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Implementing a Research-Based Design to Shape Our Newest Product: Prodigy English

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Ed giving a thumbs up with a tablet showcasing scene from Prodigy English to the left of them.

Prodigy English is coming Spring 2022. Sign up now to be the first to hear when it's ready to explore!

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Note: Early Access to Prodigy English has been released to specific individuals who had previously signed up for access. Sign up for email updates to be the first to know when Prodigy English is widely released in Spring 2022! 

Prodigy Education is growing! 

Introducing Prodigy English, a sandbox game where players can create their own world! This world is filled with objects students build while answering English Language Arts questions to gain energy and keep moving. We leaned on our Motivation First! philosophy of education and our Learner-Centric Pedagogical Approaches to deliver a brand new educational game and experience. 

Just as we did with Prodigy Math, we took an innovative approach to digital game-based learning. We deeply rooted our development of Prodigy English in research that supports students’ learning, growth, and engagement. 

We want to share with you the process we are working through while developing Prodigy English. We also want to share the ways research has helped shape our design and development decisions and where we see Prodigy English going forward. Continue reading to learn more! 

Developing Prodigy English to meet user needs

Teacher and student on a tablet in the classroom playing Prodigy English.

Our team approached building our newest game-based learning product using the minimum viable product (MVP) concept. This approach helps to ensure that a product is developed with enough features to be usable, attractive, and engaging. It is relatively early in the development cycle, so we are leaving room for user feedback to drive product development and improvements.

At Prodigy, we are user obsessed.  The team at Prodigy has participated in countless hours of interviews with students, teachers, and parents to determine our user needs and desires. Combining these interviews with research has enabled us to create a desirable product that meets minimum viable product (MVP) needs while continuing to grow and develop over time. 

Research and interview results reveal that there is a strong need for an English tool to support, motivate, and engage students in English language skills practice. We’re excited to explore this new area of learning as we focus on building a tool that can support these user needs.

“There's no good ELA gaming program that I have found. And I have noticed that my students love math because they get to play Prodigy … That's why I was like, I need something that's ELA Prodigy.” 

Teacher, 4th Grade

How research-based best practices and user feedback informed the development of Prodigy English

Screenshot of a grammar question in in Prodigy English.

Research-Based Design 

Our strong understanding of digital game-based learning and research has taught us that digital games can help students to learn content (Clark et al., 2014; Higgins et al., 2019) and can also improve student motivation (Partovi & Razavi, 2019). Prodigy English aligns with Common Core State Standards. So, while it has been developed to meet educational standards used across the United States, Prodigy English is also designed to motivate and engage students to dive into learning through play. 

Engaging Storyline 

As a component of our digital game-based platform, Prodigy English features an engaging storyline. Students find themselves on a journey to build, create, and care for their own village. Through hard work and energy, earned by answering English questions, students will be able to build the village of their dreams! As students continue to answer questions, they will be able to expand their village and build and acquire new furniture, decorations, and more! 

The combination of digital game-based learning coupled with an engaging storyline encourages students to continue imagining and building. They will create a world for their character to interact in while being motivated to answer questions and practice English at the same time. 

Student Experience 

Our Learner-Centric Pedagogical Approaches drove us to center the student experience within Prodigy English. Students begin their game experience by being able to customize their avatars. This feature allows students to be reflected and represented in their preferred way, creating a more inclusive online space. Research shows that when students are able to more closely connect with the avatar they create in video games, student motivation and enjoyment are impacted (Trepte & Reinecke, 2010). This means students are more invested in the game experience and, in turn, become more invested in answering English questions.

Prodigy English also builds upon the same adaptive algorithm used in Prodigy Math: to keep students in their zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). It challenges students just enough to keep them engaged in answering questions, yet intuitive enough to take them through prerequisite skills when it detects a struggle. This motivates students to continue to try their best and build skills, knowing that their effort can result in greater understanding and in-game rewards. 

Personalized Learning

Our adaptive algorithm supports students at their own level. To encourage even more personalized learning, teacher users will have access to create our most popular assessment type, Assignments, within Prodigy English. Assignments allow teachers to select specific skills and assign them to individual students, a small group, or the full class to build on an in-class lesson. This feature also gives teachers the power to differentiate for specific student needs and provide a review, reinforcement, or extension around specific skills and standards.

Accessible Learning Content 

Our mission is to help every student in the world love learning. As a result, we have incorporated accessible learning content within Prodigy English in an effort to continue to be more supportive and inclusive to all students. 

All Prodigy English questions and hint bubbles are text-to-speech compatible. In addition to this feature, we have incorporated Lexend fonts for all questions and entire game content. Lexend fonts were initially designed for individuals with dyslexia and others who experience difficulty learning to read. Lexend fonts can also reduce visual stress and improve reading performance. 

Additionally, we continue to include questions with culturally relevant content. Pronouns, situations, and characters are inclusive, thus helping to ensure all students feel represented and welcomed in a safe online space.

By making our game more accessible, we hope that more students can benefit from Prodigy Education’s newest digital game-based learning product. As our English Game continues to grow, we intend to include additional accessibility features to meet even more student needs.

Learn more about the continued development of Prodigy English

Artwork of Prodigy English characters, the wishing well, and their village.

We’re so excited about the launch of Prodigy English and are looking forward to hearing feedback from our users! 

Want to learn even more about how research-based best practices shaped the development of Prodigy English?

Access your copy of Implementing a Research-Based Design: How Motivation First! and Learner-Centric Pedagogical Approaches Helped Shape Prodigy English today.

We are thrilled to be able to engage students around the world in English language learning with Prodigy English.

Learn more about Prodigy English