Learning to type boring? Not with TypeTopia, the online typing course in which children are the main character in an exciting space adventure with amazing games that teach them how to type. We developed an entirely renewed version of TypeTopia for TopiaTeam. More modern, smarter, and with even more beautiful games.
Romer van Bavel, founder of TopiaTeam, was giving typing courses in schools for years. “I was always searching for ways to make the courses more interesting and how to motivate children intrinsically.” he says. “Learning how to type lends itself amazingly to gamification and that’s how the idea for TypeTopia began.” The first version of the web application came out in 2007 and was a great success.
Hundreds of thousands of kids learned how to type with TypeTopia, but after 10 years the web application, which was built in Flash, required an update, “Flash is getting supported by fewer and fewer browsers. Above all we wanted to reach a new level in online learning by using the technical and gamification possibilities to the most of their potential, ” Romer explains. “So that we can remain the most advanced player on the market.”
How do we create the best and most advanced online typing course?
A scaleable web application
In close cooperation with the game designers, artists and developers of TopiaTeam we created the new version of TypeTopia. Fully integrated with the other educational applications and administrative systems of TopiaTeam. Compatible with every browser. With amazing games. Shooting down meteors that threaten your spaceship by quickly typing their code… Learning was never this fun before!
Editing without programming
During the development we spent a lot of attention on TypeTopia’s editor. In the editor TopiaTeam’s employees can shape the typing course by placing modules, assignments, games and video’s in a workflow. They also import the characters, locations and animations required for the story. The editors runs checks on the material and points out didactic faults. No unnecessary luxury with thousands of assignments, games and animations. Using the editor the typing course can keep getting developed further and further, without needing to program anything. It’s even possible to develop entirely new courses with it, like a course for adults or people with bad vision.
Personal learning path
The workflows, games, and assignments are not static but adjust themselves to the level and progress of the student, this way a personal learning path gets created for every child. Difficulty with certain letters? They’ll show up more often in assignments. The child can even choose themselves, for example what game they’d most like to play. There are also learning paths for specific demographics, like dyslectic children.
Progress in view
For every child about 25.000 measurements get taken during the entire typing course such as good and wrong key presses, reaction times, and precision. By analysing this data it’s possible to exactly measure the progress of every student. What keys are going good and which need more attention? That progress gets presented in reports for every module. The child can then choose to practice more with a certain letter, or get more assignments with difficult letters and punctuation marks.
Typetopia’s core is formed by the user management system (UMS). A central database in which the details of all users on the web application get registered. Other apps by TopiaTeam, such as TopiaTrainer and TopiaTeam for Parents, are also connected to the UMS, that way children and parents are able to log in everywhere using one account. The CRM and service desk system also use information from the UMS.
This construction makes it so that the information across applications is uniform which makes the applications by TopiaTeam scaleable and user friendly. On top of this it creates new posibilities, like the option for children to invite their friends to the apps that they are not using yet. It also gives TopiaTeam the possibility to follow the behaviours of their customers which allows them to create smart marketing campaigns.
Because the workflows, games and storylines are important to the rest of the TypeTopia application TopiaTeam and Webmine worked together intensively on the software. Jager & Prooi was involved with the user interface design. Every week the functionalities and technical choices got tuned. A close cooperation with a beautiful result.
Een strakke deadline
An important limiting factor for the realisation of the new TypeTopia was the deadline. The new version had to be launched right before the start of the new school year. Later was not an option. Within this time frame the maximum possible functionality had to be developed, without losing out on the quality. Despite this tight deadline the project team was even able to add additional functionality.
At Webmine we create high quality software, we'd love to share our vision, technology and projects with you.
TopiaTeam and Webmine are certainly not done with developing TypeTopia. For the near future an international release is planned. The software is entirely prepared for that. There’s also going to be more expansive access for parents, with which they’ll be able to monitor the full progress of their child and using videos get didactic explanation about the (expected) learning path. They’ll also be able to see their child’s roster, see their reports and look into information about exams.
TypeTopia is a web application, developed in Ruby on Rails on the basis of a Service Oriented Architecture. At the core of the software is the User Management System that gets used by TypeTopia, and TopiaTeam’s other applications, through an API. This keeps the software manageable and scaleable.