Wednesday, 27 August 2008

A self-learning programme for students

A self-learning programme for students

Many students don’t understand basic concepts. Most often, a child does not try to clear his misconceptions due to a lack of opportunity or fear of embarrassment. Research through detailed student assessments provides insights on exactly where students are likely to have difficulties, and why.

Mindspark is a computer based adaptive self-learning programme launched under the flagship of Educational Initiatives. It's a learning system that allows the student to construct his own learning – at a pace he is comfortable with. It is an interactive system, where the student is not learning passively by listening to someone, or viewing ready-made solutions, but learning interactively by answering questions of progressively increasing complexity levels.

Students learn best when they control the pace of learning. There have been several successful experiments worldwide on this. Mindspark is a genesis of various such experiments.

A key advantage of Mindspark is the fact that it successfully harnesses the power of new technologies to bolster learning. An intelligent computer system uses a complex adaptive logic to decide what problem to serve up to a student next, based on his response to the current problem and problems answered earlier. The system is also able to identify when a student needs help to understand a concept, and proceeds to give her explanations that will help her move ahead.

The Mindspark programme, is available in 12 Maths modules, which covers most of the Maths content for Classes 3-7. "A special feature of the Mindspark programme is the way in which the questions are graded. The extremely fine gradation of questions allows the system to make sure that a child is truly thorough with a sub concept, before moving on to the next. It helps in pinpointing exactly where the child is having difficulties", said Sridhar Rajagopalan director of Educational Initiatives.

The programme is in line with the NCERT recommendations as well as ICSE, CBSE and various State boards. It focuses on understanding and analytical thinking, not just knowledge of facts, or drill in procedures.

Typically, a student would select a topic, and start with fundamental questions based on the topic. This is to ascertain that the student has a strong grounding in the topic. A student with a deeper understanding of that topic automatically moves ahead quickly to more advanced levels, while those who need to spend more time on the basics will be served up more questions of the basic level.

Whenever a student goes wrong in a particular type of question, a detailed, concept based explanation is provided for it. Often, the explanations are visual or animated rather than just textual, to facilitate quick grasping. This system of providing explanations allows the student to revisit the concept, and quickly figure out how to tackle subsequent problems on the concept.

Every week Mindspark will mail out a detailed report to the parents and teachers. These reports will show how far the child has reached on each topic, the time taken by the child, the success rate and number of logins and so on. In addition, it will provide the teachers with data on rest of the class too.

The programme can be accessed through the internet at all times from the site There is a choice of three packs for customers – of one, six and twelve months respectively - the one year pack costs Rs. 2,499 plus taxes.

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