The Game Is Here

Saturday, February 15, 2014

This is the most exciting announcement we’ve made yet: the Game is ready, available for everyone. This upgrade to Banzai represents years of thoughtful teacher feedback and careful consideration for making students' experience with Banzai even better.

Now, when your students log in, they will see a new item on their desktop: "Play the Game".

Game 1

What is the Game?

The Game helps students learn to make wise choices. It's like Life Scenarios, however, this time, they make their own decisions...

Game 2

... and live with the consequences.

Game 3

Initial response

The Banzai Game has been available to select teachers in "private beta" for about one month. The response has been tremendous:

"I had the pleasure to show off your program to [name removed], Director of Middle Schools. They LOVED IT! The students were the ones that sold them..."

"My kids are really enjoying the scenarios and the Game and I think that it is exceptional."

Over 750 teachers asked to be part of the beta launch. Now, their students are doing thousands of scenarios each day in the Game.

What makes it a Game?

The element of surprise. The Game is fun, but it's also insightful. As students earn money, spend, and make choices, the Game provides surprising, relevant feedback.

Game 4

What is the point of the Game?

To win the Game, the player needs to save enough money to register for College. The narrative begins where Life Scenarios left off. You receive a promotion, and it’s your job to earn enough before time runs out.

Game 5

The Game also provides new tools to help students plan:

Game 6

What about the teacher interface?

Just like everything in Banzai, you can watch your students' usage from your own teacher account. We've added a new purple status message, showing just how far your student has progressed in the Game:

Game 7

And, if you want to see to the path she’s taken:

Game 8

What about booklets?

The Game has no impact on the booklets – you will still need them. Life Scenarios and the Game compliment each other, but they remain separate. We strongly urge your students to complete Life Scenarios before playing the Game, otherwise, they'll struggle understanding how it works.

How long does it take to play?

The Game is slightly longer than Life Scenarios, however, you can play it many times – with many outcomes. We will continue to adapt and improve it over time, enhancing it with more financial dilemmas.

We're also considering adding customized difficulty levels, to accommodate younger or older audiences of students.

Finally...

We hope you enjoy playing the Game as much as we enjoyed making it. As always, we look forward to your thoughts.

Design Updates and The Game

Monday, January 06, 2014

You've heard mention of the Game, and its debut is fast approaching. In preparation for launch, we've made a few design changes on the website.

Screenshot

Don't be alarmed: nothing functionally has changed, and Life Scenarios remains the same.

Again, if you'd like to join the Game's private beta, you can request an invitation here: play.teachbanzai.com.

The first beta invitations go out in just a few days!

The New Banzai Game (Beta Invitation)

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Game

That's right. Soon, Banzai will release the biggest improvement to its Online Financial Literacy program since Life Scenarios. We're calling it "The Game".

We invite you to join the upcoming beta: play.teachbanzai.com.

What?

The Game is an extension to Life Scenarios, with a fundamental difference: students choose their own adventure.

Why?

We've carefully considered what helps young people learn. The opportunity to apply budgeting techniques, to make decisions – to practice – and cope with the consequences of those decisions, will, more than anything else, lead to real changes in behavior. Life Scenarios teaches those techniques. The Game challenges students to apply, and test, their new skills.

When?

The Game will be available in beta within a few weeks, by invitation. We urge you to try it with your students, and send us your thoughts and comments.

Additional Details?

At this point, the Game's runtime is roughly equivalent to Life Scenarios. Unlike Life Scenarios, however, it has many potential outcomes. Furthermore, it is entirely web-driven – no booklets – and thus, is widely extensible. Following its initial release, we'll incrementally improve the Game, it's content and quality, on a permanent basis. It'll take on more scenarios, more situations, and more concepts, as time passes.

Also, in the future the Game may incorporate multiple levels of difficulty to accommodate different class schedules and grade levels.

Finally, like the assessments in Banzai, the Game is optional. You may use it in conjunction with Life Scenarios, or you can skip it.

How do I try the beta?

Visit the Game's new informational website, play.teachbanzai.com, or click here to sign up for the beta directly.

Banzai Is iPad Ready

Thursday, January 03, 2013

It's here. Banzai is now specially designed to work on the iPad. Since remaking Banzai's software two months ago, teachers have asked us -- more than anything else -- to deliver an iPad version. It's ready.

Teacher account

Does it work for me?

Yes. You can access your teacher account on the iPad. You can create classes, check up on your students' progress, and access your students' accounts.

Can my students use it?

Absolutely. Banzai for the iPad works out of the box for you and your students. Whether you have iPads in class, or your students are working on Banzai from home, it just works.

