Pora Ora is a free online 3D universe comprised of two themed worlds -- Samura Valley and Urba Roma. Each contains games, quests and puzzles designed to make children’s learning of mathematics, language and literacy, ICT and geography stimulating and fun.
In technical terms, Pora Ora is a highly-moderated educational MMORPG (massively multi-player online role-playing game). Aimed at children in the 5-12 age range, it is the collaborative product of a team of artists and designers, game developers, animators, parents and professional educators.
On first entering Pora Ora, the child is invited to fashion his/ her own 3D avatar and is given a virtual pet, or ‘Pora Pal’, to look after. To keep it happy and healthy, the pet’s owner must complete various educational ‘quests’ and puzzles.
Though learning activities focus mainly on numeracy and literacy, children are also encouraged to exercise their creativity, for example by decorating their ‘Pora Pads’ (homes) or designing new Pora Pals. They can also grow virtual garden produce for sale at the virtual market, which is one way of obtaining ‘roobles’, the in-game currency. In this universe children learn the life lesson of having to earn their roobles before spending them!
Pora Ora's educational content is mapped to the UK educational curriculum and is individually adjusted to challenge each child. Importantly, parents can monitor academic progress via detailed reports outlining the child's strengths and weaknesses.
The game also offers a full set of social features. Children can make friends, send mail and gifts, visit and rate each other's homes and compete in multi-player games. All social features are subject to real-time moderation and a high level of parental control over who their child can interact with.
Neil Gallagher, founder of Caped Koala Studios, the London based producer of Pora Ora, believes that well-designed, game-like 3D applications will become a major component of future children’s learning. He says of his latest creation:
Pora Ora uses the tools of the modern age to instill a love of learning in children, allowing them to progress at their own pace and practice until mastery without pressure or fear of failure. Motivational rewards ensure that the child keeps engaging with the educational content – these rewards take a variety of forms from in-game currency to opportunities to unlock new worlds or collect new pets (‘Pora Pals’).
Whether they're improving their multiplication skills on Leap Frog, mapping their geography skills on Globe Trotters, or testing their spelling in Spellfire, children are able to learn in an exciting, motivational and stimulating way.
Pora Ora has already built up an international community of thousands of young learners, and has received some glowing endorsements from parents and teachers. Now Neil Gallagher and his talented team are looking to take it to the next level of development.