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!