Forget Educational Apps, Check Out Education WITHIN Apps

Alexis Baghdadi, Mar 24 2016

Game and social media apps today are ubiquitous. Unlike earlier gaming-only consoles, smartphones and tablets have achieved higher acceptance and adoption rates by positioning themselves as true multi-functional tools for education, communication, photography, and playtime.

The problem is that games (at least, successful ones) are designed to be addictive. Like the old Game Boys and PSPs, modern devices provide hours of fun playing games for kids… while being a constant source of irritation for their parents. Half a century after the first gaming consoles, the debate is still on: Do games affect children’s academic performance? Should they be banned? How much playtime is too much?

And don’t even get us started on social media addiction with smart devices.

Rather than prolonging this discussion in circles, maybe lateral thinking could provide an answer? The developers behind Play.My.Way certainly think so.

Play My Way or No Way                              

Taking a radical stance against device usage (whether absolute freedom or strict prohibition) doesn’t work with children. Setting quotas for gaming or social media time on devices doesn’t work either, since parents don’t have much control over how their children use their phone – and did we mention already that both games and social media are devilishly addictive?

So finding a compromise seemed like the only solution for the Beirut-based developers at Scope – many of whom were parents facing such problems with their children.

Sure, they could have focused on educational games and apps like so many other MENA entrepreneurs. But that would have entailed long and expensive months of research, development, testing, and marketing, knowing that games are not among investors’ priorities. Not to mention that, apart from a few behemoths like Clash of Clans or Candy Crush, games usually have a very short lifetime.

Instead, they developed Play.My.Way, an app that works on top of other apps (in both Android and iOS devices), interrupting gameplay or other operations to challenge children with questions about their school curriculum. Children have to answer the question before they can resume their activity.

Basically, this means children are free to continue playing or updating their social media status, as long as they review their lessons in the process. “It is a win-win situation for everyone,” said EdTech entrepreneur Ahmad Hammoud, Chairman of Scope (which he founded in 2008).

“The aim is to get to a point where children understand that a tablet or smartphone is a privilege, not a right, and the price for that privilege is keeping up with studies,” he said.

Homework Time Is Never Completely Over

All parents have to do is download the app for free, then register their children. They can then set their children’s academic level (grades 1 to 9) and the frequency of questions issued by subject.

Play.My.Way will interrupt any running application with a question, and will only return to the app once the question is answered. The app can also be run on “Quiz mode”, where parents can choose a specific subject, chapter, and number of questions to run continuously for their children to be tested on.

There remains the question of actually monitoring their children’s performance. Luckily, Play.My.Way. thought of that too. Parents get constant email notifications of their children’s app usage (which questions they answered, how they answered, etc.) to keep track of their progress and address academic gaps. Plus, the app is equipped with an alarm system that notifies parents should their child try to delete the app!

Busted! This spells the end for children who claim they are done with their homework only so they can have more time to play or satisfy their social media addiction. It also takes on hardliners who simply never do their homework. And the best part is that parents don’t even have to be physically present to monitor their children.

Check out the promotional video on this link to see how Play.My.Way works: 

http://www.playmyway.com/images/reel.mp4

It’s Not Too Cool for School

It’s quite possibly the first app of its kind, and it looks like it has a brilliant future ahead of it.

According to Hammoud, the app’s academic curriculum is designed to be compatible with all schools. He explained that while teaching or delivery methods may differ from one school to another, the content of most subjects is the same.

The app quizzes are also accessible to users worldwide. They are mostly in the form of multiple choice or multiple selection questions, as also include some simple keyboard questions where children have to type in short answers.

For now, Play.My.Way is only available for English curriculums and covers 25,000 questions in mathematics, science, and language. Future versions will include French and Spanish curriculums.

The first chapter of each subject is free, serving as a trial version for users. Parents can then buy each subject for 0.99$ to get full access on all chapters. 

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