Based on current research from the iRead project and previously funded FP7 iLearnRW project, Navigo is a game designed to support primary school children in developing their reading skills. It has been designed for supervised use in the classroom and home learning. It covers the first three to four years of learning to read across the primary curriculum, while it is designed to cater to older struggling readers. The game is available in English, Spanish, German and Greek. It is also developed to teach children learning English as a foreign language. Navigo has been designed drawing on the latest research in literacy, game design and personalised learning, while taking into consideration ongoing feedback from teachers and students. The game is based on a personalised approach that adapts to different learners. It has been developed and built by fishinabottle in collaboration with consortium partners.

Features and benefits

·       Personalised to the child

To facilitate our approach to progress, there is a user model of the child’s learning that is updated based on the child’s game performance, and interacts with an adaptive algorithm that determines the content/game to provide next as well as the rewards unlocked. The learning goals of the games have been carefully planned and developed in line with existing reading schemes, research and the curriculum. Thus, there is a structured and systematic progression through the games. Based on the ongoing performance of the child, the child will start with more simple tasks and progress to more complex learning activities as their skills develop.

·       Promoting progress and transferability of learning

There are 16 game mechanics and more than 900 games available, which means the child can practice a language feature through different game activities; promoting transferability and consolidation of learning. In addition to the breadth of material, the game design is based on research that shows there is a gradual learning journey that starts from children (i) recognising and applying the correct linguistic rule, (ii) moving to using and combining different linguistic rules to bring together smaller units of words such as graphemes or morphemes to build a correct word (blending and segmenting) or rearrange/build meaningful sentences and (iii) ending with automatising this knowledge. This progressive view of learning to read accurately and fluently is reflected in the design of the game mechanics and how they are sequenced.

·       Exposing children to diverse language

Navigo draws from a dictionary containing 9,000 words that are used in the games. This dictionary was created from existing children’s literature and has been curated by reading experts to be age appropriate. This ensures that a learning objective can be carried out with exposure to new words/vocabulary, rather than a restrictive word list. To ensure that content is appropriate, word complexity is considered for the youngest of children by limiting the appearance of morphemes and constraining word length.

·       Scaffolding learning

The majority of Navigo games offer elaborative feedback. The feedback is designed to support the child’s understanding of their error, to scaffold further attempts in the game and encourage metacognition. The feedback is also presented ‘in the moment’ rather than retrospective to game play.

·       Providing motivation

The aesthetics of the game have been designed to mirror the game play experiences children may experience at home. There is a recognition of children’s mastery of specific learning aims whereby as their mastery increases, new achievements are unlocked such as earning customisation options and rescuing new characters.

Awards and Research

Navigo was awarded the Serious Games Society GaLA 2018 Award for the Academy category. The following publications discuss our approach to the Navigo game instructional design.

Future work

Along with the Amigo Reader, the Navigo game is currently being trialled in schools in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Romania and Greece. The trials will aim to identify how the Navigo app is used by teachers in whole classes and small groups. Feedback from these trials will be used to recommend further enhancements. By understanding about everyday app use in schools, we hope to demonstrate the benefits that personalised games-based learning can have for students learning to read.