Amit Bansal, Founder and CEO, Wizklub

Amit Bansal is the CEO & Founder of WizKlub. He is a serial entrepreneur with over a decade in start-up experience across three edtech ventures; and 10 years of corporate experience across strategy, business development, technology, product management and marketing for consumer and enterprise technology products across India and North America. His earlier ventures include Xcelerator and PurpleLeap.  Amit holds an MBA in Marketing from XLRI, Jamshedpur.

  1. How can a student’s cognitive skills be nurtured and developed through education tools?

Let’s refer to the famous Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning (or cognition) for understanding this better. Whenever a student is learning something new, the student can operate at various levels of learning as defined by Bloom’s Taxonomy. At the bottom is the ability to remember and recall the information. After that is the ability to use that information productively to solve problems, make decisions and create new work. All these skills, other than memory and recall, are called Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) and are largely responsible for making a student a smarter learner and adept problem solver. 

Most students who do not develop these skills in the elementary years, rely on Rote Memorization as a primary method of learning and solving problems. Such students struggle to do well in high stake exams and rewarding careers that require HOTS.

The best time to develop higher cognition functions is by the age of 12-13 years. In this age, the best way to develop HOTS in this age is to give them stimulus in respective areas of Comprehension, Critical Thinking, Logical Thinking, Creativity and Problem Solving. If kids don’t get the requisite inputs to develop these skills, they get used to learning and solving problems by Rote. 

  1. Can you elaborate on the importance of Higher Order Thinking Skills in developing a student’s cognitive skills?

The careers are changing rapidly and it is expected that 70% of school kids today will be working on jobs tomorrow that don’t even exist today. Further, the average lifespan of a new career would be as low as 2-3 years. This means that this generation would need to be lifelong and efficacious learners who need to constantly connect the new information with the existing knowledge. 

Secondly, all repetitive jobs would be done by machines in the future, which means that humans would be working on problems that are new problems and require complex problem solving skills. Essentially, people need to be efficient and effective at solving new problems and learning new stuff. Both these require people to operate beyond Memory and Recall and be good at Higher Order Thinking Skills. 

Research around the world proves that the aptitude or Higher Order Thinking Skills get developed in the first 13-14 yrs of an individual. The graph from research of Center for Developing Child, Harvard University, indicates that the Higher Cognition Functions get developed in the early years and plateau at the age of 14 yrs. This is the best period to develop HOTS and largely determines the aptitude of an individual through life. 

WizKlub R&D team has extensively researched the area of skill development under Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). The team has broken down this complex area of HOTS in 36 individual skills. Each skill is further graded on 8 levels of complexity. Each week, the student masters one skill. 

A student starts with a WizKlub proprietary “Level Mapping Test” that gives a report of a student’s existing level across skill areas. The Personlization engine then ensures that the student is given each skill at one’s existing level to ensure maximum learning efficacy. 

For instance, one of the skills under Comprehension is Main Idea. A student at level 1 starts with simple exercises. The student is given 4 words such as Cat, Dog, Pet and Fish and the student has to figure out which one word describes all the other words. Then the student moves to sentences describing other sentences, getting the main idea from a story and then eventually is able to figure out the unstated main idea in a story or article. 

Higher Order Thinking Skills, just like skills like cycling and swimming, once developed remain with you for a lifetime. 

3.How has technology helped in evolving learning to be more interactive and have a hands-on approach in schools?

Technology has advanced and also become affordable over the past few years and has seen adoption in Indian classrooms as well. In the Indian context, the classrooms moved from chalk-and-talk to multimedia classrooms where a topic could be explained using rich content such as interactive videos. Lot of schools have started using open learning platforms such as Khan Academy as supplementary material for giving students personalized learning experiences. Few schools have started using online assessment platforms for conducting formative and summative assessments that gives a more holistic and continuous view of a student’s skill. 

In coming years, we shall witness a lot of AI powered applications that would automate repetitive tasks such as correcting answer sheets and homework assignments. The learning would be enabled through machine learning enabled profiling of each student and giving personalized learning paths to each student based on the unique profile. We shall also witness effective use of conversational AI powered apps for personalized learning. 

4.To what extent have the students and parents adapted to the technology-driven learning programs.

This generation is a tech-savvy generation that is born with a smart-phone in hand. Interacting with technology is second nature. As a natural extension, this generation expects to learn by using technology as well. 

As parents, the biggest concern is the safety of a child as there is a lot of inappropriate content on the web as well. That’s why most of the parents prefer to take structured programs from a service provider that specializes in delivering programs to children. 

In early years of education, parents usually do not want to enroll their kids for tuitions. They understand that the school caters to the minimum requirement of completing the curriculum. However, the curriculum is not enough for students to succeed in future. Hence, they  actively look out for extra skills that students can acquire in these years. We broadly call them “Future Skills”, skills that are essential for a student to succeed in future. 

Most parents want to invest in “future skills” through these early years. Essentially, these are core cognitive skills that give students an edge and would help them succeed in future. WizKlub provides a holistic approach to building Future Skills that ensure excellence in core cognitive skills (HOTS) required for future as well as build technology thinking so that students grow-up to be Creators of Tech Products than just being passive consumers. 

Tech ensures that each student gets a personalized program to challenge them at the level where they are. Personalization ensures continued kids interest and high learning efficacy. 

5.How do you think a student’s cognitive skills can predict their job performance in the future?

Different types of jobs require different levels of proficiency across following skills: 

  • Critical thinking
  • Logical Reasoning 
  • Problem Solving 
  • Communication Skills 
  • Creative Thinking 

Most high stake exams even today are more focused on assessing these skills than subject knowledge. Exams such as LSAT have a higher weightage of Critical Thinking whereas some others like GMAT and SAT have a more well-rounded assessment. Similarly, organizations like Infosys recruit students from various engineering colleges through an assessment test that is heavy on logical thinking and problem solving. 

The reason why most high stake tests and rewarding careers are testing for core cognitive abilities is because of direct correlation between these skills and performance of an employee. 

In future, most careers involving repetitive tasks would be taken by machines. World Economic Forum in its Future of Jobs Report list top skills as Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking  and Creativity ( Ref: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-need-to-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/

These skills would be the most important skills for people to do well at the workplace in future. WizKlub HOTS program systematically builds these skills in 6-14 yr old students when it is the easiest to inculcate these skills as part of the natural self. 

6.How will technology-driven learning programs give students an upper hand when they step into the industry? 

Technology thinking is an important skill that changes the perspective of an individual from being a passive consumer of technology to that of a Creator of Technology. It is important to build such a perspective early in life and grow up understanding technology as you understand words and numbers. Such students when entering the industry, end up being natural Creators of Tech Products and in the process create value for themselves as well as for the society by solving real world problems. 

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