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!

MOOC as an enabler 01

Last few years, where I have been teaching this online 3D animation course, has also been a learning experience for me! I have met many young (not that I am old!!), minds, having passion, and aspiration to do something!

Many of the engineering graduate students have their goals, however, there are few who aren’t sure of ‘what next?’. In fact, there are many of them, who feel, they cannot answer this question, ‘what next?’. It is because, they were not given a chance to choose their path!! Many admit that ‘engineering’ was NOT their choice as a career, but a compulsive plan forced on them by their parents/relatives, to which they had to take up! This is a suffocating situation for them, since academic pressure is increasing every passing day, and they just don’t feel that they ‘belong’ here!! 


Romey, wrote a mail on my personal ID. ‘Want to talk to you, I am in a dilemma’, was the subject line. Curious about it, I read the entire mail. Romey was in his first year on Computer Science Engineering, in a good college. However, towards the end of his first semester, he realised that his passion DOES NOT lie in Computer Science! 

After he completed the SKANI101x course, he realised his passion lies in graphics, animation, gaming and visualization!! Therefore, he wrote to me, with a request to allow him in changing his course to B.Sc Computers. He was clear that by changing over, he will still have CS education, minus the pressure, and he can freely explore 3D animation!

I called him the same night and had a chat with him. I suggested him to wait and watch till the first semester results were out, and then take a call. Also, since I didn’t want him to be a empty mind, I suggested him to work as a ‘beta tester’ for my subsequent course offering. He started off nicely, and soon, I was getting his mails about the errors in the quizzes, we were going to release, or interesting reviews about some of the submissions by the participants in the course!

His results too came in, and as expected he flunked a (theory) subject and was borderline for couple others. However, he scored a ‘A’ in the practicals! I got in touch with his teachers at the college (Prof. Nirmala), and they were quite cooperative! During the call, she mentioned that after he started as a ‘Beta tester’, his confidence level was on the rise! He was enjoying it, and was quite proud of that fact! I told her to make him interact with someone, who understood the theory subject well, and she happily agreed. Romey did well as a Beta tester in the course, and we sent him a letter of appreciation! The college took appropriate cognizance of this, and allowed him to free his wings further.

It has been 3 years now, and I have seen him grow! He was invited for a talk on Blender 3D at an intercollegiate symposium in the city, was interviewed by Kalaignar TV, published a short research paper, and also bagged a project from Tamilnadu government for creating a VR version for the Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavoor!

Last month I got a call from him where he told me that he has completed his graduation by securing a FIRST class!

It is quite an experience to see this type of positive change in a person! All the best Romey, you are a star!

MOOC karoti vachalam

मूकं करोति वाचालं पंगुं लंघयते गिरिम् ।
यत्कृपा तमहं वन्दे परमानन्दमाधवम् ॥

By whose grace dumbs start talking, lame men climb mountains,
I worship that Sri Krishna, the supreme bliss.
(Courtesy: Sanskrit Subhashitmala)

I have used the first stanza of this verse and slightly tweaked it to narrate the examples where I have found the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to be an enabler in the current online education scenario.

MOOC_Karoti_Vachaalam_SmallMOOCs are one of the strongest mediums to reach out to those who seek knowledge and education. During the span of 2 years of offering MOOCs, I have come across some amazing and inspiring anecdotes of how people learn. In this series, I will try to to discuss these anecdotes through the blog posts. I hope you like them and I also hope you participate by adding your stories to these and enrich this exchange.

Looking forward to your comments, participation, and anecdotes which you have come across!

If you have been a learner of my MOOC (or any MOOC for that matter), please write a comment about the way in which the MOOC has been an enabler for you!

