Education

Kerala team develops AI-powered app to save kids from ‘digital distractions’

Vinson Kurian | | Updated on: Dec 24, 2021
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Online learning has thrown up host of issues, says Sujai Pillai, co-developer

An entrepreneur duo and a group of educators in Kollam in Kerala have developed DeepStudy, a free AI (artificial intelligence)-powered mobile app, with a professed mission to ‘help out students disillusioned with today’s learning apps’ and save themselves from ‘digital distractions.’

Sujai G Pillai, CEO of DeepStudy Technologies (https://www.mydeepstudy.com) and Arun PS, Director, of THiNC Digital Learning, are the brains behind the DeepStudy app. Pillai had founded popular online portal 2tion in 2006, and also pioneered the BookBucketChallenge.

Extensive research done

Pillai has also been selected as one of 20 MyGov Ambassadors of the Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative. Arun’s THiNC is considered amongst the top design entrance coaching centres with more than 10 branches across India.

Pillai told BusinessLine that the duo and a team of co-educators had conducted extensive research and market analysis before coming up with the app that ‘helps students boost their productivity.’

“The educational sector has undergone considerable change sand technological advancements since the pandemic. Mobile phones have become an essential component of our education,” he said.

Raised stress, anxiety levels

But online education has thrown up a host of issues, including alleged deleterious impact on the mental and physical well-being of kids. Pressure to concentrate and produce the required results has resulted in a great amount of stress and anxiety, Pillai said quoting specific instances.

“Digital distractions are among the most serious health hazards to have affected children today. In many instances, they lose focus and instead drift into substance abuse, video games, and pornography.”

Worse, a Lancet study found that India has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with disproportionately large occurrence in the age group of 15-29. Besides, the World Health Organisation has in a report revealed that India has the highest suicide rate in South-East Asia.

The main reason for suicides is the failure to performs in exams, Pillai says.

“Experts say today’s pupils require 4C skills (creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking) rather than the 3R skills (reading, writing and arithmetic) of the previous century.”

DeepStudy, Pillai claims, allows pupils to focus on learning without being distracted. It also assists individuals in developing the 4C skills to learn complex information fast and generate superior results in comparably lesser time, Pillai added.

‘Fear of Missing Out’

Mushrooming digital learning companies, their aggressive marketing and celebrity endorsements instil the ’Fear of Missing Out’ and ‘Fear of Better Options’ in parents and children. In the last five years, more than 57 students have committed suicide in one of the ‘coaching capitals’ of the country.

The DeepStudy app uses the popular time-boxing method for better organising and learning. It helps tutors set up a digital classroom. Parents get the support needed to monitor their child’s performance. Students can create small groups with the ‘Study Buddy’ feature to facilitate collaborative learning.

Irene Saira Mathew, a B-Tech student at the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, has been using the DeepStudy app for some time. “The app does half my work by categorising my to-do list every day. It’s a user-friendly app and creates a time box to set a definite path towards one’s goal.“

Rajit Karunakaran, strategist and innovation evangelist, says that the app provides study plans and cohort-based learning, among other features, in a structured manner. It connects all stakeholders (students, teachers, and parents) and helps students seamlessly navigate through their learning journey.

SMART Goal setting

It also incorporates the time-tested SMART Goal setting and other tools that provide real-time monitoring of students’ progress and take corrective measures.

Gowripriya G from Marthoma High School for Girls says that DeepStudy helps her to schedule a to-do-list and organise a time box such that she is able to complete those tasks without distraction. This facility helps analyse her progress throughout the week. She also finds it user-friendly.

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US-based Tijay Panicker says that ever since his family started using DeepStudy with the time-boxing option, managing the kids has become easier. “I had tried different learning tools before, but it was always a lot of work to set up the conditions for effective learning within them. These tools were either too complicated or had too many features, if not lacking many, and were difficult to configure. When we tried DeepStudy, I was surprised at how easy it was to set up, so we started using it right away. The kids had no problems using the interface either, thanks to the highly accessible design. Everything is laid out in a straightforward way that’s easy to find.”

Dr S Senbaganathan has 27 years of experience as a Professor of Commerce and Head of Department. “As an instructor, I feel the biggest plus point of the app is its ability to make the students interact with staff whenever they want. Uploading e-books is fairly simple.”

Published on December 24, 2021

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