It is difficult for Gen Z to be away from their smartphones as digital distraction is on the rise but a Dubai-based tech start-up has come out with innovative ways to engage students in classroom activities and at home now, due to Coronavirus (Covid-19), to focus more on their studies rather than on their digital devices.
It is a draconian task to ban cellphones from the campus and homes but Lock&Stock is aiming to spread awareness about the addiction and reward students for staying away from their digital devices.
Lock&Stock’s motto is ‘earn points while you learn’ and any student with a smartphone can download the app and start using it.
Hussain Ali Asgar, Co-owner and CMO of Lock&Stock, told TechRadar Middle East that studies from around the world show that students spend a quarter of their time on digital devices during class hours for activities unrelated to university or academics, mostly text messaging, e-mailing, web-surfing, checking social media and even playing games.
“It is easy to force it in schools but not impossible for a professor in a university to check whether who is paying attention or not in a class when you have many students,” he said.
Lock&Stock partners, students at that time, started to think of a way to stop this and what would force students to put their phones away.
“We narrowed our ideas to two things – one is money as students are on a budget and so freebies or offers are always welcome, second is anyone graduating from a school or studying in a university always require some sort of internship or jobs to get going,” he said.
“We started talking to brands to partner with us and help us out to incentivise the students to keep away from their phones in class”.
Now, as the schools and universities are closed, he said that students, of any grade, can study from home by locking their devices and earn points, the same way as in the campus, starting next week.
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Global brands on board
When Lock&Stock was launched in 2017, they had 24 brands on board and providing 29 offers but now, they have more than 350 global brands across the fashion, food, entertainment and wellness industries by providing more than 500 offers to almost 43,000 students.
Out of the 43,000, 41,000 students come from the UAE and the rest from Gulf Cooperation Council countries and India.
After signing in through the app, Asgar said that students can earn points by switching off their devices and get rewarded.
A student can earn one point for locking their devices every three minutes.
Moreover, students can also get their domestic university applications early in the year and get additional fee reduction.
“To apply for a university scholarship, a student needs 100 points and the fee waiver depends on the university. In some universities, up to 35% of the fees are waived through the earned points from our platform,” Asgar said.
To gamify the experience, he said that they have a leader board on the app for students to compete against each other.
However, he said that students cannot cheat by locking their phones through the app when they're not in the class as the app tracks the user's location and is programmed to work on university and college campuses.
Better academic performance
In over two years, Asgar said that the app has accomplished 153 years of total time spent offline by our students combined and has led to improved attendance levels and better academic performances among students.
“Lock&Stock is for the students and by the students, so we have left the parents and teachers out of the app for now but in the future, we are thinking of including parents and teachers whereby teachers can reward a student if he gives a right answer,” he said.
However, he said that there is no absolute way to monitor the students at home and the lock mechanism works during schooling hours, between 8AM and 3PM for schooling students and between 8AM and 6PM for university students.
Students cannot switch off their devices beyond the specified hours and earn points.
Asgar said the strategic markets for them are the GCC, followed by India and Pakistan.
“Our mission for 2020 is to cement our place in the strategic markets before anybody enters. We bootstrapped from family members about $150,000 in 2017 but our intentions are to enter strategic markets in a measured approach, gain traction and then look to raise more money after six to eight months,” he said.
How does the app works
- A student has to sign up and provide personal information and the institute he/she belongs to.
- The start-up has geo-fenced schools, universities and academic institutions in the UAE and when a student enters the campus, the app will detect their location and through that, the lock mechanism works.
- Uses Google Maps API to monitor students.
- The app is available for download on the Google and Apple stores.
- Tied-up with about 400 universities around the world, including 21 from the UAE, to offer scholarships to students by discounts on fees.
- Jobs platform available in which companies’ posts jobs on their platform and recruit interns from the platform.