Tuesday October 17, 2017
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Filmmaker Prakash Dantuluri creates learning app for pre-school kids

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Preschooler Amni Roslan, 6, stays in class as he refuses to join his classmates for outdoor activities during his first day of school in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur January 2, 2013. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA - Tags: EDUCATION SOCIETY) - RTR3C1JB

Chennai: Filmmaker and serial entrepreneur Prakash Dantuluri, known for Telugu films such as ‘Satyabhama’ and ‘Om Shanti’, has announced the launch of Tuk-Tuk in Mumbai, a kids-travel app for pre-school children.

The app is the latest addition to Dantuluri’s company Bulbul Applications, a fun-filled learning library developed with a vision to provide clean, ad-free content to children between six and nine years old.

According to him, Bulbul provides apps that are interactive and encourages child’s curiosity, reading and learning skills.

“As an artist, film maker and story teller myself, I view a story as a recipe of visuals, sound and effects. I wanted to create the big screen experience for children in their little hands with a repository of short, easy to install, learn and highly engaging content,” Dantuluri told IANS.

“To create this library we collaborated with writers, illustrators, sound effects professionals, background score experts, animations and voice-overs artists from around the world,” he added.

Announcing the details of the content currently available on Bulbul apps library, Prakash said: “Our immediate goal is to focus on known folk and fairy tales. In the next phase, our spotlight will be on native characters and regional content for India. Eventually, we want to replicate this model in many regions of the world”.

Bulbul is a library app and it has 8 categories that encompass folktales, princess stories, Indian mythology, Mowgli and Bulbul, Krishna series and English rhymes.

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Facebook Acquires the Anonymous Teenage Polling App ‘tbh’

An official statement from Facebook said: "tbh and Facebook share a common goal -- of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together"

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tbh
Facebook brings the developers of 'tbh' app to share and expand a common goal of making stronger communities. Pixabay

San Francisco, October 17, 2017 : Facebook has acquired ‘tbh’, an anonymous polling app for teenagers which has over 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users in the US.

The app lets teenagers anonymously answer kind-hearted, multiple-choice questions about friends, who then receive the poll results as compliments, TechCrunch reported on Tuesday.

“When we set out to build tbh, we wanted to create a community that made us feel happier and more confident about ourselves. We felt that people craved genuine and positive interactions in their online experiences,” ‘tbh’ said in a statement.

“Over the last few weeks, over 5 million people have downloaded tbh and sent over a billion messages. More importantly, we’ve been inspired by the countless stories where tbh helped people recover from depression and form better relationships with friends,” it read.

ALSO READ How Facebook is Helping Its Users Fight Identity Theft

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but according to TechCrunch, it is likely to be somewhere around less than $100 million and will not require regulatory approval.

“As part of the deal, tbh’s four co-creators — Bier, Erik Hazzard, Kyle Zaragoza and Nicolas Ducdodon — will join Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters while continuing to grow their app,” the report added.

“When we met with Facebook, we realised that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions. Most of all, we were compelled by the ways they could help us realise tbh’s vision and bring it to more people,” ‘tbh’ said.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said: “tbh and Facebook share a common goal — of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together”. (IANS)

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“The Restorers” : Kenyan Girls Use Technology to Combat Female Genital Mutilation

5 Kenyan Girls and Dorcas Owinoh, the team’s mentor have together created an app called i-Cut, which connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue agents and offers support for those who have already been cut

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  • They have created an app called i-Cut which connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue agents and offers support for those who have already been cut
  • The pain of having your clitoris cut just because someone wants to have you go through a rite of passage

“It’s still fresh in my mind, the scene of female genital mutilation,” said Purity Achieng, a 17-year-old from Kenya.

Achieng was speaking on stage in the finals of the Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit, a competition that invites girls from around the world to come up with tech solutions to local community problems. Since it began in 2009, 15,000 girls from more than 100 countries have participated in the competition.

Achieng and her team of four other Kenyan teen girls call themselves “The Restorers.” They are taking on Female Genital Mutilation or FGM. They have created an app, called i-Cut, which connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue agents and offers support for those who have already been cut. It also provides information for anyone seeking to learn more about the practice.

