Digital Dharma



DIGITAL EDUCATION


A New Frontier: Learning Sanskrit Online through Apps and Video


IN THE LAST TEN YEARS YET ANOTHER DIGITAL revolution has been heating up: remote learning of Sanskrit. We reviewed many sites and apps and came up with some general recommendations.


Online Mentoring and Courses


This trend in remote education is still your best: to have a personal teacher connect with you online or, alternatively, follow a web course. Ashok holds free webinar sessions which you can see here: bit.ly/ashok-sanskrit. Search for “Sanskrit teacher online” for more.




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Sensible user experience: Top of the class in the free app category are Vyoma Labs’ “Learn Sanskrit.” Vyoma Labs has since expanded to web apps but their old mobile apps still work.






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Sensible user experience: They are graded: one for learning the alphabet through stages such as “Learn Sanskrit Pronouns” and more advanced levels






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Sensible user experience: The “CHIMKY Trace Sanskrit Alphabet” is also well done.




For self-paced study, Vyoma Labs is at the technological forefront. Sign in for a free beginner’s course at bit.ly/begin-vyoma. Regarding YouTube video options: almost all lack structure, even channels citing a “curriculum/syllabus” suffer from the passive nature of video. There is no way to ensure engagement or progress of viewers.


Mobile Apps


Looking at Google Play and Apple Store, we checked out a few apps. It was a wild ride through apps that in most cases present one facet, such as how to pronounce or write the alphabet. When courses or games are presented, the user interface is often lacking, the ads are insufferable, text is too small, log-ins fail and there is no means to upgrade or contact the developer. No doubt there are good paid apps. But be sure to read the reviews, especially complaints that “the app doesn’t work” or “I should get my money back!” Avoid apps that have no rating, no reviews and haven’t had an upgrade in a year.


Almost all learning apps are more effective on a tablet. We found only a few that work well on a smart phone, and those specialize on narrow skills. You may need a modest budget, perhaps a folder on your home screen to put together the various tools, along with preparedness for some that don’t deliver what you expected. Hinduism Today is planning more on this trend. So keep us posted on your finds and recommendations!




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Sensible user experience: It teaches the way to write Devanagari by letting you trace the letters with a “game” interface­—for big fingers on a smart phone you will want a stylus; “Swarakshar,” $0.99, is a good app, one of the few with big letters and voice-over dedicated to pronouncing the alphabet; and for $1.99 you can get the excellent







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Sensible user experience: “English-Sanskrit-Dictionary from Dnyadeep Infotechnologies



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