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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Interview with Bill Kara, CEO and Founder of TeachMe and Addicting Games

Typing is so ubiquitous that it's easy to forget that it is a skill that must be learned. How can learning to type be engaging, effective, and even fun? TeachMe has developed typeracer, a game-based typing instruction program that helps students learn to type and also how to create documents and to interact. Welcome to an interview with Bill Kara, CEO and founder of TeachMe and Addicting Games.

1. What is your name and your background?

My name is Bill Kara and I’m the CEO/founder of TeachMe and Addicting Games.  I oversee the company’s operations, growth strategies and product development. A lifelong gamer and entrepreneur, I’ve been in the gaming industry for over 20 years and have a passion for blending gaming and learning. I previously co-founded gaming company Hallpass Media, which was acquired in a roll up to create Jam City in 2011. Prior to Hallpass Media I founded Addicting Games which was acquired by Atom Entertainment before being purchased by Viacom shortly afterwards in 2006.


2. How did you get interested in e-learning? 

With two young daughters at home, I wanted to create games aimed at making learning skills fun and rewarding with TeachMe; experiences that offer more than just superficial fun on the surface. I’d always been interested in making learning more accessible through games and when I saw existing content out there was full of messages you wouldn’t want your kids to see (not to mention the titles were just really low quality), created by people that weren’t really passionate about either education or gaming as a hobby, I decided to create TeachMe as a way to fill that void. I wanted to combine these worlds of learning and play in a powerful new way with a vision that could change the lives of millions of children around the world.


 3.  Why are typing skills important now? 

Typing remains a fundamental skill, and it is one of the most foundational, yet important life skills you can learn. Learning to type fast and accurately has so many real world applications in this day-and-age - it’s an essential skill for anyone working with a computer (which is just about any profession) in any capacity. Typing effectively helps you to work comfortably and more efficiently, it aids in timely communication with colleagues and customers, creating documents, and finding new information and much more.




4.  What is your philosophy about skill-building in an e-learning environment?

Teachers want a powerful tool to complement their expertise, their passion, their skill. Parents want the best education possible for their children. Children want to play online, to master a skill, to feel like they’re growing and learning. With that in mind, we realized that education was moving in one direction and entertainment was moving in another. As parents, we have very little insight into how our kids are learning, what areas they found challenging and the speed they were progressing. And after further research we found a lack of e-learning resources customized to empower the strongest students to continue to excel while addressing the learning gaps faced by those that may be struggling a bit. We hope that games like TypeRacer, alongside the other offerings on our TeachMe properties help fulfill both objectives that also prioritizes fun.


5.  What is your program and how does it work?

TeachMe’s games and apps bring new meaning to the phrase “customized learning”. We teach students to master a skill instead of simply answering a question. And the games change based on who’s playing: their mastery of that skill, as well as their experience levels. As the learner gets better, the game — the curriculum — changes to match the optimal level of difficulty. Players pay attention longer and they learn more, which helps ensure their time online is never wasted.


As part of the TeachMe family of products, TypeRacer, allows people to race each other by typing quotes from books, movies, and songs. It is the first multiplayer typing game on the web. Millions of people from all over the globe have completed hundreds of millions of races on TypeRacer, improving their typing speed by as much as 50 words-per-minute.


6.  Please provide an example of a success :) 

As parents and kids grapple with back to school season in this uncertain time, we want to ease their transition back into the learning environment in a way that’s fun and engaging. We’ve made sure that the TeachMe experience can be accessed in any setting, with any device, anytime. I believe our achievements this year are a testament to how much students, teachers, and parents value learning tools that authentically combine practice and play. This year we’ve seen over 31MM users on Math Games, also part of our TeachMe product offering. With the re-launch of TypeRacer we’re also expecting to see the number of users grow 


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