MOOC as an enabler 04

Happy Diwali to all! Diwali is a festival of lights, and also with a great message to spread the light! I have been writing about my experiences, where MOOCs have been the light in the lives of few people, who have benefited in finding their path using this light! However, an eMail from Shri. Yogendra Dabas from Jodhpur was a worth a blog post!

It all started, when Shivam Ohri, who was one of our Discussion Forum Moderators (DFMs) responded to a assignment submission with an interesting observation. The submission was by Shri. Yogendra Dabas, for the car animation assignment. Yogendra expressed the joy of creating the animation, however added that the models of the trees seen in the background, were created by his children. After some initial correspondence, the DFM team wrote to me highlighting the participation of the children. I was surprised to know their ages!!! They were Rohanshi (8 years) and Mohiet (10 years); from Jodhpur, Rajasthan!

Submission by Shri Yogendra Dabas and response by Shivam Ohri (DFM)
This is to show their ages!!

Not believing my eyes…I wrote to Shri Yogendra to confirm. He was extremely happy to interact with the course instructor…and requested for an online video call with his children on a Saturday afternoon! Kaumudi and I did have a call, and were astonished to see the kids! They were chirpy and inquisitive! We spoke about the course, assignments, and even the pain points of the Blender interface!!

Rohanshi and Mohiet interacting with the co-instructor of the course: Kaumudi!
We all strike a Blender pose!!

It was indeed an unforgettable experience! I realized, there are so many take aways from this small but important incident:

  • The kids not only liked the course, but enjoyed it. It is evident from many self designed assignments they sent me for review!
  • If given a chance, the younger ones can master anything!
  • It is not enough to applaud them for their interest in the 3D modeling, I think the mere thought of adding trees to the rudimentary ‘car animation’ assignment is worth applauding!
  • It is also a great sign of commitment and passion from the DFMs (such as Shivam Ohri and Rajat Mittal in this particular case) who read EACH and EVERY submission carefully enough to spot such unique posts! I am extremely lucky to have a never ending supply of such dedicated and spirited team members!

Thanks to all the teachers, who instilled the ‘learner-centric’ approach!! I sincerely carry the light to illuminate few more lives!!

Here is the video link for the animation submitted by Shri Yogendra Dabas!

MOOC as an enabler 03

In 2016, I experienced yet another example of how MOOC can be an enabler! As I always say, the women teachers definitely have a major balancing act to perform..! With all the conundrum about gender equality, we cannot deny the fact that the working women have the added burden! However, a supporting family is all that is needed to achieve what we dream! One such incident got itched on my mind!

During one of the re-runs of the animation course, I got a list of the top 20 performers up to the Quiz 2. The final quiz was released the same day, and I requested the Discussion Forum Moderators (DFMs) to keep track of the toppers. The objective was to check if the toppers are consistent… in both..being part of the course, and also in the content of the course!

I was told that most of the toppers completed the quiz 3 within the first week of release. This was understandable. I was also told that one person has not attempted. I suggested we wait and check after a week, since the deadline was 4 weeks! After a week, the team reported that the person has still NOT attempted the quiz. Therefore, we sent out an eMail reminder.

One week later, the team told me that there was no response from the learner, when I decided to take it up to myself, out of curiosity! The name was (obviously) new, but surprisingly the eMail was not one of the popular service provider, but an official eMail of an organisation! I thought over a while, and searched the contact number of that organisation, which was a Army college in Pune. When I called the institute, I was connected to the Principal’s office. I introduced myself, and asked for the name of the learner. The Principal informed me that she was a teacher, who worked on a leave-vacancy! He further added, that she wasn’t in the college, since she was on her maternity leave! I soon realised the reason for her non-response. I thanked the Principal, and hung up! In fact, the story starts here!

I informed the team to let go this learner, and explained the reason. Not long that we had almost forgotten about her in the day;s work that I got a call on my phone! She introduced herself, and I realised it was the same person, I was trying to reach! “I am sorry Sir, actually I delivered a baby three weeks back, and therefore I could not even look at the course!“, she said apologetically! “Oh..don’t worry! In fact Congratulations on being a mother!” I said. “Actually, Principal Sir called, told me about your conversation, and gave me your number. I thought of talking to you to explain the situation!“, she added. “Not to worry Madam. I called just because I saw that you have been consistently scoring high in the first two quizzes, and we were not knowing the reason for your disappearance for the third one! Please take care of yourself and the baby! In fact, I am sorry to bother you!“. I was not sure whether I have added to her trauma! She thanked once again for inquiring about her, and we ended the call, as I could hear the baby crying in the background.

To my surprise, in the subsequent week, I got a call from my team, who reported that this professor has COMPLETED the quiz 3. I was quite amazed b y this news, and decided to call her to know more. I thought a lot about the perfect time to call her, and finally called around 5 PM.

She had saved my number this time, and greeted me instantly. When I asked her about the quiz completion, she told, “Sir, after your call, my husband, explained me that getting a call from a MOOC instructor is not a everyday event! You are one of the thousands of learners in his course, and in spite of that he has taken efforts to reach out. This is special! I will take care of the baby for 3-4 hours every day, but you should complete the course for sure! He did that, and I could complete the quiz 3!”.

It was one of the unique situations I have experienced as a MOOC instructor! Hats off to her and her husband for their sheer passion!