Do I need to install anything?

No. You can access Banzai from your iPad exactly as you would on your desktop computer. Simply open Safari, your iPad browser, navigate to teachbanzai.com, and log in. Banzai has been formatted to fit your iPad screen perfectly.

Can I make Banzai into an app?

Yes. Simply navigate to teachbanzai.com, and save it to your iPad desktop.

How to Activate the New Banzai Software

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Exciting news - the new version of Banzai is available to all teachers and students. Because we rebuilt Banzai from scratch, we've required you convert your account from the old software to the new (if you haven't already). Those of you who have already tried the new version, nearly without exception, have approved of the upgrade. Thanks to all those who participated in the Beta - you were a tremendous help. Without you, we could not have made the transition for literally thousands of teachers and students.

If you have not yet activated the new software, here's how:

  1. Log in to Banzai

Banzai URL

Login

  1. Click Begin using the new version in the top right corner

Begin using new version

  1. Provide your password, and press Activate new Banzai!

Follow instructions

You're done!

NOTE: Make sure your students are completely done with the old version before moving on.

We hope you enjoy the new version of Banzai. Please keep your feedback coming - it makes a difference.

New Banzai Coming Soon: Beta Testers Needed

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teachers spanning dozens of state lines have lots to say about Banzai. We've eagerly sought your advice through surveys, telephone conversations, in-person conferences, and emails - to find out what will make Banzai, an already award-winning program, even greater. We want to provide what matters most to all of you.

About six months ago, we realized that our existing online software was inadequate. It couldn't handle the breadth or ambition of the new features needed to take Banzai to a new level.

So, we started fresh. Our new version of Banzai is better in every conceivable way. It's easier to use, beautifully designed, and highly extensible. And now, we're ready to give you a sneak peek.

Let us highlight a few of Banzai's immediate improvements:

  • Better student experience: We've improved on Life Scenarios with a completely new interface. It's now simpler to understand and more visually appealing.
  • More powerful teaching aides: Managing and grading classes is even easier in new Banzai. You can archive classes, reset students' Life Scenarios and assessments, and access granular details about each student's use of the program.
  • Easier to use: New Banzai clearly articulates each step in the program, ensuring students successfully grasp the lessons.
  • Beautiful design: Banzai has been beautifully redesigned. It now reflects the colorful and eye-popping nature of Life Scenarios. It employs visual queues and real-life metaphors to teach financial concepts.
  • Performance: As more teachers and students access Banzai each week, it's imperative that Banzai offers a great experience to each user. New Banzai is faster and more reliable.

What about the future? This redesign opens the door to our most requested feature addition: customizable Life Scenarios. While not be immediately available, this feature has been the primary motivation in recreating an already great program. We're obviously very excited about it. We'll keep you posted.

When will new Banzai be available? We have yet to announce a date, however, it's coming soon (within weeks). In the meantime...

We need your help! We're seeking willing teachers to try it out now, before the public launch. If you are interested - and willing to pardon our dust - we can get you started right away. If you can help, please email support@teachbanzai.com with the subject, "Beta Test", and your name in the body. We'll transfer your account to the new software.

Here's a few screenshots from the new program:

Teacher

Accounts

Life Scearios

Pretest

We hope you're excited for the new version of Banzai. As always, please let us know your thoughts. We're anxious to hear from you.

Our Amazing Teachers

Monday, June 25, 2012

A few weeks ago, in honor of teacher appreciation week, we invited our friends to tell a story on our Facebook page about a teacher that has had an impact on them, and we got some great responses. Here are some excerpts from those stories:

"She began her career in the 1970's as a young, enthusiastic teacher of the secretarial sciences... She traded her electric typewriter for an Apple Computer as she mastered software, hardware, and programming languages. A woman of infinite patience and gentle humor, she made the transition to the digital age easy for staff and students alike."

"She is a source of wisdom and encouragement to her colleagues, as she has devoted herself to their professional development and has worked to form alliances with local businesses and colleges."

"[She] never gave up on me. Everyday she was on the phone with my parents telling them...what she knew I was capable of if I put my mind to it... I ended up with some of the highest grades in her classes. She said she always knew I could do it."

"She has been one of my biggest role models. She made such an impact on me in high school, so much that we are still friends today."

We know there are countless others we didn't hear from that are doing amazing things for their students. Thank you to the thousands of teachers across the country using Banzai, and changing lives.

And the Winner Is...

Emma Williamson!

Emma Williamson

Emma was nominated by several fellow teachers, and her story received the most votes, she received a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Congratluations to her and thanks to all who nominated and voted in the contest!

