Vidhatanand, Co-Founder & CEO, Vocabmonk, talks about the role of the company in fostering skill development
How did you get the idea of coming up with Vocabmonk?
The idea of Vocabmonk originated out of my own experience in college. Like most of the students in this high-tech world, I could not develop an aptitude for reading or writing until my high school days. And even then, I was not such an avid reader. Hence, it became an uphill task to build a sufficient vocabulary. My friends and acquaintances faced a similar problem.
I realised this was a real world problem and started digging further in linguistic science. I ended up spending a lot of time researching over lexical learning and vocabulary acquisition. I figured out ‘vocabulary is an abstract skill’ and every student has a different lexical size depending on various factors like reading habits, education over the years, etc and reached to the conclusion that vocabulary building should be personalised.
There are active and passive ways of learning new words; passive learning like subconscious acquisition of new words, which is very slow and hence, people resort to active methods like using flash cards and word-lists, but again active methods are very boring and mundane, eventually becoming highly demoralising for students. Also, most students give up on this midway. Hence, the drive to make learning fun and engaging, struck me.
In my research process, I started interacting with a lot of teachers on what was their take on vocabulary building. They all agreed on the need of personalised vocabulary building. Vocabulary building is not the prime focus of teaching in the class along with which there also lies an assumption that students may be working on it after classes. However, in such a state of affairs, there is no mechanism, which cross checks or confirms that vocabulary building is taken care of. Hence, there exists a need to develop an easier yet effective mechanism that not only caters to students, but also teachers by making it easily accessible.
Premising on the research, I decided to build first-of-its-kind vocabulary building tool, Vocabmonk.
How do you assist students, teachers and parents through the platform?
Vocabmonk is a cloud-based vocabulary building platform. Students can access it from mobile and desktop as well. It allows the students to take ownership of learning without any hesitation of getting observed. High level of game mechanics is a major magnet, which has boosted participation and engagement levels of students, for instance, one of the most popular features is taking vocab-challenges against friends and classmates on Vocabmonk, which has been a hit.
In addition to it, this platform also assists the teachers to monitor the progress of the students and give valuable data as reports, which will let them give effective individual attention. We have made sure the teachers, who are not so tech savvy also, get access to useful reports via our offline reporting process.
Apart from that, the engagement of parents towards their children’s progresscan also be observed regularly with ease. The automatic updates about their children’s plan, work and progress can be scrutinised in a fruitful manner using SMS and email.
The gamification and reward systems have shown a dramatic inclination in terms of participation, by ensuring not only implementation, but also effective usage.
Please share your views on skill education in India?
Skill development is hardly focussed in our country. Education or rather literacy is still, at least procedurally, focussed at. Therefore, we find that even at an intra-institutional level, skills do not come to all uniformly. The belief in merit is taken at face value, implying that each student has a personal and ‘natural’ aptitude for skill development. But in my view, it depends on what in sociology is called ‘life-chances’. So skills do not come naturally, but can be developed. And Vocabmonk is one of the platforms that can help foster skill development.