Will Online Education change the face of India?

It was just another awesome day at Vedantu. We were working continuously for one vision of making Education Democratized and I was planning to take some carbohydrates and proteins which will ultimately give me energy and keep me healthy to contribute in this one and ultimate vision of all Vedans. I was about to leave my desk and suddenly I heard something very familiar… 

दिलों में तुम अपनी बेताबियाँ लेके चल रहे हो, तो ज़िंदा हो तुम…

नज़र में ख्वाबों की बिजलियाँ लेके चल रहे हो, तो ज़िंदा हो तुम…

Ohhh! Suddenly I realized that  it’s my ringtone. A call was coming from an unknown number.

I received the call and the conversation got started.

Me: Hello…Good Afternoon…Abhishek here.

Student:  Hello Sir, I am Vikas Dewangan. You remember ???

Me: Dear, I am really sorry…but can you tell me a little more about you?

Student: Sir, I am Vikas from Raipur (Raipur is the capital of Chhattisgarh). Actually, just few days back I took few sessions on Vedantu. You taught me Inorganic Chemistry and important problems in General Organic Chemistry…

Me: Ohhh…Okkk…So how’s your preparation going on? (I was not even aware about the date of JEE Examination. Can’t believe on my own stupidity)

Student: Sir, JEE mains are over. I just left the examination hall. I just want to say you Thank you Sir, Thanks a lot. I am very positive for JEE advance and sir, definitely those 6 hours will have some contribution in this.

Me: (I was very happy, It was probably one of the best moments in my life. Thanks to Vedantu for giving me such a beautiful opportunity) Hey….it’s too good to hear that. I’m very happy for you. All the very best !!

I wished him all the best for his dreams and moved on for lunch. During my lunch, I just kept thinking about how much powerful this idea can be! If we harness the true potential of online learning, we can bring a lot of change in our society.

Let’s accept this bitter truth that a very few people in our country want to become a teacher. In our society, it is neither a highly paid job nor it is considered to be a very respectful one. Isn’t it an irony that we all want an extremely qualified teacher for our kids but we don’t want our kids to be a teacher?

In urban areas,  the situation is a little better but in rural areas we are facing a huge shortage of quality teachers.  We all have a teacher inside us and online education platforms can be used to connect the rural India with plenty of these awesome teachers across the country. They may be working professional or government employees elsewhere, but they can use their free time for the benefit of the society by imparting quality education sitting at their homes.

Definitely there are few hurdles in the conceptualization of online education. The biggest hurdle is of the infrastructure that includes a Computer/Mobile, Internet access and Power supply. Let’s take them one by one –  If we talk about computer, it is not readily available for rural/urban students in our country. Mobile is a beautiful solution to this problem. 

Whiteboard-Mobile

Also, mobile is cost effective and portable over a computer any day. Vedantu has worked relentlessly to bring the whole online education concept on mobile. Download the app and experience the comfort of learning on the go, specially enjoy one-of-its-kind whiteboard which is a shared interface between the student and the teacher. Now let s discuss about the internet access. As far as the internet accessibility is concerned, Internet users are growing day by day. If you see the data of last 3 years, it is indeed encouraging. In 2014, 18% of the total population was using internet which increased to 27 % in 2015 and in 2016, the penetration is near 35% of the total population. As the population is also increasing every year by 1.2-1.3 %, the growth is really humongous. In this image you may see a comparison in between rural and urban internet users:

Another big challenge is Electricity, but there is a good news too for all of us. In order to address the lack of adequate electricity availability in the country by the platinum jubilee (2022) year of India’s independence, Government of India has launched a scheme called ‘Power for All’. This scheme will ensure that there is 24/7 continuous electricity supply provided to all households, industries and commercial establishments by creating and improving necessary infrastructures. It’s a joint collaboration of center with states to share funding and create overall economic growth. Currently 18 states have joined this scheme.

Now here are a few more facts to justify why online education can go a long way to educate not only rural India but it can change the face of whole education:

  1. Literacy rate in India – Approx 75% (Still we are far behind the world’s average that is 84%)
  1. 79.39% of the population access mobile in our country (although not all of them are using a smartphone but the way technology is evolving and smartphones are getting cheaper, in near future a substantive population will be using a smartphone)
  1. Unavailability of good teachers in rural areas: As I mentioned earlier, we all have a wonderful teacher inside us. We all were good in at least one subject during our school or college time. We can teach those subjects. Also, we have world’s largest youth population, and we can harness this underlying potential for educating all. Through an active participation from all the sections of the society and with the help of online education, we can create a revolution in the field of education. Let’s spread the idea  ‘Each one teach one’ which is a very famous phrase originated in the United States where African slaves were denied education. In the first half of the 20th century. Dr. Frank Laubach utilized the same concept to help address poverty and illiteracy in the Philippines.

