Shuddhi Vidhya Report 2020

Video version offering context for this report and speaking about some challenges faced

Our efforts as an organisation during 2020 has fully gone into the Shuddhi Vidhya initiative and this post is a detailed chronological report on what went into the initiative. We specifically detail our collaboration with Isha Vidhya, since that is primarily what went on during the whole of 2020.

12 March 2020

I got in touch with the admin team behind Isha Vidhya to discuss a potential collaboration where I could help the Isha Vidhya students learn coding for free.

01 June 2020

After some internal discussions and sending in written proposals about why they should be enthusiastic about our program and what it would achieve, I was asked to prepare a course for the students to learn coding remotely. Remember this was happening with the pandemic and lockdowns going on in the background.

06 July 2020

After receiving approval from the Isha Vidhya team, I quickly planned out and put together a course to teach the students the basics of web development using HTML, CSS and JS. I had to design it to only involve the use of smartphone to learn. It had to be done on short notice and at the time, I wasn’t sure the extent to which the students will be able to cope with the difficulty of the course material. With the assistance of the teachers at Isha Vidhya, we created WhatsApp groups for each class of each school so that the students can be communicated with and kept up to date. And they could use those groups to get clarifications.

19 July 2020

We noticed that the WhatsApp groups that we were using to communicate with the students were being ineffective in that the students’ communications were overshadowing the instructions that we were offering to them. So we decided to interface with the students using new WhatsApp groups where only admins can post. We called it, Announcement Groups. If the students had to contact us, they can choose to reply privately to our announcements. This seemed to work out a lot better.

23 July 2020

We also divided the classes into teams of 4-5 individual students and assigned one of them to be the team leader. The teachers of these classes would suggest who would be the leader and which students must come under those leaders. This was done based on the personal understanding of the teachers on which students were good enough to handle the responsibilities and who worked well together. The purpose of this setup was to have a tiered approach to leadership where the teams would deal with individual students so that a teacher of the instructor wouldn’t have to deal with all the students on their own.

28 July 2020

We launched the leaderboard app which allows the students to have a look at who’s leading in terms of points in the course and it also allows them to monitor their own progress and that of their teams, among other things. With this we have three distinct platforms that are supposed to aid the learning experience in this course. The three being the Google Classroom platform for assignments, WhatsApp for communication and leaderboard for monitoring their progress and that of their teammates and peers.

10 August 2020

After a month of struggling with the students not able to sign into the classroom properly, a lot of confusion involving the students not having their own email IDs and them using their parents’ email IDs, not knowing which email ID was associated with which student, and a lot of duplicate accounts plaguing the classroom, we decided to take a step back and restart.

This time we would ask the students to first create their own email IDs, ask them to fill out a form so that we have their email IDs and basic information about them. It was like a roster. We had to verify if the emails they have entered were without typos, and only after that verification process, we sent them invites to join the classroom. So, this time around, we had students join the classroom in a much more organised fashion.

28 October 2020

After several weeks of going ahead with the new Classroom setup, we realised that a lot of students weren’t really participating in the course. A majority of the students had joined the classroom but had never submitted anything or were inactive. We had to do something about the lack of participation.

We decided to conduct monthly meetings with the team leaders to monitor these issues with individual team members and make note of what their statuses were. On October 28th, we conducted our first meeting with the team leaders. We had to conduct an hour long session with each class, which totalled up to nine such sessions and for each of the three classes in the three schools.

Outcomes were briefly positive before things went back to being the lackadaisical normal. We’d get a spurt of submissions right after the meeting before it died out.

12 December 2020

After three such monthly meetings and not seeing major improvements, we decided that we had to do something about the poor participation issues. So we convened with the administrators of Isha Vidhya to discuss the possibility of a competition with attractive prizes to both motivate the students to participate more actively and also help them creatively express themselves by applying what they have learned in the course so far.

20 January 2021

We finalised the prizes and created posters and made an official website for the competition and announced it to the students. There seems to be a lot of interest in it from a few students who have been consistent and it has spurred some interest in those who haven’t been so active. But we’re yet to see how it will translate into results. That remains to be seen when the deadline for the competition approaches.

In case you have additional questions, please leave a comment or reach out to us on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *