The way we dine, travel and work has been rapidly changing over the last few months. Have you ever wondered about changes to the way our children will learn in future? As a mother and with school examinations just around the corner, this is something that I’ve been pondering about lately and what better way than to get an ex-Primary school teacher and an ex-game development lecturer to shed some light on the matter? Below is an excerpt of The Digital-Co.‘s discussion with Eileen Choo and Chongming, Founders of Practicle.
Eileen, being an ex-Primary school teacher with more than a decade’s experience of working with students of various abilities and Chongming, an ex-game development lecturer armed with a Masters in Educational Studies, what is your view on the future of education for our children?
In the past few months, teachers had had to get the curriculum going with home-based learning and school lessons. Classes were conducted in an online meeting manner and materials were saved in online portals for students to access. As educators, we see two main challenges here. One being to effectively engage the child in learning and maintaining their attention while the lesson is delivered and the other being how to track each child’s progress and learning ability. We see technology playing a key role in addressing these challenges.
Could you give us some examples on how technology is applied in Education?
There are many different ways that technology is used in Education. It can be as simple as using Powerpoint slides, videos to teach or using assessment tools to check every student’s understanding. During Covid-19, we have also seen how teachers turn to Zoom and Google classroom to teach online and assign homework. But regardless of the situation, the questions on the minds of teachers remain the same: “What kind of teaching tools are there to help me teach better and engage my students? How do I know what they don’t know?” At the end of the day, we as humans have the unique capability to create tools to ease our work, and technology in education is no different. Today, we have technology such as games, videos, and A.I. assessment tools working in tandem with our own teaching to help us achieve better learning outcomes.
A.I. assessment tools, how do these work? Will they replace the need for teachers?
A.I. assessment tools come in the form of practices where you can gauge a child’s understanding based on each question they do. These tools help to provide feedback to parents and teachers on a child’s learning progress and also lighten the workload of teachers while complementing the good work that they do. For instance, Practicle’s adaptive math learning system challenges students at just the right difficulty so that every student can learn according to their ability. At the same time, reports are generated to help teachers and parents identify learning gaps and monitor progress. We don’t think that A.I. will fully replace the human touch that teachers provide, so the future will probably be that of a hybrid learning model with man and machine complementing each other. Machines can crunch numbers much faster than us teachers, so we can leave the numbers and analytics to them while we get to focus on our art of teaching.
Thanks for your insights into the possibilities of A.I. in education. I understand that Chongming’s experience in game design also came in handy in the development of your system. Could you elaborate a bit more on that?
As avid gamers ourselves, we understand why some students can get distracted with the myriad of games available on mobile devices, game consoles and computers. Games are just so fun! This screen time can of course be better utilized and we started to think of incorporating game elements into the learning experience. For instance, users can level up their virtual pets and earn points for each successful question solved. When kids are motivated, they can achieve so much more. There’s no longer a need for that little ‘push’ to revise, rather they are drawn to develop the habit of bite-sized daily revision via earning points for rewards. In time, this can help them inculcate a love for math.
How can Practicle facilitate parenting in this aspect?
We help parents make sure that their children are doing well in school and highlight areas that they should be concerned about so that they can get the information they need without consulting their child’s teachers. You will also save a lot of time with marking assessment books, daily revision and exam preparation, because we automate this whole process for you. Instant detailed feedback sent to your inbox after each practice shows you your child’s strengths and weaknesses that were detected as well as their progress. Practicle has more than 20,000 questions aligned to the Ministry of Education (MOE) curriculum and the system can adjust to the school’s pace or go slower/faster to suit your child’s needs. As a parent, you can avoid worrying about the best way to teach your child. All provided worked solutions and video explanations are easy to understand and follow the methods taught in school. You can plan quality time and build better relationship with your kid. You also get to approve the rewards that your child redeems from within the system!
Has Practicle been introduced to schools?
Schools and tuition centres are also working with us. With our large database of questions, teachers can create worksheets in a fraction of a second and also assign homework instantly by picking questions according to the level of study, topic and difficulty. As teachers, you will be provided results analyses and recommendations automatically too so that you know what questions to go through in class! Practicle’s one-stop solution also acts as a second teacher at home that engages the students, helps them identify problems, teaches them, and chooses the right questions for them to do. Because of this, schools and tuition centres love us.
What can you tell us about the effectiveness of your system for learning?
Our system’s design is heavily based on the latest educational research on how students learn. Everything, the engagement, A.I., and videos, come together in a very specific way to help students learn better. We are very proud that Practicle is the first-ever Singapore-based company to be certified by Education Alliance Finland (EAF), a leading education body, for high pedagogy quality. In fact we achieved a score of 96 out of 100, one of the highest scores globally for online Math learning. This gives us the confidence that we will be able to help parents and teachers alike assist their kids to unlock their true, maximum potential.
Any advice you wish to share with parents and teachers out there?
We feel that it’s important for parents to recognise that technology is going to be huge part of our children’s future and what kind of impact it’s going to have on our children depends on how you choose to use it. If you use it to nurture the love for learning, you’ll be surprise how that increase in motivation can help your child become an independent learner. As for teachers, we know that admin can really be a chore at times and most of the time, there’ll be a tool out there to help you get your job done better while you focus on teaching. So instead of fearing technology, embrace it and be open to learn because we are all learning together day by day.