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Learn with Homer

Learn with Homer

Transforming how children learn to read

Old school books — clean and uncluttered with gorgeous illustrations and rich language— is the inspiration behind Homer Learning. The goal is providing an early education tool that isn’t over gamified. Homer Learning is a comprehensive contextualised literacy curriculum that kids and parents use on the iPad.

Learning to read is one of the hardest things a child will ever do. And it’s one of the most important. Good tools matter. The Learn With Homer iPad application, designed by literacy experts, has brought learning into the digital age for the digital generation.

Seventy-two percent of top selling apps are targeted at preschoolers and elementary aged children but relatively few focus on reading skills. “Edutainment” apps are games with little learning value.

In contrast, Homer Learning combines custom content and stunning illustration with personalised learning that’s aligned to the new Common Core curriculum introduced into American schools. Over 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

Technology is transforming the education sector. Creating an engaging, gamified product experience without sacrificing educational value is a challenge. Through close collaboration with ThoughtWorks, charming characters, rich narratives and original illustrations came to life. Rigorous testing with children and parents was crucial and resulted in a stunning, easy to use interface.

“I set out on a journey to transform how kids age 3 to 6 learn to read, but not just by creating another eBook or cute little game-ified learning application. Collaborating with ThoughtWorks brought this mission to life.”

Stephanie Dua, Founder, CEO

Learn with Homer is the first comprehensive reading application brought to market. It has fun, entertaining games but also includes a rigorous phonics program, challenging literature, and science field trips.

The application incorporates drawing, voice recording, stories, songs, and more, along with traditional exercises. A beautiful map on the main page presents all of the options kids can explore: Learn to Read, Story Time, Discover the World, and Homer's Clubhouse. Homer Learning combines the best early learning techniques in a single application.

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Video transcript

Lean Product Development

Client Story: Learn With Homer

The First Comprehensive Reading App. Crafted by Top Literacy Experts.

We sat down with Stephanie Dua, Homer’s Founder and mom of 3.

What was your vision?

Stephanie: “When I was looking around the country, part of my work with the Common Core Standards, four to six states that signed on to new standards, and talking with parents, and sharing their desire to do something at home with their children in early literacy. And at that point, knowing what I knew about the standards, I was one of a handful of people involved, I just thought there was an incredible opportunity to deliver something of quality for families.”

Why ThoughtWorks?

Stephanie: “I was looking for a very skilled group of individuals and I really did not want a vendor relationship, so, what was very important to me was that the team was equally invested in our collective success on the product. And that they didn't view it as a contract. And it sounds subtle, but it was extremely important to me that it was a team effort.”

What set ThoughtWorks apart?

Stephanie: “I am a social entrepreneur, even though I've started a for-profit company, my whole life has been in social movements and in social change, and so, I needed someone who understood that big picture, and wanted to, sort of, be with me in the trenches during this brief period.”

How was ‘moving in’?

Stephanie: “Then moving there to ThoughtWorks I felt like, I felt like I was moving to from college to grad school, like I had packed up my car, we had the towels, we had the computers, you know, like moving, I felt like I should have my parents around, you know, like moving day. And we brought everything in, all the boxes in, and the first expression on AKs face was, oh, you've got a lot of boxes and a lot of stuff. Right, and so, I told them, that you know, that this is what you signed onto, is having us around.”

Describe your first time seeing the app.

Stephanie: “It was when you were able to turn the pages of the story, when we were able to fold over the pages, it was amazing, it was actually amazing. It was a story, and it actually felt like a story, and it felt like what we imagined it to be. The second exciting memory is when we were able to do the take a picture and try a hat on. That was something I had invented, right, and actually seeing the ability to swipe a hat, and take a picture and have that show up. I mean, it was, it was extremely exciting. Yeah.”

Do you have any advice?

Stephanie: “I think it's extremely healthy for any organization, including ThoughtWorks to work with more start-ups. I think it makes you stronger when you're working with any other client, that might be larger, have more time and more money to spend on something. Whereas, you can kind of peel the onion much more when you're in a start-up environment, and you have the tremendous stress of being in a start-up. Right? You have very limited time and budget and resources, and that provides an incredible discipline in anything you're doing. And so, the more you all have that experience and work with start-ups, I think it's going to be, it's better for you.”

For more stories, visit thoughtworks.com/clients