So, I Asked India on Reddit if it’s interested in the volunteer work towards teaching rural kids up to 8th class in India, through eVidyaLoka, that I recently joined. So, there were some major concerns that people had regarding quality control of teachers, which I’d say is managed well by the initial Skype interview, subsequent training manuals and resources available. Off course there are going to be issues in this system as well. There is scope for improvement. Personally, I would mention the fact that the only other way I’ve contributed towards social change is through donating money to NGOs, which is an indirect impact. Here I can have a direct impact.
I’d like to summarize my teaching experience for the past few weeks. I am teaching Maths to 8th class students in a village in Jharkhand. I teach through Skype. I am teaching in Hindi, which is their medium of education. I teach two times a week for one hour each time during my lunch break from 1 to 2 pm. I have 25 students in my class.
There is a representative from eVidyaloka present in class. However, I found that children are smart enough to run skype themselves in the absence of the representative.
I will have to say that this is more difficult than what I expected. Teaching is a hard and undervalued job and I understand that now. It requires a lot of attention, especially in making the class interactive enough, to talk continuously, and to remember each student’s name so that they know that they are important to the teacher. The one hour that I contribute completely exhausts me, especially if it’s a busy day on my day job as well. However, I’ll get used to this soon I believe.
There are a few problems that I face off course. I did not expect there will be TWENTY FIVE students in my class. And I can’t see everybody’s face very clearly unless I call them to the front, closer to the camera, to talk to them. So, individual communication is a little problem.
In some cases, students also have an allotted school teacher from their government schools. I found that the kids have a teacher of their own through the school as well who is teaching them Mathematics. So, it’s not that we have a lot of pressure. The goal of us extra teachers is just to supplement the government school teachers. I am yet to talk to the school’s maths teacher and we’ll probably divide syllabus and I’ll probably take some of the more difficult chapters. There are some essential skills that we can teach them, in the field of technology as well, like going to the GPS to show them mine or their location, googling meanings of things to find meaning ourselves etc.
eVidyaloka has a strong library of content to be taught in class. These include lesson plans, worksheets, Video links and images along with translations of keywords. All of these are extremely helpful in saving time required for preparing for a class. They provide essential links to the major resources that are already extensively available online, even in Hindi, that we can very frequently use. These include KhanAcademy (Yes, available in Hindi!) and several Govt of India websites. I have shown a link below.
The class representative provided helps in distributing and evaluating worksheets. This is not to say that there are no drawbacks in online teaching. Like I mentioned, I cannot see individual faces very well. Also, I don’t have that well a control over the noise making elements of the class so far, but I am still learning myself :), and there are a lot of things that I have to learn from my coworkers, that I can put into practice, to be a better online teacher!
That finally brings me to the final topic of the post, which is interaction with co-workers. I got a link to join Workplace, which I discovered is the business version of facebook, by Facebook. So, I could interact with co-workers. Some of them had shared videos as well, about their experiences, and important lessons, which was helpful as well.
In the end, I’d say, this is a nice learning experience for me, as well as for the rural kids of the country. I see a lot of potential towards social transformation in eVidyaloka. To the people who get motivated to work for it, I’d say that this is not as easy as it sounds, and the effort involved is definitely more than the simple two hours, but by pushing myself a little, I have managed to do it, and you can too.