people! Everyone was extremely generous with their time and ideas – and all they got in return was some coffee and a bite to eat!

The conversation was very free-flowing. We discussed how they were using zondle, what they liked about it and (more importantly) what they didn’t like, what would make it easier for them to use zondle, and which of our proposed developments they thought were worth pursuing first (if at all). They also suggested several new ideas, all of which will definitely go on our ever-growing development list.

So, a very productive day – which Ben and I really enjoyed. We learned a great deal and hope that the day will be just the first in an occasional sequence over the coming months and years.

If you would like to join us when we next have a zondle development day, if you’ve some ideas (or some gripes) that you’d like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Great overview of zondle phonics and the zondle builder

We just wanted to say a big thank you to Simon Mills (twowhizzy) for his blog post about zondle builder and phonics in zondle. If you don't know about phonics on zondle then you might wanna check it out. It's about to get really cool over the next 2-3 months with some of the things we have in the development pipeline. Not sure we're going to be getting a great deal of sleep!

Here are a few video tutorials that show some of the features for phonics and spelling on zondle.

Zondle builder - used to filter words and quickly create phonics and spelling topics

Phonics 1 - click the phonemes question type
Phonics 2 - select the phoneme

These just show 2 of 9 different types of phonics and spelling question that you can use to customise your phonics and spelling topics to your learners' needs.

Zondle releases Unicode support for any language you need!

As a part of our ongoing effort to make sure that zondle is as useful as it can be to you we added full support for the Unicode character set to zondle today.

For any of you who are not familiar with this, it basically means that zondle questions can now be entered in any language!

We are very excited about this. Clearly it’s a new addition and so we expect some teething issues, so please just let us know how you get on.

Here is a test game that I created today using 6 questions, all in different languages.

Chinese version of zondle

OK, so we have now got a Chinese (simplified) version of zondle. We are a little less secure on this since we don’t speak a word of Chinese, but we have to say a very big thank you to Classroom Aid (twitter) who have very kindly said they would cast an eye over our translations and check that we aren’t too far out. How amazing can people be!? You guys are very kind.

Of course if anyone else finds something wrong with the translated version then please just let us know!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Spanish goes live on zondle

Well, our attempt at translating zondle into Spanish is now live. We don't speak any Spanish, so we have had to rely heavily on Google Translate for this.

We would be very interested to hear if you have suggestions for improving the translation. Better still, if you would like to proof read the content so that the site is perfectly translated please get in touch and we can send you all the bits you would need to do this.

Your browser needs to be configured for Spanish to see the translated version.

We hope this is useful and look forward to hearing how you all get on!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Today French, tomorrow Spanish!

Wow, localising a site like zondle is no mean feat! However, we are pleased to announce that today we finished the vast majority of the conversion of zondle to support multiple languages.

Now we just need to populate them.

As a first attempt we are using Google translate to get the site translated to a reasonable standard in as many languages as seems sensible in a short time frame and with minimal expense.

Clearly this won't produce a perfect translated version of the site. We are hoping that with help from the zondle community we will be able to then tweak the translation files to get them spot on.

French went live today and we hope to release Spanish tomorrow. If you have your browser's language set to French you will see the site in French.

Friday, 15 July 2011

We're translating zondle!

We’ve had a great deal of positive feedback about zondle.com which has been great. As you know we love to hear suggestions as to how we can improve zondle and one of the things that has been coming up frequently is support for languages other than English.

With this in mind we are in the process of setting up zondle for translation so that you can use it in whatever your native tongue is.

Being a community driven site we are very open to suggestion as to which languages we support. So if you would like your language supported then please let us know.

We are also looking for people who might be interested in helping us to translate the site. So if you would like to be involved in the translating zondle into your language then we would love to hear from you.

Thank you to all zondlers for your great suggestions and help in building what we hope is a great resource for learners all over the world.

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Update: We have now got all elements in place for translation. See how you can translate zondle into your own language here.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

"Fish nosh" the new zondle game!

Today we released a new zondle game. In "Fish nosh" you answer a question and then get the chance to swim around eating the smaller fishies. Be careful though, there are helicopters trying to bomb you with helibombs!

Of course you can play any topic you like in this game, but you can play a few questions from the topic "French colours" in "Fish nosh" below:

Friday, 24 June 2011

The long awaited zondle avatars are here!

Due to a great deal of feedback (and secretly really wanting them ourselves) we have added zondle avatars. When you join zondle you choose how you want your zondle to look selecting hair colour, eyes, hats etc. Then your zondle will appear anywhere you are mentioned on zondle.

This is my zondle at the moment, but of course, I can change him any time I like!



