How can we make learning easier?
Memorising historical facts, cramming vocabulary, practicing arithmetic: it’s inconvenient. We all know that. We put it off, forget about it, and suddenly find more important things to do. Like doing the laundry or the absolute desperate need to get a glass of milk right this second. But simple solutions can often be found.
Simon is 33 years old and lives in Berlin. He is another member of the group of people that don’t enjoy learning when learning is mandatory. He spends a lot of time on buses and trains getting from one neighbourhood to another. Time, he found, that could be used more effectively. In 2012, Simon founded “Semper” (previously “UnlockYourBrain”), a micro-learning app that allows people to learn no matter where they are.
Simon explains the app as follows: “We all unlock our phones an average of 32 times every day. Our app turns this into 32 opportunities to learn vocabulary or do math problems. You can even upload your own content, complete training modules and share learning packages with other users worldwide.”
“Semper” now has more than 30,000 daily users. Users are primarily students who upload their vocabulary list to “Semper” to prepare for their next test.
The app is part of a development that is proving just how useful mobile operating systems and the mobile network can be for learning processes. You no longer have to learn; you get to learn. In passing, in your everyday life, with no pressure.
Alternative learning models are another thing Generation25 craves. Men and women between 15 and 80 got involved in the discussion on Simon’s app, coming up with productive responses to the question, “How can we make learning easier?” But it was primarily students who defined the discussion, and their suggestions proved how important it is for digital media and technology to be integrated into everyday school life. Their comments also prove that the assumption that “no one enjoys studying” is wrong. All it takes is the right tool.
Leo, 15, writes: “Integrate a lot more videos into schooling, equip classrooms with modern technology and projectors.”
Björn, 16, agrees: “Learning with the media we are all using today: smartphones, tablets and computers.”
Leo’s and Björn’s requests are paradigmatic, as is the desire for more practical experience: “More of a practical focus instead of having to memorise subject matter.” (David, 16)
It’s time for progress. “The more apps there are that make learning more fun, the better for my nieces – I would’ve loved to have these kinds of apps at their age.” (Florina, 36) “Learning has to be a game! We would all learn a lot more if knowledge were imparted more playfully.” (Andreas, 37)
Simon’s project has struck a nerve: with Generation25 and internet-savvy Germans. New technologies can help bring education to a new level and easily integrate it into everyday life. These kinds of apps make learning happen almost by itself. We just have to download them.