When learning is not a burden

Digital education

Do you remember those smart classes in school with whiteboards screening presentations on curriculum topics? Those classes seemed like a repetition of the blackboard classes and conversations on why there is disconnect between what the textbooks say and how the real world works? Indeed, the application of learnt concepts to everyday life still seems a challenge that the education system has been grappling with for many years. To use technology and digital gamification to change the conventional method of teaching is what made friends Karan Gupta, Shikhar Sethi and Abhimanyu Jhajharia start an online learning platform, Chalopadho.

Despite being from some of the best educational institutions in the country, the trio found it hard to relate to what they had studied. “In school, the emphasis was always about getting good marks or clearing an exam to get into a good college and keeping our parents happy. We felt like we learnt more outside of class than in it. There was no absolute interest and the best was to rote learn and ‘vomit’ through an exam,” Sethi tells Metrolife. “We show the kids how everything they learn is connected to what they already know, as well as to other subjects and real life. We link everything around them to what they are learning so studying doesn’t seem like a task,” he adds.

The forum which has been working with Shiv Nadar School, Noida, since almost two years, provides customised content for students, teachers and even the school.
Explains Sethi, “The idea is to give kids access on Chalopadho before they come for class and, for the class to be more hands-on and activity-filled which are called ‘Flipped Classes’. A self-paced and gamified learning experience is provided to the students combined with variety of content that allows them to relate what they are learning with their everyday life and their interests. The connections, gamification and the
social aspects of the content are what we look at. Not only do we make and curate videos from National Geographic and Discovery channels, but we also develop games, questions, stories and treasure hunts to engage the kids.”

“The content is full of connections to real-life, current events and their own knowledge for experiential learning. At the same time, the teacher and the school gets deep insights about each student's strength and weakness and the common mistakes made by the whole class. Also, teachers get a lot of suggested activities that they can try in class,” he tells Metrolife.

Currently available for Secondary School students from classes six to nine for Mathematics, Science and Social Sciences, Ashu Ratra, teacher, Shiv Nadar School says, “This has resulted in remarkable improvement in the ‘SA performance or Summative Assessment  of children who otherwise needed remedial classes. I hope that we continue to build a strong foundation to implement the flipped strategy.”

 “I am feeling very comfortable because now we are seeing the videos and playing lots of quizzes. So that’s fun,” says Ananya Aggarwal, Class 6-Corbett (name of the section), Shiv Nadar School. 

One of the top 10 start-ups to be selected for a three-month mentorship programme by media firm Business World, out of 350 applications from the Delhi-NCR region, Chalopadho’s integration of technology and education is a step that could change how learning is practised uptil now.

Sethi tells Metrolife, “Without meaningful and imaginative integration, technology in the classroom could turn out to be just one more expensive gimmick. We are not a technology company trying to transform education, we are an education company leveraging the power of technology to improve school education.”

With Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the rise of Khan Academy,
Coursera, and NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) in the last five years, the focus has shifted to technology in higher education, though the primary education section still needs to see a substantial change.

Educationist, Sekhawat Husain tells Metrolife, “Though technology has long been talked about in education, the content of the teaching is constantly evolving to adapt to the
technological scale and that might be a model for others in the field to follow.”

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