Framework for building learning products

A framework for building education products based on some of my experiences.

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About Buried Notes
About Buried Notes
I’ve been writing and documenting my thoughts, ideas, and observations (on myriad topics) over the last decade. But I’ve never published them. Buried Notes will be where I share these raw notes, albeit with a little polishing.
I've been thinking about it for a while. I've had a vision of what I think education ought to be and
Koyo: The Internet for Children
is what the future would look like in one form or the other. If not the exact product, the underlying hypothesis on how kids should learn (or anyone for that matter).
That I decided not to work on Koyo is something I wrote about in a little more detail:
Why I didn’t build Koyo
. But it ultimately boiled down to:
  • I didn’t feel passionate enough to build for kids
  • The sheer magnitude of the endeavor was overwhelming
Anyway, before I digress, here's how I think the best education products will be built.

Framework for building learning products

This is applicable for most learners, although Storytelling and Multimedia are more important for kids.

Storytelling & Games

The academic system suffers from tedium and a lack of imagination. The best learning happens when it feels effortless. This is mostly true for concepts and won't hold well for advanced material that is technical.
Games are an effective means for imparting the 'do' part of learning. Plus, they're quite fun! Games that enable kids to create things - art, stories, music, science experiments - are even more powerful.

Multimedia & Interactive Systems

Audio-visual content lends itself better to the purpose of storytelling. Further, the ability to interact with content through games and other rich media builds much more engaged learning systems.

Branching: Non-linear Journeys

A possibility in Koyo was the creation of an open-world scenario in terms of the exploration of a subject.
If a child is learning about the Solar System, there might be a linear path taking them from the Sun -> Mercury -> Venus -> Earth -> Mars -> ->
However, the child could jump to any of the planets or bodies (referred to as 'nodes') in the module. Further, they can choose to exit and jump to another such node at any point.
Note: However, jumping to various nodes might be limited by design. There may be some artificially induced friction focused on the need for knowledge in the present node to be acquired to jump nodes.

Down the Rabbit Hole

If you're fascinated by something, you can go as deep as you like into the topic.

Networked Thought & Connected Ideas

When you read something. It makes you think about another thing you've read or known before. How are they connected? What else is connected to it? Zoom out and see how entities/nodes/mems are connected.

Random Discovery, Homonyms, Warps

I'm reading about the planet Mars only to discover that it features in a lot of pop culture - movies, books, music, etc. More fascinating is its presence in mythologies across the world. The ability to switch from the planet Mars to the Mars of mythology through a Warp is one of the key tenets of Koyo.

This isn't a complete framework. But this is what I've learned while exploring the space of learning and education.
I drew on my experiences as a child going through the system and as an adult in engineering school + professional life.
Spending time speaking with educators, kids, parents, and builders in the education space also helped significantly.
I was fortunate to lead an engineering competition for students to build a payload for the TeamIndus lunar mission, working with 25 teams from 7-odd countries and a jury comprising an astrophysicist, a former chairman of ISRO, and a former chairman of the European Space Agency.
In addition, I also contributed to the launch of Moonshot Wheels, a bus that traveled 12,000 km across India taking space education to kids in government schools. It was a humbling experience working with kids who have lesser opportunities.
Far from making me an expert, these experiences made me realize how little I know. However, I hope this helps you build a better learning product.
Feel free to reach out if you'd like to have a chat.