Personalised, Adaptive, or Both?

verb: personalise
design or produce (something) to meet someone’s individual requirements.

We personalise things ourselves by making them individual to us. Most products in EdTech that claim to be personalised do so through allowing choice: as well as choosing motivational features such as avatars (fairly standard these days) you may also make choices about the work that you do. Alternatively, tasks might be selected by a teacher or a parent, either in the app or website itself or remotely through a dashboard.

verb: adapt
1. make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify.
2. become adjusted to new conditions.

To adapt to a new purpose or new conditions, first it is necessary to fully understand what those conditions are. Learning systems that are adaptive will incorporate three elements:

a. data collection on existing progress
b. analysis of data, leading to
c. adaptations in the child’s work program.

Easiest here to use DoodleMaths as an example:

a. aside from the initial assessment, we collect the following data for every child for every question answered: time taken, attempts taken, date stamp, questionID, conceptID.
b. this is then analysed to gain an understanding of both the child’s progress and also the population as a whole (this allows us to spot questions that are perhaps a little too hard, too easy, etc.)
c. we then adapt the work program in three ways: level (on a general basis, are the questions too difficult, too hard, or just right for the child?); strengths and weaknesses (e.g. what are they finding difficult? Do we need to remediate here – if yes, add it into the work program); pace of learning (e.g. if they’ve found the last topic easy, let’s crack on, but if it’s tricky, let’s stick with it until they’ve mastered it).

There are other ways a program can adapt, too, for example, confidence level (some children are disheartened getting lots wrong, others can cope) or learning style (we have identified that some children have a preference for some question styles in DoodleMaths although we don’t adapt the work program in this way, currently.)

So personalised and adaptive mean very different things in EdTech: personalising is done by the user, usually at the start of using a product; adapting is done on an ongoing basis by the product itself. Most products have some kind of personalisation feature, but very few are truly adaptive.

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DoodleMaths now on Android and Kindle Fire!!!

…and the release of Version 2.1 – actually it is such a big change – let’s call it Version 3.0!

The big news here is that DoodleMaths is being launched on Android and Kindle Fire tomorrow at the prestigious BETT Show in London.  A new version is being released at the same time containing a complete visual overhaul to the App.

As you can imagine, on the eve of the launch, the office is a hive of activity with everyone working hard to ensure the best possible product is presented as this really is a huge release.

As well as the visual overhaul, the App has new games and the pets have been through a thorough detox and makeover at the spa – a personal stylist has even kitted them out!  Even the football now bounces as one would in reality!

If you wish to download the App on Android or Kindle Fire and are already a user, you only need to download the App and log in as you did before and you can pick up where you left off. You can use the school iPads, mum’s iPhone in the car, grandma’s android tablet at the weekend and dad’s Kindle Fire on the train.

If you wish the children to cover a particular topic, for example, 2-D and 3-D shapes or perhaps short division, by logging onto the parent/teacher dashboard you can assign these to one, some or all of your children. The child is locked out of the rest of the App until they have completed these topics.

If a child hasn’t been using the app for a while or has suddenly made significant progress in the classroom, you may wish them to do a reassessment.  This can be accessed by logging onto the parent/teacher dashboards.  Additionally, you can adjust the work program up or down by going into the grown-ups section of the App.

The update also includes improved monitoring on the parent and teacher dashboards, as they now allow accurate real time monitoring thanks to improved communication between the app and the dashboards. Due to each child’s work program being backed up online, if you get a new device, have to change device or need to reset your device, the progress is not lost. By signing in again the work program is reloaded from the last time the device had a stable internet connection.

Finally, the App now has localisation so that you can specify from where in the world you are so you only have to cover the topics in your own national curriculum. We are happy to announce that DoodleMaths is now use all over the world, including Uzbekistan, Australia, Dubai and New Zealand!

Why not Download DoodleMaths FOR FREE today and try for yourself!
App Store  Google Play Store

PS. That’s not all – DoodleMaths Secondary Maths will be available for download shortly – for a sneak peek visit us at Stand BFG4 at the BETTShow!

Posted in All posts, Our DoodleMaths Journey, Parenting Maths, Teaching Maths | 9 Comments

Why Your Five-Year Old Should Learn their Doubles by Heart

On the assumption that your five-year old has a grasp of addition, these are the most important numerical facts a child can learn at this age.

Children who are good at maths have committed a lot of what they know to heart. By this, I mean that important number facts have been learnt and committed to long-term memory. Note that it is widely accepted that there are two ways to commit something to long-term memory: either learn by understanding (perhaps you’d learn the events leading to the start of WW1 in this way) or rote learning (times-tables must be learnt this way in my view.)

I digress… back to the point in hand. The more number facts a child has committed to long-term memory, the more they free up their working memory to perform more complex calculations. A child who can recall the doubles of numbers below ten can then also learn the following without much more effort:

– Near doubles: if you know that 6+6=12, you can instantly work out that 6+7=13.

– Adjusted doubles: to work out 6+8, change it to 7+7 and use your doubles. Doubles, near doubles and adjusted doubles account for the majority of addition facts to 20.

– Double 10, 20, 30 etc. and 100, 200, 300 etc. This innately teaches children place value, and excites them because they are using big numbers! You’ll get them doubling 1000, 20,000 before you know it.

– 2x table: same as your doubles!

– Halving: the reverse of your doubles. But you have to learn them off by heart: if you choose to teach doubles by adding a number to itself, whilst this is sensible in the short term, in the long term many children learning how to halve will attempt some kind of subtraction. Better to get them to learn off-by-heart early on.

