Published: 20th January 2020
These board games can entertain you and get you to learn at the same time. Here's how
Senthil Kumar, founder of MADIEE Board Games talks about how their board games can give interactive educational experience to students as well as working professionals
We've all had days where we've had to fight with all our might to keep our eyes open during a lecture. Traditional lectures, while rich in content, may not always keep the attention of the present-day audience. Innovative and interactive methods are necessary to keep people engaged. Experiencing this in his own profession, Senthil Kumar, an educationist and entrepreneur, decided to use a more interesting medium to spread knowledge — board games.
In 2017, he and his partner R Ramalingam started MADIEE Board Games (Making a Difference in Educational Experience), an interactive board game-based solution to enable socio-emotional learning. But what prompted Senthil to get into this space in the first place? Hailing from Kumarapalayam, Tamil Nadu, Senthil is a first-generation graduate in his family. He came to Chennai with a head full of dreams and a heart full of aspiration to the College of Engineering, Guindy. But he was disappointed with the education he received. He would complain about it a lot until one day, his professor encouraged him to stop complaining and do something about it instead.
Senthil Kumar, Founder, MADIEE Board Games
And he did just that. He decided to become a professor himself. He got into the field of research, went to the University of Birmingham, UK, and did his research in nanofluids. Things were all set for his career. He even got accepted into all the IITs and received scholarships too. But around the same time, he also got selected for the Young India Fellowship. Despite the many opportunities that sat pretty in front of him, Senthil decided to go for the fellowship instead. "I felt that as an academician, I should know about other fields like law and politics as well, so I chose YIF. My one year at YIF changed me completely. I realised that mainstream teaching was not for me," he says.
Senthil says, "Around that time, the Ennore oil spill happened. It was quite disappointing for me because we were doing a lot of research on nanofluids and publishing papers, but it had no impact on my surroundings." He noticed that in mainstream teaching, a lot of focus was given to theoretical knowledge, "I wanted to bring about holistic education to the masses." So in 2017, he started MADIEE and started designing workshops. The first one was on the fundamentals of law, but the workshop had very few takers. He knew something was missing, so he designed a game called Lawmate to make it a little more interesting. Suddenly, there was a huge turnout for the workshop. He realised that it was not the content but the way it was presented that piqued people's interest.
They are collaborating with educational institutions that like to teach unconventional methods of teaching
Senthil got in touch with a friend, Ramalingam, who was working in the board game events sector. It turned out that the two had similar visions. Senthil says, "We sat together and played around 500 board games for a few months, and then, started designing our own. Today, we have board games on topics ranging from farming to civilisation, child rights to politics, entrepreneurship and law." MADIEE has set up a curriculum that will expose people to the liberal arts and socio-emotional learning. They work with corporates and have also tied up with several educational institutes that are interested in unconventional learning methods. Recently, they ventured into the digital space and have created their own software for these games.