Click is in Malawi to see a teaching app that could have huge potential in classrooms around the world. Plus an anonymous messaging app to combat bullying.
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This week, Click is going back to school
to get under the skin of education.
We're in Malawi to see a teaching app that could have
huge potential in classrooms around the world...
and in the US, where students are using anonymous messaging apps
to combat bullying.
Plus, it's time to limber up and learn a new routine.
Welcome to Click. I'm Spencer Kelly.
For much of the world, this week is back-to-school week,
so we're all about education for you on today's programme.
This is the music technology room
at Brockenhurst College in the south of England
and this place has been working closely with IBM
to study that most peculiar of creatures...
More on that later.
But we start in the developing world,
where schools can't possibly offer this level of technology.
We often feature projects which try to redress this by, for example,
distributing tablets and laptops to the kids.
But worthy as they are,
we do find ourselves asking how effective they can possibly be.
Well, one project that we've been following in Malawi
has actually proved to have so much educational benefit
that it might be brought out of Africa and back to the UK.
Welcome to the school run, Malawi-style.
The seventh poorest country in the world,
educational resources are already overstretched...
and that was before the recent population boom which now means
that nearly half of Malawians are under the age of 14.
There are a huge number of children in the classroom,
90 per teacher on average.
And in some schools, there are classes of 300 or more.
This is the solution - at least according to one charity.
It's something called the "onebillion" app
For half an hour a day,
each child gets a special maths teacher all to themselves.
It is being developed by Andrew Ashe
who, with his long connection with Malawi
and his business developing language teaching apps,
thought this might make the difference.
Children are taken out of their class a few at a time
and each given a tablet running the app.
It only takes a few minutes to learn,
and all the instructions are in the local language, Chichewa.
The app assumes kids have had no previous formal maths learning
and, crucially, each can progress at their own rate.
Learning is broken down into fun tasks and easy steps
and there's a test at the end of each level.
If you pass, you get a certificate and you can move onto the next.
The kids in the small groups trialling this programme have found,
in a short time, their scores are not simply improving,
they are rocketing.
Now, this project is a little different from the similar schemes
we've seen before because it caught the attention of researchers
at Nottingham University in the UK
and they wanted to try a little experiment.
Back home, they decided to test out the app
they'd seen in Malawi on children in this Nottingham school.
After translating the app into English,
it was handed out to these four and five-year-olds here
at the Dunkirk Primary School.
Group learning was carried out in the same way as in Malawi,
daily 30-minute sessions with their progress monitored.
In Malawi, the choice is an app teacher
or almost no teacher attention at all.
But surely here, where schools have far more resources,
this app wouldn't make that much of a difference.
Well, it turns out it did.
Nottingham University's study found that six weeks using the app
accelerated the maths learning of these children
by between 12 and 18 months.
What was incredible about this was that in both countries,
we saw this same gain.
One week of working on the iPads for 30 minutes a day
lead to three months of formal education.
That sounds incredible. How did you feel when you saw those results?
Well, we were amazed.
One thing that the Malawian and British children have in common
is that neither started with any formal maths learning.
That seems important, but why did it get such good results?
So one of the reasons I think the app works is that the children
get immediate feedback on getting a question right.
If they don't get it right, they can't progress,
but when they do get it right,
they get a big yellow checkmark and they get a nice ping.
And that immediate feedback is really rewarding to the children.
When you get close, when you get them all, you can win a certificate.
Oh, no. What are we going to do now?
-Do you like playing these computers?
-They're not computers, they're iPads!
-Oh, I'm sorry.
'And those rewards were doing their job for sure.'
COMPUTER RECORDING CHEERS
But even if the children enjoy using the tablets,
is it right to encourage it?
After all, many parents are trying to cut down their kids' screen time.
We found that after half an hour, most of the children said, you know,
"No, we've had enough now, we want to go and carry on playing."
Because they love playing outside, they love playing with each other.
Thank you very much. Thank you, thank you.
My little boy goes to school very soon so I'm a nervous parent,
and I'm worried whether he's going to be learning enough
and whether he's going to have enough fun.
