“We believe education needs a reboot right about now. And that learning should be chimple.”
For over two years, a self-funded Bengaluru non-profit, Chimple, has been working to radically improve how children read and learn.
Their model is simple. Incorporate the exhilaration of playing a game into learning. Human history has proved children love playing. The fun challenges of a game and the exhilaration of winning one could be a game changer in the field of learning.
So why the name Chimple? Because learning ought to be fun! So they have modeled their logo after a Chimpanzee, an animal that evokes a sense of just that.
Combining the strides in artificial intelligence and gamification, as well as the recent drop in the prices of tablets, Chimple is creating an open source software that will help children, especially in the developing world, read.
The organisation’s efforts are driven by the millions (current estimates stand at 250 million) of children who lack basic reading and writing skills, which limit their future potential, perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty and widening the gap between the haves and have-nots. Many of these children are in developing countries, and more than two-thirds are girls.
A team of 12, which consists of software and game developers, graphic designers, artists and storytellers, has created 60 different games that teach children basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills.
A prototype developed in Kannada was taken to a Kannada medium school in Gottigere and given, via tablets, to 20 1st grade students there.
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“Based on that we realised that children like to play a lot of games, and don’t like too much instruction. We also understood that they are very social – if a child learns something and is excited by it, he/ she will share it with others,” Talapadi said to the Bangalore Mirror.
A reason to celebrate –
Chimple was selected to be one of the five finalists, from an initial pool of 198 entries across the world, for the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE competition, funded by none other than billionaire innovator, Elon Musk.
“Illiteracy is the worst thing that can happen to a child. They cannot dream bigger dreams. That is just not right. I feel like this project will give a vision to the dream,” says Chimple team lead Srikanth Talapadi in a video for Xprize.
And the reward for making it into the coveted top five categories? A milestone prize of one million dollars!
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The competition challenges teams from around the world to develop an open source scalable software solution that helps children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within the 18-month competition field-testing period.
“The tests were conducted in a rural school near Bengaluru, also in Tanzania near Dar es Salaam. This is the first time we are actually developing for children who have never been exposed to a tablet or any electronic device. We wanted to put all sorts of snazzy features at a level where it is useful and understandable. What is unique to our model is we are giving a ton of games, stories and choices for the kids because no two kids are the same,” says Talapadi.
The software will gamify each aspect of the learning process and customise the rewards to each child’s ability so that every child will have a sense of achievement at the end of the learning day.
“What I hope to see is that 25 years down the line someone is going to look back and say this was when learning changed. This was when literacy changed. That’s why I am in it, ” concludes Talapadi in the Xprize video.