Meet the Team
Eric Nelson is a former high school social studies teacher and charter school leader with a Masters in Education. He has more than 10 years of experience engaging students and is a big fan of using history to move forward more strategically.
Jeff Deitch is a software engineer with more than 10 years of engineering experience. He holds a Masters in Computer Science and excels at explaining super complex things simply.
Abby Larner is a product designer, front-end developer, and former code-school teacher. She enjoys being involved in the local design community and has organized local design events to bring together student and professional designers.
What is FANschool?
More current events content is produced than ever before, yet students are increasingly disengaged with it. Both newspaper circulation and network newscast ratings have long been in decline. And online news fares just as poorly. Our students won’t go to the news or our content; We need to bring it to them!
FANschool.org turns students into fans of learning with fantasy sports-like games for school content and current events. Picture students drafting countries or states, rather than football players, and March Madness prediction-like contests for big events like Elections, Olympics, and the World Cup.
We’re on a mission to connect classrooms to content in a more Fun, Authentic, Networked, and Strategic way and intrinsically motivate students to create daily current events reading habits inside and outside the classroom.
How Did FANschool Start?
Eric created “fantasy geopolitics”, now a vertical game on the FANschool platform, in his high school social studies classroom to “gamify” world news and engage students in his curriculum. Students drafted teams of countries, followed them in the news, adjusted their lineups and traded countries as they became more aware about what’s happening in the world, automatically scoring points every time their countries were mentioned in the news or made moves on a conflict-cooperation tone scale.
It dramatically improved engagement, news interaction, and test scores. The game received national and international attention, as well as support and awards from national education organizations.
Global competence is a 21st Century imperative, but students shouldn’t be disengaged when learning about the world in any school subject-area.
Fantasy sports exploded in recent years, resulting in huge growth in the reading and watching of sports news. The fantasy sports industry is here to stay and is helping drive record interest in organizations like the NFL and MLB. Because of this, Americans know more about sports than they do about world affairs.
Research shows that increases in engagement + learning result from fantasy sports gameplay. And educational standards increasingly require reading from news information sources.
Increasing student engagement is the best way to improve adolescent literacy. And games help engage struggling students especially. FANschool not only engages students in world news and course content, but also enables teachers to assume their students actually know what’s happening in the world around them.
When students start to investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, they begin to recognize their own and others’ perspectives--only then do they begin to translate their ideas into appropriate action to improve conditions and communicate their ideas more effectively with diverse audiences.
We’re students and teachers. Join our team!