I'm sure these guys, for the rest of each day,
do have a riot and throw things and make things.
But what's really interesting is the half hour that they spend doing this
each day seems to be really quiet and really focused.
I really do get the feeling
that they are actually learning stuff here.
Kids in the UK have a future guaranteed to be more or less
connected to technology like this.
In Malawi, that is far from the case.
But onebillion believes its ambition of teaching
the entire nation's children just the very basics in maths
will have a profound effect on their future.
If you haven't got access to basic education,
if you're not even numerate, you can't do anything.
Even selling tomatoes at a market stall is denied to you.
So these children, it's so important that they get these basic skills.
And numeracy is a key skill, a fundamental...
It's almost a human right.
Running this app nationwide in Malawi
will certainly be a challenge.
But after seeing plenty of technologies being stripped
to basics and repurposed for use in the developing world,
it is refreshing to see that something originally made for Africa
can work just as well in the rest of the world, too.
'Now, if you could give me a couple of minutes,
'I really want to get that next certificate!'
And we'll show you what this college has been doing to help
its students in a couple of minutes
after we hear which technology stories have been making
the most noise this week.
DISCORDANT PIANO KEYS
It's been a revealing week for celebrities
who have iCloud accounts.
Some were hacked and private photos published on internet forum sites.
Apple suggested the hackers managed to work out
the login credentials of victims.
The company said there was no evidence of a breach
of its security systems.
The FBI is now looking into the case.
A new virtual reality headset by Samsung was one of the highlights
of Europe's largest consumer electronics expo, IFA.
Samsung also showed off a new smartphone with a touch screen edge
and a smart watch with its own SIM Card, capable of making calls
without the need to be paired with a mobile device.
In next week's show,
we'll have a full round-up of the IFA show from Berlin.
And a 3-D printer is about to boldly go
where no 3-D printer has gone before.
A small desktop printer is scheduled to head into the final frontier
aboard a SpaceX resupply mission which could be aboard
the International Space Station in a matter of weeks.
It's hoped that astronauts will be able to print the objects
they need on a mission, rather than wait for the next rocket to turn up.
Jennifer and Katie are starting a new year
here at Brockenhurst College.
A shared interest in microbiology has brought these two together
on the college's new, private social network.
The teacher can get involved in the community that's created,
but it's mainly for the students.
They can find information about their course, watch videos,
share work and even chat with other students
at a sister college in China.
You can follow different groups, people, pages,
whatever you want to follow, really.
It's all part of a trial being run by IBM which is looking at ways
of analysing data to give staff here
a better understanding of their students.
And behind this dashboard,
there certainly is a lot of data-crunching going on.
IBM calls it predictive analysis,
using data provided by students before they arrived at college
to tailor their course to the way that they learn.
During term time, the system is also capable of spotting those
who might be underperforming by monitoring social media.
Would you look for keywords once they're on the course
like, "I'm bored," or
"I'm not enjoying this, I'd rather go out than do this studying?"
Is that the sort of thing that's possible with this?
It's possible and of course it comes down to preferences
of how the college wants to implement it
and what students want to make available.
But like any consumer experience,
if you want to make that information available and it means
your experience is more positive as a consequence,
then people will tend to do that and it will build momentum.
Brockenhurst Principal Di Roberts
thinks this technology will help the team spot struggling students.
It's a development of what we already do.
We have a system by which we share information about students.
So in one particular class, how is this student working?
In another particular class, are they doing as well?
And that's shared amongst teachers, shared amongst personal tutors.
What the predictive analytics will do is give us greater depth.
So it's not just a teacher saying,
"Well, I'm not sure this student is doing particularly very well.
"Can somebody else tell me how they're doing in their class?"
We will have the analytic information that says this student,
with this sort of profile, is possibly at risk.
So if your students interact with the college on social media,
on Facebook or Twitter, they can expect what they say to be monitored
and absorbed into the system, taken into account?
Absolutely. It's a little bit like Amazon,
when you go online and you get followed around.
It's not going to be like Big Brother,
but in terms of being able to remind students,
"Are you working at your full capacity?
