Technology is growing by leaps and bounds, becoming more commonplace in our daily lives as the years go by. In fact, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to add $957 billion, or 15% of current gross value added, to India’s economy by 2035, according to an estimate in a study by a tech giant.
One sector benefiting from technology-the education sector-is yet to see positive results in a country like India. Globally, private investment in educational technology, broadly defined as the use of computers or other technology to enhance teaching, grew 32% annually from 2011 through 2015, rising to $4.5 billion globally.
We’re seeing terms like Artificial Intelligence (or AI) and Machine Learning (or ML) being used very frequently in conjunction with education. We’re decoding these terms, and what changes they can bring to the Indian education landscape, in this article:
What Is ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI)’: It’s also called ‘Machine Intelligence’, and describes the artificial simulation of human intelligence, by machines. Examples of AI include Apple’s SIRI, self-driving cars, Presentation Translator for PowerPoint (it creates real-time subtitles for what the teacher is saying), and more.
What Is ‘Machine Learning (ML)’: A branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI), ML helps systems and software analyze and interpret patterns, by experience and exposure to repeated tasks. ML gets computers to perform tasks without being explicitly programmed for them. Apart from Siri, Alexa, and all the others, ML is used in GPS navigation services, social media platforms (Facebook can recognize a photo of your friend the instant you upload it), the spam filter in your email inbox, and even language learning apps like Square Panda and Duolingo, who use the games and exercises played on their system to calibrate and cater learning as per each individual learner’s level of learning.
“India will have the highest population of young people in the world over the next decade, and our ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities to them will determine the future of our country.” – (NEP, 2020)
We think the new policy by the Ministry of Education perfectly sums up our nation’s future requirements, to create a globally competitive, employable workforce of citizens. For this reason, AI and ML will need to be an intrinsic part of education, right from the early years.
Here’s what we think the future of education will look like, with AI and ML:
Smart Content Will Be Everywhere: Smart learning and smart content include any type of learning that is studied online, including video lessons and recorded classes. Textbooks as we know it will change, with parts or even whole chapters being converted into digital lessons. These new syllabuses will help children of all ages and academic levels, increasing their engagement to a greater extent.
Learning Will Get More Personalized: What we will see as the education landscape changes, is more adaptive learning methods adopted by schools and states as a whole. AI and ML have the unique ability to ‘read’ a child’s data in real-time, and adjust the curriculum to cater to that learner’s particular learning needs. Children coming in the invisible ‘middle strata’ (those who don’t attract attention by being at the top OR the bottom), will not fall through the cracks. Educators will see the benefits of adaptive curriculum, with having to put in extra efforts, which thereby frees up their time for other tasks. Not just learning, but each child’s response and feedback to learning will be personalized too, allowing parents and educators to understand individual children’s performance in detail. Multi-level classrooms, with children of different grades packed into one class with just one teacher, like those seen in rural areas, can make the best use of this personalized approach to learning.
Technology To Support Teachers And Educators: There are multiple instances of AI and ML being used in classrooms across the globe, with varying degrees of success. Not only does the technology get more affordable as time goes by, but it even allows teachers more time to work on lessons and plans, by taking care of all mundane administrative tasks like note making, collating data, etc. that is, for now, a task most Indian teachers have to do manually.
For instance, our early education platform at Square Panda has a ‘Portal’, to help monitor learning in schools and at home, in real-time. Read all about it, here.
All the evidence points towards AI and ML being a strong source of support and aid to educators, and are not to be taken as replacements. After all, education wouldn’t be the same without a ‘human touch’.
An Unbiased Assessment And Tracking System: On account of providing real-time traceability and trackability, AI and ML systems have started to flourish in the edTech segment. Grading and checking will soon be done via a programmed system, removing the possibility of human error and bias with it. Negative feedback will be done away with, increasing a child’s enjoyment of learning, without fear of repercussions.
