Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Zondlescape 014 - the zondle story

zondle logo
games to support learning

A big thank you...
from the team at zondle!

Following the launch of the all-new zondle, developed thanks to feedback from so many fantastic people from around the world, we are proud to announce that zondle is now out of Beta.

We still have lots of exciting developments in the pipeline, which we'll be telling you about over the coming months, but in the meantime we thought you might like to know something about how zondle came about. So here's the zondle story, so far...

The zondle story...

Zondle has been put together by Ben Barton (CEO), Doug Lapsley (developer), and Wayne Holmes (Director of Education).

Doug and Wayne (an ex-teacher) have worked together over many years, developing various games-based learning titles, while Ben has had a distinguished career in educational publishing.

Zondle was inspired by our children (we have eight between us!), who wanted a way to make their learning and preparation for tests and examinations less boring and more effective. The aim was to develop something that helped motivate children to put in the time needed to remember key facts - upon which, with the support of their teachers, they could then build their understanding and learning.

And the key idea was separating out the content from the games, so that students and teachers could create games to support exactly what they wanted to learn.

After many a long hour discussing the possibilities and sketching out the approach, all the coding and designing took place in a caravan (honestly!) on a campsite in the wilderness area of Gairloch (one of the most Northerly villages on the West coast of mainland Scotland).

Zondle was built here!

In his web-enabled caravan, Doug, his very understanding wife and young children often had to cope with sub-zero temperatures (frozen taps and sheet ice between the van and the toilets) or acres of mud. But it was in the van that Doug designed the zondle character and wrote the 250,000+ lines of code that together make up the zondle experience.

While Doug worked on the design and coding, Wayne (who is completing a doctorate in games-based learning at the University of Oxford) worked on the pedagogy. His aim is to make sure that zondle helps teachers to use games to support how they want to teach. We knew we were onto something when Oliver, Wayne's son and harshest critic, then preparing for his first GCSE examinations, told us begrudgingly 'your zondle thing... you know it really does work...'.

Meanwhile, Ben took care of getting zondle known and out into the world - and the fantastic thing is that now, zondle is being used by thousands of people every day, in over a hundred countries world-wide. A big welcome to all of you!

Together you have created more than 80,000 topics, while more than one and a half million questions have so far been answered on zondle! So, many, many thanks for all your fantastic support!

We also want to thank a bunch of fantastic people who have all played an important role in helping us to get zondle where it is: Barry Corrigan, Ceri Williams, Chiew Pang, Chris Cox, Dawn Hallybone, Geoff Riley, Ian Addison, Jan Webb, James Heal, Paul Long, Jim Riley, Kirsten Cambell Howes, Larry Ferlazzo, Lidija Kralj, Lindy McGuiness, Liz Goddard, Marie-Pierre Graff, Nick Jackson, Peter Richardson, Ray Dogra, Richard Taylor... the list goes on and on, sincere apologies if we haven't named you.

We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

Please do get in touch, let us know if there's any way we can improve zondle for you and tell us how you're using zondle in your teaching and learning. We look forward to hearing from you!

Ben, Doug and Wayne


Friday, 24 February 2012

A quick guide to recording audio for zondle

In some zondle question types for areas such as spelling and phonics you can upload supporting audio.

This video gives a brief introduction into recording audio for zondle using free tools that can be downloaded from the Internet.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Creating topics - zondle builder

This video introduces the "zondle builder". The zondle builder is a way of quickly entering complex types of question into zondle by filtering the content library that we have on the site.

For example. We have broken down the whole of the Letters and Sounds phonics scheme into its constituent parts. You just select the filters you need by choosing things like, phase, CVC structure, number of syllables, initial, medial and final sounds and click "generate". Zondle builder will list the words that fit the criteria. Now you can add these words to your topics by just clicking "add questions to topic".

The questions will be added to the topic complete with their supporting audio and phonic breakdown.

New feature - Embed your student stream in your website or VLE

Today we launched a new feature on zondle which enables you to embed the student stream that you see on your teacher console in your own website or VLE so that the wider world can see what your learners have been up to on zondle.