"If you do this, you will go up a grade."
So the technology does, in theory, allow for you to spot keywords?
-Is it something you would think about doing?
To yours and the students' advantages?
It is definitely around consent.
What you don't want to feel...
And certainly, I know when I was 16 and 17,
I didn't want to feel I had somebody watching over my shoulder.
But, in a way, when they come into an educational setting,
they are aware that we will be looking out for them.
We'll be making sure they're not getting into difficulty.
And I think if it's explained how that will operate
and they do consent, then yes.
But I really think what we don't want to do is put students off
by thinking they don't have an outside life
to the life that's about education.
They overlap. They integrate and they're very much interconnected.
But students do deserve to have the privacy.
But increasingly, because it's on Facebook,
more students probably wouldn't have an objection,
because it's something they're used to sharing.
But it would have to be with their consent.
We're certainly putting more of our lives online
and from an earlier age these days.
But there is a growing trend towards social networking apps,
like Yik Yak, Secret and Whisper,
which hide our online identities.
But anonymity comes with its own set of challenges,
as Jonathan Blake has been finding out in Atlanta.
Life is pretty good for Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll.
Just out of college and barely into their twenties,
they've developed anonymous messaging app Yik Yak.
It lets users share posts with everyone nearby,
whilst hiding their identity.
From this low-key office in Atlanta's Tech Village,
Yik Yak is riding a wave.
Anonymity online has never been so popular.
This idea is nothing new but we really lucked out on its timing.
I think everyone's used Twitter and Facebook,
where your identity is brightly cast out on the internet.
Now they want some more privacy.
You know, "Where can I go on the internet and post things
"that I can't talk about on Facebook cos my teacher is on there
"and my mom is on there," and all of that.
So they just want a sense of privacy
where they can freely express ideas and communicate with other people.
Yik Yak was aimed at college students,
perfect for sharing all the details about life on campus.
But when the app took off in high schools,
it led to security scares and handed cyber bullies
a new and particularly nasty weapon.
An alert tonight on an app that's called Yik Yak and why every parent
really should know if their son or daughter has it
in tonight's Daily Dot Com.
I first heard about it at nine o'clock in the morning
and I'd say by noon, every student had it on their phone.
Teachers were downloading it, administrators were looking at it.
It became a sort of competition of who could post the meanest thing.
Everyone trying to top each other in terms of how funny it was
and also how mean it was.
Yik Yak responded using the location-based nature of the app
to block it from certain areas.
Yik Yak plotted the location of schools and, using the GPS technology
within smartphones, was able to disable the app in those areas.
It's now blocked from at least 85% of US schools.
Try downloading Yik Yak here and it's no good.
I get a pop-up saying it looks like I am near a school
and messaging is disabled and that's the geo-blocking in action.
But despite the problems many schools have had with anonymous messaging,
this one is embracing technology and anonymity with an app of its own.
Every student here at Irmo High School in South Carolina
is issued with an iPad.
As well as a teaching aid, the tablets are also being used as a way
for the school authorities to monitor what is happening.
An app called Anonymous Alerts allows students to tip off teachers
about any problems or concerns they may have.
"Two young males got into a fight."
Time, where it happened, when it happened,
and if you know the person's name and what they look like,
you can describe it there in that area.
Despite a few hoax reports and false alarms,
many students here say it's made them feel safer.
There was a kid and he had a gun behind me
and he pulled it out of his book bag and I turned around and saw it.
At that moment, I was kind of in shock.
I didn't know whether or not to get up and go to the teacher
or to sit there or to leave.
If I'd had the app, I would have definitely, at that moment, gone on
and probably gotten up to leave the classroom.
Every school leader in this country is very cognisant of the fact
that any day you come to work could be the day
that we are on the news for something horrible.
And I think it gives us in our building a sense of...
I don't want to say false security,
because you can never be 100% secure,
but it gives us additional security that we feel as though we have done
everything we possibly can to try to prevent anything that could occur.
I've been asked to do many unusual things on this programme,
but I have to say...
never before ballet.
Come on, Spencer, let's go this way.
