A mobile application enables students to learn subjects related to their syllabus beyond the classroom.
A MALAYSIAN technology start-up is giving new meaning to travel and study with a new mobile application, which allows a student or a whole class to learn subjects related to their school syllabus at points of interest outside classrooms.
The Education Travel App by BeED (Beyond Education) is being touted by its founders as Uber for both educators and learners.
“This is going to be the next Uber for schools. We are a school with no teachers or buildings,” said BeED academic director Michael Chian.
The app was developed by Chian along with co-founders Jimmy Koah and Glavinder Singh, who initially self-funded the project before receiving RM2.8mil from a local investor this year.
The app currently provides educational content in Malaysia, Indonesia,Thailand and Vietnam.
Via the app, a class excursion to the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia can include activities and questions on geometry, trigonometry while at the KL Tower or literature at the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam.
Chian said an international school in Kuala Lumpur successfully conducted a trial run with the app with 400 students during a school excursion to Bali.
There the students were prompted by the app, he said, to measure the pH levels of the sea and nearby natural salt water pond and to answer a series of questions on why the acidity of the sea was so much higher.
Chian said the students could also see marine life thriving in the pond while the sea was polluted due to sewage flowing into it and this caused the high acidity.
The emphasis of the app, Chian said, is to provide experiential learning.
“Basically, our kids are already running around and playing with their handphones. Why not allow them to learn something useful in line with their school syllabus,” he said.
Teachers or parents, he said, can also monitor their activities and answers while students can reflect on what they learnt.
“A lot of people today don’t do journals and diaries. We are bringing it back through the app,” he said.
The app also allows students to post pictures, audio and videos to substantiate their answers to questions besides sharing their travel experiences over social media.
Although the app currently caters to secondary school students, Chian foresees it being expanded over time to include learning experiences for undergraduates and primary school pupils.
“You may one day be able to go to the Great Barrier Reef to learn about marine biology or Prague to learn about architecture,” he said.
Koay pointed out all information including activities and questions about a particular destination, is available on the app.
“All the learning experiences can also be downloaded into the app and teachers will be able to see the answers, make corrections or offer feedback,” he said.
Chian said schools and parents can sign-up for the app, which will have a world map with available locations and subjects.
“They can also choose if they want lower or upper secondary level learning and make a choice.”
Chian said the app will also provide an opportunity for teachers and individuals not only in Malaysia but around the world to contribute content or lessons from their home country.
A teacher, who produces a learning experience (for example about KL Tower), he said, will stand to get RM12.60 (out of the RM18 charged by the company) every time their content is downloaded and used by subscribers.
Chian said the content on the app is rated by users including students, parents and teachers.
Koay pointed out the rating would enable the company to monitor the quality of each learning experience provided by teachers.
He added they wanted to create a win-win situation with teachers because this would enable the company to grow much faster.
Currently to develop a learning experience, he said, they had to send their academic writers abroad to verify information. “It would be better to have local contributors writing about locations in their cities, which they are already familiar with,” he said.
Glavinder said the app also provides a host of other services, such as flights, hotels, ground transportation and travel insurance.