Manzalab, participant in the XPrize Global Learning Challenge
Manzalab is a proud contestant in the XPrize Global Learning Challenge – a project to challenge teams around the world to create applications that allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic.
For our company, this is the most beautiful challenge imaginable: developing numeric solutions for access to knowledge that inspire and engage the child’s curiosity through self-directed learning.
This project is in fact in perfect harmony with our core company values.
Core Value 1: Learning is a game
Our core business is developing serious games, which means that any challenge we tackle will be undoubtedly fun!
For our team, games are powerful vectors for learning. Our company logo is the apple – symbol of knowledge… but also the fruit of pleasure and transgression. In our experience, games also often carry the negative connotation as an activity distracting us from what we should be doing… a waste of time.
Today, however, the research community offers a powerful argument for the importance of learning through play, as a growing body of research offers evidence to the efficient deep learning that games have the potential to provide. Given the relevance of these findings to our work, for the last two years, we have been partnering with Professor Stanislas Dehaene (cognitive psychology experimental chair of Collège de France). Pr. Dehaene first caught our attention with his work on attention, active engagement, feedback and consolidation as the Four Pillars of Learning; these principles constitute the grammar of gaming and the foundation of the Manzalab pedagogy. In coherence with this scientific corner stone, our team for this contest combines our expertise in serious games and Pr. Dehaene’s 20 years of research in cognitive sciences of learning.
Games hold a central role here at Manzalab in all that we do, not only as a means to provide learning technology, but also because the founders of Manzalab are serious gamers! Our company president, Clément Merville, is two-time French Champion (1989, 1992) of the game Diplomacy, a strategy board-game. He even recruited his main opponent Samy Malki, Diplomacy champion in 1991 and 1997! We also hold monthly games nights at the company where everyone is invited to participate in video, board and card game challenges. Competing is deep in our company game culture … so it came as little surprise when it was announced that we are competing in the XPrize challenge!
Core Value 2: Having fun at work
Manzalab was created in 2010 by three friends. Our president, Clément Merville and associate director, Vincent Berlioz wanted a company that offers employees an authentic commitment to a humane living environment. We do not just sell serious games to our clients; we also live by our ethos- have fun at work (our philosophy is well resumed in the following article in the French newspaper Les Echos).
Today, Manzalab is 35 people strong, all experts in gaming and pedagogy and equally passionate about work! Every project that we take on is brought to life (or the screen) by a collective effort of talent and ambition. Today, we are proud to say that Manzalab is equally successful in business, recognized as an industry leader in in Serious Games, as it is in building a company culture founded on fun and generosity.
Having fun at work means enjoying working together, and enjoying working on meaningful projects such as this XPrize project. For Clément Merville, “The XPrize Global Learning contest is a voyage, a human experience. A numerical education solution for all is particularly dear to our heart and our team is passionately invested.”
As participants in the XPrize, Manzalab has constituted a team of developers, graphic designers, and experts in application design. Our team, Digited, is led by Cassandra Potier Watkins, research engineer in cognitive science under the tutelage of Pr. Dehaene. Digited is developing the project Kalulu, a suite of delightful educational apps, open source and available in English, French and Swahili.
We are putting our best efforts in the XPrize challenge, but in the end, we are rooting for the kids to win this game.