Increased Reach: India has a vast geography, with multiple remote, hard-to-reach areas; these make equal learning opportunities harder for children in such areas. Technology enables children all over India, especially in the remote areas, to access quality education right from the early years. To make up for the intermittent internet connectivity in such areas, the tech can even be customized to work offline for long periods of time. AI can enable easier access to offline content, and even provide automated tutoring and mentoring programs for different learning styles. The near future could see a greater degree of interlinking and connection between the schools and students, allowing students to take courses and classes that were otherwise out of reach for them.
Skilling: The performance matrix in AI algorithms helps the machine determine what the child is likely to excel in, while enhancing skills that are applicable in the real world. AI and ML can also help train teachers, skilling them to solve quality issues in the education sector. The enhanced skill set children develop can help them compete on a global level as well.
The education sector in India has predominantly been ruled by human-to-human interaction. With the recent pandemic, this rule is slowly changing, and moving towards a slightly more digital learning landscape. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Intelligence advances are here to stay; educators need to plan for involving digital methods alongside traditional learning, gradually preparing the next generation to leverage the global AI revolution to our country’s advantage.
Interested in adding AI and ML to your teaching? Check out our Square Panda early literacy platform, which uses an adaptive engine to develop early English literacy in young children aged 2-8. As a child plays with our educational games, our software runs in the background, analysing patterns of play, frequency of words played, challenges faced, to suggest letters/words that the child should be focussing on next, inside the games themselves. This data also reflects in our ‘Portal’, allowing educators and parents the ability to monitor progress in real-time.
Stay tuned for our next post, on how we intend to spread early literacy even at the heart of India, and later, another upcoming post where we’ll be talking about how Square Panda is building a safe and kid-friendly ecosystem inside our platform, along with tips to keep every young learner safe while online.
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Change! Everyone loves it, don’t we?
That said, nothing about your favourite early reading app has changed much; we’ve just added some features that we’re sure your little learners will enjoy.
WHAT DOES SQUARETALES INDIA VERSION 2.3 HAVE?
- New Books!
We’ve added a new set of books for your early readers to learn from. Subscribe and enjoy 5 sets of digital books including:
– Pan, Cam and the Bug
– Pan and Cam Hum
– The Cub in a Tub
– The Hot Pot
– Dot, Dot, Dot: Review #
- Reduced App Size!
We listened to feedback, and made as many optimisations as we could to reduce the size of our app.
What were once mere images, are now cute little animations, to boost your child’s engagement as they learn new letters, words, and word sounds. Where these animations appear:
– In our blending engine, ‘Swipe Phonics’.
– Inside the digital books
Want to see how this looks? Try SquareTales out; get the first 5 books for free, from the App Store and Play Store.
- Other General Fixes
– Subscription price corrected to rupees, instead of showing in dollars.
– Users can now move to the next practice word, without earning a star, if they choose. For that end, we added the ‘Next’ arrow beside every practice word.
These little things can make a big difference in how children engage and learn with SquareTales.
BEFORE YOU GO
New to SquareTales? Get started with our User Manual, or contact customer services to guide you.
Download from the App Store and Play Store today. Visit www.squaretales.in for more information about our unique early reading app.
Credits: Written by Sanjana Shukla
He’s got an impressive 24+ years of experience, in multiple disciplines, no less, under his belt. The shot caller at Square Panda India, he was recently promoted to Global CTO.
He is passionate about his family, basketball, and making a social impact.
Introducing our MD and Global CTO, Ashish Jhalani, who very kindly agreed to sit down with us for a special interview, where he divulges details about his journey to Square Panda, early education, and his favourite character from our games.
Watch the interview here, or read the transcript below:
FROM ECOMMERCE TO EDUCATION. WHAT INSPIRED THAT TRANSITION?
