The world is all too aware of the pressures that Chinese students face throughout the span of their education, but for me the awareness is stronger than most. Growing up with Chinese cousins, I witnessed eight-year-olds studying until 9pm while I would normally be running around with my friends outside. I watched them take piano classes, dancing classes, English revision courses, and tutoring groups – all on the weekend. And when it came to high school, I saw them anxiously waiting for their Gaokao results (China’s version of the HSC), which determined what they would then study for the next five or six years of their life.
To say the Chinese school system is pretty tough is a bit of an understatement.
While improving or modifying the Chinese education system is a task that no mere mortal can undertake, we are set to do something ambitious. We’re going to change the way that Chinese students revise through a social education platform – all so that it is both more effective and more fun.
The genesis of an idea
Codenamed Fun Academy, the genesis of this idea emerged when Leon visited Asia last year and met parents, teachers and students in first, second and third tier cities, as well as in rural areas. He witnessed the dedication of Chinese families to their child’s educational success and the frustration with the pressure that exists in the education system.
Coupled with the widespread prominence of smartphones and tablets and our experience in making CanUHanyu, Leon saw an opportunity to provide Chinese students with fun and creative learning opportunities that are also effective for memorisation and revision.
From this, Fun Academy was born.
How does Fun Academy work?
As a social education platform, Fun Academy makes learning and memorisation enjoyable and customisable. Fun Academy will have a suite of games that can be used for revising different subjects – the periodic table or English vocabulary, for example – which will be mapped to the Chinese curriculum. If students want to study their own information for extracurricular activities, they can upload their own data and publish their own learning game within the platform. They can also challenge their friends and classmates to see who can get the highest score, as well as share their achievements with loved ones through their own personal wall on the platform.
Fun Academy also features two mascots, a koala and a panda, to appeal to students and symbolise the connection between Australia and China.
Testing the waters in Shanghai
After refining the idea and developing it over the past six months, we journeyed to Shanghai in order to test a few game prototypes with primary, secondary and tertiary students, as well as to get more of an insight into the Chinese education landscape. Not only did we gain a better understanding of how Fun Academy could work with students, but we also got to meet a range of kids and their families and talk to them about their opinions on schooling in China and what could be improved.
We’ll be developing the platform more over the coming months, so stay tuned for more news. In the meantime, have a look at some of our snapshots from Shanghai!
Questions? Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!