One day to go!

Finally, the D Day is here. The results for the edX Prize 2019 will be announced on the November 21st 2019, through a webinar by Dr. Anant Agarwal! The function was cancelled owing to the political situation in Hongkong, and therefore this event would be a webinar now!

Me and my team are anxious for the big announcement, and also excited to know the results. Some of very interesting courses have made it as the finalists for this prize. There are courses on diverse topics, created using various teaching-learning strategies, and have been orchestrated in unique ways! For example one of the finalists is a course titled: BeerX: The science of Beer. The passed out learners of that course, have created the videos explaining various steps in the making of a beer. This is a unique example of peer-instruction applied in real sense!

We are quite hopeful about our performance in the ‘Fundamentals of 3D visualization‘, course. Currently, it has more than 11000 learners, and we experience a vibrant discussion forum with many threads being generated and discussed! We also have 7 discussion forum moderators, on the vigil (all 7 days) to respond to each and every post!

We request your support and wishes as we wait for the announcement!
May the best course win!

मदत

काही महिन्यांपूर्वी, सोनाली नवांगुळ ह्या प्रसिद्ध लेखिकेने ‘मला TEDTalk चे बोलावणे आले आहे, तुमच्या सूचना किंवा कल्पना असतील तर जरूर कळवा’, असं facebook वर पोस्ट केलं होतं. ते वाचून (आणि TED Talks ची महती ऐकून माहित असल्याने), माझ्या लक्षात आलं की सोनाली तिथे काही प्रेसेंटेशन करू शकेल. ते अतिशय सुटसुटीत असावं असं मला वाटलं, आणि मी (फारशी ओळख नसताना) तिला निरोप पाठवला कि मी तुझ्या सादरीकरण साठी मदत करू इच्छितो! तिचं लगेचच उत्तर आलं, “मला आवडेल! तुला तुझ्या कामाच्या व्यापातून करता येणार असेल तर नक्की करूया!”.

मग आम्ही काही वेळा त्या विषयावर बोलून, आराखडा ठरवला, आणि मी तिने पाठवलेल्या ६ स्लाईड्स, व्यवस्थित design करून पाठवून दिल्या! हे एका वाक्यात लिहिलं आहे तितक्या सोप्या पद्धतीने प्रत्यक्षात झालं नाही! अनेक वेळा दुरुस्त्या करून, अखेर तिच्या कार्यक्रमाच्या दिवशी ते तिला पाठवलं! ह्या कामात, माझे नेहमीचे सहकारी… सचिन सोनावणे आणि सलमान, ह्यांनी मोलाची मदत केली…कारण त्या काळात मी सतत प्रवासात होतो!

असो! चित्रीकरण झालं! तिचा निरोप आला..की बरं झालंय! काल तिनं त्याचा व्हिडीओ पाठवला! आणि, त्याच्याबद्दल लिहिलेल्या माहिती मध्ये, माझा ठळक उल्लेख केलेला वाचला! इनमीन १० सेकंद (सहाही स्लाईड्स एकत्रितपणे मोजल्यास!) दिसणाऱ्या माझ्या ‘मदती’चं जाहीर कौतिक वाचून मस्त वाटलं! इतक्या मोठ्या (मनाच्या) लेखिकेकडून दाद मिळाली. आपण उगाच ‘देण्याचा’ किंवा ‘घेण्याचा’ बाऊ करतो!

तिच्याच शब्दात सांगायचं तर: मदत respectfully देता घेता येते! सोनाली, जेव्हा तू आमच्याकडून काही घेतेस, तेव्हा समाजात काही चांगले बदल होतील म्हणून आम्ही निर्धास्त आणि सकारात्मक होतो आणि तुला तुझ्या सत्कार्यात जमेल तसे जोडून घेतो!

हा व्हिडियो पहा..म्हणजे मला काय म्हणायचे आहे ते कळेल!

eBook version of the course

The 3D modeling and animation basics course has been received extremely well by many learners in India, and across the world. One of the reasons, of this is that it uses ‘Blender’, the open source 3D animation platform, as a tool to explain the concepts. I am happy to share that so far more than 3000 learners have completed the course!

