Through the Pocket Science app, started by Vineesh Kumar and Pardeep Goyal, CBSE students of Class X can learn their entire science syllabus in a fun away through crosswords and anagrams. ParentCircle spoke to Pardeep Goyal to find out more…
PC: How did you come up with these crosswords and games for the platform?
A. We spanned every sentence of the NCERT Class X textbook to create questions for anagrams and the missing words were scrambled. Some students found anagrams rather addictive. For others it was an opportunity to go back to the book and explore. ‘Crosswords’ focusses on critical and beyond the book concepts that enable the student to expand his/her perspective. ‘Compete’ brings together the questions in anagrams and crosswords in a timed quiz, and the best scores along with the learners’ name are featured on the Leaderboard.
PC: What are the problems associated with science learning among school students today?
A. Science learning at school is mostly an endeavour in rushing through the syllabus culminating in multiple tests that neither serve to strengthen learning nor add any new dimension to the learning experience. One of the key ingredients of creating and engaging with science is curiosity and when schools focus only on facts and figures with no scope for thinking, curiosity is lost. The target of studying and knowing science is not for everyone to become a scientist, but to live scientifically. This implies that they better understand the technologically rich and advanced world around them to be effective individuals. Our choice for the medium is based on where a learner is choosing to spend most of his / her time and provide an immersive and unparalleled learning experience. Everyone loves to play games on their phones despite the possible hazards. Can we bring in a learning aspect? That is where we aim to add value.
PC: How has the feedback been for your app and online site so far?
A. We have received a 4.2 star rating and download rate is increasing on the android app store. Interestingly, we have polarised people significantly. There are some who have found the app unique and useful, while others have found it absolutely useless since it doesn’t cover concepts nor does it provide Q&A like the guide books do.
PC: What challenges did you face along the way?
A. Challenges are always there for a start-up. One of the critical challenges was finding a co-founder (me), who shared a similar passion and vision for learning and education. Other challenges include expanding the team with top-notch developers, learning designers as well as user experience designers in addition to the extremely important content developers. A significant and on-going challenge has been monetising the app. While we view it as a complete product in itself, for users used to the myriad free apps, this is just another app. Surmounting this challenge is key to our survival. This is despite having repeatedly verified value of the content in print form.
PC: You have also come up with another app for preparing for the NTSE exam. Could you tell us more about it?
A. The NTSE app was an experiment to better understand the engagement we can provide through an in-app discussion forum. We aimed at helping students clarify their doubts and accelerate their preparation for NTSE through a ‘Question of the day’ series. The audience for this app was the same i.e., Class 10 students. Coupled with daily push notifications, this app saw a daily open rate of 15% and a day-on-day 20% engagement and most importantly, plenty of student-led interactions.
PC: Parents may argue that studying through mobile phones could just be a means to cheat them.
A. This is a very valid question. However doesn’t that happen with books as well? The primary weapon in our arsenal to combat this is to create a learning experience that the child / learner falls in love with. Children primarily choose to cheat only when something is imposed on them and we have noticed that whenever studying via Pocket Science has been imposed, invariably students have responded stating that the app is useless and uninstall it immediately. On the other hand, we have 1500+ questions that have been attempted over 1 million times by students who have cumulatively spent over 500 hours decoding anagrams. Crosswords have 200+ concepts which have been explored over 10,000 times, clocking over 250 hours.
PC: What are the positives and challenges of the growth of online and mobile-based education today?
A. Primarily, the on-demand availability and the immersive environment that both online and mobile-based learning initiatives provide is a major positive aspect. The other positive is the ubiquity of these platforms. Just as phones have been changing the landscape of doing business and more recently e-commerce making a powerful impact via m-commerce, we believe that mobile-based education and learning shall be the next significant opportunities. Clearly, our billion plus population needs access to high quality education to grow and mobile-based learning seems to be the only medium with the potential to achieve this. The key challenge is monetisation. Effecting monetisation on the mobile in itself is a massive opportunity, however our perspective of monetisation is when people / parents start realising the value of mobile-based learning products.
PC: Can we see some more exciting apps coming up in the near future from you guys?
A. Absolutely! Pocket Science as you see it today is just a start. The games are more vocabulary-centric rather than truly science-centric. That is one major target with Pocket Science. We are also working on initiatives in the Math, Language and Thinking skills domains in the near future.
With technology impacting our lives so strongly, these mobile-based learning tools are here to stay and deliver more positive results in the days ahead.