Watch a very brief intro into the world of creating your own zondle below:

Thursday, 23 June 2011

School designer interface released

At zondle we are very keen to make organising your learners as easy as possible. We are pleased to announce that it is now even easier than before. The new school designer enables you to set up your school / organisation or group ('cos it doesnt have to be a school!) within a few minutes. Just drag and drop teachers and learners in and out of teaching groups.

We can also import learners for you. Just export the details we need from your school database system (SIMS or the like) and send them to us for import.

If you can spare a moment to watch the video below, it explains how the whole thing works. Happy zondling!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

New zondle search unvailed

Zonddddllllerrrss - we have a new search system! Man we've been busy! We have been very conscious ever since the inception of zondle that search could be better on zondle. This month we have spent a lot of time looking at how other successful sites use search and have now developed and released our new search system.

Just start typing and you will see the top few suggested topics and options to refine your search via tags. Of course we also now list your topics, topics your teacher has set you and recently played topics right next to the search box.

Now you should be able to find things faster and more easily. We would welcome your feedback though and are very open to ideas (of course!).

Zondle has a new interface!

At zondle we do our best to listen to feedback from users and are always looking for ways to improve zondle and make it better for you.

Today we released the new zondle interface which (hopefully) makes it easier to find what you need quickly and easily.

The video below just gives a very small overview of the features. Of course, any feedback is welcome!

Monday, 28 March 2011

zondle update - March 2011

A zondle update
We just wanted to take this opportunity to update our many friends about zondle’s progress. We also wanted to say thank you to the huge number of people who have supported us so far: users and students, advisers and teachers, cheerleaders and paid employees. THANK YOU!

Zondle statistics

We have seen some amazing growth in 2011:
  • Registered users are up by 155% (still in the thousands, though, not yet millions).
  • Number of games played has more than doubled.
  • Our ranking on Alexa has jumped from from 160,210 to 97,188 in the UK.
  • We’ve had visitors from 50 countries. UK 56%, US 28%, Oz, 6% are the top three.

And in March:
  • We’ve had more than 3 times the number of visitors as we did in January.
  • We’ve gained more NEW users than we had TOTAL users in September.



But don’t just take our word for it!
All twitter comments about zondle are shown on the zondle home page but here are three blogposts we are really proud of are:
Larry Falazzohttp://bit.ly/hWbJIA
Pete Richardson @primarypetehttp://bit.ly/h2r6HJ
Sites4Prmaryhttp://www.sites4primary.com/2011/03/zondle.html



New Features on zondle (see www.youtube.com/zondle.com)

ZONDLE JUNIOR (developed in response to a feature request).
Young children now have their very own zondle: ‘zondle junior’. This site only features topics their teachers would like them to play.

NEW HOME PAGE (March)
A cleaner look, that tells you more about the site and speeds your way to playing games.

NEW GAMES
More than 12 new games added since January, including: ‘Bat the Teacher’, ‘Quicksand Bunnies’ and ‘Crystal Canon’. http://www.zondle.com/cdl.aspx?qp=650


Zondle partnerships

Tutor2U
tutor2U have created a range of business topics within zondle that also appear in their very popular blogs. Zondle were kindly invited to speak at a business studies training day for teachers in March. On zondle, all tutor2U topics appear with the tutor2U logo. http://bit.ly/f1LtFJ

REVISION WORLD
Zondle games now appear in the Geography section of this popular site - the aim now is to add games to ALL areas of the site by the end of April.  Zondle topics are tied explicitly to the content within the Revision World site. http://bit.ly/eddCJr

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS’ GLOBAL GRID FOR LEARNING
We have agreement in principle to host zondle on GGLF from May 2011. This is a subscription site. http://www.globalgridforlearning.com/

… and more to follow (including a state-of-the-art language learning website!).


Marketing zondle
EMAIL
Email campaigns are being managed by Julia Dance and we have had some great success with the new lists from Revision World and Schoolzone.

FACEBOOK
Facebook adverts are developing nicely with almost 100 new users directly from Facebook since we started advertising in February.

GOOGLE ADS
Google Ads are working well too and our SEO is improving greatly though this and our first tentative steps at blogging.

Things that we haven’t (yet) achieved:
  • Stephen Fry hasn’t yet tweeted about us.
  • Zondle isn’t yet an official ‘word’ in the OED.
That’s it for the zondle update this month. Thanks so much to everyone who follows us and supports zondle. We look forward to  more announcements in April!

Zondle junior released

We had feedback from users (thanks Ceri and Primary Pete!) that it would be great to have an area of zondle which was locked off so that young learners could use zondle without any worry about them going off task and playing the wrong topics.

