Interview with Math Game Sokikom’s Founder

Snehal Patel, founder of SokikomSokikom (so-kee-kom) is an award-winning education technology company that develops math social learning games. Their recent offering, launching this week at the ISTE Conference, is an online social math game by the same name. It’s designed to motivate elementary school students in grades 1-6. I did a review of the game here.

MathFour.com was privileged to interview the creator and founder of Sokikom, Snehal Patel.

MathFour: Thanks for agreeing to share with our readers, Snehal! Let’s start at the beginning. What is your background?

Snehal: I moved to the U.S. when I was very young. Through elementary school, my family moved to five different schools in various states across the country, which gave me first-hand experience of the challenges faced in elementary math. I was a math tutor in high school and college, and then went on to earn a degree in computer science from Arizona State University. From there, I became a senior software engineer at Motorola, where I also coached/tutored other engineers. I left that job to start a math tutoring learning center. I became a certified math tutor and also received certification to teach as a substitute. Through that experience, I provided one-on-one tutoring to over 500 students ranging in age from 5 to 72. I’m very passionate about improving learning – specifically in math.

MathFour: What prompted you to create an online social game using math?

Snehal: The idea for Sokikom came to me when I was a math tutor and become aware of how many students weren’t excited about and engaged in learning math. As a result, these kids were missing out on building the foundation in math skills that they were going to need to succeed in high school, college and beyond. I saw, however, that math games – especially those that were social – got these same kids excited about and engaged in learning math. This made me think: how many other students in the U.S. face this same problem, and how can we use online technology to address it? That was the genesis of Sokikom – a highly engaging online math game with community and team-play elements.

MathFour: Have you created other math based games?

Snehal: Yes, when I was a math tutor, I created various paper-based and card games that I used with my students.

MathFour: Have you created other online social games?

Snehal: No. Sokikom is my first online math social learning game.

MathFour: Do you have children? Did they play a part in the conceptualization or development of Sokikom?

Snehal: My wife and I don’t have children, but I have a younger sister I helped raise and tutored in math throughout her K-12 schooling. This experience absolutely helped me as I considered how to make Sokikom fun and educational. Another big part in the conceptualization of Sokikom came with my experience tutoring students in math.

MathFour: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting exposure to screen media. How much time do you recommend children play on Sokikom?

Snehal: Sokikom is designed to provide efficient learning within short periods of time. We recommend that children spend between 20 to 40 minutes playing Sokikom each day – a small block of time with a tremendous learning opportunity.

MathFour: In the multiplayer mode in Sokikom, you can’t actually “see” your opponent – only his scores. Do you plan on adding this feature at some point?

Snehal: Great question. Two of our multiplayer games don’t allow children to see their opponent teams – just their scores. However, Opirate multiplayer does allow children to see their teammates, but not opponents. In terms of future development, we are planning on adding “power ups,” which will allow interesting interactions between teammates and opponents.

MathFour: What’s next for Sokikom? What are your goals for the company and the game?

Snehal: We plan to continue improving Sokikom’s math social learning games! We are continuing with efficacy and usability research and love to hear feedback from parents, teachers and students on ways to improve Sokikom. We will be launching new games and cool virtual features such as “power ups” soon.

MathFour: Do you have any advice for parents and teachers?

Snehal: I believe that tools such as Sokikom can greatly increase the motivation for children to learn math, which leads to higher math achievement. In the case of Sokikom, I would advise parents and teachers to make use of the free reporting features available in the control panel. Parents and educators can keep track of children’s progress and usage, and receive alerts when students require extra help.

Thanks so much, Snehal! Find him and the Sokikom crew on Twitter @Sokikom and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Sokikom.



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