Benefits of e-learning percolating down to students in rural areas: MyLearnBuddy's Jatin Kumar [Interview]

MyLearnBuddy is India's first online 'adaptive' math learning platform for 4-10 year olds.

Published Date
07 - Jun - 2013
| Last Updated
07 - Jun - 2013
 
Benefits of e-learning percolating down to students in rural area...

Thanks to the newer technology and Internet, India's education system has finally started to receive the much-needed modernisation. Among the new things that is believed to revolutionise India's scrambling education system is E-learning, which is being used to develop new ways to prepare young students for the real world.

While there are a plenty of initiatives going on, MyLearnBuddy, an online e-learning programme, has been aiming to help the young minds become self-reliant when it comes to learning. The programme uses the contemporary elements to help the new age parents as well teachers to train the young minds. We speak to MyLearnBuddy's CEO Jatin Kumar about his programme, role of the Internet, relevancy of gamification for the Indian education and lots more. 

How does this service work? What all features does it include/provide?

MyLearnBuddy is India’s first online ‘adaptive’ math learning platform for 4-10 year olds. Children work at their own level and pace through a personalised programme with more than 2000 engaging and motivating lessons and videos that inspire learning.

With unlimited question bank, from counting to calculus, that adapt to the child's ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve. For Parents there’s weekly e-mail updates on the child's progress with informative, detailed reports pointing out successes and weak areas. Children are motivated to learn, as there are awards, badges, coins and certificates as they reach important milestones. With game-like environments and incentivise learning, the child is constantly learning while building confidence in their ability.

It is delivered over the internet instead of being installed on your computer which means it can accessed anywhere, anytime on any device like a smart phone, tablet or laptop.

If your child is struggling with maths, or if they love maths and need a challenge, MyLearnBuddy is the place to start, with a quarterly plan for Rs 1800 or an annual plan for Rs. 2,400.

What other subjects does it cover currently?

Currently Mathematics is covered but this shall be expanded to English and the Sciences.

For the success of online/digital education in the country, the support of parents and teachers is highly important. What's your take on this?

Successful learning begins at home. Parents are truly their children’s first teachers, and this role lasts a lifetime. When we show our children that we value education, it gives them a powerful model for success. At home, we can take steps to support our children’s education and give them a head-start with online learning. Online education is a major phenomenon around the world, the ease and convenience it offers learners appeal to people just about everywhere, particularly teachers.

Educational technologies like MyLearnBuddy is an incredibly useful tool, if the teacher knows how to effectively use it to their students' advantage. With such smart tools I think that students become a bit more independent from their classroom setting. They have the ability to explore further into the subject with ease. It is an interactive way of learning rather than a more passive approach.

While technology can help us teach children, in the end our children learn from us. Parents and teachers must act as facilitators in children's learning.

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow” – John Dewey

Do you plan to partner with schools/educational institutes? (Or have you already?)

There has been strong interest from the education community and we are exploring all our options. We are always open to new ways of collaboration or partnership opportunities and ideas.

How is My Learn Buddy different from other online education portals/services on other platforms?

There are plenty of websites but currently none provide a full service that caters to child’s individual abilities across various age groups. MyLearnBuddy delivers real progress for students in maths and is the only program proven to help a child get 100/100 in math.

Most learning programs are quite passive, like watching You Tube videos or math cartoons. You sit and you are watching and things are happening in front of you but you don't do anything. You are not learning. MyLearnBuddy is an “individualised” learning program – students only move up to the next level when they have mastered the work. Mastery is defined as retention, consistency, speed and accuracy. Each student works through the program at just the right pace for them, and develop motor and concentration skills as they repeatedly practice. There is no competition or pressure; everyone child gets a perfect score because they are given countless opportunities to correct themselves. Rather than being a recipient of knowledge - which is how children are taught in private tuitions or worksheet programs - we place an emphasis on self-reliance where you learn to face new challenges alone.