ALSO READ: In Malawi, a Kenyan NGO trains Girls in Self Defense to counter Sexual Abuse

“The pain of having your clitoris cut just because someone wants to have you go through a ‘rite of passage,’” said Achieng, during her pitch at the competition. “It’s painful and no one wants to listen to you. You cry and there you are, almost dying but nobody is caring about that.”

At least 200 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation or FGM in 30 countries, reports UNICEF and 44 million are girls 14 and younger. The practice involves cutting out all or part of a woman’s clitoris, which is said to eliminate almost completely a woman’s sexual pleasure, in hopes of ensuring her virginity and keeping her faithful in marriage.

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The Kenyan girls in this competition have not experienced FGM firsthand, as their tribe does not practice it, but they have friends who have. One of Achieng’s best friends was forced to drop out of school and into an early marriage at 15 after FGM, which greatly affected Achieng.

“I think for teenagers to be able to identify problems around them and provide a solution, that is really inspiring,” said Dorcas Owinoh, the team’s mentor, who works as a community manager at LakeHub, a technology innovation hub in Kisumu, Kenya. It was Owinoh who brought the idea of the Technovation Challenge to the team.

ALSO READ: Kenyan girls pedal towards a better future

Achieng said it was her friend dropping out of school after FGM that inspired the team to create the app.

Other teams in the international event came from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Cambodia, the U.S. and other countries. The Restorers were the only team who qualified from the African continent.

“It’s always better when the people who face the problems, come up with their own solutions because they’re the most organic,” said Tara Chklovski, founder, and CEO of Iridescent, the nonprofit behind Technovation.

Though the i-Cut app has the potential to save lives, it has not been embraced by all Kenyans. “One village elder drove six hours to their school to protest the app because, according to him, that’s an African culture and the girls are being, according to him, Westernized,” Owinoh said.

The man had learned of the app after local media reported of the girl’s acceptance into Technovation. Owinoh said school leaders and teachers remained calm, spoke with him, and then asked him to leave.

ALSO READ: Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls in Kenya in Return for Food

Technovation comes at a time when women in technology are facing blowback, not just in Kenya, but even at the Google headquarters where the competition was held. A Google employee was recently fired after writing a memo positing that women are biologically inferior to men in regards to working in technology.

“I know the journey won’t always be easy but to the girls who dream of being an engineer or an entrepreneur and who dream of creating amazing things, I want you to know that there’s a place for you in this industry, there’s a place for you at Google—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the girls.

The Restorers did not win the Technovation Challenge, but they will continue their fight against FGM and hope to get i-Cut into the Google Play Store soon. (VOA)

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Kids can actually See what Adults tend to Miss: Study

The findings revealed that while adults are very good at remembering information they are told to focus on, they tend to ignore the rest

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A child with the parents (representational image), VOA

New York, April 11, 2017: Although children are thought of being deficient in many skills when compared to adults, a new study has shown that this limitation in kids can actually be their strength as they can see what adults tend to miss.

“We often think of children as deficient in many skills when compared to adults. But some times what seems like a deficiency can actually be an advantage,” said Vladimir Sloutsky, Professor at the Ohio State University in the US.

The findings revealed that while adults are very good at remembering information they are told to focus on, they tend to ignore the rest.

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Conversely, 4- to 5-year-olds tend to pay attention to all the information that was presented to them — even when they were told to focus on one particular item.

Thus, children noticed things that adults did not catch because of the grownups’ selective attention.

Children are extremely curious and they tend to explore everything, which means their attention is spread out and they end up noticing and remembering more than the adults, Sloutsky noted, in the paper published in the journal Psychological Science.

However, the ability of adults to focus their attention helps them to sit in two-hour meetings and maintain long conversations while ignoring distractions.

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“But young children’s use of distributed attention allows them to learn more in new and unfamiliar settings by taking in a lot of information,” Sloutsky explained.

The fact that children don’t always do as well at focusing attention also shows the importance of designing the right learning environment in classrooms.

“Children can’t handle a lot of distractions. They are always taking in information, even if it is not what you’re trying to teach them. We need to make sure that we are aware of that and design our classrooms, textbooks and educational materials to help students succeed,” Sloutsky said. (IANS)