How to make the best use of technology

Science & Technology

Dheeraj Sharma, an alumni of National Institute of Technology, Calicut, Kozhikode, is CEO, Playablo, a gamified learning and skill assessment platform for CBSE and ICSE students of grades 1 to 5. Playablo combines short quizzes with elements of gameplay like badges, leader boards and challenges to make learning fun as well as engaging for the learner. Here, Sharma talks about the ideal optimization of gadgets and gives tips on how a child can make the best use of this technology.

Want to take your learning to the next level? What if you could have a teacher with you wherever you went? What if you could learn at your own pace? If your answer is yes to any one of these questions, you definitely need a learning app.

What is a ‘learning app’ anyway?
A learning app is an application (usually mobile or tablet based) that is created specifically to help students learn and practice at their own pace. It combines the traditional aspects of learning, which most students find tedious, with the fun aspects of video games and gameplay. It uses elements like badges, trophies and challenges to make learning fun and effective. This segment is more popularly known as ‘edutainment’.

Sounds great, but what’s the rub?
The last few years have seen an explosion of learning apps in the market. With the growth of mobile phone and tablet usage by students, the number of educational apps has also increased exponentially. Quite often, these apps look great, sound great, and are fun to boot, but do not make learning effective. In other cases, these apps have great content and teach well, but are poorly designed. The trouble starts when you need to choose the right learning app.

So, how do I choose the right learning app?
Set your learning objectives

Are you trying to supplement what you learn in the classroom? Or are you trying to casually learn something? Asking such questions will help you identify what your learning requirements are. Doing so will help you narrow your search.

Set learning goals

Once you have identified your learning objectives, it is quite important to set attainable, realistic learning goals. Will you complete learning something within a month, or a year? What will you be able to do with the knowledge you have gained? These goals can be anything from being able to hold a conversation in a new language to acing your exams. These goals depend entirely on what you hope to achieve.

Research, research, research!

It is very easy to buy or download apps that your parents, friends or teachers recommend. It is always important that you find out more about a learning app before downloading or purchasing it. Here are some questions you can ask about the app:

Who made it?

Is the content created by experts?

Does the app teach what I want to learn? If your need to learn simple troubleshooting for a computer, you will definitely not need an app that focuses on computer engineering!

What do the users have to say about the app? Are the reviews favourable?

Asking some of these questions will give you a fair idea if it is worth investing your time and money in the app.

While edutainment apps are great, you also need to remember that they are simply supplements. They do not replace actual learning. It really helps to set aside a fixed time every day when you use these apps. It is not enough that you get the best learning app in the market. You also need to be accountable to yourself. For motivation, reward yourself with some time off every time you reach a learning goal, or meet a learning objective. You will find that learning has now become a lot more fun, and less tedious.

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