“I spent almost all my life in the e-commerce field since I first started working. Transferring to education was a big decision, but it kind of comes down to wanting to do something more than just build businesses and have an impact on a very little number of people. Here in education, it gives me an opportunity to impact millions of kids, especially here at Square Panda, with us having a presence in the US, in China, and in India, and then obviously, in each one of these countries there are millions of kids that are in need of literacy, and it gives me an opportunity to reach to all of those kids. So yeah, it is more of a social kind of a move at this point. You want to make an impact and not just build businesses, but here, it gives me an opportunity to do both.”
WOULD YOU HAVE USED SQUARE PANDA, HAD IT BEEN AVAILABLE WHEN YOUR CHILDREN WERE YOUNGER? WHAT INFLUENCES YOUR DECISION EITHER WAY?
“At first, challenges: would I want screen time for them? NO! Or yes. But if we looked at the product, I think I would want to use it for my kids. One, because I was a second language learner, my wife was a second language learner, and we wanted our children to obviously learn better than we did. So, I think I would have chosen Square Panda as one of the products for my children to learn from. I myself used different tools initially to learn English, so I think I would use something for my kids as well.”
AI (ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE) AND MI (MACHINE LEARNING), THESE TERMS ARE NOW BEING USED IN THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL SPHERES, EDUCATION. HOW DOES SQUARE PANDA TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS TREND?
“AI and MI are hot topics at this point, be it education or finance. But in education, specially, we are talking about how can AI and MI help. Here at Square Panda, we take ‘first steps’ (referencing the fact that our educational games create a foundation to language learning and early literacy); all of our games are adaptive games. As children are playing these games and learning, each child learns differently. So if your child is making a mistake with a certain letter, word, etc., we recognise that. Obviously, our games ensure that the child has enough practice and enough repetition to learn that particular issue that they were having. That’s just one step. As we build our products further, we are building more algorithms to understand the demographics of the child, to understand what their patterns of learning are, and have them integrated against the new products, the new games, and the new curriculums that we are building up.”
WHAT IS THE SQUARE PANDA MISSION STATEMENT?
“Our mission here at Square Panda is very simple. We want to empower all kids with the power of literacy. We want every child to have education, we want every child to learn a language, and a language that is common across the globe.”
WHAT ARE THE GOALS SQUARE PANDA HAS?
“The goals Square Panda has is to make education and literacy, affordable and reachable to the masses across the world, may it be in China, may it be in India. We want to make sure that every child gets an opportunity to be literate, learn the language of English—which is a primary language across the world—and find better jobs as they grow up.”
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER FROM OUR GAMES?
“My favourite character in our games is obviously Square Panda. He has got this unique thing–pandas are never square, but he is square…and I like that. So, yeah, my favourite character is Square Panda.”
WHAT SETS SQUARE PANDA APART FROM OTHER EARLY LEARNING SYSTEMS?
“What sets us apart at Square Panda is realistically, our ability to be adaptive. Like I said, every child learns differently. That’s what Square Panda is all about. Now, obviously, we have many other important aspects too, but what differentiates us; one being ‘multisensory’. Our playset is unique in what it offers. It gives the child (the ability) to still continue to develop motor skills, etc. while using the digital adaptive platform. Now, let’s not discount the amount of research that has gone into building our curriculum. Though the user is seeing the games, the children playing it interact with the game, there is a large amount of curriculum that helps them learn, and there are learning goals for everything that the child is doing in our games.
What sets Square Panda apart in most cases is the innovation we bring. We currently have our meta game out—‘SquareLand’—where we are continuously adding more interactions, more engagements to the product, where we can complete the learning goals of each early learner. In addition to that, we have products such as ‘Buddy Reader’ that is coming out that will help children read better. In the future, we have other products that will help the child complete their full cycle of learning–from reading, to writing and recognising letters, etc. So, Square Panda is an innovative company; we are going to constantly be innovating new things. Not everything can be talked about, but there are things that are continuously in the pipeline to be introduced to the markets in India, in China, and in the US.”
Check out our website for more articles, videos, and educational games!
