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Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Cool Digital Study Tool For Millennium Kids

Parents are worried about how to bring up their children well in this pervasive digital world, where too much information (of the right and wrong kind) is available at their fingertips literally, through smartphones and other devices. But it’s really education, where all parents want digital enhancements to benefit their kids. While, this is slowly starting to happen, it is still not a common enough feature of most curricula.

This is something Neeraj Jewalkar, CEO of Smartur 3D found out, when he started scouting for schools for his four year old son. He realised that most schools were sticking to the tried-and-tested methods of teaching. As he told Networked India, “Use of technology in classrooms was very rare. Thus the journey of Smartur began, with a strong conviction that technology would make a transformative impact in the learning outcome of students in school.”
Smartur 3D is an e-learning Android app that is targeted towards students, ranging from kindergarten to the 12th grade. It offers 3D visualisation of key science and math concepts, using cutting edge technology, to bring those concepts to life. Having over 300 models, across grades, helps with making studying stress-free and fun. The app is targeted towards both students as well as teachers for maximum adoption. While the teachers can access it for free at present, the student pays a minimal amount for it.
Some of these models include: Human anatomy, skeleton system, digestive system, respiratory system, excretory system, animal cell, plant cell, Brain, arrangement and types of teeth, parts of the ear. sectional view of eye, bacterium, hydra, germination, parts of a flower, amoeba, animals, fruits, flowers etc. To give it more of an international flavour as well, models include 10 types of christmas trees used across USA, and important monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell etc.
This digital learning product has won the ‘Best Smart Class Product’ last year at the World Education Summit, and has been nominated for the mBillionth Award South Asia this year, in the M-Education and Learning category. The app is free to download, with some course material available for free. However, the entire app content is further available for a cost of Rs 575, for both CBSE Class 10 syllabus and Digilab, for a period of one year on a subscription basis.
The software is available for Rs 30,000 and can be used by an unlimited number of students and teachers, and as Smartur 3D’s site states, it is already being used in over 12,000 schools, by students from over 25 states. Over 6,000 teachers are engaged in their e-learning programme.
The main features of the app are:
  • Interactive 3D
  • Stereoscopic 3D
  • Augmented Reality
Of these, Augmented Reality is the most popular feature as it helps bring 3D learning content from the virtual world into the real world. Smartur 3D is used by teachers in classrooms to help explain difficult concepts to students, in an eye-catching and interactive format.
Neeraj recalls, “When we built our first version of Smartur 3D and started approaching schools, there was a lot of appreciation for the product. However we soon realized that most schools just did not have the basic hardware to run the product. This was particularly painful. Most schools lacked even a single working computer.”
“We had to go back to the drawing board and relook at the entire approach. We figured out that the only way to have Smartur 3D reach the 200 million students across the country, was to go mobile. We had to rebuild the entire product from scratch for the mobile platform all over again!”
The rebuilt product is so cool (see their videos) that it will make adults want to go back to school. And why not, with features like these in the app: Take apart individual parts, hide parts, highlight parts, set transparency, break-up the whole model, analyse parts, take a screenshot of the model, it allows for customisation, and it even has a pen tool for drawing and writing your own points on the model.
All in all, Neeraj feels the decision to go mobile was the best. He added, “Once Smartur 3D was available on mobile, we saw tremendous adoption. The most satisfying aspect was the extremely high enthusiasm of teachers from government schools in using Smartur 3D in their classrooms. We felt that the product was finally reaching the most needy lot of users.”
Smartur 3D is truly a collaborative way to study. Its content creation features lets you capture images of the model in HD (high definition) or lets teachers shoot a video, while explaining a model. They can even add a video in, while lecturing. Classroom teaching doesn’t get more interesting than this. And studying has just got so much more sass!

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