Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pratham Books at the Chrome App Developer Challenge

Karthik Shankar (Technology Lead, Pratham Books) writes about the event he recently attended on behalf of Pratham Books.

Pratham Books was invited by Google for Education and READ Alliance to be a content provider at the Chrome App Developer Challenge. The challenge for the developers is to create a Chrome based App that addresses three basic reading abilities - Decoding, Comprehension and Reading for Joy over a 5 week development phase. 

Pratham Books is committed to its mission of seeing 'a book in every child's hand'. Technology is a means to that same end, and Pratham Books was excited to be part of this journey to see how we can capitalize on reading apps that focus on language content for the under-served child.

The first step was an all-day workshop to help interactions between the app developers and the content providers. 

The day began with Amrit Sanjeev, a Google Developer Expert in Android, sharing insights into building a killer app. The session was peppered with updates from Google I/O 2014, which had significant news for the developers. This was followed by a demo of the Chrome Dev Editor (CDE), which is a developer tool for building apps on the Chrome platform. CDE enables an app to be developed simultaneously on multiple platforms, such as Android, Chrome, WIndows and iOS.

After a sumptuous lunch, we headed back for the content provider presentations. Purvi Shah, who heads the Digital Products at Pratham Books, started to address the gathering in Gujarati. Seeing puzzled faces in the audience, she switched to English after a couple of sentences. She drove home the point that while there are many books in English, there aren't enough native language books which are crucial in an under-served child's reading journey.

After her forceful presentation, it was Manish Rajoria's turn. He spoke about Aadarsh's popular brand, Purple Turtle and the related children's book imprint. 

Next, Karthik and Latha from Chipper Sage spoke about their expertise in delivering content using technology. Finally, Sourav and Chari from Room to Read spoke of their experience in developing literacy skills and the habit of reading in primary school children.

The door was then thrown open for the developers to interact with the content providers so that possible app ideas could emerge. The Pratham Books' desk saw hectic activity as the participants were intrigued by the large number of language titles and open licensing terms offered under the Creative Commons licenses.

Over the next 5 weeks, the app developers will need to build a complete app with the guidance of the content providers.

It is really exciting to see the intersection of engineering, content and design. We hope this enables our open content to reach many more children! With developers expressing interest in using Pratham Books' content, we eagerly await the complete app in 5 weeks time!

A few tweets from the event :

Additional Reading : EDU Hackathon Recap 

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