Saturday, 14 March 2009

Reading Software - Long Vowels, Adobe AIR and more...

A new way of delivering content... This weekend sees a small change to www.roythezebra.com but with a big impact - I’m excited to announce a new Reading Software service where users will be able to download bundles of games to their desktop as software... it means you won’t need the internet or a web browser to access these new games (internet needed to download). The main benefit is that it completely removes the risk involved around planning a lesson where an internet-based resource is used (i.e. internet safety, internet connection issues, possible but rare website failure).
The first wave of games to be delivered in this way focus on Long Vowel Phonemes and come with hundreds of worksheets, resources plus two lesson plans for each long vowel phoneme. To run the games from your desktop you’ll need Adobe AIR installed - it’s a new free product from Adobe - think of it like Flash Player but for your desktop. Don’t worry about installing it - it’s done whilst downloading the games. It’s a brilliant product from Adobe and opens up a world of opportunity for everyone. Visit the Adobe marketplace to view some other applications / software available.

All NEW content from now will be built to be delivered via Adobe AIR.


For this new service I’ve decided to add a small charge for the reasons outlined below (Please note: only the new long vowel Mango games, plus any new content from now will be charged for, other older resources remain free and accessible):

To support future development:

Each game developed for the site now involves a huge amount of time - for example; the new Mango games have taken 3 to 4 months to build, plus 1 year of reading and learning the new skills required (the programming language for Flash has evolved tremendously, it has now become a full Object Oriented Programming (OOP) language - in sum I’ve had to hit the coding books full on and grow a double double super super strength brain - I can tell you getting my head around ActionScript 3 has been an emotional voyage!!).
This time needs to be funded somehow... I have another job which has paid for the initial development and balancing the two has been extremely difficult, I’ve sacrificed weekends, holidays and evenings to get the site where it is today... it’s been enjoyable and I’m not looking for sympathy (it’s my choice!!) but the long-term survival of the site depends on me being able to keep up this pace - clearly unrealistic... especially if I want to do all the other things people do when in their thirties... relationships, starting family etc etc...

Hosting Charges:

Traffic to the site has now grown to massive proportions - more than 80,000 teachers visit the site monthly downloading well over half a million pages - this is brilliant, exactly why I built the site - thank you for coming. However, the site is hosted by a third party and I’ve been recently clobbered by extra hosting charges - since I’m not funded by any means these charges come out of my pocket... which is fine in the short-term... but not any good for the long-term since they are going to keep on growing! The money made from the online store and advertising is very minimal...


Donations:

I had a dream... that we could all pull together and pay a very small amount each to support the costs of the site (less than £1 or $1 per school per year would have been fine). It didn’t happen, that’s OK, I don’t mind, now I need to plan around this not happening. A BIG thank you to the 7 donators that did...

Price:

So the conclusion has been to add a small charge to the new content - older content will remain free and totally accessible as it has been for the last 4 years - I hope this is understandable. I’m also very happy to give the software to schools in poor countries - please write to me at tim@roythezebra.com - telling me where your school is and perhaps sending me a picture of it... please note this offer is only for schools in the poorest countries, e.g. Burkina, Mali, Tanzania, Chad, Nepal and so on...


I hope you enjoy the new Mango games, thank you for using Roy, as always, feedback is always welcome (good or bad...).

... Operation Rescue Lucy: It had to go on-hold whilst I relearnt my Flash skills - there was a risk that if I didn’t upgrade my programming knowledge that I would simply be creating new content in an old fashioned way that wouldn’t stand the test of time... as soon as there is an opportunity to get back on the job I will - thank you for your patience and I hope you understand...


Tim


Tim Bowerbank
www.roythezebra.com

7 comments:

  1. I am a parent who has just found your site, and my kid is delighted with your Roy story. The games too, but all the new games get this 'cool' tag, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to use your site as it is meant to be used.

    I agree with you regarding the costs, and the necessity for payment. I do have a little suggestion though - regarding your initial idea of small sums of cash as donation. When you talk of donation, it is in the realm of 'someday, sure'. I know, I do it - delay till the next time. But perhaps if you had fixed charge for this amount (even I could afford $1 a year) while registering, it would be more feasible? It'd perhaps not get you too much revenue - I don't know really - but something is better than nothing, and as long as the amount is truly miniscule (not just by British standards, for example), it should work. Maybe you could leave the free content as it is, and have the option of either buying the new software and content or subscribing to it with a small annual payment?

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  2. Only just found your site and like what I see. Well thought out and high quality.
    As a newby to a site, I would try out the free resources myself, and then if I thought a few of them would be useful, I would be happy to pay an annual charge for accessing the rest of the stuff (I do make donations to sites to acknowledge the work that has gone into making a useful and interesting site)
    Look forward to enjoying your site over the long term!!
    Best wishes

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  3. Only just found your site and like what I see. Well thought out and high quality.
    As a newby to a site, I would try out the free resources myself, and then if I thought a few of them would be useful, I would be happy to pay an annual charge for accessing the rest of the stuff (I do make donations to sites to acknowledge the work that has gone into making a useful and interesting site)
    Look forward to enjoying your site over the long term!!
    Best wishes

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  4. I am a primary school teacher and I found your site last week. The children in my class go crazy for Roy and we have linked the nine part story with our Literacy and separate letters and sounds lessons each day for the past nine days. The only problem I have now is that the children want more of Roy!
    I agree with the small fee for registering with your site and if there was a special subscription for schools I'm sure my school would find it a good investment to make as the chidlren are so enthusiastic about it.

    Finally I would like to say thank you, the chidlren in my class have truely enjoyed using your site.

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  5. Just discovered the site with my Australian Grade Ones and we love it.
    I am in total agreement, I think anyone and everyone would be happy to pay a nominal fee for access to the site (I certainly would).
    Am off to investigate buying your phonics games :)
    Best wishes, hoping to see the next story any day....

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  6. I think this site is fantastic!! I have am Year 1 Primary teacher and they have loved it! Be very happy to sign up and pay to keep using these resources. The kids can't wait for operation rescue Lucy.

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