Bharathy Bharadwaj, Founder & CEO of Concept Learning Technologies Pvt Ltd/Math Buddy LLC
How are Math labs making students fall in love with the subject?
Mathematics is a subject which is learnt best through exploration. It is not a subject where a student can just watch a video or an animation and understand the concepts. Towards this end, we believe that a Math lab should be an integral part of every educational institution so that students can learn the concepts through interactive hands-on as well as virtual activities. When students learn Math this way, they explore, experience, and enjoy the subject, and many a times, they are made to figure out the formulae by themselves by making them observe patterns.
Once the children explore concepts with traditional instruments under the supervision of the teacher, they can practice the concepts using similar instruments in virtual space. The advantage in digital labs is that the teacher does not have to be present to see if the children are modeling correctly. The system will provide feedback to the children and the teachers can monitor their progress through detailed reports. In higher classes, digital labs can help children visualise and understand difficult concepts and help eliminate the need for rote learning. Lastly, digital labs can help bring about consistency in the teaching process especially when new teachers come in.
How do you see the adoption of Math labs across India?
We believe there is a huge potential for Math labs. Many of the schools have been using Math lab instruments for sometime to illustrate concepts. However, when we talk about a Math lab, the instruments are not to be used just for illustrating concepts, but to get students
to explore by themselves sitting in groups of four or five. More and more schools are warming up to this, and are showing interest in setting up dedicated rooms for Math labs with seven to eight sets of instruments for students to do hands-on activities.
In addition, schools are beginning to realise the benefits of virtual software based math labs where students sit in front of the computers and interactively play with activities and learn the concepts. We believe the combination of handson and virtual Math labs provides a lot of benefits and with newer technologies offering the ability to access virtual activities from desktops, tablets and even phones, the future looks very bright.
With Internet access becoming more affordable and more people going online, there is a tremendous opportunity for products that allow students to access from home as well.
We have more than a hundred schools across India including Lawrence School, Sanawar, Podar International Schools, Global Indian International Schools, Navrachana group of schools, Chennai Public Schools and many more using our solutions.
Do the schools understand the concept of teaching Math with new ways over traditional ones? Most of the schools are familiar with traditional Math labs with hands-on instruments.
However, very few have actually set up a dedicated room for a Math lab and the penetration of digital components is even lesser. However, in the past year or two, schools are beginning to see the val-ue of a complete Math lab with hands-on instruments and software, and the adoption rate is increasing. As we go forward, there is a tremendous opportunity since the penetration, even at this time, is less than one percent of the private schools, let alone government schools.
What are the innovative Math lab solutions that you offer to educational institutions?
We develop a complete range of Math lab solutions. Our flagship product is Math Buddy Digital Plus Math Lab, which is a unique combination of hands-on kits to help children explore concepts using hands-on instruments and a digital lab with more than 1,200 interactive activities to help reinforce the concepts from grades 1 to 10.
The digital lab can be accessed from classrooms for teachers to illustrate concepts as well as from a computer lab for children to interactively practice the concepts. We also have our product online to enable children to continue learning from their homes.
This year, we are also introducing Math Buddy for tablets and smartphones, which should bring down the cost of setting up a virtual Math lab tremendously and make Math learning even more enjoyable for students.