Learning app Duolingo sets its sights on the language of numbers • The Register

The developers behind the popular language learning app Duolingo are turning their attention to math education.

According to an interview with the BBC, founder and CEO Louis von Anne sees his company’s approach to gamifying education as a way to distract children from distracting social media apps like TikTok and Instagram.

“But the problem with smartphones is that they’re a double-edged sword – they also come with intermittent things, like TikTok,” he told the licensee-funded television operator.

“We started learning languages ​​because there was a huge need around the world to learn English, which could immediately increase your income potential, but we always wanted to teach other things,” says Von Ann.

Duolingo is a well-known technology brand, but it is not exactly a giant. According to SEC documents made before the IPO in July, it generated revenue of $ 161 million in 2020 (and $ 15.776 million net loss), but claimed 40 million monthly users and was downloaded 500 million times worldwide. It runs on a free model – with “approximately 73%” of its revenue coming from Duolingo Plus subscriptions (paid level), 17% from in-app advertising, and 10% from its “English and other revenue” test segment.

The company’s language applications use extensive A / B testing to understand how different user groups – for example through their native language – respond to different structures in presenting lessons. At the same time, the level of difficulty is maintained so that students have about 80% chance of getting the right task.

But the jury wasn’t sure if the math application would be as effective as its language assembly.

Von Ann told Beebe, “Hope is how [the new maths app] stands out – but we’ll see if it works. “

Others are more skeptical about the approach. Martin Hasler Halsted, an educational psychologist at the Swedish University of Uppsala, said: “Duolingo is a popular platform with strong credentials, but it is not scientifically proven in mathematics.”

Meanwhile, there is evidence that not every study of mathematics is related to the study of numbers. Swedish scientists have been able to prove this spatial memory training tasks can affect math skills.

A study of about 17,000 children between the ages of six and eight shows that maintaining spatial representation is crucial when it comes to switching to math.

Whatever the approach, there are many opportunities to improve mathematics education in the UK.

While the average student in the UK enjoys higher achievement in mathematics than students in many other countries, the difference in achievement between the lowest and the most successful is greater than the average for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to a study by school inspector Offsted.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said: “For too many children and young people, mathematics is mysterious and difficult, and it has consequences not only for their future achievements, but also for their self-esteem.”

And in the US, math education (sorry for math) could do better. In 2020 international study of teenagers ranked the United States 31st in mathematical literacy in 79 countries and economies. ®

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