The ABCya.com Story
Please take a moment to read the short story of how ABCya.com began.
About the AuthorI recently completed my seventh year as an Integrated Technology Teacher in a public school district in Connecticut. My first teaching assignment was in the fall of 2003 for a public elementary school in New Jersey. I remember feeling nervous and scared throughout the days leading up to the start of the school year. Before starting my teaching career, my work days had been spent in isolation developing media for print and the web. In just two days I was going to have a lab full of five-year-olds sitting at computers!
First Days of School
My first inclination was to turn on the computers to see what types of software they had on them. After a few beeps and a Novel login screen I was presented with an almost empty desktop except for 2 icons: Microsoft Office Suite and Type to Learn. Where was the great children's software I read about in magazines? I made a bee-line to the principal's office and asked if I could purchase software as a supplement to instruction. I was greeted with a smile and a line that sounding something like, "You just came from private business right? Well, we don't have any money for software. Sorry." Though disappointed, I did not yet despair. I thought to myself, "No problem. I will just look to the web to find what I need. There is lots of free stuff out there."
What I foundAfter a few days of searching I found myself in a never ending labyrinth of sites for kids loaded with violence, nested links, difficult navigation, and subscription fees! With only a few days left before school I decided to take matters into my own hands. I knocked on teacher's doors, asked for lesson plans and text books and studied the different activities. When I returned home I powered up my Mac and got to work. I spent hours upon hours developing activities I could use in class with my soon to be students.
Getting it RightThe school year finally started and I eagerly began directing students to the activities that I developed. I'd like to say that things went perfectly, but that was not the case. Developing a user interface for five and six year old students requires more thought and intuition than developing for adults. I watched as kids could not click the appropriate buttons to neither close nor maximize the browser windows. I also realized for the first time that young students can not yet read the instructions necessary to do the activities! What was I thinking? I could not wait to go home and use my new-found observations to renovate my activities to be more child-friendly. I repeated this process for the school year and eventually I became pretty good at getting it right the first time.
ABCya! Goes Live
Throughout my first year of teaching, I used my activities a few times a week whenever they were applicable to the lesson. Teachers who stopped by my room would ask me how to get to my activities and so I registered a domain name and put them on a web site that I called ABCya.com. People often ask me why I choose the name ABCya; I did it because I wanted the shortest possible URL so that young kids to enter it easily into the browser. I soon began to realize that my web site was getting more and more attention throughout our school. I received a lot of compliments from administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, and of course the students.
Over the course of the next few years I developed more and more activities. As time went on I began to receive emails with feedback from teachers and parents from outside of my school district. I realized that people from outside my school where using my site! This was a great feeling!
My proudest moment was in 2006 when I was searching Google for educational computer activities to use in my classroom. I entered a few different search terms and the number one result was: ABCya! What a surprise! It was at that moment I thought that my activities could benefit more children than the ones in my school. I continued adding new activities and refining older activities while giving the web site a new look.
Today ABCya! can be found on the first page of results on most search engines when looking for educational web sites for children. It is linked to by thousands educational web sites and receives nearly twenty million visits per month. Additionally, ABCya! has received praise from numerous educational publications in print and on the web. What I am most proud of is the fact that visitors return to my site several times a month.
Wisdom of the Crowds
Crowdsourcing keeps ABCya.com growing in a positive direction. The goal is to get feedback on current activities and to get ideas for new activities as well as a better overall website experience. I will often create what people ask for. I promote ABCya.com as a perpetual beta. The site will never be perfect or error free – that's nearly impossible as a one-person show. I depend on visitor feedback to drive the site's appearance and direction. ABCya.com visitors are the copywriters, spell checkers, content checkers, etc.
Thank You Very Much for Nine Great Years
Thank you for visiting ABCya.com. Look for new educational games and activities in 2014 as well as continual improvements to our current offerings.
Last but not Least
Please remember to email me at info[at]abcya.com with questions or comments, I listen to what you have to say. If something is missing or needs to be fixed please let me know, it will help me to better serve you.