principles

*of*

No two children have exactly the same mental make-up. Every child constructs knowledge in his or her own unique way. So why should their learning paths be the same? The most effective learning programme is that which allows the child to determine her own path - so, if an 11 year old has a knack for algebra, he should be able to do even grade 10 algebra, while he goes slower in other topics.

*Effective learning takes place if the material presents a challenge that is just above the cognitive level of the student.*

Challenges motivate students, but if the challenge is too advanced for the student, she will be discouraged. A challenge has to be just at the right level - a little over her current level, enough to make her curious to learn more, but not too daunting, for it to become a motivating factor.

*Frequent exposure to appropriate learning material enhances learning.*

This is a fact often corroborated by the lament of teachers - that students forget 'everything' in the holidays. Long gaps can, in fact, often cause a fall in learning levels. A learning programme should address this problem by allowing a child to revisit any topic she wants, at any time.

*Learning through drill alone - without understanding - is not learning.*

Even as we say that frequent exposure increases the chances of better learning, it is important to note that the quality of the learning is a critical factor. More exposure to just drill questions can improve short-time rote based learning. But for real improvement, that would effect how a student develops and performs later in life - it is important to expose him to the right kind of material, which is understanding or application oriented.

*Though individual variations exist, there are universal patterns in learning - and these patterns can help children learn better.*

Research has shown that there are clearly discernible patterns in student learning. These patterns relate to concepts that students find difficult, areas where students have misconceptions, and so on. Identifying these patterns and then factoring them into a learning programme is critical for it to really help students learn better.

Students tend to find certain Maths concepts confusing and the difficult levels are not the same for every child. Repeated failure to solve sums leads the child to losing interest in the subject. At the heart of Mindspark is the theory that students learn best when they control the pace of learning. Every child has her own pace of learning. There have been several successful experiments worldwide on this. Mindspark is inspired by various such experiments.

A key advantage of Mindspark is the fact that it successfully harnesses the power of new technologies to bolster learning. An intelligent computer system uses a complex adaptive logic to decide what problem to serve up to a student next, based on her response to the current problem and problems answered earlier. The student not only learns at her pace but is allowed to clear her doubts with the help of explanations where needed. The system is able to identify when a student needs help to understand a concept, and proceeds to give her explanations that will help her move ahead.

- Learning through answering questions
- Focus on understanding
- Adaptive logic - questions always at the child's level
- Addressing common errors & misconceptions
- In-depth explanations
- Visuals and animations for effective learning

*Focus on understanding*

One of the unique features of the Mindspark programme is its focus on understanding and analytical thinking, not just knowledge of facts, or drill in procedures. For instance most Maths learning programmes available today use games to create learning. But the quality of learning being aimed at is suspect, since the focus is entirely on procedural fluency - with a lot of drill in operations rather than conceptual understanding or application.

But today, what any student really needs to move ahead in life is real understanding, and analytical ability - and that is what the Mindspark programme aims to foster. Mindspark offers a unique interactive experience of learning Maths in a fun way while making sure the child has thoroughly understood the concepts.

*Adaptive logic*

Mindspark has a built-in adaptive logic that allows a student to move at her own pace. This complex logic determines where to take the student after each question - based on her answer to the current one, and also taking into account how she has answered previous questions on that concept.

Typically, a student would select a topic like Shapes and Angles, and start with fundamental questions based on this topic. This is to ascertain that the student has a strong grounding in the topic. A student with a deeper understanding of this topic automatically moves ahead quickly to more advanced levels, while those who need to spend more time on the basics will be served up more questions of the basic level.This feature of Mindspark make learning Maths more interesting without making it difficult.

*Addressing common errors and misconceptions*

Many students have misunderstanding of basic concepts that they carry forward from an early age. It is important to identify those and help the child overcome them. Most often, a child does not try to clear these misconceptions due to a lack of opportunity or fear of embarrassment. Research through detailed student assessments provides insights on exactly where students are likely to have difficulties, and why.Mindspark questions are designed on the basis of detailed classroom studies

and research in student learning - to specifically target common student errors and misconceptions.

E.g. The student might be struggling with maths formulae which would ultimately lead her to either rote learning them and trying to apply them wherever required. This often gives birth to several misconceptions. Students start using these formulae like some rule without really understanding. Mindspark provides multiple examples and situations ensuring the rule is UNDERSTOOD not just MEMORISED.

*In-depth explanations*

Mindspark provides visual or animated explanations are rather than just textual, to facilitate quick grasping. This system of providing visual explanations allows the student to revisit the concept, and quickly figure out how to tackle subsequent problems on the concept.

*Visuals and animations for effective learning*

Over 70% of the problems in Mindspark make use of visuals and animations, either in the question, or in the explanation provided for the correct answer. This engages students and increases their interest levels. At the same time, the animations in the Mindspark programme are mostly used as serious learning tools, and not as lighthearted cartoons or games - which today's kids get an overdose of on T.V anyway!

my child?

*Clearing basic concepts and building strong fundamentals*

Mindspark has a built in adaptive logic that allows a student to move at her own pace, depending on the level of comfort in a particular concept. For instance, for a student currently in grade 8 who has not had a strong foundation in Algebra, the system will automatically serve up fundamental algebra questions that would help him clear his basics.

A special feature of the Mindspark programme is the way in which the questions are graded. The extremely fine gradation of questions allows the system to make sure that a child is truly thorough with a sub-concept, before moving on to the next. Also, it helps in pinpointing exactly where the child is having difficulties.

*Overcoming errors and misconceptions*

Many students have misunderstanding of basic concepts that they carry forward from an early age. It is important to identify those and help the child overcome them. Most often, a child does not try to clear these misconceptions due to a lack of opportunity or fear of embarrassment.

Whenever a student goes wrong in a particular type of question in Mindspark, a detailed, concept based explanation is provided for it. Often, the explanations are visual or animated rather than just textual, to facilitate quick grasping. This system of providing explanations allows the student to revisit the concept, and quickly figure out how to tackle subsequent problems on the concept.

*Promoting real understanding and analytical abilities*

One of the most unique features of the Mindspark programme is its focus on understanding and analytical thinking, not just knowledge of facts, or drill in procedures.

This is one of the key factors that really distinguish the Mindspark programme from any other learning programme. But today, what any student really needs to move ahead in life is real understanding, and analytical abilities - and that is what the Mindspark programme aims to foster.

*Understanding more advanced or complex topics*

The topics in Mindspark are not encumbered with artificial barriers of learning like classes and grade levels. This allows a student strong in a content area to go to advanced problems in that. A student who is gifted could even attempt advanced problems and topics beyond the prescribed curriculum for her grade level.

*Understanding areas of strength and weakness*

Mindspark also understands the key role that teachers and parents play to help the child learn effectively. In order to help parents and educators track a student's progress at any time, Mindspark has a system of providing detailed weekly reports.

The report provides the parents with the details of how their kid is doing in different topics and concepts.

The teacher report provides a summary and the details of how each student is progressing on different topics and concepts.

At the end of every session, the student herself gets a summary of completion, percentage correct response, response time and question-wise report.