In spite of this, there are many learners who would like to know about the basics. Most of them find it difficult to match the registration calendar. We have some good news to all of you:

The course is now converted to eBook format, and is available FREE from the following website: http://www.et.iitb.ac.in/ebooks.html

Here are some important features about this, that you should know:

  • It is a eBook, which can be accessed using internet. You cannot access it offline!
  • The page will prompt you to submit your eMail ID, which will be useful for us to know who all are accessing the eBook.
  • The book has the SAME videos, which are used in the course…additionally we have an Learning-By-Doing (LbD) activity under each video for you to check your understanding!
  • eBook also has scoring facility, which can be used to track your performance!

Those who want the knowledge about Blender in terms of basic modeling, and animation can use this eBook. However, in case you are looking for certification, then you should register on http://www.iitbombayx.in and enrol for the ongoing courses. These are paid courses in ‘self pace’ mode. It means that you can still join them and complete it by Dec 23.

#MOOCkarotiVachalam; #IITBombayX; #SKANI101x

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!

आठवणीतली कविता

रविवार सकाळची वेळ होती मला अचानक एक फोन आला की मी काही वेळात तुझ्या घरी पोहोचते आहे. तुम्ही घरी आहात ना? मी हो म्हटलं आणि अक्षरशः काहीवेळातच आमच्या दारात कविता उभी होती! कुहू ह्या दृक-श्राव्य कादंबरीचं काम जोरात चाललेलं असताना आमच्या फोनवर अनेक गप्पा व्हायच्या, तासनतास चर्चा व्हायच्या, वाद ही व्हायचे… परंतु प्रत्यक्ष भेटी तशा कमीच झाल्या होत्या. त्याचं मुख्य कारण म्हणजे: ती वसईला आणि मी पवईला!

त्यात माझं PhD चालू… त्यामुळे भेटींवर कमी प्रमाणात विसंबून राहून आम्ही काम रेटत होतो. या सगळ्यांमध्ये आशय हा माझा पुतण्या मोलाची कामगिरी बजावत होता. ठाणे ते गोरेगाव व्हाया पवई असा त्याचा cross country प्रवास असायचा! ह्या बाबतीत दुसरा हनुमंत म्हणजे संजय सोनवणे तो पवई ते वसई अशी ये जा करायचा. या दोघांव्यतिरिक्त मी पवई मध्ये काम करण्यासाठी एक गोतावळाच जमवला होता: चिंतामणी जोगळेकर सारखा फोटोग्राफर, प्रकाश जडियार आणि संदीप तीरमारे सारखे व्हिडीओ एडिटर, स्नेहा देवरुखकर आणि कौमुदी यांनी ऍनिमेशनचे धुरा सांभाळली होती, संदीप गायकवाड डिझाईन करण्यासाठी, राज दुसाने calligraphy आणि या सगळ्यांवर कडी म्हणजे आमचे ७५ वर्षाचे तरुण, वैशंपायन काका! ते पण जमेल तसे ऑडिओ एडिटिंग किंवा DVD writing करायला मदत करायचे!

कविताने सांगितल्या प्रमाणे मी सगळ्यांनाच येण्याचं आमंत्रण दिलं होतं आणि तिनेच सांगितल्याप्रमाणे काही खाण्यापिण्याचे पदार्थही मागवून ठेवले होते. कविता वर आली आणि सगळ्यांना बघून तिला फार बरं वाटलं! कारण काहीजणांना नव्हे जवळजवळ सगळ्यांनाच ती पहिल्यांदाच भेटत होती. कविताशी सगळ्यांची ओळख झाली. तिने त्यांची विचारपूस केली. प्रत्येकाच्या कामाबद्दल ती बोलली आणि हळूच तिने गाडीतून आणलेला बॉक्स आणायला सांगितला. बॉक्स वर आणल्यावर तिने इतक्यावेळ कोपऱ्यात बसून हे सगळं बघणाऱ्या माझ्या मुलीला सावनीला पुढे बोलवलं. मांडीवर बसवलं आणि म्हणली सावनी, तुला हा बॉक्स उघडायचा आहे बर कां! कारण त्यात कुहू ची पहिली प्रत छापून आली आहे! आणि माझी अशी इच्छा आहे की की ज्यांच्यासाठी कुहू मी लिहिली आहे त्या वयोगटाची प्रतिनिधी म्हणून तूच या पुस्तकाचं अनावरण करावं! सगळ्यांनी टाळ्या वाजवल्या आणि सावनीने मोठ्या खुशीत तो बॉक्स उघडला आणि कुहू ची प्रत बाहेर काढली!

