Cockatoo Software

Reading Eggs Maps

Published on 09 May, 2010 by Keith Pitty

It is such a delight to see web technology providing young children with the chance to have fun as they learn to read.

Many young kids love using Reading Eggs to learn to read. But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to providing new lessons to meet the insatiable demand of such children. This news item aims to provide some insight into what’s involved in providing more reading activities via Reading Eggs.

Behind the Scenes

When Cockatoo Software began contributing to a new set of lessons in the second half of 2009, there had been eight previous sets of lessons, or maps, as they are known. So there had already been a gradual refinement of the process that leads to the production of a new map of lessons. However, there were still challenges to overcome and opportunities to streamline the process.

Developing a new map is a collaborative effort involving providers of content such as images, audio and Flash files together with Ruby code. This involves people from several different teams located in different places contributing different parts to the overall solution. Without the use of a ticket management tool to control the progress of providing these assets, an organisational nightmare could easily have resulted.

So what part did Cockatoo Software play?

To answer this question it is helpful to understand the way in which programming has helped the map production process. This has been evident in several forms.

ABC Reading Eggs

Firstly, the activities in the new map are translated into Ruby code, with any activities that children will not have used in previous maps being encoded so that associated required assets such as images and audio are recognised as well as interaction with Flash files being supported.

Once the activities in a new map have been encoded, hundreds of tickets are automatically generated so that the required assets for the map can be accurately provided. When these assets have been supplied, further automated tasks are used to build the map and make it available for testing.

Refining the Process

An improvement during the production of map 9 was to introduce a new automated task that periodically checks which of the required assets have been provided and which are still expected. This has proved to be invaluable.

During the recent preparations for the launch of map 10, the automatic provision of a report listing the missing assets on a regular basis has been a welcome improvement to the process. Further opportunities to improve the process by automation have been identified.

In general terms, the continual refinement of processes that involve people and software is an endeavour that Cockatoo Software is very happy to assist with. In particular, we have been delighted to use our software skills to improve the map production process for Reading Eggs.

Keith Pitty is the owner of Cockatoo Software Pty Limited. He has over 30 years of professional software development experience and has a passion for providing software solutions that help people. Away from computers he loves sport, especially cricket, golf and Australian Rules football.