'OK, so how did I end up in this mess?
'Well, I was kind of tricked into it by an intriguing app
'made by Dutch developers Game Oven.
'Bounden asks you to find a partner and together hold a smartphone.
'Without letting go, you then have to twist and turn it together
'to move the cross hairs around this little globe.
'The phone's motion sensors make this a very precise job
'and before you know it, you're recreating the moves
'the choreographer had in mind.
'Well, that's the idea, anyway. This is how it's supposed to look.'
So how did Game Oven's Adriaan de Jongh
come to be working with a ballet company?
We started thinking,
"OK, this is apparently a way we can make people move together.
"But this is the way to do it.
"What are the actually movements that they're going to be doing?"
So we were looking around and thinking,
"Well, maybe we should get a choreographer on the team."
So we just, you know, called the Dutch National Ballet.
Well, unfortunately, we only have one expert dancer in the room at the moment,
although we do seem to be making a little bit of progress.
'My extremely patient dance partner, Julia Gillespie, used to dance
'with Game Oven's collaborators, the Dutch National Ballet.
'She's now with the Rambert Dance Company on London's South Bank.'
-How do I always end up like this?
So does she think that Bounden can give you a balletic boost?
It's good for partnership and our movements but the footwork...
We have to work on our footwork, I think.
Who would you recommend this for?
Beginners that haven't perhaps done a dance class before.
A nice way to get close and learn how to dance together.
'Perhaps, then, Adriaan and his team are thinking about more
'about how you feel than how you move.'
I think games as a medium have explored only a limited amount
of emotions and experiences.
There's so many more things that we can do.
It's a bit more like Twister than a dance, I have to say.
'Now, let's face it. There's clearly much more to ballet
'than moving a phone through the air but, well, it's a start
'and it does make a refreshing change from flinging birds at pigs.'
And relax. Thank you, Julie. Take five.
And now we will cross to...
-We will cross to...
..the Webscape studio,
where I can imagine Kate Russell can teach us a thing or two.
-(Can you help me down, please?)
There's no real substitute for pen and paper when you're learning,
but these days, kids need to grow up understanding how to use
digital notebooks and sketch pads as well,
or they could be left behind.
For artistic impulses and jotting down notes,
Paper by FiftyThree is a great example of what's available for iOS.
I'll confess, I don't normally take the time to read the instructions
when I try a new app out.
So I was a little bit lost with Paper to begin with.
But once I rewound and discovered the pinch and swipe peculiarities
of interfacing with this app,
I found it extremely elegant and intuitive.
For arty Android users, there are a few choices too.
I like Artflow as it has a huge selection of brushes and tools.
You can even export to a Photoshop file to work on a sketch
in more detail later.
And it has a nifty feature called "palm rejection",
so you won't accidentally zoom in resting your hand on the screen.
The basic features are free,
with in-app purchases for the more detailed stuff,
and if your Android already has a stylus,
you won't need to shell out for that extra too.
There are lots of great examples of apps created by kids.
I love this iPhone app,
by a seven-year-old called Leah and her dad Irwin,
Minihug, which helps parents monitor how much time quality time
they're spending away from their technology
playing with their children.
Apps can also be a great way to teach kids,
and this week, the Staffordshire Police Force in the UK
has launched a Flappy Bird-style game called Kash Dash,
that aims to help young people understand how to stay safe online.
If your mind needs further expansion,
the legendary lectures of Nobel prize-winning physicist
Richard Feynman are now all available free
on the Feynman Lectures website in text form.
If you prefer video, the Microsoft Tuva project has remastered
seven of the great physicist's lectures filmed in the 1960s
and presented them with annotations
and links to further educational material.
And mathematically, we can write that great law down in a formula,
some kind of a constant times the product of the two masses
divided by the square of the distance.
Kate Russell's Webscape concluding today's lesson.
Hope you've enjoyed our educational special from Brockenhurst College,
and if you'd like more from us throughout the week,
do check out our website.
If you'd like to get in touch, you can tweet us or e-mail us.
That is it for now, though.
Thank you for watching and we'll see you next time.