SOURCE: Smart Sparrow

Smart Sparrow

May 17, 2017 08:37 ET

Smart Sparrow Named Finalist in U.S. Department of Education Virtual Reality Challenge

Adaptive learning pioneer recognized for its Virtual Reality simulation designed to enhance the learning experience in STEM and social sciences courses

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - May 17, 2017) -  Smart Sparrow was recently named a finalist in the U.S. Department of Education's 'EdSim Challenge,' a national design competition aimed at advancing students' career and technical skills with immersive, computer-based simulations. The adaptive learning pioneer was recognized for its simulation concept, LifeCraft, which explores the story of life on Earth through virtual reality field trips in subjects ranging from archeology to astronomy.

"We are honored by this recognition from the Department for our continued efforts to fundamentally transform the way science is taught," said Dror Ben-Naim, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow. "The advancement of technology, coupled with new insights about how we learn, allows us to design engaging virtual learning experiences and support dynamic learning in hands-on fields like science. We know interactive and adaptive experiences help students learn best, and we're excited about this competition in how they're helping propel innovative approaches to learning."

Smart Sparrow joins four other finalists in the EdSim Challenge: Case Western Reserve University, Embodied Labs, Inc., Octothorpe LLC, and Osso VR Inc. The finalists were selected by a panel of esteemed judges, including Ford Motor Company's virtual reality specialist Elizabeth Baron, Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, and Kurt Squire, Co-Director of Games+Learning+Society Center at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. 

"There are increasing numbers of high-end games and stories that exist for the VR space, but there are very few education experiences," says Jacqui Hayes, Program Manager at Smart Sparrow. "Smart Sparrow has a history of creating high-quality designs and learning experiences that immerse students in what they're learning; we're looking forward to going beyond the novelty of the virtual reality medium to create incredibly meaningful, exciting learning experiences."

As finalists, each company will receive $50,000, as well as in-kind prizes from Oculus and Samsung, and will enter the Virtual Accelerator to refine their submission and develop a prototype. HTC VIVE™ announced separately that they will offer each finalist a Vive virtual reality headset.

The Virtual Accelerator phase will culminate in Demo Day, where each of the finalists will present their playable prototypes to the panel of judges. The judges will recommend the grand prize winner(s) to receive remaining $430,000 of the $680,000 cash prize and additional in-kind prizes from IBM and Microsoft.

About Smart Sparrow
Smart Sparrow is a learning design platform for next-generation courseware. It allows any educator to create amazingly engaging and adaptive learning experiences and then continuously improve them using learner analytics. Students are better supported and more motivated to succeed. Smart Sparrow believes in designing tools that support great teaching, and put faculty first to unlock the potential of adaptive learning.

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