Entry for Tech for Good Hackathon
25-27 January 2022
TBD - a team under Well-Being Adda, Enactus IIIT Delhi
- Cyrus Monteiro
- Deep Sharma
- Prakhar Bhargava
Theme: Skilling and Scaling Remote Education
Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/Yo8xyBJ2Za8
Idea and the Thought Process
By the age of 7 years, a child reaches the age where most of their neural architecture is developed, where the child establishes most of the neural connection and develops the logical mind. which makes it the most important learning phase of life for a person. In these 7 years, play, observations, social interactions and specialised education act as the primary building blocks of building a strong neural network architecture.
But, with Pandemic stretching for more than 2 years, social isolation and physical restrictions children between the ages of 1-7 have been affected the most in their brain maturation phase, which has the potential to impact them for the rest of their life.
Realising the need for a whole rounded cognitive development of a child while imparting education, we came up with ‘AR Playground’ an educational game, targeting different aspects of learning and cognitive development.
Restricted in small physical spaces at home, with parents unequipped with teaching methodologies for children of this age group, there is a hidden problem which is arising, the problem of declining cognitive development of children, which is visible with the learning difficulties faced by children.
While the problem is widely discussed in different research aspects, little has been done to address the problem area. “We find that children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic. Moreover, we find that males and children in lower socioeconomic families have been most affected.” (Deoni et al., 2021)
This made our research more in this area, and come up with a solution to cater to this problem.
Our primary problem areas include:
- The problem of declining cognitive and sensory-motor development of children
- Social isolation of children, impacting their Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
- Restriction of children in confined areas, owing to the kind of lifestyles families (generally nuclear now) have in cities.
- Unavailability of the methodologies and time for parents to be able to fill the gaps of teachers.
- The overall impact of the above-mentioned problems, on the overall development and learning of children.
AR Playground attempts to use the emerging technology of Augmented Reality to create an experiential learning experience, revolving around the fundamental learning and cognitive development of children.
With the amalgamation of intentional play and the just-right challenge (Costa, 2008), we have created a game, which involves tasks requiring muscle movement, sensory integration to teach children the basics of curriculum according to the age of the child. With the limited housing set-up, we aim to revisualize the empty spaces of the room and utilise them as a part of the play.
The child can learn about phonetics and alphabets with reimagined alphabet learning experience involving hearing, speaking and seeing - sensory experiences with movement and running around the room picking up objects with the matching alphabets or phonetics.
They can be involved in sorting out different colour objects and then rearranging and stacking them according to shapes, sizes.
Or they can be left to their own devices, but to reimagine and create their own little worlds, with augmented reality playing blocks, which can allow them to build their houses and experience the spaces in 3-dimensional space (and even allowing them to see it from inside)
The possibilities are endless, and our endeavours are not limited to this. We are still building on the activities, allowing a holistic development experience according to different age groups and course materials, which can be used by parents/ guardians for their children of any economic background in any physical space, with the convenience of a handheld phone.`
Creating an impact in the social sphere
Technology is advancing at an ever-growing pace, a lot of innovation is being done in the ed-tech space catering to different people of different educational levels across economic strata. However, the focus on innovation has been highly skewed towards the education of high school students and young professionals, mostly perceived as the “market consumers” of ed-tech. There has been little to no attempt to address the gaps in education prevalent in the primary education sector, which is the most crucial age group for fundamental development in the cognitive as well and learning sphere of life.
Our idea has the ability to provide experiential learning to children at home, who currently do not have the possibility to get specialized education and share of time. Underprivileged refers to someone who does not enjoy the same standard of living or rights as others and is deprived of the resources available to the rest, which forces us to not turn a blind eye to those who do not attain complete basic cognitive development and allied learning due to unaffordability of toys, resources, and lack of time and specialised skills for parents to help their children in their day to day learning.
Technological innovation catalysing social change.
As technology has been actively playing a role in bringing a change, a lot of it is restricted for those who can afford the technology. Virtual reality, expensive gears, phones, child development toys and other gizmos have made learning an even more expensive affair. Taking a step to make primary learning more affordable, we created an AR-based game, helping children grasp basic, yet essential concepts like alphabets, numbers, shapes and colours in their pre-educational skill age. AR has always been a futuristic concept where augmented displays and widgets are used as computer interaction systems.
Different educational apps have already been developed commercially to give life to textbook photos and videos to show a three-dimensional view of the diagrams and objects, however very little has been done to go beyond it, and there are little to no advancements in seeing AR as a medium of imparting knowledge and brain development.
Our idea has the potential to transform the learning curriculum to more experiential learning and inclusion of Montessori classes even in the non-specialised schools of the low tier cities.
It can be said that this product has the ability to cater for the immediate needs of bridging the gap of online learning and school’s specialised education and at the same time the potential to look into the long term needs of Montessori education in areas where Montessori is still an expensive and distant learning opportunity.
Being Open-sourced, the app would be totally free and people would be able to contribute to the game libraries. Different learning modules teaching different skills could be added by the contributors, primarily focussing on the 0-7 age group where the primary goals include object permanence, understanding cause and effect, functional use of objects, representational plays in 0-2 age groups, symbolic play, pre-academic learning for 3-5 age group and logical thinking and abstract reasoning in the 4-7 age group. Sensorimotor skill development, Social-Emotional development being the other core ingredients in the module development, this idea would revolutionalise primary learning.
During the development of the game, the following tools were used to build the app:
Software development tool: Unity 3D
Unity Plugins: Fantom
UI prototyping tool: Figma
Technology: Augmented Reality on Android (ARCore, Unity XR)
Other tools: Git, Visual Studio, Kandi
Costa, D. (2008). Just as we grade treatment activities for clients to meet the just-right challenge, so too does the ﬁeldwork educator grade assignments for the student that will lead to eventual mastery of entry-level. 2.
Deoni, S. C., Beauchemin, J., Volpe, A., D’Sa, V., & the RESONANCE Consortium. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Early Child Cognitive Development: Initial Findings in a Longitudinal Observational Study of Child Health [Preprint]. Paediatrics. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.10.21261846