It's Teacher Appreciation Week, How about $50?

Friday, May 11, 2012

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week and not that we ever need an excuse, but we want to give an extra special thanks to the 4,500+ Banzai teachers across the country.Thanks to them, tens of thousands of students across the country are a little more prepared for their futures.

One day this week 8,200 transactions took place in the Banzai program -- think of all the valuable lessons being learned! Teachers may not realize the impact they have, but we see it everyday. So thank you teachers, we're privileged to help in some small way in the miracles you are creating in your classrooms.

Certainly, you know an educator that really goes above and beyond. You know, that teacher that puts their students' learning before everything else. Well here's your chance to really give them the thanks they deserve!

Head to our Facebook page and tell a story about them, an awesome class they taught, a funny story or just a bit about them. The story with the most votes by the end of the day May 31, 2012 will receive a $50 Amazon gift card for that teacher. Go on, tell them thanks, win them $50!

And The Results Are In!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Over the last few months we gave an opportunity for Banzai teachers to give us some feedback. We asked what they thought the most useful update to Banzai would be. Here are the results:

  • Ability to make your own Life Scenarios: 12%
  • Better program for students managing their own money: 12%
  • Simpler Set up Process: 14%
  • Video tutorials: 27%
  • A longer program: 35%

Survey Results

We hear you loud and clear, so here's a few of the improvements coming down the pipeline:

  • Improved Assessments
  • More Flexible, Customizable Life Scenarios
  • Better Guides Throughout the Program
  • Simpler, more Intuitive Program to Setup and Use
  • More Robust Program for Students Own Money
  • More Features Promoting Long Term Use By Students
  • Mobile Capabilities for Students Own Money

We'll keep you posted as improvements become available. As always, we welcome your feedback!

Calling All Teachers

Monday, January 23, 2012

The continual development of Banzai is a team effort. The program has become what it is today thanks to input from Banzai-lovers around the country. We figure, who knows better how to improve the program than those using it?

So we're making a special invitation to all you Banzai teachers out there:

What would be the most useful update we could make to Banzai for you?

Our New Website

Monday, January 02, 2012

First things first, welcome!

Our blog has been sparse for a while, but we're happy to have it in its new home right here on our new website, where you can expect to hear from us more often!

Banzai has undergone several changes over the years, always looking for better ways to engage and educate those using the program. The website overhaul is just one small step in that process.

If you haven't already had a look around the place, you should. There are some major improvements. Even though the new website looks a whole lot better, it's not just a facelift. We've reassessed the whole design to improve navigation, content and features.

We hope you like the new look of things; let us know what you think!

New Help Website

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banzai is changing rapidly this semester. We're now launching the first upgrade of the new school year: Banzai's new Help website. Support, in general, is being overhauled. Our goal is help you find the information you need, in the moment you need it. Here's the new support initiative:

  1. A brand new Help website, designed to get you the answers you need, immediately. Search topics, questions, anything.
  2. One hour email support. During business hours (8am – 5pm CST), our support crew will respond to your email or support request within an hour. You can easily send us your question by visiting this site, or simply by emailing us at support@teachbanzai.com.
  3. Call us. We'll pick up, instantly. During business hours (8am – 5pm CST), simply call our number, 888.822.6924 (888.8.BANZAI), and we'll be there to help you.

Guided Life Scenarios Is Here!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It’s here. Guided Life Scenarios is ready to use by you and your students. It's the most significant upgrade to Banzai in two years. It's a complete redesign, drawing on input from teachers nationwide. If your students are already using Banzai, and you're anxious to use the new features, click here to find out how. The new improvements include these important breakthroughs: 

Guided Setup & Educational Tour

Student setup is now effortless. Banzai automatically creates the correct Accounts and Jars to begin using Life Scenarios.

Jars

It includes a quick tour, introducing each student to Banzai’s core concepts and explaining how to use the interface. 

 Tour 

Guided Life Scenarios

Banzai will prevent your students from getting off track, while seamlessly integrating the Life Scenario workbooks. The website presents the students with each Life Scenario, in sequence, providing feedback along the way.

 Feedback 

If your student enters a transaction incorrectly, Banzai will help correct the issue. When the problem is solved, Banzai will allow the student to continue to the next scenario. No more backtracking. No more lost students. No more messes. 

Updated Teacher’s Assistant

Banzai will track your students’ progress in Life Scenarios, showing you which students have completed the program.

Tracking Their Own Money

Since Banzai’s inception, we’ve encouraged students to use their accounts with their own money. When students complete Life Scenarios, they’ll be presented with an opportunity to reset their account and begin managing their personal finances. This is undoubtedly the best way for students to learn fiscal discipline. For your benefit, Banzai will continue showing the student as having completed Life Scenarios, while keeping the students’ transactions private.