– Sanjana Shukla, Content Writer, Square Panda India
You know how there is a manual inside every device and product you own/purchase? The one that is extremely important and holds the guide to using said device or product properly? We decided our Square Panda users needed one user guide of their very own, to guide them along their journey to early education and literacy.
We recommend every first-time user read our cheat sheet of instructions, before using our playset and Smart Letters.
Firstly, let us explain the terms we use while referring to the Square Panda phonics playset:
Your guide to using the Square Panda Playset:
Your guide to using the Square Panda Smart Letters:
Why Coloured Letters?
According to a study conducted in 2002, learners performed much better when they were introduced to ‘realistic’ coloured objects, rather than simple black-and-white or even random coloured objects.
Young learners use colour and shape to identify things and describe them. It offers learners a sense of security and stimulation when they are taught using one or two colours. A riot of them, however, seems to make beginner learners anxious and overstimulated.
Yellow (in small amounts) is a happy colour, and boosts growth and development. It can also help stimulate the memory and improve concentration.
The combination of blue and red, purple takes on both their qualities, soothing and calming like blue, and attracting attention, energising the mind, and increasing athletic ability like red.
Caring For Your Playset, Smart Letters:
- Like any other electronic device, taking our playset and the letters for a swim is not the best idea! We did design them to be durable, but if they get wet, dry them off with a cloth as soon as possible.
Letters not reading correctly? They may have something stuck to their bottom side. Clean the letters with a damp cloth and then dry them thoroughly. Make sure to keep the letter slots of the tray just as clean, as small bits of food or other debris can affect the reading of the letters. If your letters are still giving you a problem, contact us, and we’ll do our best to solve your problem.
Remember, the settings button uses a ‘long press’ function. We thought that might be enough to fool kids, and prevent them from accessing the settings page. We applied the same reasoning to the ‘adults only’ menu, asking for a code which is entirely in words. The assumption was that if your kids can read those, then they are probably ready for more advanced learning tools.
Come back next week for an in-depth look at our incredible progress monitoring tools for kids…
– Sanjana Shukla, Content Writer, Square Panda India
We are extremely proud to tell you that we’ve won the ‘Parent And Teacher Choice Award‘ for 2019! Bestowed on us by a website that has been active longer than Google (!)–the website, HowToLearn.com, was started in 1996, while Google began in 1998–we were unanimously selected as the best early education system because of our “unique multisensory methods of teaching reading, as well as a library of games that truly engage the learners”.
About HowToLearn.com: This website went live two years before Google did, and is still kicking, successfully connecting parents, teachers, educators, and even resellers, with the best educational resources to enhance learning. Companies interested in boosting their online profile can throw their hat in the ring and enter their names. The best of the lot (like us!) will be chosen as the winner by a jury of parents and teachers, who base their decision on proven results, creativity, innovation, and the brain-building abilities of said company.
After all these years, you probably have a routine ready. Your methods, derived from years of experience in teaching little learners, have never failed you. The decor on the walls of your classroom(s) are a testament to the hours you have spent making sure that each child’s term in school was not only well spent, but also fun. No doubt exemplary, your learning module (with the constant and diligent support of your hard-working educators) has carried generations of young learners through the gates of early education, into the glittering expanse of future learning.
And to this, if you would like to add a little something extra, if you want to further enhance your students’ language acquisition skills, if you would love to extend additional support to your educators, you are in the right place.
Watch this article in video format here.
Square Panda India is offering schools, preschools, and educators all over India the chance to become a part of the Square Panda brand. You too can be a part of the educational revolution that is sweeping the nation.
With increasingly grim stats (a UNESCO report in 2012 estimated around 124 million children between the ages of 6-15 haven’t started their schooling or have dropped out, globally), we need all the tools we can get to entice kids into learning.
That’s where we come in:
*Read all about Square Panda India and its many many attributes here.