MyLearnBuddy is an effective alternative to expensive online education portals/services, which typically charge Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 for yearly programs. MyLearnBuddy costs just Rs 1800 for unlimited, anytime, anywhere learning.

Will this service be available for older students, above 10 years old?

Absolutely, we are working to roll out the program until age 14.

With the prevalence of smartphones and tablets in modern households, wouldn't be an app be a good idea for access on-the-go? Do you have any plans?

MyLearnBuddy can be accessed on every smartphone, tablet, and computer. Since MyLearnBuddy is cloud based it offers access to all of your lessons, all of the time, through any browser on any your devices.

What's your take on Internet becoming a powerful tool to ramp up education system in India?

Although India is infamous for rote learning, the Internet is already playing a big role in changing that. The Internet complements the learning student get in schools and is the future of education. Since the Internet penetration has gone beyond urban areas, many students situated in smaller towns and cities are also benefiting. Hopefully we will soon see the benefits of e-learning percolating down to students from rural areas and small towns across the country. Teachers use the Internet to supplement their lessons, and a number of prestigious universities have opened up free online lectures and courses to everyone. It has even allowed retired teachers to read to and educate children. Widespread use of the Internet has opened up a substantial amount of knowledge to a much broader range of people than ever before.

Internet and technology really play a huge role, especially in terms of how technology is utilised to deliver education.

Is Gamification relevant/necessary for the Indian education system?

Gamification in already prevalent in India with the explosion of mobile and Internet-enabled technologies over the last decade. To illustrate, the finger-achingly addictive game Angry Birds has now been downloaded over a billion times. Teachers are using it to illustrate the laws of physics. Another example is the brilliant Recyclebank, which uses gamification to inspire more people to recycle. Online rewards program Zamzee is using gamification to get kids and families off the couch and doing more physical activity. And it is working.

A game based learning is a powerful tool and many teachers and learners are beginning to realise its potential and capitalise on its positive learning outcomes. Games are exceptionally good at engaging kids. They drop kids into complex problems where they fail and fail, but they try again and again, to eventually succeed.

Games aren’t fun because they have points, they are fun because they challenge the player and provide them constant feedback about their performance. They motivate them to do things better, faster, easier.

Gamification might not have anything to do with games. But it incorporates the essence of games – purpose, challenge and reward. We must not only engage today’s digitized generation of students but also to better prepare them for an increasingly tech-based economy and online society. I think the mass acceptance proves that there exists a fairly good market for gamification in the Indian education system.

How do you plan to reach out to students in 2-tier and 3-tier cities, where Internet penetration is relatively low?

With the help of rising Internet penetration the education system in the country is getting a further boost with e-Learning. A recent report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), almost 80% of non-metro Internet users go online mainly for educational and entertainment purposes. Interestingly, mobile Internet is seen as a driver of Internet penetration. The growth of the demand has mainly been driven by the abundance of low-cost data packs and affordable smartphones. All these factors present exciting opportunities for MyLearnBuddy because we can deliver across devices.

Many interesting developments are happening in the technology for education space. For example, a leading broadband service provider has been testing a product that has the capability to replace PCs for accessing broadband. The product can be attached directly to a television where the user would have complete PC functionality. Such initiatives will enable MyLearnBuddy to deliver learning directly into the living room.

How has the early response been from users of My Learn Buddy?

MyLearnBuddy has grown primarily by word of mouth, which makes the early response even more encouraging. With learners averaging more than 20 minutes of learning per session and collectively solving over 400,000 questions, satisfied parents have recognized its value.

Our philosophy is to build the business one step at a time so that our “buddies” can remain satisfied with our service and that we maintain tight control over product and service as we grow.

Last but not least, what's next coming from the My Learn Buddy team?

Our current focus is to complete the roll-out of math classes for learners up to age 14. Furthermore we have plans to create a new wave of personalized learning products, covering English, Sciences and languages, among other areas. Our mission is to deliver proven results for schools and parents looking to improve student performance.

Jatin Kumar