Appifying the paradigms of learning

Amidst the government initiatives to improve the quality and reach of education in India with teacher training programs, mid-day meal schemes, etc, we also see today — a sharp growth in the presence of mobile learning apps, focussed on digitizing education. Several apps are being launched these days, some targeting the kids while others looking to help adults learn better. This development raises just as many questions as it answers — how and why are these innovations helpful, and to what extent do they guarantee learning.

Of course one needs to keep in mind that digital learning, like everything else, comes in various forms and kinds. There are our traditional CDs and DVDs that pack huge amounts of digital learning content onto one place and there are smaller mobile applications that focus on niche areas of learning like alphabets, numbers, phonetics etc. And then we have mobile based content aggregation ecosystems like Battle of Minds & CG Slate — a larger, all-inclusive repository of gamified learning.

Appification of learning alters the traditional modes in a number of ways, and their benefits are not very difficult to spot. Educational systems traditionally have been built around keeping either infrastructure, teachers or merit-based systems in the centre. What the process of appifying does is that it takes away all of this, and puts the learner back in the centre. Once the learner is put in the centre of the learning process, it opens the gates to a multitude of possibilities -

Firstly, the content on an app-based platform can become as adaptive as one may want it to be. Content recommendations can be made based on the taste and performance, difficulty level, subject selection, frequency of assessments, can all be managed digitally, based on the pace of the learner, basically ensuring that no one is left behind.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, app based platforms generate user-specific data, which can then be used for basic and advanced analytics and quantifiable data-metrics that can capture learning as well as enhance it. Apart from tracking learning progress and trends, they can encapsulate big-data in education to identify achievers to incentivize, gauge overall effectiveness of educational programs and determine roadblocks in its implementation.

Thirdly, the analytics and the adaptiveness ensures that the achievers are easily identified, and can in turn be incentivized. This helps in even the not so intrinsically motivated learners to garner extrinsic motivation in form of rewards and achievements to continue learning.

What these features lead us to, is a holistic ecosystem of learning, where gamification of educational content, coupled with timely recognitions, ensure that learning becomes fun and rewarding at the same time. Education doesn’t seem boring after a point of time, and basically transforms itself into edutainment, something that appeals to both young and the old.

The reach and affordability of this method of learning can be questioned, as it mandates the ownership of at least a smartphone. However, research tells us that there will be more than 650 million smart-phones in India within the next four years, which is almost 50% of India’s population. Given that still 72.2% of India lives in the rural areas, it is obvious that more than 25% of India’s population from the rural segment will be equipped with smart-phones and internet via data connectivity. It is only inexorable that smart-phones will be reaching the pockets of households faster than good schools, good infrastructure or good teachers! The core vision of ConveGenius, working at building mobile learning ecosystems like Battle of Minds & CG Slate, is to provide every learner with an environment where he cannot stop learning. They aim to make access to education and learning content extremely affordable and bring the power to learn on smart-phones & personalised tablets.

Interestingly, what these apps have not failed to realise is that the learning methods and pedagogies are not the same for kids and adults. CG Slate, which is a learning product for kids takes the montessori approach to learning, where as Battle of Minds, the edutainment network app emphasizes on the methods of social learning. It enables the users to play against each other on a plethora of topics, and learn more by engaging with others around the world with similar interests. Students of the current generation reportedly have an average attention span of 10 minutes, which is much lower than their predecessors. However, the average time spent by the users on both CG Slate and Battle of Minds is over 20 minutes, proving that the blend of education with entertainment makes the perfect recipe for an engaging session of playful learning. Appifying the process of learning ensures that no matter which age group, professional background and knowledge base an individual comes from, there is always a possibility and a source for them to learn from.

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