Here are eight reasons why you should partner with Square Panda India:
Personalised Learning System Based On AI:
We have created (and are constantly updating) an adaptive software that is based on Artificial Intelligence. This diagnostic engine measures every learner’s learning level, progress, challenges, game preferences, and play patterns, each time he/she plays a game. It gradually personalises their learning experience by showing the most appropriate level in each game for that child at that particular point in time. This analysis helps you fuel their reading and learning resources, creating an interactive and effective learning environment for young learners.
Comprehensive Well-Researched Curriculum:
We based our curriculum on the following teaching styles–Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Gardner’s ‘Theory of Multiple Intelligences’. We added to this the latest findings from neuroscience research on young learner’s brains, both by our in-house teams and outside researchers, and created a library of age-appropriate games that are suitable for any curriculum, be it ICSE, CBSE, SSC, IB, or ICGSE.
Complete Curriculum Package:
Not only do we offer a comprehensive curriculum to enhance language and literacy skills, we offer an entire curriculum package that consists of:
- A flexible syllabus tailor-made for Indian schools.
- Yearly updation of said syllabus, to keep up with the changing boards.
- Storybooks, reinforcing the regular teaching system.
- Workbooks, for additional practice.
- Rhymes and songbooks.
- Stories based on Indian festivals, to increase understanding and knowledge of Indian customs and traditions.
Our adaptive engine gives educators an instant look into individual students’ performance–their strengths, deficiencies, their progress in each game, and even suggestions on which games they can play to improve their skills, all in clear and concise reports.
For ease in operating our system, we provide complete and detailed guidelines on how to run our curriculum alongside yours, as well as instructions on each game and its expected outcome.
Periodical Teacher Training:
We don’t expect every educator to have engineer-level technical skills, which is why we give technical training to every person operating our phonics platform. There is also an online certificate course for pre-primary teachers.
Extensive Support To Teachers:
Teachers everywhere, across all grades, whether in pre-kindergarten or higher, are always in a flurry of activity. Acknowledging this, we created a support system that we think will help them. We offer:
- Periodical Teacher Training (for guidance on how to use our learning system, what each game brings to the table, and more).
- Teacher Manual (for other essential information).
- Song and Rhymes books.
- Syllabus (that perfectly aligns with your school’s syllabus).
Partner schools link their name to the first literacy product, ever, to win STEM approval. We give our partner schools all the above benefits, and more, as they come along.
Hurry! Your school can become a ‘Square Panda Partner School’ too!
– Sanjana Shukla, Content Writer, Square Panda India
Image by susan-lu4esm on Pixabay
This Women’s Day, join Square Panda India in celebrating all those amazing ladies who have dedicated their lives to bettering the futures of young learners.
A huge shout-out to all the amazing educators who graced us with their presence and insight into early literacy at the Square Panda India Launch.
As a special treat, we’ve collated some quotes from their talks:
*Catch each speaker’s talk on our YouTube channel.
Here’s wishing all our ‘HERoes’ a very Happy Women’s Day!
Let’s try to make the quotes and wishes of today the realities of tomorrow.
– Sanjana Shukla, Content Writer, Square Panda India
The moment we had been waiting for finally arrived!
Square Panda celebrated its launch in India on February 19, 2019 at the Westin Hotel in Mumbai.
You may recall, dear reader, from our previous post, that while we are well-known across America, we have just opened our doors in India.
We introduced our amazing multisensory phonics learning system to India at the ‘Language, Literacy, and Early Childhood Education‘ event.
An audience comprised of the biggest names in education were left completely enthralled with the talks presented by our speakers…
especially when Guest of Honour Andre Agassi walked in.
Take a look…
Square Panda CEO and co-founder Andy Butler with Andre Agassi, who spoke about his journey from tennis to education, and from there, to Square Panda. (below) (Watch the video here.)
(above) Andre Agassi’s Q & A session with the audience.
Ashish Jhalani, Managing Director, Square Panda India, kicking off the event with an introduction to Square Panda. (Watch his speech here.)
