Pearson-Incubated Startup Alleyoop Launches To Gamify Adaptive Learning

According to the National Center on Education and the Economy, only 1 in 6 high school freshmen will go on to graduate from college on time, and about 25 percent of Americans drop out before they finish high school. A Pearson-backed startup launching today, called Alleyoop is betting that by combining adaptive learning with some elements of gamification, it can help prepare high schoolers and young people for college — and increase college graduation rates.

Simply put, Alleyoop has created an adaptive learning platform for middle school and high schoolers, the goal being to prepare teens for what lies ahead of them in college. For many kids, their problems center around math, so that was the first subject Alleyoop set out to tackle.

Because math’s sequential structure means that if students miss a core concept in Algebra I, then they tend to struggle in Algebra II, as the building blocks continue to add up. Thus, the Alleyoop system quickly “learns” and diagnoses where students need help and serves up relevant content in realtime.

As users progress through the system, all of this data is saved within their profile, what Alleyoop is calling the user’s “DNA.” The startup’s eventual goal is to create a network of content for teens in a variety of subjects, so that its users can select the type of content that helps them the most. For example, some students are visual learners, some learn by doing, and some learn through games, so Alleyoop wants to assist kids in discovering how they learn best and get them up to speed quickly.

To keep students engaged, there are games along the way, called “missions,” that allow them to earn virtual currency, called “Yoops,” which they can spend on academic lessons, videos, virtual tutoring, and more.

As such, Alleyoop is designed to be reminiscent of a Facebook game, as students can sign on through Facebook Connect, then search for homework help and can find guidance and practice problems on the site. The platform pulls in a bunch of third-party content, activities, and lessons, from Pearson and other non-profit organizations like PBS, some being paid services that use Alleyoop as a distribution platform, with the startup then serving up content that it thinks will be most relevant to the individual student.

As students progress, they earn Yoops, a virtual currency they can spend on activities like one-on-one tutoring and video content. The sites that provide the paid services used by students share in the revenue created along with Alleyoop; in a way that is not dissimilar from Zynga and its social gaming platform.

Alleyoop was incubated by Pearson, and operates as an independent company within the education company, allowing them to forge content partnerships with companies even if they are Pearson competitors.

The platform has been in beta for the last year, and has been tested by about 20,000 teens. Today, it’s opening up more broadly.

For more, check out the video below: