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  • Priyank Sharma

The conflict with Edtech Gamification

There was a time we used to argue that schools should help children learn through play - that is out in the open. Children are curious free beings and they need to "move" and explore. Remember this Japanese school: Fuji Kindergarten by Tezuka Architects? It is a single-story, oval-shaped building that encourages children to play and interact by breaking down the physical barriers found in the typical early childhood educational architecture. The space won several awards because of its architecture and play driven unique learning approach.


However, the meaning of play is taking different shapes. In the edtech world, it's gamification. Gamification of educational content helps in making the content fun and "engaging". So, while we attempt to find ways to scale education to millions of children in a way that is "effective" and improves learning outcomes, we also seem to be fundamentally arguing that a 5 year old can sit still for considerable time and learn. What do we make of small kids glued to the screen for learning? How badly we want effective games for learning outcomes?


While we don't want "any child left behind", there is a lot of research on how kids can sit still. Cartoons, for instance, hook students to the screens, how? They do "blink tests" on children to see if children blink their eyes while a cartoon is on TV; lesser number of blinks by children, better the product would sell (refer to documentary: Consuming Kids).


So, how is it possible that the edtech world is able to hook students to screen? How can a 5 year old be made to control his/her emotions, his/her curiosity and have a larger attention space on screen? But, we do want those learning outcomes at scale, right?


Look around, more and more children are just staying inside their homes whereas if I remember our times, we used to go out to play at every chance we used to get. My friend's 4 year old daughter does math on an Ipad - and once taken she wouldn't want to leave it.


Do you think we need to be glad that edtech is filling a perceived "education gap" or if this is a point of worry?

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