Performance Upgrades

Thousands of teachers, and tens of thousands of students, are using Banzai nationwide. February and March were the fastest growth months in Banzai’s history. With anticipation of continually steep growth, we’ve made Banzai’s performance a priority.

Starting Guided Life Scenarios

Getting started with Guided Life Scenarios is simple. If your students do not yet have Banzai accounts, they’ll see the new changes immediately. For those of you with students already using Banzai, you have two options: 1) they may reset their accounts and begin using Guided Life Scenarios from the beginning, or 2) they may continue to use Banzai as before and they will be marked “Non-guided Mode” in your Teacher’s Assistant. 

To reset their accounts, have each student click on the new “Settings” link at the top right of your screen, and then click “Use Banzai with Life Scenarios.” Done. (Warning: This will delete work they've done, excluding pretests or posttests).

Settings  

Please send us your comments and questions (support@teachbanzai.com). We're committed to making Banzai a wonderful experience for you and your students. Your feedback continues to shape the progress and development of Banzai for teachers around the country.

Banzai Releases Part 1 of Usability Upgrades

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Obviously those of you who have logged into Banzai today already noticed some big changes. We’re committed to making Banzai simpler and easier to use, and helping you get started with little or no preparation. This morning we released the first installment in a series of long awaited usability upgrades.

Along with a host of performance improvements, we’re excited to present Banzai’s new drag and drop based transaction entry screens.


These new transaction entry screens are designed to help your students understand the flow of cash between their accounts and jars, helping them more quickly grasp Banzai’s powerful financial concepts.


Let me show you how they work.

Expenses

Expenses represent the bulk of transactions your students will enter in Banzai. The new expense screen helps students understand that when they spend money, either in cash, or on a debit card, they must also allocate that money according to its purpose. Let’s look at how this works. 

Expense

In the example above, you’ll notice that the student spent $20.15 from Cash, by selecting Cash in the selection box. That’s great, but she hasn’t allocated the money to a jar, like Food, or Utilities. 

Jars are like budgets, but better: they prevent you from overspending.

To complete the transaction, she must now drag the amount (she drags by clicking and holding the blue bar with the -20.15) to the appropriate jar. If she drags 20.15 to the ‘Car’ jar, she will now have $4.85 remaining to spend on Car-related items. From here, she’s ready to save the transaction.

Income

The income screen helps individuals plan to spend and save money. On the “Receive” screen in Banzai, first assign the money to an account, using the selection box. Next, use jars to tell Banzai how you intend to use your income.

Add jars by dragging them from the list of jars on the right.

 Income 

After you’ve chosen your jars, type the amount you want to put in them in the boxes on the right. When you’re done, and the amounts equal your paycheck, you can save the transaction. Banzai will refill your jars with the appropriate amounts.

Transfers

Transfers help you accomplish two things: 1) moving money between accounts (for example, an ATM withdrawal – moving money from Checking to Cash), and 2) moving money between jars.

Transfers are similar to Income transactions: simply move the items to the entry screen. Transfers, however, have a “From” and a “To” section.

Expense

If I want to move $20.00 from Checking to Cash, I would first drag Checking to the “From” section, and then drag Cash to the “To” section. This will decrease Checking and increase Cash by $20.00.

Coming Soon

Today’s release is only the beginning. Last month we announced Guided Life Scenarios, which will provide your students with feedback on each scenario and preventing them from losing their way. We’ve received many excited emails from teachers like you in anticipation of this next release. Drag and drop is an important move towards a better Banzai experience, and Guided Life Scenarios is following close on its heals.

Here’s a lineup of upgrades to expect in the next couple of weeks:

 

  • New Life Scenarios setup process
  • Guided Life Scenarios
  • Additional performance increases

Upcoming Feature: Guided Life Scenarios

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It has been a little while since you've heard from us, but there's a good reason. We've been hard at work improving Banzai and adding new features. One, in particular, is worth mentioning because it is currently the most requested feature from educators like you.

We will shortly be releasing a feature which we call "Guided Life Scenarios." For those of you who use Banzai Life Scenarios with your classes, this new feature will help your students avoid making mistakes as they complete the exercises. Each time they complete a scenario from the Life Scenarios booklet, our system will review their response to ensure that it is correct before they are allowed to continue. This will help avoid frustration for both students and teachers as they attempt troubleshoot incorrect balances later on in the program.

