Mindspark Shoos Away Math Phobia With Its ‘Enriched’ Content

Parents are worried about the quality of education their children are receiving, despite the money they are spending on sending them to good, pricey schools – for the snob-factor as much as the teaching standards. All that rote-learning which is a distant memory for most parents is now coming back with a vengeance, when their children start studying the same way. One big difference being, that most of them are using laptops and Google to help with their homework. I know a kid who does her math homework with the help of her mobile phone’s calculator!

Embracing the inevitable, one such educational, research organisation is doing just that – helping children deal with math phobia while learning with a tablet/PC. Educational Initiatives (EI) has been started by a group of IIT-IIM alumni and has worked with over 2,000 leading schools in India, the Gulf, and Singapore. Their three-fold mission is “develop and offer products and services based on research in assessment that will:

  • Accurately and meaningfully measure how well students are really learning
  • Provide insights into the learning process
  • Actually help improve the quality of learning

With this in mind, they have developed ASSET, which is India’s leading diagnostic benchmarking test that is taken by over 1000+ schools and 3.5 lakh students annually across India and abroad. This helped them gain insights into how students learn, think, and why they have certain misconceptions.

They realised that while the schools were able to see where exactly their students stand and how much of learning was happening, they strongly needed help on correcting or improving the student learning process. That is where the idea of Mindspark was born.

Mindspark is the product of over 14 years of insights on how students learn. And to help children understand what they are learning, the content has been presented in various forms like stories, animations, games etc. The idea was to develop an adaptive and intelligent self-learning tool.

Mindspark uses a complex adaptive logic based on student responses to the current problem and the problems answered earlier. Working with this system, a class 7 student can be brought down to class 3 level, given remedial tips for any misunderstanding of a concept, and then brought back to class 7 levels.

With such a handy tool available for teachers to spark their students’ interest, in what is often considered a dull and difficult subject, Mindspark, ironically, faced a huge challenge getting teachers’ buy-in to the idea of students being able to learn by themselves, with minimal intervention from them.

Mindspark has been positioned to help teachers reach out to the varied needs of their class, such as heterogenous levels/capacities of students and their individualised needs. Teachers needed to see Mindspark as an enhancement and not fear about the existence of their role/job. This did take a lot of effort and time and the acceptance levels have since increased.

What Teachers Get From Mindspark What Students Get From Mindspark
Teachers will have a separate Mindspark interface to view the progress of all their students. Mindspark provides a personalised, self -paced learning system which operates 24×7.
Teachers can configure Mindspark to their curriculum & direct programme as per their lesson plans. A child can login from anywhere and similarly the teachers can view the development from their own login system.
Teachers can plan remedials based on the reports and analysis generated by the Mindspark programme in the interface. The questions asked are granular. The questions are finely graded to help a child learn every step in the problem, as well as understand the concepts.
Teachers can plan lessons using feedback of students’ progress of topics. It not only focuses on procedural knowledge but also focuses on understanding which helps a child to integrate various topics into a single learning process.
Teachers can use Research Papers & Summaries embedded in the Mindspark programme. It also addresses ‘Common Errors’ and ‘Misconceptions’ and in the process helps improve a child’s performance in the school and board exams.
Teachers will be guided with Identification of Common Errors (Misconceptions) and help take remedial action as required. It provides multiple examples and situations, ensuring the particular concept is understood not just memorised.
EI subject experts visit the school for seamless support. It gives feedback in real-time, curbing the repetition of mistakes and speeds up math learning.

Aarthi Muralidharan, Head of Product and Content Development at Mindspark said, “Another challenge we face is when students, teachers and parents start focusing on scoring high in exams in higher grades and do not give as much importance to things that enhance learning. Changing the mindset and getting the different stakeholders to understand the importance of learning the right way, has been a struggle, as students reach grades 9 and 10.” She added,

We have also faced challenges on the technology front, where teachers who are generally less tech savvy have been finding it difficult to make optimal use of the product. Overall, every challenge has been overcome by some innovations in the product, and that is how we have seen our product evolve in the last few years.”

The product has gained acceptance and this is something that Mindspark has learnt, from anecdotal evidence in classrooms, from teachers and parents, and from large scale research studies on learning outcomes. This is a very positive indication and is very satisfying to the team. They claim to have seen 15%-20% improvement in the performance of students using Mindspark.

Muralidharan explained, “We are now also using Mindspark to build capacity in the teaching community and this is extremely rewarding, as we are investing in improving the quality of teaching that is happening in the classroom. The steady increase in the number of schools and students annually enrolling for Mindspark, year-on-year, across India and abroad, is also very satisfying. It keeps us on our toes, to continually improve the technical content, and also the quality and feel of the Mindspark experience.”

Those interested in knowing more about this ‘remedial’ and ‘enrichment module’ way of learning math, can check out the Mindspark site and sign up for a seven day free trial. Mindspark was a finalist at the mBillionth Awards South Asi 2015.

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