Here is a classic example of how technology can be put to use to educate not only teachers but also inspire young minds. As a result, over the past five years, a large number of children are inspired to pursue a career in Science in HD Kote, Mysuru, which is considered a backward region in Karnataka.
Thanks for the WhatsApp Group ‘Vijnana Vedike’ (ViVek) comprising of science and maths teachers, who post contents devoted to learning and share about subjects due to which learning and teaching becomes easier.
The group which started with around 20 teachers in 2014, currently has more than 132 teachers from 96 different schools in HD Kote Taluk, including school teachers from tribal areas. The group helps teachers to interact among themselves and learn from each other's experiences, thereby help imporve the quality of the education. By encouraging teachers to clarify their doubts, it has helped to create a cordial atmosphere for the teachers in the group to ask questions on the subjects they are teaching and get replies from other members. This group has helped several teachers who had doubts in the subjects, and to avoid questions were hop-skipping the contents.
The teachers, majority of them from government schools discuss several topics found in their curriculum on a weekly basis. A new topic is taken up every Sunday and participants in the group can post their questions till Thursday. Every week, a member in the group will be selected as ‘Moderator’ who will consolidate all the questions and answers them every Saturday from 9 pm. Discussions ends by late midnight. The moderator answers all the questions in detail and clears the doubts of the teachers. For those who find it difficult to send text messages, they send even audio or video messages.
The discussion focuses on addressing some comprehension gaps of teachers in their subject areas, with the aid of audio clips, sketches, videos, and text messages. All the discussed information is archived and updated on Google drive, so that other teachers who are not members of the group can also access them. Through other social media network the group is reaching over 6,000 teachers across the state.
The children in government schools learn in Kannada medium upto 10th standard. As a result most of these students fear to take up Science as they have to study in English. The teachers are making an effort to teach the technical words both in Kannada and English and infuse confidence among children, so that the students should not develop fear to take up science during their higher education.
The group members say, there are many students who have come forward and expressed their interest to study science. Over the past three years, those teachers from HD Kote who have been transferred to other places in the State have started creating Whatsapp groups in their new postings by roping in teachers in their region.
The brain behind the programme is Praveen Kumar Sayyaparaju, Director of Science Education for Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, and an student of IIT, Chennai. Praveen who joined SVYM in 2009, came out with a science lab concept, sceince park, and to improve the quality of education he decided to create a WhatsApp group by bringing in Science and Maths teachers.
Praveen says: ‘Teaching tribals and rural children is immensely satisfying. We started a mobile science lab in 2009, as most of the government schools did not have labs and we promoted science by experimenting. Slowly we started working with teachers and found a lot of lacunae in their teaching. It is when we decided to create a platform for teachers help themselves, to talk to each other and help each other in the group.'
‘With severe shortage of teachers in government schools, resulting in low morale amongst, there was no support group to help teachers in teaching, and thinking of inspiring young minds in science, it was decided to create a group. Now we are planning to expand the group to other taluks and also rope in teachers in Nanjangud,’ he said, adding many children in taluk are showing interested in pursuing carrier in science.
S Harsha, teacher, government High School, Hedthale, Nanjangud said: ‘After being part of group, my confidence level has boosted. As a resource person, teachers used to shoot several questions, and I answered all their questions accurately. The knowledge we gain in the group is remarkable. Complex questions are explained very simple way. We have shifted from marks oriented to a learning oriented. The quality of education we impart in schools has improved, and we are happy we have kindled the students to take up science in carrier.’
“The group has helped to build a strong rapport among the teachers. This has become a big platform to clarify doubts. We are motivating students to ask questions and make classes more interesting, thereby making them to understand the syllabus much better. The classes we conduct are more interactive and is activity based. Earlier we used to skip some of the contents, with fear if the students might raise question, but now we are confident to answer any of their questions. There are instances where students perception towards looking at science subject has changed, and they say its not a difficult subject,” added N Ananth Parmanabha, teacher of Mulluru Government High School, HD Kote.