– If they can halve, they can quarter. Teach it by halving, and halving again.

– And you can even lead in to percentages, because 50% is one half.

– Partitioning: if they know their doubles confidently off-by-heart, they can double any number by partitioning. Double 24? Well, double 20, double 4, then put it back together.

Of course, the other by-product of doing this is it gets children into the habit of committing numerical facts to their long term memory from an early age. Because maths is never duller than when you are still continually counting on your fingers at 9 or 10 years of age…Image

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What’s next in the sequence 1, 11, 121, 1331?

These are powers of 11. So the next number will be 11 x 11 x 11 x 11 = 14641.

The beautiful thing about the powers of 11 is that they follow Pascal’s triangle:


1       1

1      2        1

1     3        3      1

1     4       6        4       1

You add the two numbers above to obtain the numbers below. Pascal’s triangle has a number of applications in probability, binomial expansions of brackets and geometry. It contains an incredible number of patterns within itself. Take a look and see what each row adds up to for a start. And if you want to know more, the best explanation is here.

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So many apps, so little time!

The creators of DoodleMaths – explain what to look for when choosing an educational app for your school.

The last time we looked, there were 20,000 maths apps available for UK schools to choose from. And that’s just maths! How on earth do you even begin to wade through a list that large and choose the right product for your students? It’s an important decision too, that could make a big difference – positively or negatively – to their confidence and your school results.

As maths teachers ourselves, we developed DoodleMaths because we recognised that a well-designed app could complement the whole-class learning structure our children encounter in school. We suggest you consider the following criteria when assessing an app or learning programme for your school:

  • Is it personalized?
  • Does it reflect the National Curriculum or is it just a game?
  • Does it offer too much choice?
  • Does it come recommended?
  • Does it have an easy-to-use teacher interface?
  • Is it cost effective?

Is it personalized?

One of the benefits of using technology to help children learn is that good apps can constantly adapt to suit your child’s competencies and areas of difficulty, not just at a broad level but on a truly personalized basis. If the app doesn’t do this, you might as well just buy a textbook.

Does it reflect the National Curriculum or is it just a game?

It depends what you want the app for, but a well-designed product will engage children as they learn, and it makes sense for the learning programme to reflect what’s being covered at school.

Does it offer too much choice?

Children don’t necessarily choose what’s best for them (hmmm, broccoli or ice-cream?), especially when it comes to their education. And if they’re struggling with a subject they’re even more likely to avoid it. So choose an app that restricts choice and gently encourages your child to repeat tasks they find difficult till they’ve grasped them.

What does it cost?

There are lots of free apps out there but you really do get what you pay for. Equally, shop around, you don’t need to spend heaps.

Does it come recommended?

We would say this but DoodleMaths is the UK’s top-selling primary maths app for a reason: it works! It’s not always easy to figure out which app might suit your child, so ask other schools and parents for their recommendations, and read the reviews on the App Store to get some tips.

To find out more about DoodleMaths, visit out our website, check us out on the App Store or email us, We’re on Twitter and Facebook too!

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Fibonacci Numbers

What comes next in this sequence:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, …

The answer is 55. Each new number in the sequence is the sum of the two previous numbers. Children often find this a difficult one to solve, because the usual methods they are commonly taught to spot patterns in sequences don’t work – try looking at the differences between each term and you’ll see why. Look at the ratios between each term (divide the second term by the first, the third by the second, etc.) and you will see more of a pattern emerging – the number you are closing in on is known as the Golden Ratio, 1.618…

We’re not a great believer in reinventing the wheel here in the DoodleMaths office, so if you’d like to know more about Fibonacci numbers, their properties and their connections to nature, visit this great site here.

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Features of DoodleMaths v2.0

The latest version of DoodleMaths went live in the App Store this morning and I’m pleased to say, so far so good! We’ve packed it full of new features and moved things around a bit. Here’s what you’ll notice:

1) You’ll be prompted to create an parent account. This enables you to back up your child’s work program on-line; sync work programs between devices (including Android from next month); track progress from the parent dashboard at

2) We’ve hidden the Topic Index. Some cheeky monkeys have been racking up doodlestars by working on the same topic repeatedly. Whilst it gets them stars, it doesn’t help them progress mathematically, which is what we’re all about. It’s still available, in the parent’s section.

3) You can retrieve your PIN number. A long-standing glitch, this has been replaced by a retreivable password (go to to retrieve or reset).

4) Your child’s DoodleMaths Age may have changed slightly (and likely downwards). We’re sorry about this. We have added new content and aligned ourselves with the new (harder) national curriculum that was introduced in September. More is expected of children at a younger age now, and this is reflected in the app.

5) You can message your child from the parent’s dashboard. This feature has proved popular with schools users, so we’ve integrated it into the home user version too.

6) You can log in as a schools user.

This latest update has paved the way for future updates, too. Here’s what’s coming:

1) Next month will see the release of our long-awaited Android version

2) Along with this release will be a full graphic overhaul of the app. Improved layout, usability and question diagrams.

3) More detailed reporting and a reassessment feature will be viewable in the parent’s dashboard (and also the teacher dashboard).

4) Teachers will also be able to set work remotely for individuals or the whole class from the teacher dashboard.

5) We are introducing a new game for children to be able to practice specific times tables.

6) We will be introducing a subscription pricing model. If you’ve already paid for your lifetime membership, this will always be valid, but new home-users will be charged £3.99 per month to reflect our high ongoing engagement levels and align ourselves more with our web-based competitors.

All our development is in line within ongoing customer feedback. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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