AWS Public Sector Blog

Using gamification to increase student engagement: Hot AWS EdStart startups

boy playing game on desktop computer

As students worldwide continue to attend classes virtually, teachers and parents are working to supplement student learning outside of the classroom. According to eLearning Industry, the shift to virtual learning has impacted student learning, engagement, and performance. Educators are looking for solutions to help keep students excited about learning. Four AWS EdStart Members from Brazil, China, India, and Thailand are using gamification to improve the virtual student experience and increase student performance by encouraging learning through play.

Learn the Chinese language and culture through an immersive multiplayer game

FunChinaWorld (China) provides schools with technology solutions to help students around the world learn Chinese language and culture in a gamified environment. It offers virtual content for students to learn Chinese at home and provides curriculum to teachers and schools. Students are encouraged to explore Chinese culture through an immersive multiplayer game. In this virtual experience, students can compete and collaborate with others around the world, interacting as different characters and completing quests that engage and educate using storylines, leaderboards, and in-game achievements.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, FunChinaWorld helped over 3,000 teachers across 300 schools virtually teach 20,000 students the Chinese language. FunChinaWorld built its platform with microservices and containers on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) while using Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) to manage and monitor their containers in an effective and scalable way. They use Amazon CloudFront, a secure and programmable content delivery network (CDN) for fast loading speeds for their multi-player games worldwide.

“During our beta test in 2019, AWS EdStart provided us with promotional credits and helped us launch our product at a very low cost. We started our product testing on AWS with only 50 beta users. Now, we have over 20,000 students worldwide,” said Yongbo Chen, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of FunChinaWorld.

Participate in personalized learning while earning medals

Jovens Gênios (Brazil) is a learning platform for schools that teaches math, Portuguese, science, history, and geography using machine learning (ML) to create personalized learning paths in an online gamified environment. Students can win medals, build avatars, and talk with friends, while parents and teachers can monitor student performance.

As professors in the Brazilian school system, co-founders Fernando Costa and Bernard Caffé wanted to motivate students to learn through evidence-based learning. Since 2017, over 40,000 students have answered over seven million questions, studied over 60,000 hours, and improved their grade point average by at least two points on a scale of zero to ten. Jovens Gênios reaches students at scale using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), a fully managed container orchestration service, to manage real-time events reaching hundreds of students at once. They use Amazon ElastiCache to set up, run, and scale in-memory data stores in the cloud, where they are currently storing more than seven million student answers. They also use Amazon Simple Storage Solution (Amazon S3) to store and retrieve more than 40,000 supporting images and provide students fast access to content.

“With AWS EdStart, we received great support,” said Fernando Costa, co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of Jovens Gênios. “For example, I faced challenges with our microservices infrastructure. The AWS EdStart crew arranged a meeting with two AWS engineers who helped. This support made it possible to reduce costs and improve the performance of our servers.”

Turn assessments into adventures using puzzle games

PlayAblo (India) is a gamified learning platform for schools that brings together assessments, live classes, and bite-sized videos for math and English into a single solution featuring unique lesson plans. PlayAblo disrupts the traditional use of paper-based worksheets as a learning tool and replaces it with a virtual assessment that reduces administrative teacher loads. The end-to-end experience is gamified and encourages student engagement by turning assessments into an adventure using puzzle games and reward systems, while sharing actionable real-time insights with instructors. Use of PlayAblo has been shown to increase student engagement, while showing English grammar improvements by 46 percent, and math skills by 57 percent for students in the bottom 30th percentile of their classes. PlayAblo runs on Amazon EC2 and uses Amazon S3 to store assignment submissions, corrections and feedback, and Amazon Alexa so teachers can use voice to provide assignments to students and check student progress and performance.

“AWS enabled us to leapfrog our solutions from traditional technology solutions like smart boards and projected content to mobile-based personalized learning. Our platform is extremely scalable and AWS has enabled us to expand to over 100,000 student users,” said Ananthakrishnan G., co-founder and CTO of PlayAblo.

Participate in cooperative learning by completing virtual adventure challenges

Vonder (Thailand) creates microlearning games where students can beat agility and adventure learning challenges within 60 seconds. Their microlearning games feature scoring, leaderboards, and in-game currency, along with a multiplayer product called “Vonder Go” focused on cooperative learning. Vonder is focused on high school students and is free for teachers, while Vonder Go is focused on corporate training.

Shin Wangkaewhiran, founder and CEO of Vonder, wanted to create learning tools that were engaging yet simple to adopt, even for those who were the most disengaged in the classroom. The microlearning games were instantly popular and Vonder scaled to over 50,000 users in three months, with over 500,000 lesson completions. The product teaches basic subjects such as history, English, and science. Vonder currently use AWS Lambda for serverless computing to handle their business logic and reduce instant provision time, Amazon CloudFront to reduce latency to for their frequent Amazon S3 usage, and AWS Systems Manager for visibility and control of their infrastructure on AWS.

“AWS EdStart makes it possible for us to explore new technology that makes our service faster and smoother,” said Shin. “Without such support, Vonder would have not dared to keep relaunching products. With given credit, we arrived at the minimum viable product that is truly original.”

AWS EdStart helps entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions in the AWS Cloud. Learn more about AWS EdStart.

And if you’re a teacher, check out tips and tricks to gamify your classroom.