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VidhyaSangam - A Cost-Effective Video eLearning Solution for Class-Room and Students Personal Use with App based Assessment module

Introduction:
Using technology in the class room is not new. It is becoming very evident in the education psychology research findings that the current approach to the teaching and knowledge delivery in the majority of the schools need to be enhanced and augmented with additional methods like using smart boards with video content and images etc. This can help to get the children more engaged in the class room. It also improves the learning outcomes since Science and Social subjects have a lot of activities and information related to experiments or places. Students will grasp the concepts easily if demonstrated using the corresponding real life activity videos rather than plain animation videos. For example, many of the high schools may not have the relevant equipment to demonstrate a cathode ray tube experiment. But same thing can be shown as a video with complete end to end demonstration of removing the air in a glass tube, applying high voltage and finally showing the actual blue cathode rays emitted out of the cathode.

Video Learning Solutions:
There have been many players in the market place providing e-learning solutions. E.g. Educomp, Edurite, Extramarks, Tata Class Edge etc. These solutions are very much hardware centric with their own central servers deployed at the schools premises and many times to be purchased with display boards and computers. This caused problem to the schools for quick adoption due cost factors. The content was bundled independent of the text-books which causes inconvenience to the teachers in terms locating a right video to be shown while teaching. Due to nature of solution deployment, it was not easy to update the content. A dedicated staff will have to visit each school and do content upgradation on regular basis whenever there is change in the syllabus. All these issues caused difficulties to the solution developers as well as to the schools. This resulted in slower adoption of technology based learning in the schools. Out of millions of schools in India, only small fraction of the schools has adopted the technology based learning in the class room. There is vast amount of content freely available on the internet in the form of Videos, Images and presentations. However, getting the right digital content is a very painful process as there is lot of searching involved, to get the content which is highly relevant, high quality and authentic and this leads to precious time been wasted. This presents an “Abundance” problem where the user is bombarded with too many choices having more noise than the signal.

Internet Technologies and Penetration:
With vast penetration mobile phones in the country as well as mobile internet usage, the exposure to technology is exponentially increasing and newer ways of using the technology for improving productivity are being deployed. Mobile and broad-band penetration are continuously increasing. Additionally, government initiatives such as digital India and Start-up India are paving ways for technology based solutions being developed and deployed. With the focus of Government of India to improve the connectivity to the rural areas, there are enough opportunities to provide new solutions to deliver better education solutions to these areas. Additionally there is a scarcity of qualified teachers to be deployed across the country. To overcome this problem, there is an urgent to deploy ICT based learning solutions in these areas making use of the vastly available connectivity solutions.

Learning cycle – Stages: The whole learning process can be split into three major stages.
1. Understanding/Grasping of concepts
2. Exam Preparation
3. Assessment.
VidhyaSangam addresses all the three aspects for the learning process as follows:

1. Understanding: VidhyaSangam provides contextualized video content inside the text books. This helps in students to understand the context in which the video is playing and grasp the concepts in a better way. They can replay as many times as possible till the concepts are clear. This helps in students to learn at their own pace without any external pressure or force. This will reduce the mental struggle for the students and relieve the mind for better absorption of the concepts.

2. Exam Preparation: VidhyaSangam has partnered with a leading work book publisher – Rao’s Academy which publishes the work books for all the subjects for 8th to 10th standards. These work books contain all possible questions (multiple choice, fill in the blanks, match the following, short questions and long answer questions) chapter wise. These work books help the students in preparation for the examinations and proven to be handy. These work books are prepared by qualified and experienced teachers. These work books are made available on-line for students for anytime anywhere access.

3. Assessment: Students need help in knowing where do they stand with respect to their preparations and teachers need to know the knowledge gap among the students. To aid this, normally unit tests/formative assessments are conducted. Now with the help of the technology the students can do a quick check of their understanding using – AnyTime Learn - Android application. AnyTime Learn is a personalized assessment solution making use of the questions from the work books from Rao’s academy. The students will get a weekly assignment – chapter by chapter and they can take a self-test to know their understanding of the chapter. Upon test completion the student shall receive an personalized evaluation report with video recommendations to enhance their learning and improve their score. Based on the assessment result, they can then revisit the respective chapter/section on VidhyaSangam to improve further.

VidhyaSangam has developed contextualized video content aligned with the textbooks. This solution is available to be used by the teachers in the classroom as per individual teacher needs and at home by the students. Currently, VidhyaSangam has covered the English Medium content for Karnataka State Syllabus – Science and Social subjects, for 8-10 standards and CSBE syllabus – Science, Maths and Social subjects for 8-10 standards. Videos which explain the various activities, concepts have been selected from YouTube, verified for suitability and linked within the text-books at the appropriate places. The video links are also highlighted with a video icon and a pink bar for easy identification. This solution was pilot tested in different schools and found to be acceptable. Based on the response received during the pilot run and test deployment in various schools, VidhyaSangam has completed the content curation and linking activities and made the solution available online via the www.vidhyasangam.com portal. Additionally, VidhyaSangam has collaborated with Rao’s Academy to include the exam preparation work books from Class 8 to 10 – Science, Social and Maths subjects and Android Based chapter by chapter assessment App from Class 8 to 10 – Science, Maths and Social subject. This helps the teachers to do quick revision in the classroom and also the students for exam preparation.

