Q&A With George Newman, CEO of One Planet Education Network
Company at a Glance:
Founder: George Newman
Category: e-learning games
Product stage: pre-market, entering commercial education markets
Platform: Activeworlds 3D Engine and Application
Company twitter: @OnePlanetEN
ETT: What does your company offer?
GN: We provide online multi-player adventure learning games that engage and inspire kids to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills in STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) and other critical 21st century disciplines using classroom research and validated instructional technologies and programs.
ETT: What value does your product provide?
GN: Verified achievement gains (through US Department of Education research) demonstrating that students perform better using our One Planet Education Network (OPEN) EverSpire game solution relative to traditional forms of classroom learning. Students are able to transfer the subject mastery they gain through gaming to external tests and a sustainable knowledge base.
ETT: What’s an example of your product in action?
GN: Our role-playing EverSpire time-travel adventure game series enables students to take on the role of an apprentice to real world professions and characters, such as environmental engineers, conservationists, energy consultants, planetary scientists, anthropologists, park rangers, government policy makers, and indigenous tribal members.
And through our historical games in the National Park series – like this one about Machu Picchu –
students are time-travelers who move freely and explore the site, solve puzzles, speak with game characters, and submit responses which are reviewed and commented on by their classroom teacher.
Through this form of applied learning and real world in-game engagements, students see the relevance and importance of traditional schools subject matter, while concurrently gaining all the important 21st Century skills.
ETT: Who is your target audience or customer base?
GN: In school, after-school and informal home learning.
ETT: What is your primary marketing/distribution channel?
GN: Instead of selling directly, we intend to sell through established national distribution partners in both the school and afterschool markets.
ETT: What factors about your company or product is unique in the marketplace?
GN: There are three unique factors:
1. Unique strategic partnerships in place: These include National Parks, National Marine Sanctuaries, NYC education consortiums, and over 350 classrooms in urban, rural, and suburban both in US and abroad (over 10,000 students and hundreds of teachers have used our online multiplayer real-world based games).
2. Proven and validated research: which gives our product credibility that few (if any) education gaming companies have.
3. Unique multiplayer game series product: initially focusing on the National Parks and National Marine Sanctuary settings and stories worldwide and throughout time. Real world issues and the multiple cultural perspectives on those issues are driven through our international cross-cultural focus. Our multiplayer games are set up for that, as well as our complementary international distance learning programs, which supplement and enhance our game content (see “Saving the Black Rhino” international science club exchange program on the homepage of our website – www.oneplaneteducation.com).
ETT: How do you demonstrate your product works or its metrics?
GN: Hear from some of our biggest fans:
The teachers say:
“The sense of immersion is amazing! It’s like taking them on a field trip. This is a museum-sized place; it’s huge, and there are canyons, and cliffs, and ruins, and ladders, and you can climb them, and here’s their crops. They aren’t observing it, they are living it.” – teacher in Indiana
“The kids were really motivated by going back in time and seeing how people lived back then. The kids would get so excited, and want to getto that stage, to see what came next. They would go home and log on and do this on their own for hours each night.” – teacher in North Carolina
The students say:
It’s not like some fake-o thing that you made up where you’re living in a magical cloud world or something, you’re actually learning about something real, and something that might be helpful.” – 4th grader
“I like saving the animals, and I like how you made us choose an opinion of what we should do with the money and then later it actually happens, and I saw the good and the bad parts of the choices I made.” – 6th grader
ETT: How many users/customers/beta users do you have?
GN: 120 in NYC and Bloomington, IN at present, and 30 users in Kenya.
ETT: What have been your company’s recent milestones?
GN: We recently completed a 2-½ year US Department SBIR program research test and an international distance learning pilot Phase I program between school science clubs in Kenya and NYC in the Bronx, which EdTech Times profiled in our August 2013 press release.
We also utilized blogs and engaging Skype sessions to build on the knowledge conveyed through our game series.
ETT: What are the next big milestones for your company?
GN: Future sessions with classrooms and children in countries with rhino-horn demand are planned for the late fall and 2013 early winter 2014. Getting on the ground and selling to NYC, securing a partnership with a large national/international distributors, delivering products to three National Parks partners for on ground kiosks, and selling to afterschool programs/libraries/home learning are all on our slate.
ETT: Does your company’s leadership come from the education space or EdTech?
GT: EdTech primarily
ETT: How has The Common Core had an impact on the development of your product?
GN: We have made a concerted effort to build all of the standards into our series.
ETT: Which three startups or entrepreneurs do you follow and find interesting?
ETT: What is your vision? What are your aspirations?
GN: To empower young children to learn what they need to know, but to go way beyond into their own areas of interest, while sharing their passions, hobbies, and evolving interests and workplace job skills with their peers around the world.
Through these opportunities for applied learning, through Citizen Science and other international programs like OPEN’s Saving the Black Rhino, kids actually apply their knowledge in real-world activities and in actual social initiatives.
ETT: Why are you passionate about your company’s mission?
GN: Without better education, the most promising useful network technologies for all citizens of the planet, the human race will not only be worse off, the planet will suffer in the short run.
ETT: What do you worry about the most?
GN: Short term cash flow at this just pre-market, commercial entry phase… the rest is gravy!
ETT: What is one thing does your startup need right now?
GN: Short term funding (6 months) to commercialize in the fastest, most efficient high growth potential manner.
Many thanks to George Newman for talking to us here at EdTech Times!
For more about One Planet Education Network, click on their logo below to go to their website:
Laurisa Neuwirth is a shameless evangelist on behalf of the Greater Boston innovation economy. With a diverse background including software development, philanthropy and human capital, Laurisa blogs about technology disruptions in industries that are critical to our local economy. You can follow her @LaurisaNeuwirth.