आम्ही सगळे अक्षरशः स्तंभित होतो, आश्चर्यचकित होतो! इतके महिने ज्याच्यावर आम्ही काम करतोय त्याचं मूर्तस्वरूप इतकं सुरेख दिसत होतं, की आत्तापर्यंतचा सगळा ताण, सगळे श्रम कुठल्या कुठे पळून गेले! कविताने आम्हा सगळ्यांना प्रत दिली! मला आणि कौमुदीला तिने स्वतःच्या हस्ताक्षरात लिहून दिलेलं पत्र दिलं आणि म्हणाली, “सगळं बोलणं शक्य नव्हतं त्यामुळे लिहून दिलंय! सावकाश वाचा आणि कळवा!”

आज अनेक वर्षांनी ही घटना आठवते आणि या माझ्या मैत्रिणीचं एक अतिशय हृद्य रूप डोळ्यासमोर येतं! सावनीला कदाचित उमजले ही नसेल की तिला केवढा मोठा सन्मान मिळाला होता! पण कविताचा मोठेपणा सर्वांना कळावा, म्हणून हा लेखन प्रपंच!

आज कविता ला जाऊन एक वर्ष झालं पण तिने दिलेलं हा क्षण आयुष्यभर लक्षात राहील! त्याचा फोटो नसला म्हणून काय झालं…तुम्हाला दिसला ना?

MOOC as an enabler 02

After the start of the self pace mode of the course in 2016, I browsed through the list of the toppers in the earlier offering, and saw a name having an eMail ID of Somaiya College. I got curious, since I was going to visit that college the next week.

I mailed the participant: Suraj Walunj. I also gave him my cell phone number, and was waiting for his call/mail. A brief response came back, and had his cellphone number. I called him up hastily, and I heard, ‘Bol naa…‘, from the other end! Puzzled, I tried adding as much baritone to my voice and said, ‘Hello, I am Sameer Sahasrabudhe, and I called you regarding the 3D animation course you completed few months back!‘. There was a silence for few seconds, and then I suddenly heard an apologetic voice, ‘Sorry Sir, actually I thought it was some friend..! So spoke to you in a casual manner, Sorry‘. It took me a long time to convince him, that I did not feel offended, on the contrary I was eager to meet him! We decided to meet on the Saturday, at Somaiya, and I was looking forward to that meeting. In next few seconds, I got an SMS, ‘Sorry Sir‘!!

… At Somaiya, I had a session up to 1 PM, and a break for an hour for lunch. I had kept a message at the office to ask Suraj Walunj to wait for me if he comes early! I hurried to the office, after my session, and saw a student waiting!!, it was Suraj! Thin, lean, but brimming with confidence and showing the anxiety of meeting the ‘online teacher’ in person! I asked him about his education, family, and aspirations… and unfolded another story of a phoenix!

Suraj, comes from a Marathi family, and is pursuing his final year of B Sc in IT at Somaiya college, Vidyavihar. He had a strong liking for drawing, painting, and film making, however since the scope for these professions is rather unstable (which is not completely true), his family insisted him to pursue B Sc (IT).  Quite reluctantly, did he started, but was missing his passion at times. He did show the spark, when he bagged awards for the fine arts competitions at Mood Indigo (the cultural fest of IIT Bombay). He was pleasantly surprised to know about this course! Enrolled for it, and put in 100% of his efforts, to be among the toppers of the course.

One thing which was good to hear from him, was that he hasn’t left Blender, after the course. A video submission for the Multimedia, course in the class, made him use his Blender skills, and he created a nice video:

He learnt low-poly animation, and completed this animation using his i3 computer having 4GB of RAM, and 10 sleepless nights!! Over this period, he also taught some basic animation techniques to some of his friends!! He aspires to become an animator one day, and is working towards it, by grabbing every possible opportunity which comes his way!

As I write his story in 2019, Suraj has completed his graduation. I recommended his name to the Chemical engineering department of IITB, where he created some interesting animations to show the flow of water (for a fluid dynamics laboratory). Further, he was picked up by the IDC for creating an interactive installation for the National Museum at New Delhi. You can have a look at some of his works here (the best are yet to come on this page!)

Hats off to you Suraj, for the sustaining your passion!! Keep it up, and all the very best!