Why Oustathon is the WAY to academic excellence

We can’t stress enough on the fact that Oustathon 2015 was a phenomenal success. After all, it was a unique kind of a competition for students that involved the use of a mobile phone! Since Oust has been making news lately and is in the process of expanding the content on the app, it is certain the team’s efforts are being noticed by one and everyone.

We sat down with the brain behind this innovative learning concept, Shrikant Latkar, for a quick chat on everything Oustathon 2015, today’s student generation and what’s in store in future. Few excerpts:

1) What was the reason behind conducting a smartphone-based competition in Mysore and Belgaum?

Shrikant: There are a number of things being done in larger cities and metros. We wanted to go to smaller cities for 3 main reasons:

  • Expose students in these towns to something new (mobile learning app) that few companies actually make an effort to do.
  • Have a soft spot for Belgaum since I was born and brought up there. Hence, wanted to do something for the students in this city.
  • Directly connect with students, considering we are a small startup with very limited resources.

2) Any first-day glitches or technical errors on Day 1 of Oustathon? 

Shrikant: There were no glitches actually. But we did learn a lot about how to execute online contests efficiently in these cities. For instance, lights went out in the middle of my demo (that I was giving on a projector) for students. I ended up using my laptop to complete the session to show students in small batches of 5 to 6.

Shrikant—Latkar—Oust—Demo

3) What has been the overall student feedback?

Shrikant: The feedback was very positive overall. We would get a lot of phone calls from students asking us about the contest. We even got a number of suggestions from them, some of which are:

  • They want to see all subjects to be included—not just science, social science and math.
  • They want Oust app to also work on Windows phones and iPhones—which was something we did not expect as India is a very big Android market.
  • They would like to be able to communicate with their friends or share comments on the app.
  • They would like the app to work offline as well since lots of phones don’t have data packs for internet connectivity.
  • Apart from this, students from classes 7 and 8 also wanted to participate!

4) How was the response of teachers of the schools Team Oust covered during the competition?

Shrikant: Several teachers expressed reservations about students using mobile phones. However, there was a quick shift in perspective after they saw the demo and realized that the entire content on the app was purely based on core syllabus for their students. Some teachers even volunteered to contribute content to our platform and encouraged their students to join the challenge.

5) What do you plan to incorporate in Oustathon 2016?

Shrikant: For next year’s event, we want to channel our energies into expanding Oustathon to other cities and across classes starting from 8 to 12, including competitive exams such as PUC and CET.

6) What cities will Team Oust target in 2016?

Shrikant: We are currently focused only on Karnataka during our trials. But we expect to launch across more markets in 2016, details of which will be revealed later.

Oustathon—Students—Oust—Demo

We even managed to catch hold of a hard-working member of Team Oust, Ajay Ponna Venkatesh. And, he made some very smart, valid points. Have a look:

1) Do you think mobile learning is the next generation’s way to becoming better at academics?

Ajay: Yes, definitely. Students of this generation are exposed to technology from an early age—mostly for gaming purposes. With the introduction of educational apps such as Oust, they will start using their mobile phones to learn as well!

2) Technology vs. textbooks. What’s your take on it?

Ajay: Textbooks have become redundant. Technology is the future. We are currently in the transition phase where smart learning concepts have been introduced in most schools such as projectors and slides instead of textbooks. I think apps such as Oust will only make this transition faster & more meaningful.

3) How do you think Oustathon by Oust Labs impacted the lives of students across Mysore and Belgaum? 

Ajay: The students of Mysore were overwhelmed by Oustathon. For them, this academics-based quiz was a one-of-a-kind experience. Most students were new to this kind of quizzing. Within days of opening the contest, the students started creating groups & started taking lots of quizzes to top the leaderboards. In fact, every participant went through hundreds of academic questions & the winners won prizes too! It was very well received by parents, teachers & students alike.

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