'Angry Birds' creator develops program to urge learning through fun

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WASHINGTON — The Finnish company that created “Angry Birds” is marketing an early childhood curriculum around the world that is meant to make learning more fun.

Rovio Entertainment is hoping to combine the popularity of the game — one of the nation’s best-known exports with more than 2 billion downloads — with the international prestige of the nation’s education system for its new early childhood learning program, called Angry Birds Playground.

The program is based on the Finnish national curriculum for children ages 3 to 6, which is largely based on free play and physical exercise. It builds in more technological tools, a reconfigured learning environment — and some of the popular “Angry Birds” characters — to maximize learning through engagement. The company also has worked music and games into the program and is partnering with publishers to create activity books and other learning materials.

Rovio is now training some teachers in China to use the new curriculum, and the company hopes to expand its reach in all directions.

At an event at the Finnish Embassy in Washington, company executives talked about the potential for using interactive games and tools to inspire more students, and the danger of squelching creativity through too much testing. Comedian Louis C.K.’s recent monologue about overtesting was mentioned multiple times, as were the terms “intrinsic motivation” and “flow.”

Company executives shared what they believe are the seven core ingredients of fun learning. Learning is fun, they said, when: you love what you do, you can choose how you learn, you feel safe, it becomes a healthy addiction, you are appreciated for who you are, the environment is inspiring and it is fun to fail.

Learning can be one of the most pleasurable things you can do, they said, and it’s not incompatible with working hard and being persistent. Rovio’s founders developed 51 other games before they designed the smash hit “Angry Birds.”