This was an idea from Glenaire so THANK YOU for a great idea!

This video tutorial shows you how it works.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Zondle class view

This video shows you how to use zondle class view to enable your users to quickly and easily play zondle games.

Just set up the computers in the classroom to be used with zondle class view and put a link on the desktop. Now any time the link is clicked learners are logged straight into zondle classview and are on task.

Zondle class view is a secure and locked off area of zondle where learners can play your topics in recommended zondle games without access to any of the other zondle features or content. It's ideal for primary / elementary level or just if you don't want your learners distracted by other things.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Embedding zondle games in your website with zondle connect

This video shows you how to embed zondle games in your own website or VLE with the new version of zondle.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Viewing student progress

This video shows you how you view your students' progress when they have played your topic on the new version of zondle.

Zondle are speaking at #LEGup!

#LEGup – Wednesday, 22nd February 2012

Zondle are speaking at this Wednesday’s #LEGup at the Centre for Creative Collaboration in east London. We’re really excited to be sharing the evening with Quest who provide amazing software for creating fiction games for students.

Our presentation is called 'Chocolate-covered broccoli: games-based learning and zondle'. We’re going to covering terminology (simulations, games, and chocolate covered broccoli), games-based solutions in search of problems, and zondle (what it is, what we're trying to achieve, and how we're doing).

We hope to see you there (Wednesday at 6.30pm)!

What is #LEGup?

#LEGup is the London Educational Games Meet Up group organised by the fantastic Kirsten Campbell-Howes.

The group is made up of games-based learning developers (like zondle), designers, coders, teachers, and sometimes investors – in fact anyone interested in the development and use of games (not just digital games) in education.

You don't need to be actively making games to join this group, an interest in getting involved is enough. The aim is to help people get together to share knowledge and ideas.

Meetings are held about once a month and are very informal. They’re FREE to attend and sometimes there is beer!

So far there has been a wide selection of games-based learning speakers, including: 7Puzzle, @nightzookeeper, My Note Games, Stealth Education, Preloaded, Motionary, and BBC Education.

Calling Teachers!

The best sessions have been those where teachers (especially @dawnhallybone) presented or were the most vocal in the discussions after the pitches.

It would be great to have more teachers attend to find out more about the ways that games can enhance your teaching and your students' learning but also for you to give us a real insight into what really does work in your classroom.

#LEGup – Wednesday, 22nd February 2012

If you’d like to see what #LEGup does and to join in the conversation, please sign up and come along on Wednesday.

For more details about the group, please visit the #LEGup web pages.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

How your students play your topics

This video shows you how your students play your topics on the new version of zondle.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Setting topics to your students

This video shows you how to set your topics to students so that they can play them in the zondle games on the new version of zondle.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Creating a topic

This video shows you how to create a zondle topic to set to your learners in the new version of zondle.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Setting up and organising your school

This video shows you how to set your school up on the new version of zondle.

#zondleslogan Competition Winner

On the way in to work yesterday I was playing with some zondle slogans on twitter to celebrate the launch of our new site. As it became clear that mine were rubbish, I thought about asking our followers to come up with their own and we had a fantastic response during the day, so THANK YOU!

We decided to give out three t-shirt prizes:
Overall Winner  - Alex Bellars @bellaale for Zondle: because my education's worth it!
Second Place - Adrian Murray @BusinessStudies for A zondle a day helps you work, rest and play! 
Special Prize for number of ideas - Dawn Hallybone @dawnhallybone including A zondle a day (see above) and "all because the kids love @zondle"
Thanks so much for all your tweets, we really appreciated them. Given that we crowd source much of the content within zondle it made a nice change to crowd source the marketing too!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Fancy testing the new zondle website with us?

For the next couple of days we are doing through the final stages of testing with the new version of the zondle site with the aim of going live this week.

If you would like to see the new site and get involved in the testing then that would be brilliant. We are only a small team, so the more people that test it the better!

We are not, at this stage, looking for ideas for new features, just to make sure that it works without problems.

If you would like to get involved then please check out:

…and send any issues you find to

Videos are pending, but everything else should be working.

Thank you for your support!