CPO of world’s largest online learning platform talks gamification and student engagement.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
Popular amongst GenZ, with over 350 million users, Brainly is helping conquer challenges in the online education space through gamification.
With more than 300 members of the team, the world’s largest online learning community for students, parents and teachers helps students connect to both receive and offer help with homework problems and questions. Students freely ask questions and gain the confidence that comes from helping others, on a platform that inspires students to learn and collaborate.
Based in Kraków, Poland, with its U.S. headquarters in New York City, Brainly is currently available in 35 countries. The total funding from current investors, including Naspers, General Catalyst Partners, Point Nine Capital, Runa Capital and Learn Capital equals $150M.
In keeping with their mission of inspiring students to share and explore knowledge, the people behind Brainly have been working on making next-level learning a reality through a feature used more generally across other platforms: even more gamification. In this exclusive, Rajesh Bysani, Chief Product Officer at Brainly (pictured, below), replies to questions about the team’s current initiatives in this area, the ideas behind them, and what’s in store.
The secret is out that gamification appears to be a huge driver of engagement on digital platforms, what made you and the people on your team decide this could be implemented for something more constructive?
Rajesh: Brainly has been using gamification since 2009, and it’s consistently proven that higher engagement leads to better results. Gamification has traditionally been a tool developers use to increase on-platform engagement by tapping into the link between action and reward. By adding “game elements” to digital experiences, users feel more enthusiastic about pushing a little bit further for their prize.
Think about the “gold star” a student receives for a brilliant submission – that’s essentially gamification. Our job was to translate that game experience for the Brainly community. As the entire Brainly experience is dedicated to helping students with the subjects that challenge them the most, we knew that gamification could only lead to positive outcomes and push students further along with their studies.
Impressive results—why do you think this program was so successful?
We had an incredible development team who, using insights from the Brainly community brought this project to life. We wanted to make sure we were delivering a program that students would enjoy and actually use without making the Brainly experience feel more complicated than it needed to be.
It was ultimately the Brainly community that really showed how gamification could drive success. Given that our platform caters predominantly to students in middle and high school who are already comfortable in gamified digital environments, it was a natural fit for how they absorb information and content.
‘Given that our platform caters predominantly to students in middle and high school who are already comfortable in gamified digital environments, it was a natural fit for how they absorb information and content.’
And this is just the beginning, what is coming next in your gamification program rollout?
Exactly—this was just the beginning and while the results are impressive (25-65% lift in providing answers to our Knowledge Base, depending on the segment), the results came from a smaller testing group. As Brainly operates in many languages across 35 countries, we are continuing to roll out programs such as Gamification progressively so that they strike the right tone with all of our communities.
What would be the end goal for you regarding the program?
The ultimate goal is to gamify the learning experience, focusing on users who don’t only answer but consume content without actively contributing to the Knowledge Base. We’re always striving to provide students, parents, and teachers with the digital tools they need to be successful, whenever and wherever they’re stuck.
It’s taken the broader edtech space a little longer to embrace cutting-edge technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, and even Gamification in meaningful ways, why do you think that is?
Technology that is simple and elegant is often the most sophisticated and labor-intensive to develop. Our gamification program was no exception. Adopting any new technology is always an investment, which has likely given some of the institutional players in the space pause. One of Brainly’s greatest strengths is that we’re independently operated and can move at a speed many in edtech cannot. We love implementing new technologies, and in the last year, launches such as Math Solver were driven by some incredible AI and Machine Learning functionality.
Some say that 85% of AI projects typically fail to deliver their intended results. This makes such investment risky and may cause many to think twice before deciding to launch cutting-edge technologies such as AI, Machine Learning. We want to be the exception to that and make sure our work carries through.
What does the future hold for other types of technologies you’re looking to integrate into the platform?
Over the past few years, Gen Z has grown accustomed to using apps and technology in their education. These students appreciate the convenience and accessibility of features like Snap to Solve, which allows them to use their smartphone camera to instantly input the questions they have to our platform and be directed to the best help on our platform.
We see a huge future for AI within Brainly. Any technology we can implement to help get users more personalized support they need even faster is a major win. With over 200 million answers in our Knowledge Base, AI will play an increasingly important role in optimizing answer discoverability.
‘Any technology we can implement to help get users more personalized support they need even faster is a major win.’
One tech-powered feature we recently rolled out was our AI-driven Math Solver then produces step-by-step guided solutions to math problems. We’d like to roll this kind of technology out across additional subjects and continue delivering more efficient and helpful ways for students to get the help they need.
We are also looking forward to expanding our Brainly Tutor product. Introduced in May, Brainly Tutor allows students to be connected to a live tutor in minutes to get the help they need on the topics they struggle with the most. It is currently available for Math, Physics, Biology and Chemistry and we’re hoping to add on additional subjects in the future.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org