According to me the whole purpose of education is to uplift the society. Education (Includes moral education too) is a powerful  blow on awful, cheap and atrocious cruelties present  in our society. Through online education and the inherent teacher within us, We can teach from anywhere to anyone sitting in any part of the country – All we’ll have to do is, believe in ourselves and have that confidence to change the world.

Ohhh! Why only India and  not Pakistan or any other country? Why not, online education can really go beyond geographical boundaries and that is one of the most beautiful aspect of this concept. I am pretty sure, soon we’ll hear some heartwarming stories of Indian teachers imparting the elixir of knowledge to millions of kids deprived of education due to poverty or terrorism worldwide. I believe the scope is infinite. You may call me ‘too optimistic,’ but you’ll agree, harnessing the true potential of online education can bring a substantial change in our societal conditions.

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I want to conclude my thoughts on high hopes by  quoting a few lines written by Harivansh Rai Bachhan.

“लहरों से डर कर नौका पार नहीं होती,

कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।

….

कुछ किये बिना ही जय जय कार नहीं होती,

कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।”

Let’s DEMOCRATIZE EDUCATION together.

 
This post is contributed by Abhishek Kumar. Abhishek Kumar is a dreamer, a poet, an avid music listener and a Chemistry enthusiast. He works with Vedantu as Manager-Academic Research and makes students fall in love with Chemistry.

 


Poor Man’s Stylus

Touchscreens have become ubiquitous interfaces. There are absolutely no barriers for using touch gestures to get things done on smartphones, tablets or any other smart devices. Even toddlers seem to quickly grasp the concepts of ‘swipe’, ‘drag’ and ‘pinch zoom’ with minimal instructions. In fact, I  have seen most of the toddlers trying ‘swipe’ on everything they interact with these days.

As with any technology, the ubiquity of use doesn’t necessarily mean the ubiquity of knowledge on how the technology works. Though people use smartphones and interact with the touchscreens many times a day, the know-how of what happens underneath our fingers still remains a mystery to many.

Here at Vedantu, when we ventured into building the entire experience of teaching and learning on a smartphone, we realized how amazing the technology is. The sheer amount of possibilities the smartphones open up for innovation blew our minds. After months of fun-filled experimentation, we have fully-functional whiteboard on smartphones and tablets running on Android. Students can continue their learning on devices which they grew up having fun with.

One of the biggest challenges we encountered while building whiteboard technology was to differentiate between the touch of a finger and that of the palm resting on the touchscreen. The challenge was more pertinent in case of tablets where the sensitive touchscreen is larger or when users prefer to use a stylus to write on the touchscreen.

We thought of researching on understanding the user experience around using stylus on Vedantu whiteboard on tablets. While we were doing so, on a weekend, I didn’t have a stylus to work with and started researching how exactly a stylus work with a touchscreen. I realized, almost every smartphone in present day’s market sports some form of capacitive touchscreen, which has an electrostatic grid above the display screen. When the user taps on this screen, charge from this grid is discharged through the skin of the finger. And that’s the simple yet powerful mechanism that detects touch on the device – Making the world go round on the fingertips!

Static

Now, after knowing the fact, I couldn’t stop my curious mind from digging deeper into details and researching about materials that can discharge the static charge from the touchscreen to simulate a finger touch. The easiest find was a piece of an aluminum foil used to wrap food in order to retain heat. I folded a small piece of foil and wrapped it around the pen and started using it, just like one would use a pen – My test stylus was ready!

I tapped on the phone and voila, it worked! The touchscreen was tricked to process it as a touch event!

Though I could navigate, writing on whiteboard was not satisfying.  So, the curious mind got to the work again – The hunt for best materials to be used for refining the writing experience while tricking the touchscreen.  I tried tin used for soldering, copper wires, capacitors from my college lab kit, metal enclosure of dead mobile batteries and whatnot! Finally found a material that was deceptively simple and ubiquitously used in packaging – Anti-static plastic! (Yeah, I actually spent quite some time before discovering something as abundantly available as this) This is the same plastic used for wrapping most of your gadgets and appliances, especially hard disks, motherboards, etc. Yes, there is a reason behind using it, this plastic discharges static current created in such gadgets/parts through friction.

The excited me, couldn’t control myself from quickly building up a prototype. I ran around the office showing off my poor man’s stylus to my fellow Vedans (yeah, that kinda gave me a high and I was enjoying my very own Eureka moment). Later sometime, while surfing the Internet, I realized that I was not the only one hacking up styli from such mundane materials. This boosted my ‘hacking spirit’ a few counts high and I couldn’t stop myself from sharing the excitement with you all through this wonderful medium provided by Vedantu – Awesome place for innovations!

I am sure a lot of you might be having your own hacking stories, do share them in the comments below, I, errr…we would love to read them 😛
About the Author

Supreeth.K.S

Supreeth works with Vedantu as an Android Engineer and enjoy watching world cinema apart from diving deep in such crazy hacking!