Think your kid plays enough edutainment apps and maybe he should get outside for a bit? Think again! You park him right back on the couch with his/your iPad and learn him good.
Pluto Media, the YouWeb incubated edutainment company, announced Tuesday that it has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Rob Hutter of Learn Capital, Jennifer Carolan of NewSchools Venture Fund, and YouWeb’s Peter Relan, among others.
The company’s flagship app is a music learning game for kids 4-12 called Pluto Learns Piano, which, to date, has been played over 13 million times for a total of 30 million minutes since its release 12 months ago. Designed to engage children through play, the game uses scrolling gameplay dynamics and a multi-touch “player piano” to make music learning fun.
Do kids actually learn anything? Hard to say. The object of the game is to maneuver the penguin to hit the right notes, which uses scrolling, not actual note identification. There’s also a My Piano mode that lets the user play the songs on a virtual piano.
"It's one thing to teach kids something, but Pluto Media combines proven education methods with technology to actually inspire kids to want to learn-- igniting an interest and excitement for learning and turning creative learning into a fun activity. Producing and creating new content is where the real learning and fun is," Pluto Media founder Luis Sampedro tells me.
Personally, I remain skeptical about most edutainment apps, because it’s pretty easy to throw in a few number or letter identification games and call it “educational.” A music-learning app might be different in those respects, however, since so many schools have cut music funding and there aren’t many other venues beyond actual music lessons for teaching your kids how to identify notes by ear.
“With today’s advanced technology, and tools like tablets and other multi-touch devices at our disposal, we have the opportunity to rethink how to better educate and entertain our children through play,” says Peter Relan of YouWeb. “The growing ed-tech space, with an emphasis on fun and play as a catalyst for learning, is a key trend in education 2.0, and Pluto is one of those innovative companies that uses proven design philosophies to bridge the gap between the evolving worlds of technology, and education.”
The company says it plans to use the new seed capital to expand its Pluto Learns Piano app into a full-fledged platform for education in “creative subjects,” starting with music.