How the Solution is implemented?
There is vast amount free content available on the internet. The current problem is of “abundance”. Hence, major activity undertaken by VidhyaSangam team was to harvest the relevant content from the Internet and linking the content in the text-books. Around 4000 plus videos are harvested for Karnataka state board and CBSE syllabus for Science, Maths and Social subjects. Wherever relevant video was not available, in-house production of videos was done. Additional care was taken to ensure that:
• The content matches exactly whatever is needed to augment/support the text book content.
• The accent of the narrator is understandable by the students of non-English speaking population.
• The video time is limited to 3-5 minutes to ensure that the class/students time is not engulfed in videos.
• More focus is given on real life videos rather than animation.
• Each textbook page has at least one video linked to an important keyword.

The text-books were scanned wherever the corresponding PDF files were not available. For each of the chapters, important keywords, concepts and activities were identified and corresponding videos were shortlisted. The videos were double checked to ensure that they matches exactly with the keyword/activity under focus. Once that is checked, the URL of the video was inserted into the scanned PDF document at the exact location of the keyword inside the text book. To quickly identify the URL, depending on the content type appropriate visual icon such as video icon or image icon was inserted with the keyword highlighted in pink colour as can be seen in the demo video on the home page. This contextualization process helps the teacher or the student to access the relevant video at the right place and time using a single click.

The Kaybus knowledge automation platform provides the necessary features to manage the content library (PDF files with the inserted video links). It provides mechanism for user administration (user registration and login, access management and group management). Content can be selectively assigned to schools and students. It also provides analytics to track and monitor the content usage pattern at a user level. In addition to Video learning we also have Android based personalized assessment App which the students can use to practice for exams. Based on the score the App shall propose the recommended learning videos which will help the students to enhance their learning.

Analytics: VidhyaSangam has also built in analytics capabilities which capture both user level analytics as well as system level analytics such as number of views, number of searches, number of active users, percentage completion of each chapter etc. This shall be used in providing student level guidance as well as system level administration activities. The analytics let us know most widely accessed sections/chapters, number of users actively using the system etc.

User Pilot Study:
Once initial prototype was available, there was pilot study done in 4 state board schools in Bangalore for a period of 2 months.The study was done in a live classroom session using projector and speakers.The objective of this user study was to get the feedback from teachers and students on :
1. Usefulness of the content/solution in the classroom setup
2. Seamless content integration into the textbooks and non-intrusive user experience

The schools that participated is this study were:
1. Modern Public School at RT Nagar, Bangalore
2. St Johns School at Nagarbhavi, Bangalore
3. Maria Niketan School at Cox Town, Bangalore
4. Servite School at Cox Town, Bangalore

Other Data Points
• Classes covered – 5th, 6th & 10th
• Subjects – Science and Social Studies
• Total Teachers participated – 30
• Total Classrooms - 7
• Total Chapters – 12

Key Feedback/Learnings
• Teachers and Students liked the overall Solution along with the videos. Teachers felt that the solution will be very helpful for the students
• One teacher felt the videos were much better than the lab activity they do there
• Showing real life videos is useful as compared to animation as the topic becomes more interesting, engaging and captivating e.g showing real experiments or using real fish to show parts of fish
• Teachers liked the simplicity, easy to understand and effective format of the experimental videos
• Teachers like the concept of short videos as it doesn't waste too much time especially in the classroom
• Contextual textbook linking helps in easily understanding the video context. Video lives in the textbook
• The user experience is very natural, seamless and non intrusive.
• Students were fascinated with some of the real life videos they saw e.g Giant sequoia, Flying fish, Blue Whale etc. Which means a combination of experimental, concept and documentary kind of videos shall help in stimulating learning
• Teachers and students were asking for more video session for other chapters also.
• In one session for Class 10 science chapter , half way in the chapter ,the teacher asked to students to clap for us as the students understood the concepts very well using the videos.
• For few videos we need to take care of the accent issues

Customer adoption
After getting positive feedback during the pilot studies, VidhyaSangam launched the solution to the market place after having the content for Science, Maths and Social subjects for Class 8 to 10 - Karnataka State and CBSE Syllabus. The response from the schools was overwhelming. Each of the school which was ready for technology adoption but had not started to use, quickly decided to use VidhyaSangam solution. Around 25 schools in Bangalore have registered and made it a regular practice to incorporate VidhyaSangam sessions in the class room.
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