Dr. Nandini Chatterjee Singh, cognitive neuroscientist from National Brain Research Centre on deputation to UNESCO-MGIEP, talking about ‘Shaping the Biliterate Brain – Acquisition of Literacy Skills in Two Distinct Languages’. (Watch her talk here.)
Dr. Vera Blau-McCandliss, VP of Education and Research, Square Panda, speaking about ‘The Research & Science Behind Today’s Early Childhood Learning’. (Watch her speech here.)
Andy Butler, CEO and co-founder, Square Panda, enlightening the audience on the ‘Future of Technology for Early Learners’.
Dhruv Bhargava, VP, Data Science & Software, Square Panda, on Personalisation & Adaptiveness for Better Young Learners’. (Watch his speech here.)
Also actively engaging the audience interest were our two panels:
Panel I: The 6 C’s of Early Education—Collaboration, Communication, Content, Creativity, Critical Thinking, ConfidencePanel Speakers (from left to right): Bhavin Shah-Moderator, (Director-CEO, Education World), Vani Shastri (Director at SEED & Seed Academy, Chennai), Nitya Ramaswami (Executive Mentor, Alfa Group of Schools), Bhargavi Ajit (Adapt India).
Panel II: Evolution of Artificial Intelligence Aided TeachingPanel Speakers (from left to right): Fatema Agarkar (Co-founder, KA EduAssociates), Pooja Goyal Sharma (Head of Strategy and New Initiatives, Klay Prep Schools and Daycare, Bangalore), Dr. Seema Negi (Principal, Sanjeevani World School), Dhruv Bhargava (VP of Data Science & Software Engineering, Square Panda, California).
Appreciating all the efforts made in the education sector, the following people were awarded a special Square Panda trophy:
Thank you to everyone who made it to the event; we couldn’t have done it without you. We hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did.
To know more about Square Panda, visit our website.
– Sanjana Shukla, Content Writer, Square Panda India
Square Panda is now in India!
From Sunnyvale, California, to Mumbai, India, Square Panda has had a long and eventful journey.
Born out of a vision to increase the reach of early literacy, we hope to greatly boost education in beginner learners through our learning system.
Our adaptive multisensory phonics learning platform is based on Artificial Intelligence, and uses the latest neuroscience research in the field of early learning to create educational games for young students.
Watch tennis legend Andre Agassi talk about teaching children with Square Panda.
To gain a greater understanding of what beginner learners require, and to better cater to their educational needs, we partnered with educators, neuroscience researchers, and child specialists, who now form our core team.
Based on a curriculum that combines Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia pedagogy, along with Gardner’s Theory of Intelligences, our interactive game-based learning environment supports students from all boards, whether ICSE, CBSE, IGCSE, and even IB.
Our Tools To Teach:
A multiple award-winning platform, our technology helps children develop well-rounded skills like phonemic awareness, letter and word identification, an enhanced vocabulary, and more.
Emphasizing on Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing, our instructional and exploratory platform turns children into self-directed learners.
Our intelligent software works behind the scenes, analysing the patterns of play, the preference towards a particular game, the challenges, and the progress made, to inform the system which level is most appropriate for the learner at any point in time.
Parents and educators alike can monitor children’s/students’ progress with specialised portals.
If you are worried about protests from kids for sitting down to learn, don’t be! They will be having too much fun to even notice they are studying. Don’t believe us? Watch this video…
With a cloud-based visual and vocabulary bank, and the option to add more words as per requirements, learners will constantly be getting new stimulation.
Now you know their time spent in front of the screen won’t be going to waste, aren’t you breathing easier?
To boost your own little reader(s), subscribe to Square Panda’s online educational games as soon as you can!
– Sanjana Shukla, Content Writer, Square Panda India
- Square Panda India’s Impact On Foundational Teaching & Learning In India
- The Science Behind Square Panda India’s Programs
- Why We Need to Realign Mindsets Across All Levels of the ECCE Landscape in India
- The Role Of Public-Private Partnerships In Early Childhood Education
- The Role Of Parents In Early Childhood Education