Native Brain: Changing the Way that Children Learn

December 29, 2012

10:00 am

We can add Native Brain to the list of “things I wish existed when I was a kid.”  I was a good student, but certain subjects (ahem…math), were not my strong suit.  However, I did love playing games.  I enjoyed spelling games, history and geography games, and even math games.  They were fun, but there’s no conclusive evidence that they really helped me retain information or learn new skills.

Educational games are nothing new, and since the launch of the first iPad, there have been thousands of apps introduced to the market that claim to be “educational.”  However, the creators of Native Brain argue that many of these apps are not as beneficial to learning as they claim to be.  There is a vast amount of research out there about how kids learn and how they develop specific skills early on.  This research is what fuels the apps that Native Brain creates.

According to Native Brain:

“We start with the research – and believe it or not, there’s an enormous amount of quality research to draw upon, both in terms of how kids learn generally and how they learn specific skills (e.g., early math). We then take specific learning interventions that have proven themselves in a research environment, and we adapt the approach to an interactive platform on a tablet. The result is the ‘visible’ part of the app, or what the child will directly interact with – but that’s only half of it.”

One feature that sets these apps apart is that they all contain a comprehensive dashboard that lets parents and educators monitor a child’s progress.  This ability to monitor also enables the adult to intervene when necessary and provide additional help when needed.  The dashboard also serves as a way to validate the effectiveness of the app during field testing.

Native Brain develops their apps by adhering to twelve guiding principles:

  • Focus on the Individual Learner
  • Start with the Science
  • Respect the Learner
  • Learning First
  • Expect Understanding
  • Building to Master
  •  Focus on System
  • Feedback
  • Intrinsic Motivation
  • Respect “Flow”
  • Celebrate Achievement
  • Adapt

The brains behind Native Brain are Dr. Michael Connell and Jeff Durso.  Combined, they have a PhD in Education from Harvard University, an M.S. in Computer Science from MIT, a B.S. in Management from MIT and many years of entrepreneurial and technology experience.  Their first app, Number Sense, is built upon research that shows “that a solid and deep exposure to basic number concepts can have a huge impact on (a child’s) ability to learn later math skills.”  Be sure to look out for more educational apps from Native Brain.  They are truly changing the way that children learn.

Native Brain was a featured startup at our Tech Cocktail Boston Startup Showcase + Sessions: Grassroots Marketing.

Kristin Pryor is a writer interested in startups and entrepreneurship.

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