#MOOCkarotiVachalam #SKANI101x

गुरुपुराण |४| माझे अनिमेशन गुरु




१९९५ मध्ये जेव्हा ॲनिमेशन शिकण्यासाठी मी हैदराबादला गेलो त्यावेळी तिथे आम्हाला ही कला शिकवण्यासाठी रशियन शिक्षक येणार आहेत असं सांगण्यात आलं होतं. ह्या गोष्टीची आम्हाला सर्वात जास्त उत्सुकता लागली होती, आणि तिथे गेल्यापासून हे शिक्षक आम्हाला कधी भेटतायेत असं झालं होतं!  मुलाखती दरम्यान त्यांचं ओझरतं दर्शन झालं होतं पण कॉलेजच्या पहिल्या दिवशी त्यांची खऱ्या अर्थाने ओळख करून देण्यात आली. सगळ्यात महत्त्वाची गोष्ट आमच्या नजरेत भरली ती म्हणजे त्यांचा आधुनिक आणि आदबशीर पेहराव. ॲनिमेशन क्षेत्रात शिकण्यास जाण्याच्या कल्पनेनेच आमच्या वर्गातल्या अनेक जणांनी चित्रविचित्र प्रकारच्या टी-शर्ट आणि जीन्स घालायला सुरुवात केली होती, विविध प्रकारच्या केशरचना अंगावर टॅटू आणि बरेच काही! या सगळ्या पार्श्वभूमीवर जेव्हा शिक्षक म्हणून अलेक्झांडर आणि विक्टर सरांची आम्हाला ओळख करून देण्यात आली तेव्हा ते दोघे अगदी वेगळे दिसले! दोघांनीही स्वच्छ पांढरे शर्ट त्यावर लालचुटूक टाय आणि मंद रंगसंगतीचे कोट घातले होते. ह्या पेहरावात ते ॲनिमेटर असतील अशी आम्ही कल्पनाच केली नव्हती!

AlexabderSirसुरुवातीच्या ओळखीनंतर आम्ही जेव्हा वर्गात गेलो तेव्हा अलेक्झांडर सर त्यांच्या दुभाषा सह वर्गात दाखल झाले. ते अतिशय शांतपणे परंतु पुरेपूर हावभावासह बोलायचे. त्यांच्या दुभाष्याने त्यांची माहिती सांगायला सुरुवात केली यावरून हे कळलं की अलेक्झांडर डव्हीडव्ह हे मॉस्को येथील सोयूझ मल्टी फिल्म ह्या प्रसिद्ध ॲनिमेशन स्टुडिओचे ते ॲनिमेटर होते. वास्तविक अलेक्झांडर सर घरचे सधन होते परंतु रशियातल्या सैनिकी कार्याच्या सक्तीमुळे ते काही काळ सैन्यातही होते आणि अखेर ॲनिमेशनच्या आवडीमुळे त्यांनी अभ्यास आणि साधना करून ॲनिमेटर म्हणून स्वतःचे स्थान निर्माण केलं होतं. बोलता बोलता त्यांनी त्यांचा कोट काढून खुर्चीला लावला आणि स्वच्छ पांढरा शर्ट च्या बाह्या मुडपून पेन्सील हातात घेतली.

त्यांनी पेन्सिल च्या जोरकस रेषांनी भाव दर्शवणारी चित्र काढायला सुरुवात केली त्यावरून त्यांच्यावर आमची अढळ श्रद्धा बसली. ॲनिमेशनच्या गुंतागुंतीच्या प्रक्रियेमध्ये चित्रकलेचं महत्व, ते अतिशय समर्थपणे आम्हाला दाखवत असत. चित्रातील बारकावे सखोल निरीक्षणातून कसे येतात याचं त्यांनी आम्हाला अनेक वेळा सोदाहरण विषद केलं.

आमचा वर्ग त्याबाबतीत सुदैवी होता, कारण त्यांनी आम्हाला एक दिवस चक्क कॅमेरा घेऊन शेजारच्या मैदानावर निरीक्षणासाठी नेलं. आम्ही तिथे असलेल्या सर्व प्राणीमात्रांची चित्रं काढली आणि कॅमेऱ्यांनी त्यांच्या सगळ्या हालचाली टिपल्या. त्याच दिवशी, त्यांनी स्वतः धावपटूची एक नक्कल केली, ती पाहून आम्हांला हसून हसून दमायला झालं! परत येताना आमच्या लक्षात एक गोष्ट आली, की आज दिवसभर आम्ही सरांशी इतकावेळ बोललो, हसलो, पण दुभाषा नसताना! 

VictorSirअलेक्झांडर सरांच्या नेमके उलट आमचे विक्टर सर होते. अलेक्झांडर हे सरळ केस योग्य पद्धतीने भांग पाडून चापून चोपून बसवलेले दाढी मिशा सफाचट असे, तर त्याउलट व्हिक्टर सर मात्र सोनेरी पिंगट केसांची वेणी असलेले, आणि बुल्गानिन पद्धतीची दाढीमिशी असलेले! या त्यांच्या रुपामुळे आम्हाला त्यांची भीती वाटायची. 

