Mobile apps that make learning fun for children

WITS Interactive is set to launch the third app in its ‘Ben & Bella’ series, which help children learn English


Hitesh Jain, CEO and Director of WITS Interactive. Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint
Hitesh Jain, CEO and Director of WITS Interactive. Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint

Mumbai: Technology is no child’s play, but here’s a mobile app that says it can be part of children’s life and add fun to their learning.

Mumbai-based mobile phone developer WITS Interactive is in the third leg of developing a series of interactive mobile phone apps for kids after the successful launch of ‘Discover English with Ben & Bella: At the Zoo’ in 2013. The company is now gearing up to launch its third app called ‘Pop-up Book’ in the Ben & Bella series.

To develop the apps, the company had partnered with Germany-based publisher Early Learning Group. As part of the tie-up, the mobile app developer sources content from the German publisher, which releases books for children in preschool and school, and also has the licence to use its characters in the apps.

Hitesh Jain, who heads WITS Interactive, says the idea of a children’s app came up when the company was exploring new ways on how technology could be used in the field of education. Jain said the partnership is the “right fusion” that translates materials from the brick-and-mortar space into digital and helps make learning fun for kids.

“We have tonnes of mobile clients across the world. As we were exploring new grounds to enter, we found one field where it is pure education and extremely didactic in nature. That’s when we decided to develop apps that could be used to help kids learn English,” he said.

Jain saw the opportunity as kids these days have the habit of using their parents’ smartphone and playing games on it. “As soon as the parent comes, the kid asks for the smartphone and gets started (with games),” he said.

“Some kids prefer looking at books, while others like hands-on tasks. Some enjoy watching videos, while others need to get up and move around. In order to be successful, an educational programme for young children to learn English must address all these types of individuals,” Jain added.

‘Ben & Bella: At the Zoo’ app was developed specially for users of iPhones and iPads to encourage children aged till seven years to learn English or expand their English-learning skills. The company claims the initiative has been approved by teachers and parents alike and has received positive feedback from across the world. It has seen a large number of downloads in the US, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and India.

“Like all Ben & Bella products, it is based on the pedagogical principle of immersive learning, in which children acquire new words by simultaneously hearing and seeing them and understanding their meaning through the context,” Jain said.

The app has a full English voice-over, a read-aloud function that helps in pronunciation of words and numbers, artwork and music, interactive animal stickers and a reward screen showing a child’s achievement.

The project was launched through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and has been one of the finalists at the mBillionth Award South Asia 2014 in enhancing English-learning skills for children.

A few months ago, the firm had launched its second educative app under the ‘Ben & Bella’ series called ‘Ben & Bella Karaoke Show’. The app, which is available for iOS and Android devices, encourages kids to sing and dance to learn and develop their skills.

“Each song is presented in a variety of videos, specially created to make learning the song both easy and fun for the child,” Jain said as he explains the second app. A karaoke function in the app also allows the child to record and then save his/her performance.

Boosted by the popularity of the two apps, the firm is currently developing its third in the series called ‘Pop-up Book’ app, which will allow children to create personalised stories using animated animals and many other related objects. “We are in the third leg of our ‘Ben & Bella’ series. We hope to go for more partnerships with other publishers and use our skills to translate the existing contents for kids’ education to digital and make learning more fun,” he said.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the mBillionth and Manthan awards.

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