The what, why & how of Holistic Development
Can technology be the tool that augments learning, growth and overall development of kids?
It is 2021, an era where we are still recovering from Covid-19. An era where education is at least partially, if not fully remote. An era where entertainment, games and sports, all have technology at their epicenter. And that is why I think it is the right time now to think about holistic development of kids growing up in such times. Technology is no more an option rather a necessity. So, let’s ask what would holistic development look like for kids in these times? And can technology be the tool that augments learning, growth and overall development of kids.
I was lucky! I got my first computer at the age of 7. And as kids, we used to connect over Nintendos, MS DOS games and of course the gameboy. As I went to high school, mobile phones were introduced into the Indian Market at a huge scale. I still remember, my first phone was a Nokia 1100. We played the game snake on it and sent jokes over messages.
By the time I went to college, smart phones had been introduced. It was a fresh way to look at things. INTERNET ON PHONE!!! WOW.
But at present it’s 2021, and almost every kid has access to some kind of smart devices as soon as they gain cognition. So, as people working in education, childcare, kids’ health and overall development, we have to catch up faster to make sure that the development of kids is taken care of.
Technology is not just a new way of fun but also a great resource, which, when used the right way can open doors for kids to connect with the world and broaden their horizons. As Equally, we are closely working on it.
Misconceptions about the negative impact of tech on learning & why it matters
Most of the kids who have access to technology are unfortunately getting products in Ed-tech that are NOT that fun, engaging or creative. Essentially it seemed that we were trying to just get the existing education systems online or make it digital. Now for the 7 year old me, this would have been exciting. But remember, these kids of today are already having access to Minecraft, Fortnite, Pokemon Go and so on. So, education technology has to compete with these solutions or if not, then work in collaboration with them.
Second, when I did more research, I realized that the kids who had no access to quality education, schools or teachers, will be lagging behind many many centuries. So, if we can’t get them the best teachers, let’s bring them the best tech solution out there. NO?
So, remembering that technology is good or bad depending on what we make of it is going to be key while thinking of solutions that can make kids excited, engaged and mindful at the same time. We practice this pedagogy at Equally which is known as a very important learning theory called ZPD (Zone of proximal development).
So what if we built solutions that could help kids figure solutions on their own and with the help of a guide or peers. This will maintain engagement and reduce the sole dependence on technology.
As an educator, it literally breaks my heart to see kids addicted to screens and becoming passive learners. So, trust me when I say, we can do better at using innovative tech. These solutions will make kids active, problem solvers and ready for the future of work.
At Equally, we launch Da Vinci Club in 2018. As the name suggests, we wanted kids to discover a range of interests on the platform. As the kids started exploring, movement and mindfulness was key. This started building unique learning pathways for kids. First was the kids learning from their own environment which increased personalization. This has been an important aspect for us because when we were building an MVP of Da Vinci Club, we tried it out in 5 different countries to understand and learn what we could do better.
In 2016 we took our product to Tanzania, as part of Global Learning Xprize, which is a $15M prize sponsored by Elon Musk. The teachers in Tanzania brought such a valid point of the curriculum not being personalized to the kids’ needs there and this made us think.
WHY DO WE WANT EVERY CHILD TO LEARN THE SAME CURRICULUM?
Why can't we see what the kids need based on their surroundings and circumstances?
Why can’t we give kids more than just a school curriculum and help them grow holistically? Think social skills, mindfulness, nutrition, financial literacy and collaboration.
And this is when we realized that we as a company needed to work more to create a platform that gives ALL of the above to the kids out there.
Now, the kids use Da Vinci club and move actively, explore infinitely and collaborate globally.
As parents, teachers, schools or any other stakeholders, I know how hard this last year has been. Education is the toughest thing to provide a kid. You are responsible for a human beings future. So first of all, I want to commend every teacher and parent out there. YOU ARE THE REAL HEROES. You really are building and nurturing our future. So here we are, Equally is built for kids, for teachers and for parents. Our research happens in Finland at Education Alliance Finland. (Link: https://educationalliancefinland.com/products/davinci-club-ar)
Here we received 91% in pedagogy. We are on a mission to help kids grow holistically and build their own unique paths in life. We are in no hurry to reach this goal. This is not just a startup, but our life’s work.
I truly think we should stop thinking about all the negative things that are brought up with technology and entertainment, and instead focus on HOW we can truly utilize technology to enhance and support the holistic development of children in a way that is FUN, ENTERTAINING and as engaging as the games your children are already playing on smart device.