Oppia Intro

Google recently debuted a new online education tool named Oppia – which adds a new approach to the online learning experience. The aim of this tool is to promote interactive learning.

The creators of this tool believe that we learn something much faster if we actually do it – as opposed to learning something by watching a video or listening to a seminar or reading texts. Interactive learning leads to greater engagement with the learning material and thus leads to more effective learning.

Oppia – An Educational Tool for Interactive Learning

Here’s how Google describes this venture:

Oppia aims to teach users by creating explorations – which is an interactive learning mode created by specific users. The mentors pose questions for the learner to answer. Based on the learner’s responses, the mentor decides what question to ask next, what feedback to give, whether to delve deeper, or whether to proceed to something new. You can think of this as a smart feedback system that tries to “teach a person to fish”, instead of simply revealing the correct answer or marking the submitted answer as wrong.

To see how Oppia actually works, check out this video:

How Explorations Work

Oppia is an open source project with the goal to help anyone create online interactive activities that anyone can learn from. These activities, called explorations, can be created by anyone who wishes to teach something.

Explorations can be created via Oppia’s web-interface, without any programming knowledge. These explorations can have multiple contributors and can be built upon and improved by collaborators.

Oppia-Interactive-Learning
The Oppia Learning Interface

All explorations start off as private and can be viewed by the creator and the people he chooses to invite to test them out. When the exploration is in a good enough state for general viewing, the creator can choose to publish it in the public gallery. Google has provided a few design tips to make your Explorations even better.

Currently publishing in a one-way process and once an exploration is published it can be anyone can use it and provide feedback.

Editing the Explorations

Oppia-Editing-Interface
The Oppia Editing Interface

The editing interface for Oppia is quite intuitive.  A common format for an Oppia exploration is to pose a problem to the reader and guide them towards solving this problem by posing a series of questions. Once you have a clear understanding of the concept you are trying to teach its a good approach to come up with a single series of questions.

Creating an exploration can be somewhat similar to creating a Flowchart. With classifiers to catch an incorrect answer and shortcuts for students who has already understood the concept – the editor gives you a lot of flexibility while creating the explorations.

With loopbacks, multiple choice questions and free form answering, practice tests, side-topics, counter examples, randomized questions etc, explorations can be pretty interactive and engage student’s attention very well.

Final Thoughts

Although this an excellent initiative from Google, we are not sure how much resources do they plan to dedicate to this project. In their disclaimer, they have stated that “Oppia is not a Google Product” – which can mean that Google hopes that as the project grows the community would take over in the long run.

After viewing a few explorations in the Oppia gallery, we think this can be a pretty good learning tool and we hope that more and more people take part and contribute to make it an excellent learning resource.

Check out Oppia.