Digital education is taking the world by storm and in India, Paper Boat Apps is leading from the front in this arena. Which is perhaps the reason why Nazara Technologies, a leading game developer in the country has recently made a heavy investment in the company. Anshu Dhanuka, Founder and COO at Paper Boat Apps, chats with SheThePeople.TV about not only digital education in India but also what her venture is hoping to bring to the educational sector.

 Paper Boat Apps focuses on educating children while providing entertainment. What inspired you to create something like this?

There was a very important incident that led to the creation of Paper Boat Apps. The iPad came out the year my daughter turned one. I realised right away that touch screen devices have great potential for early childhood education. The way she took to the iPad was fascinating. There were very few apps available at that time for kids. I being a tech enthusiast, gamer and a parent, felt that I could really create meaningful content which could be enriching and captivating for kids.

Most of my games are inspired by how kids play. One such example is that my daughter would love feeding cows, pigeons and monkeys around temples and so we made a game about feeding animals. This game received astounding success worldwide as such real simple joy resonates with kids all over the world. And then there was no looking back. We were encouraged by the response and acceptance we were getting from parents and kids around the world.

Being a tech enthusiast, gamer and a parent, felt that I could really create meaningful content which could be enriching and captivating for kids.

 Is there a need for edutainment apps today? Why is that so? What has changed?

Digital media consumption has become inevitable in today’s time. The penetration of smart devices has made digital media more accessible to kids. Kids are usually addicted to online videos or playing casual ad-laden games. Pure educational apps fail to retain their engagement and attention for a long time. At such a time, there is a tremendous need for an edutainment app that will not only engage them but also help them learn in the process.

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A blend of educational concepts with entertainment value is essential to grasp a child’s attention when you are competing with YouTube videos and other free casual games.

Many parents are still averse to digital education – what would you say to them? Why should they make the shift to digital education and edutainment?

Parents should not be averse to digital education but should consider it as an important supplementary tool to regular teaching methods. Digital education with its pictures, sounds and graphics can often make learning concepts more interesting and easy to grasp. Parents should be averse to unconstructive time in front of the screen which includes addictive online videos and ad monetised games. If regulated and controlled properly, digital consumption can be a boon for parents and kids. Technology is now present in all fields of work and the adoption of technology is only going to increase. You do not want to remain stagnant with conventional beliefs in such a dynamically changing world.

What do you hope to achieve through your app? What are your goals?

We want to draw kids into a new world that will improve rational thinking, fine motor skills, breadth of knowledge and self-expression. My mission is to make screen time valuable in the lives of young kids by providing them with safe, educational and engaging content.

Nazara recently invested in Paper Boat Apps. How will Nazara’s investment help your venture grow?

Digital education can be a great supplementary tool for regular teaching methods. A lot of schools even in India have already adopted tablets and educational software in their curriculum.

Nazara’s investment will help us reach more kids globally and enrich the quality of their digital consumption with Kiddopia. Right now we are in the top three apps in the US. We want to strengthen our market presence further in the US and also expand to other geographies. Additionally, we will also leverage Nazara’s 100 million user base and other connections to promote Kiddopia and use the investment to grow our team and create more content.

 What is the future like for digital education apps in India according to you?

Digital education can be a great supplementary tool for regular teaching methods. A lot of schools even in India have already adopted tablets and educational software in their curriculum. In the future, we are going to see an increase in the use of technology-based education. I would like to emphasize that nothing can or should replace a real teacher.  Digital content should be used as an additional tool to enhance the learning experience wherever possible. It would augur well for India to have the right digital presence in all stratas of society. This could build a task force that is ready for the highly competitive and progressive times.

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 Do you think that edutainment apps be used in schools as well, on a large scale, instead of just at home? Is it important to introduce institutions and teachers to such technology as well?

Nowadays education is not only about Math or English, but also about creativity, self-expression and social-emotional learning. And edutainment apps help to bridge this gap. Institutions, as well as teachers, can definitely use them as an enriching tool.

What’s next for Paper Boat Apps? Are there any exciting projects on the burner?

There is a lot of new exciting content coming up. We already have a curriculum-based Math program in the app. Now we are looking at adding an English program along with a music section and other role-playing games. Other than the app, Paper Boat Apps is going to focus to make Kiddopia into a transmedia product. We are planning a show with popular characters from the app with an underlying message of good values in life. We are also looking at books, toys, augmented reality content and digital toys.

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