Pora Ora is a free online virtual world where children from all over the world can learn, play games and interact with each other.
by Rune H. Rasmussen
Pora Ora has been developed by Caped Koala Studios to offer children in the primary school age range (5 to 12 years) a safe 3D environment, which has been specifically designed to facilitate learning in a fun and social setting. Almost all of the games and quests in Pora Ora include educational tasks that are linked to the UK National Curriculum, and the content is designed to challenge children at different levels of knowledge.
Caped Koala Studios has big plans for Pora Ora, aiming to make the site one of the world’s top online education entertainment destinations for children. And there is no doubt that the company has created an engaging world. Children are allowed to create an avatar, decorate their own home, make friends and loads more. Still, the feature that makes Pora Ora the first of its kind is the opportunity for children to interact with other avatars in real time inside the gaming world. This allows users to meet and interact with other players, and they can visit each other’s homes and compete in multiplayer games.
Watch the video “What is Pora Ora?” to learn more about the virtual world – just click the play button in the right hand column.
Focus on safety
The ability to communicate in real time does raise some safety concerns, but, in Pora Ora, these challenges are met with a variety of security features. As well as this, before children can engage in “free chat”, they need to complete an online safety quest, where they learn the basics of safe and responsible online communication.
Pora Ora allows parents a large degree of control, as the site aims to function as a training ground where children can learn how to interact safely online and where parents can gradually relax security settings as they get older.
The parental controls include:
- Visibility settings – define who children can interact with in-game, such as ‘nobody’, ‘friends only’ or ‘nobody’.
- Decide whether children can engage in free chat or only use a set of preset chat phrases.
- Parental News Feed. Get notified of children’s key activities, enabling parents to monitor, review and support children’s progress and actions in the game.
- Review all mails that are sent and received between your child and their friends.
- Get notified whenever your child makes a new friendship in-game.
In addition, there are sophisticated language filters that intercept and filter out all mail, chat and gift messages that may be considered to be rude or abusive, and prevent the exchange of personal information. Players are also able to block and ignore individuals at the press of a button, and the reporting abuse system allows users to report unacceptable behaviour.
Research shows that children can learn a lot from playing games, not just in terms of basic skills and knowledge, but also when it comes to concentration, motivation, creativity and problem-solving skills. Add to this, children seem to learn best when their parents are involved. An additional feature of Pora Ora that might be of value to parents and teachers, is the option of being sent emails with progress reports.
These reports allow you to:
- Measure your child's academic performance against national expectations and see how they are performing in relation to children of a similar age.
- Discover your child's strengths.
- Discover where your child might need additional input on an area of weakness.
In beta mode
Caped Koala Studios started developing Pora Ora in 2010, and is currently in beta testing. The online community is growing, and the amount of games, quests and exciting worlds is increasing regularly.
Visit poraora.com to learn more or to join the community.
© Caped Koala Studios