We are pleased to announce that we now have such a system (It was requested on Saturday and is now released today on Monday). We call it zondle junior and you can find our more about it in the video below. Any feedback is welcome as we plan a great deal more exciting stuff for this area of zondle.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Testing helps students perform in examinations.

As Publishing Director for Letts Educational, for over 5 years, I spent a huge amount of time trying to work out what exactly it was that helped students perform best in their GCSEs. As a company we investigated different revision and test preparation techniques including cramming, mind mapping and question-spotting. Intuitively, however, we all believed that practising questions (short answer or longer, exam-style questions) was the key to exam success.

Now, a study from a psychologist at Purdue University has come out and said very clearly that, “It is important to make retrieval practice an integral part of learning’. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121111216.htm

This is great news for revision and test preparation companies (less so for mind-mappers if you read the detail) and hopefully will give students a bit of ‘science’ to help them get their grades in August.

It also works for zondle because that is exactly what we do! We have a whole load of questions, created by teachers and students that can be played in games to support revision and learning.

As the UK government moves towards a knowledge-based curriculum and away from students focusing on skills, retrieval practice is an essential skill that will ensure all that knowledge stays in place. I know that this will be the case in most schools already but would it hurt to suggest it as an entitlement for all students?

Monday, 17 January 2011

zondle at #bett2011 - the results




Zondle attended BETT 2011 for the first time and launched on Friday 14th January. We had an absolute blast, meeting some of 'the great and the good' but also a wide variety of teachers and technology leaders from around the UK and the world.

Thanks to everyone who helped and enthused about the product and gave us ideas for future developments.

How zondle did #bett2011
1) We took a suitcase, two iPads, a laptop, 100 t-shirts and 1000 postcards,
2) We met journalists and potential partners on the Thursday and on Friday morning.
3) From midday on the Friday we set up in a seating area upstairs, laid out our wares and tweeted our location. The result; 10-15 great conversations with teachers and technology leaders and 20 t-shirts given away.
4) We moved on to another location, did the same thing, and ended up giving most of our postcards away and having just enough t-shirts to donate to #tmbett2011 at the close of play.


Why did we do #bett2011 like this?
1) We have no money and definitely can't afford the prices for a stand.
2) We wanted to have a bit of fun and subvert the system (of course there has to be a system to subvert, so thanks EMAP and BESA).
3) Our view after visiting on Wednesday and Thursday was that much of the show was static (with the exception of #tmtakeover) and a bit predictable, we wanted to be that difference.

Things we learned

  • People want to talk about Games-based Learning, a lot!
  • Internationally Britain is highly-regarded as far as technology is concerned.
  • Teachers respond well to doing things a bit less formally and with a sense of fun.
  • Teachers LOVE t-shirts!

Zondle will be back at BETT in 2012, not sure what we will do yet but we will try to maintain the excitement of our experience in 2011.

Friday, 14 January 2011

zondle at #bett2011

Having had a great day meeting fantastic companies yesterday at BETT we are going to be giving our t-shirts out today, telling people about zondle and talking to some journalists about the service.

Follow us @zondle or @bartoneducation to see where we might be "popping up".
Come along to the stand we'll be camping out on and claim your free t-shirt by saying
"zondle - games to support learning".

We will also be at TeachMeet BETT in the evening (6:30 Apex Room) - where we are giving away another 10 t-shirts and hope to be blown away by the amazing speakers they have there.

In case you want a reminder of the t-shirt. Here it is ...

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Zondle is going to #BETT2011

After much debate and a with a little bravado, zondle is going to BETT this year and we are very excited about the prospect. It will be our first outing with a public we have only dealt with via email, our website and twitter over the past few months so we hope that some of you will turn up and say hello.

Zondle likes to do things a bit differently and so:
a) We will only be there on the Friday.

b) We won't have a stand but will 'pop-up' through the day. We will roam the halls and tweet our location every hour or so from @zondle.This is more about being late and having little money than anything else. But we also think it will be fun.

c) We will have postcards to give away to anyone who we can find.

d) We will also have t-shirts and about 50 of these will be given away FREE!



To get a t-shirt all you have to do is find someone in a zondle t-shirt and say:
"zondle - games to support learning"
e) Finally we will be sponsoring Teachmeet BETT 2011 on Friday Night - The Apex Room from 6:30pm. Sign up here: http://tmbett2011.eventbrite.com/

If you are going to BETT then do please follow us on twitter @zondle, track us down, find out a bit more about zondle and get a FREE t-shirt.

Hope to see you there!