Number.fy: Learner Centred Development 2

Continuing Mike Brown's two-part series on developing the Number.fy app:

Problem 2: Avoiding awkward "system" messages when children are using Number.fy

Meaningless and confusing error messages during use of any piece of technology is a huge barrier to confidence. Children often show an almost immediate drop in focus when faced with these interruptions so from the outset, our aim has to been to eliminate the likelihood of any error occurring while a child is using the device. At Flurrish we strive to keep the workflow of using the application in the classroom painfully simple. We realise that teachers want the experience to work as part of a quick "slice" of the lesson - not for handing the devices and dealing with technical issues to become the lesson in itself. As an example of our focus on this detail, we didn't want a scenario where children are handed devices that then decide to download updates and take the phone out of circulation and display confusing messages. The update has to happen at a pre-decided time, and it has to happen when the school decides that the upgrade is required.
(and for the techies in the audiences.... we have our own update service that you control via our website. Want to update to the latest version? Turn on "update" for your school account and simply start the app on your device - an update will download at which point you will be prompted to confirm the installation)

Problem 3: The network is down and we can't play

Our mantra of "practice makes perfect" is clear. It's the act of doing the sums (and having fun!) and building confidence that brings positive results to children's learning. We didn't want that critical day-in, day-out learning affected by problems with school networks or the internet. For this reason, despite our service being about recording results for teachers to review, if the device is not able to contact the server for any reason, it will drop to "guest mode". Game play can continue as normal. Results can't be logged, but critically... practice can continue so learning continues. On this occasion technology hasn't ruined the lesson.