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!

Advertisements

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

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!

Teaching-Learning at scale

Red leafJust checked the course enrollment page on http://www.iitbombayx.in, and was pleasantly surprised to see that 3000 participants have enrolled for the course. It is NOT a big deal anymore to have thousands of students. Well known fact that merely 8-10% of the MOOC participants actually complete the course, has made me think about two important issues:

  1. What will be the components of the course, which these large number of participants (from various parts of the country) will find interesting enough to complete the course?
  2. What are those components (present or absent) which will refrain the participants from completing the course?

I would seek your comments on the same, in order to address this important problem faced internationally! I would wait for your comments. Later I will edit this blog post (by referring your comments), to complete this thread, that I have started!

Keep those comments coming in…

When passed out students surpass the teacher!

There is a definite reason for the catchy title! Many students and even my animation friends often ask me, “What level have you attained in Blender?” I have to disappoint them by saying, “Not much beyond the basics”. They are flabbergasted! Many of them cannot believe their ears! Understandably so…because when you are known as a teacher in a particular domain, then it is a valid expectation that you excel in that domain! I have realised that I am not too good at the software, however, I can be a motivation for many, who want to achieve bigger things!

One such experience is worth sharing. Last year when I was offering the Architectural Visualization course on IITBombayX, I got a call from Solapur. This person was constantly asking me the difference of workflow/features between Sketchup and Blender. He was Atek!

After that call, I saw him take my course, and participating quite actively in it.

He was posting questions on the Discussion forum, as well as answering those which he could! I got another call after a week, and this time he was almost through with the Blender basics, and asking me for further ‘guidance’ to pursue his ideas! I gave him a few links and thought that was it..but NO. He used to come up with unique problems and questions, making me scratch my head and the net-pack to search all over the place and get him an answer!

After the course ended, we had found a good Discussion Forum Moderator in him, for the next offering, and he did that, quite nicely!

During that time, I started receiving well crafted images, but without a chronology of topic/theme. The images were quite good, and had a new challenge for all of us at the course team center! Have a look:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One fine day I got the reason behind this. “I am creating imagery as a freelance 3D artist, based on the requirement of the client”, he told. Well, I was not so shocked this time, since I had met another student of mine, who was doing this as a source for his pocket money!

This post is an interview (by my colleague Amit Shukla) of this great artist: Atek, who will explain us the process he is following to create imagery as a freelance artist, the pros and the cons of this, and some pointers for others to follow. He can be contacted by clicking on his name to get his eMail ID.

Q: How to get online job for Blender modelling?

There are various websites available on the net such as www.upwork.com or www.freelancer.com etc, which offer such types of jobs by the clients. All we have to do is to create our official login/ ID for the same and proceed.

People from different professions have the liberty to search for jobs as per their specifications. For instance you may filter on whatever field you belong to such as Photoshop or MS word or any other relevant software and search of modelling jobs.

We have to work strictly as per the client’s requirement. We should not use our own preferences against what they have mentioned as their requirements. We can make suggestions but the result file has to be entirely as per their requirements.

I have also suggested Sameer Sir to create such similar login for IITBombayX so that students or interested people can make use of this site and earn.

Q: How to charge them? 

The rates/charges entirely depend upon the service provider’s budget. The specifications and charges are already mentioned on the webpage. These rates are either fixed or in the form of bids. For instance, they mention beforehand that ‘Although you are agreeing to perform this job in $5, we will accept the job of someone who is willing to provide the same quality in less than $5’.Here you have to make your choice.

Q: How to handle technical things? Such as bidding the cost, transferring files, and getting payment in your account? 

Money transfer is usually done in the form of PayPal or Western Union which again entirely depends upon the service providers/clients discretion. The charges for a particular job are always mentioned on the website against that job title.

Transferring your files and then getting the money deposited into your account happens entirely on the factor of trust. You have to trust them completely because at times it happens where they mention a condition that first you transfer your files and then only we will get the money transferred into your account. Again its your choice to proceed with it or withdraw.

There are also certain deductions in the final amount that you get, the bifurcation of which is duly mentioned on the page. For instance, the amount that certain website charges is also deducted from the final amount. So if you have performed a job of $100, you may probably get some $90/$92 after making the official deductions.

Q: Any tips on estimating the charges? 

No we cannot make any estimation regarding charges; we have to agree as per the rates fixed by the clients. It is the clients who offer the job with their pre-fixed rates in the form of fixed charges or bids and it is up to our own choice to accept it or not.

The only condition to getting things done smoothly is to strictly stick to the requirements of the client with no deviations in the result file.

All the very best Atek. You are an inspiration to many, and also the answer to those who keep asking, what should I do after I do this course! Thanks!

 

Blender Meet Up @ Chennai

MEET UP_ChennaiMany of the students keep writing that they want  to meet the instructors and share their latest Blender work with the community. We do have a Blender India page floated for this, however currently it is not maintained. I make it a point to meet the Blender users (not necessarily the students of SKANI101x), whenever I travel. However, this time I am making it more formal.

Blender Meet-up at Chennai. Loyola-ICAM College of Engineering and Technology, Nungambakkam, Chennai, at 4:30 PM, on Saturday, 16th September 2017.

Please come over in case you are a Blender user, and/or student of SKANI101x, just come over. Use this opportunity to share your Blender experiences and also interact with Blender community in Chennai.

Hope to see you all there at the Loyola-ICAM College of Engineering and Technology this Saturday.

Download the poster of the event here.

 

5th time on popular demand!

SKANI101x webpageAnnouncing the animation skill development MOOC: Basic 3D animation using Blender, for the fifth time now!!! Once again in a self pace mode!!! This permits ANY-TIME entry in the course (up to November 2017), as well as watching the content and attempting the quizzes at your convenience!!!


Computer based game creation course is coming up in October 2017.
SKANI101x: Basic 3D animation using Blender, is a prerequisite for that.


It is a basic course, with an emphasis on hands on activities. There are exciting assignments, and a mini-projects in the end to create a small animation clip of your own!! Ideal as an elective lab course for colleges and institutions. Watch out for the advanced course coming up in October 2017 (for which the pre-requisite is the basic course!!)

 

Share the word!!