TinyTap Lets Teachers Create Their Own Educational Games
By Henry Kronk
June 28, 2018
In North America, teachers have generated an entire industry based on creating and selling lesson plans, class supplements, tests, quizzes, homework, or anything else that goes into a great educational unit. An Israeli company has taken this process a step further. TinyTap is an app that allows educators, parents, students, or any user to create their own educational game. Over 150,000 games have already been created by the app in 24 different languages by users around the world. And this week, the company announced it had secured a Series A funding round of $5 million.
The seed for the company was born when CEO Yogev Shelley’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As the condition progressed, Shelley began creating simple games with family pictures to help his grandfather remember his children and grandchildren. It was then just a short hop into educational games from there.
Since TinyTap took off, it has gone through a series of marketing strategies. At first it was used mostly as a tool for teachers.
“[Instructors] can work with their students as a class itself or send it as homework with a specific assignment tab where they can track their progress, they can see if they’ve done their homework. It was an app that was used in class, and it was for teacher-student interactions,” said Naomi Ashkenazi, who is head of marketing at TinyTap.
But soon, others grew interested as well.
“We saw more and more parents going to the app—not through teachers, but on their own,” Ahskenazi said. “They saw more and more great content created by their teachers. Think of it like YouTube. Tiny Tap is user-generated content. The users create the content.”
So Ashkenazi’s team began to take a broader approach. They switched to a freemium model.
“When you create a game and you upload it to the platform, you’ll have an option. One option is if you want to upload it to the market and not to sell it. We know that many teachers are passionate about teaching and don’t want to charge. You also have the option to make your game premium where it would only be available to subscribers.”
Teachers who create premium games are paid based on how much use the game gets in the TinyTap community.
“I can tell you the top 50 teachers earn between $500 to $1,000 per month,” Ashkenazi said. “We see that they are super engaged.”
TinyTap Has Begun to See Diverse Use in Classrooms
“As we see, teachers for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school usually use these kind of options to create simple and very clear activities,” Ashkenazi said. “In secondary education, they’re using TinyTap for project-based learning. They’re telling students, ‘Think about a subject and create your own game.’ TinyTap is a tool to develop kids’ creativity, to develop their ability to speak in front of audiences, the ability to work together, the ability to process information and gather data, the ability to tell stories, and to turn it into an activity. So it really has a wide range of uses with different audiences.”
And according to Danielle Levine, a member of Ashkenazi’s team, it has seen broad appeal in special needs education as well. She heard from a teacher who used TinyTap to help make an autistic learner’s transition to school more comfortable.
“Before he started school, one teacher decided to take photos of each of his classrooms, his teachers, and the principal so the boy could be familiarized with his environment before starting school,” Levine said. “That definitely creates a much safer environment for students with special needs so they can come in with this prior knowledge and feel like they’re coming in to a familiar place.”
In the words of Ashkenazi, education technology on its own won’t make a big impact.
“I’ve always believed that technology is not the real reason we have created this platform. Tomorrow morning, someone can come along and make a better one. The beauty of TinyTap is the community of teachers worldwide who create the content. Sometimes it’s not the prettiest one or the most authentic. I think that we have teachers from Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Israel, U.S. Everyone creates there, it’s amazing to see. We are always stunned by what they do. Everyone learns from each other, they’re all sharing ideas. Everyone has trouble, but they know how to fix some of our bugs better than we do. “
“I think this is why parents want this app for their kids. This is why we love to wake up in the morning and come here.”