You will still be able to use Banzai in "unguided mode" if you wish and your students can still use the program to track their own finances once they've completed your class. The new feature is designed to make class management and grading easier, however, and we hope you'll give it a try.

The feature will be released in the coming weeks. What else would you like to see added to or changed about Banzai? Let us know by emailing us at support@teachbanzai.com. You can also reach us by phone at any time at 888.8.BANZAI.

New Facebook Page / EIFLE Award

Monday, September 06, 2010

I'm combining up this week's blog post. First, well... we won the 2010 EIFLE Financial Literacy Curricula Award! We'll have more information for you about the award in a few weeks – the awards will be officially presented on October 6 in Boston. We're also announcing our new, teacher-oriented Facebook page! We invite you to participate in this new experiment:

  1. See what other Banzai teachers are up to: find out how other teachers are using Banzai in the classroom.
  2. Share your experiences. Other teachers need your thoughts and insights to make Banzai a better experience for their students.
  3. Give us a grade. Let us know what you like, and don't like, about Banzai. Your feedback drives the progress of our financial literacy program.

Getting the Most Out of Banzai's Assessments

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We've posted a new topic on the Facebook discussion board about "Getting the Most Out of Banzai's Assessments". We've offered our findings, and some of our ideas. Click here to read the discussion and join in on the conversation. We'd love your feedback.

Help us with EIFLE Financial Literacy Awards

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're looking for a little of your help to nominate Banzai for the EIFLE Financial Literacy awards. We're doing our best to make the program work for you, for free. Your recognition and the support of others makes that possible.

If you've used Banzai, and you love the program, and you'd like to nominate Banzai for the EIFLE Financial Literacy award, reply back to me. We'll cover the fee, and we'll help you fill out the short application.

Banzai Is Growing

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

As we conclude Banzai's fourth semester, available for free to teachers and students, we'd like to share with you a picture of Banzai's nationwide growth. The program, on average, is growing at the rate of 10% each month! Banzai is now found in over 1,300 schools in all fifty states.

 null

And this is only the beginning. We're planning a whole suite of advancements and feature upgrades for the coming year – to be revealed in coming months – and we'll be ramping up nationwide outreach. Look forward to meeting a community of teachers using Banzai like you.

Running Balances

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's a small addition, but it has big results. We've provided you with the Scenario Overview for Life Scenarios, but many of you asked for a way to follow along as your students worked, checking their balances as they work. So we added the ability to view your students' running balances in the Teacher's Assistant.

 

 

As your students progress through Life Scenarios, transaction by transaction, Banzai will keep a record of your students' balance at each step. If a student encounters a problem, and can't find where he or she lost the way, simply refer to your Scenario Overview and their running balances. The overview will tell you what your student's balance should have been at a given point, and the running balance will show you what the student's really is now.

Shocking Facts About Your Students

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pretests from students around the country using Banzai are pouring in. We've been anxious to discover what your students knew, and didn't know, about adult finance before they used Banzai's Life Scenarios – and the results are fascinating! Let me share some of our findings: 

  • 41% of students were unable to correctly describe a credit card. Wow!
  • 37% of students had no idea what it meant to overdraft an account! Students who completed Banzai improved dramatically.
  • 44% of students didn't know what a check register is. Is this even an issue anymore? Aren't we all moving to online bank statements anyway? Thoughts?
  • 48% of students struggled to understand that banks must first clear checks before their money is available. Students having used Banzai improved by an average of 15% in posttests.

Stay posted, we'll be sharing the full extent of our posttest results soon. Clearly these are simple financial dilemmas that every person eventually confronts. Who doesn't overdraft a check at least once? As the world quickly moves to debit-only transactions for checking accounts, and banks loosen their overdraft restrictions, problems like these will compound. I was amazed by the number of students who didn't know that a credit card is a debt obligation, and that credit cards incur interest for failure to pay the balance in full.

 

Most people learn these lessons eventually, one way or another. For us at Banzai we believe financial responsibility is first behavioral, then knowledge-based. The question: "Can you actually afford to buy this or that?" is even more valuable than defining "check register". Banzai addresses both of these issues, focusing your students on their money, and their lives.

Curriculum Alignment for VA, UT, and IA

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fantastic news! Well, at least there's good news for the following states: Virginia, Utah, and Iowa. We've gone through the effort to align your individual states' curriculum with Banzai's Life Scenarios. As you consider which SOLs you'll be covering with Banzai, simply scan your state's curriculum document and see which Life Scenarios apply.

 

Click here to download your state's alignment document.

 

And, if you still don't see your state's individual alignment document, hold fast – we're working on them. You can still download Banzai's Content Outline for generic financial literacy alignment.