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Bill spoke as keynote at ITK 2014, Finland’s biggest tech/ed conference. Following the Finnish Minster of Education – extolling Finland’s growing cloud-based educational services – Bill offered a digital ‘postcard from America’ and spoke about politics, culture wars, as well as trends in educational technology, multi-platform production and media literacy.

Between these two talks, and another to researchers plus a three-hour workshop Finns got a chance to see Plum Landing, Arthur, Peep, Curious George, Poisoner’s Handbook, Design Squad Nation and the Next Gen projects. This caps a year of collaborative projects between WGBH and a number of Finnish universities which has included exchange trips and the demoing and researching of our games in Finland.

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Plum Landing prototypes were part of a presentation by our Finnish research partners from the Universities of Tampere and Jyväskylä.

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Kids play Design Squad Games and Poisoner’s Handbook at a Finnish university open house.

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There’s a lot of singing in Finland. These are the event’s main academic organizers.

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The cloudberry parfait was pretty awesome.

New Research!

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 1.24.53 PMStudy Finds that Use of PBS KIDS Content in the Classroom Improves Early Math Skills in Preschool Children

A new study conducted by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and SRI International found that the acquisition of essential early math skills, such as counting, recognizing numerals, recognizing shapes, and patterning, increased significantly among four- and five-year-old children from economically disadvantaged communities who participated in a 10-week PBS KIDS Transmedia Math Supplement initiative. Transmedia includes the use of familiar characters, settings, and stories across different media formats.

The materials featured videos and interactive content from several PBS KIDS properties, including our very own Curious George Busy Day Games which are also now available in Spanish!.

Key findings of the 2013 Ready To Learn study include:

  • Children who used the PBS KIDS math supplement, which incorporated videos, digital games, interactive whiteboards, laptop computers, teacher support, and hands-on math materials, improved significantly in their understanding of the targeted early mathematics skills compared to the control group.
  • Children who used the same technology without the integrated math materials did not experience the same learning gains compared to the control.
  • Teachers who used the math supplement reported significant changes in their confidence and comfort with early mathematics concepts and teaching with technology.

Game Telemetry Projects


The WGBH Digital Kids team continues to explore ways to better mine our games for data and to better understand evidence of learning to be gleaned from play in digital spaces.

The Next Generation Preschool Math project is creating a mobile, customizable teacher dashboard to report preschoolers’ successes in iPad math games.

On Curious George we have hooked up 16 games to PBS’s API and are collecting aggregated data in a research partnership with UCLA/CRESST, their National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. This is big data, with just one game in one day generating over 4 million trackable events (in 7000 play sessions) and about 300GB of data per month.

WGBH was a chapter reviewer for the new book, pictured above, Game Analytics: Maximizing the Value of Player Data and is also part of the new NSF-funded working group, the Finland-US Network for the Study of Engagement and Learning in Games. (Finland is the native home of Angry Birds, so the Finns know a thing or two about games…)

Smell the Flowers

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George’s latest feature — for both PBS KIDS and — is a game where the spring rains bring out butterflies, flowers, blossoms and – if you can catch them – bunnies!

The George Brings Spring team is Gentry, Kevin, and Rick with Mike as the Man with the Yellow Hat.