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How apps are shaping delivery of education

Jul 10, 2014 : 19:52 IST
From helping kids develop artistic skills to tutorials on complicated numerical, apps are changing the way children are learning today, says Shantanu Prakash .

Over the last decade, as information technology has revolutionized education, it has also spawned numerous inventive sub-cultures of software and hardware development that go to support education delivery. One of the most promising features of this eco-system has been educational apps.

Educational apps have predominantly developed on the back of telecom mobility and every phone today is literally a smart phone and every smart phone a veritable laptop. Consequently, thousands of smart phone apps designed to help students learn in a more interactive and entertaining fashion have flooded the market that are challenging established models to education content distribution, evaluation and self-help regimes.

The fact is that apps are going beyond the literal meaning ascribed to them. They are also providing a breakthrough in education delivery in places with remote access or poor educational infrastructure among the underprivileged. In developing economies, they are creating a level playing field and providing quality education support where it was previously never available.

Cutting across price and social barriers, apps are today bringing students from economically weaker backgrounds to the fore, who have been way behind in the past due to lack of resources. At another level, they are helping students train better, learn better and perform better. From helping kids develop artistic skills to tutorials on complicated numerical to serious gaming, apps are changing the way children learn today. No wonder, a growing number of schools are also turning to these devices to augment classroom learning.
Cognitive skills

At the formative stages, apps play a crucial role in developing cognitive skills of children, which is critical for learning and is an extremely effective educational tool to spur engagement and enthusiasm. Educational apps come in various categories which cater to students at every stage of the learning curve. For kindergarten students, apps related to storybooks and games offer hidden learning messages.

These apps help prepare children by enhancing their reading and speaking skills. The nursery rhyme app, for instance, is a perfect app for toddlers as the amazing mix of audio with images gives kids a wonderful learning experience to enhance their language skills. The story app helps in developing the child’s love for books and inculcates values. Further, a plethora of concept based apps introduce the kids to counting, puzzle solving and concepts that sharpen their analytical capability.

Similarly, each corresponding age group of school going learners today have a range of apps available to cater to almost every aspect of learning proficiency. As the student grows, so do the apps. At the time of competitive exams, apps provide strong reference support, exercises, past performance records and a plethora of models to train minds for the grueling examinations that follow. Apps can easily customize the learning experience for each student and allow them to work at their own pace while maximizing learning at every level.
Learning experience

High school students benefit from educational apps that offer many additional features, which supplement their learning experience and add new dimensions to their skill sets. For example a dictionary app helps students gain quick insight into the meaning of the word and other related concepts while a simplified definition is also provided along with antonyms and synonyms.

Similarly, an app on formulas help the students to remember and execute key problem solving formulas related to maths, physics and chemistry in a animated, graphic or quiz format. Some apps also help students to manage their extensive study schedule while keeping a tab on all assignments and tests via reminders. Even differently-abled students benefit from apps that help in personalizing the lessons according to their needs.

Educational apps are not only benefiting students but also help teachers to teach in the most effective and engaging manner.

For instance, teachers can set up apps that deliver tests and grade the students. They can also use basic apps to take attendance and save the records on their smart phones. Other Apps are helping Teachers in student evaluation or stream line workflow that help in time management for record keeping or reference. Apps are also giving parents an insight into their child’s learning capacity and giving them greater control over their ward’s educational performance.

Educational apps are not only impacting academic performance directly but also re-imagining the entire educational ecosystem. After the transformation of traditional classrooms into digital classrooms, educational apps are destined to drive the next wave of change in the education. Anyone interested in the education industry would be well advised to watch this space.

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