व्हिक्टर अरसेनटिव्ह सरांचं बोलणं अतिशय जोरकस आणि ठाम असायचं त्यांच्या ओरडून करण्याच्या पद्धतीला त्यांचे दुभाषी तेवढीच तोलामोलाची साथ द्यायचे, आणि जोरकस इंग्रजी शब्द वापरून त्यांचा ‘भावार्थ’ आमच्या पर्यंत पोहोचवायचे. ते रागीट वाटत असली तरीही कलेच्या बाबतीत ते मृदू स्वभावाचे होते. चित्र काढताना टेबलाची व्यवस्था कशी असावी, तुमची तयारी कशी करावी, वस्तू कुठे असाव्यात ह्याबाबतीत त्यांचे नियम अतिशय कडक होते. वर्गात फेरी मारताना एखाद्या वेळी आपल्या टेबलाजवळ ते थांबले किंवा आपण त्यांना शंका विचारण्यासाठी बोलवलं तर बऱ्याचदा पहिली दहा मिनिटं आपलं अव्यवस्थित टेबल नीट करण्यात ते घालवत असत. एका बाजूनी तोंडाचा पट्टा सुरु असे आणि दुसऱ्या हाताने टेबल आवरणे सुरु असे.

सगळ्यात आधी ते पेन्सिलीची जागा बघत आणि एखादीच पेन्सिल दिसली तर ते पहिल्यांदा ओरडायचे! तुम्ही कलाकार आहात, तुमची तंद्री लागलेली असताना मध्ये पेन्सिलीचं टोक तुटलं तर तुमची तंद्री भंग पावते, म्हणून तीन ते चार पेन्सिली व्यवस्थित टोक काढून तयार असायला हव्यात. खोड-रबरचा छोटासा तुकडा इकडे तिकडे पडतो, आणि आयत्यावेळी हाताला लागत नाही म्हणून त्याला दोरा बांधून ते सहज हाताला लागेल अशी व्यवस्था करायला हवी. कागद योग्य कप्प्यांमध्ये हवेत त्यामुळे कोरा कागद नेमका हाताला लागेल. दिवा चालू पाहिजे आणि त्याचा अँगल आपल्यावर व्यवस्थित प्रकाश पडेल असाच हवा. खुर्चीची उंची व्यवस्थीतच हवी… इत्यादि गोष्टींकडे लक्ष ठेवावे त्यामुळे आपल्याला काम करताना कुठल्याही प्रकारचा शारीरिक थकवा जाणवणार नाही.

हे सगळं साग्रसंगीत मांडल्यावर मग ते चित्र काढायला सुरुवात करायचे. चित्र काढताना त्या चित्राबद्दलची माहिती सांगत असत. उदाहरणार्थ कोंबडी चालत असताना तिचा शेपटीचा भाग कसा वर होतो किंवा तिची चोच कशी वर करते, याचं उदाहरण ते त्यांचे बोटांचा आणि मानेचा वापर करून सातत्याने दाखवत असत. ॲनिमेटरच्या टेबलावरचा आरसा ते अतिशय खुबीने वापरत असत आणि हातांच्या वेगवेगळ्या आकृत्या करून त्याच्यामधून योग्य ते भाव निर्माण करून त्याचे चित्र काढत.

आमचा तीन वर्षाचा कालावधी संपल्यावर हे शिक्षक रशियाला परत जाताना आम्हाला अत्यंत वाईट वाटलं. या तीन वर्षाच्या काळातल्या प्रत्येक क्षणाला त्यांनी गुरूच्या नात्याने ज्ञानदान केले, आणि आयुष्यभर साथ देणारी ‘दृष्टी’ दिली!

Selected as 2019 edX Prize Finalist!

edX_PrizeExtremely delighted to share the news that the Fundamentals of 3D visualization program from IITBombayX has been selected as one of the 10 finalists for the edX Prize 2019! It is a result of the visionary leadership of Prof. DB Phatak, Prof. Sridhar Iyer, Prof. Sudarshan; and the support from the entire team at IITBombayX led by Dr. Kalpana Kannan. It was her team member: Urmila Deshmukh, who was the first one to suggest that I file my nomination! Thank you Urmila for that!

This program could not have been possible without the support from my co-instructors: Kaumudi Sahasrabudhe, Nitin Ayer, and Sneha Deorukhkar. The production and the post-production teams (Shekhar Ovhal), teaching assistants, and the discussion forum moderators have been crucial in creating this. My colleagues Heramb Sukhthankar, Nitin Ayer, Amit Shukla, Sandeep Gaikwad, and Md. Salman worked painstakingly, through the data of the 54000 learners to create an impressive nomination! Your hardwork has paid off boys!

This program, has more than 25000 learners registered (over the 4 offerings so far). Interestingly, the completion rate of these skill courses has been over 65%.

I have had the fortune of interacting with most vibrant participants who have made this journey memorable! Being in top 10 teachers itself is a great feeling! and I will be forever indebted to all those who have made this possible! We keep our fingers crossed and await the final result! Keep those wishes pouring in!