SmartyCard, which launches at Demo 09 on Tuesday, is both compelling and disturbing. The well-crafted site, which is aimed mainly at third- to sixth-graders, is compelling because it not only engages children in fun and interesting learning activities, but it adds an element of incentive by rewarding success with points that they can use to purchase virtual or real merchandise.
That very incentive is what also makes SmartyCard disturbing.
I'm not saying that the carrot approach--giving kids rewards for doing well--can't be appropriate and effective. But I'm somehow bothered by the idea of an automated system that … Read more