Published: 10th April 2020
Now, a hackathon to get teachers to brainstorm to find digital solutions to teaching problems
EdSense has already conducted this hackathon in Telangana and intends to conduct it in other states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and many others. The plans are being made for the execution
We have heard of hackathons for students, but EdTech start-up EdSense went a step ahead and launched one for teachers. Called the EdSense Smart Teacher Cloud Hackathon 2020, the six-hour-long session for Telangana was held on April 4 and the plan for conducting it for other states, and eventually conducting a nation-wide teacher's hackathon along with the state winners, is in the works.
Sunil Sathyavolu, one of the founders of the Hyderabad-based start-up, sums the goal of the hackathon perfectly when he says, "Each participant has the opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn new concepts during this online-only non-technical hackathon." Wait, non-technical? So what does the hackathon test? "It helps teachers assess their 21st century skills through a range of projects, activities and tasks which they can brainstorm over in a group," he explains.
Let's do this for teachers
Much before the lockdown was announced, EdSense, started by three friends Sunil Sathyavolu, Kiran Jupudi and Vijay Pothula, was planning to conduct a summer camp for teachers alone. And then after the lockdown was announced, they had to revisit their plan because all students and teachers would be turning to e-learning to see themselves through. "But there are teachers who are not tech-savvy or have apprehensions towards digital technology. This digital hackathon is particularly for these teachers, so that they can break the barrier when it comes to their technical inhibitions," shares Sunil.
e-Certificates | (Pic: EdSense)
The hackathon tested collaboration and communication skills, problem-solving abilities, the ability to work in a team and more. How, you ask? Questions like if the school management gave you one crore to develop digital technology in schools, what would you do? How would you engage students virtually, track their learning outcomes and ensure that it is going as per your lesson plans? If foreign educators are visiting India for educational enrichment, which best aspects of the Indian education system would you inform them about and which are the areas that we can transform? For every hour during the six-hour hackathon, one such problem statement pops up which a team, with three members, needs to deal with. All the projects are built keeping in mind the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 in mind by the in-house team of experts who created them.
When they opened applications for teachers in Telangana, they received entries from 98 schools. "The application form asked for their statement of purpose, what is it that they expect from the hackathon and such questions so that we could evaluate them," informs Sunil. As many as 18 schools were selected, and out of them, five teams emerged as winners. The Shri Ram Universal School, Gitanjali Senior School, Tejasvi Vidyaranya, Silver Oaks International School and Meridian School, Banjara Hills were declared the winners. They were given Rs 10,000 cash prize each and based on the marks they scored, a free subscription to the EdSense platform.
What were some of the interesting solutions that they received, we ask Sunil. He says, "For the question about setting up digital technology using Rupees 1 crore, a few teachers said they would like to start innovation labs, others said they would initiate planetariums within their schools, while others realised that projectors is not the solution, it is a medium and spent a lot of time identifying the solutions. While the problem statement about foreign educationists visiting India to understand the education system here really helped us understand the psyche of the teachers, how they can look at the positives and still be self-critical at the same time," he added that, "With these inputs, we can actually build a repository which we can pass on to CBSE or other educational boards so that it can help transform education." After the hackathon concluded, teachers shared how they forgot about the epidemic hanging over our heads and were completely immersed in the hackathon, which Sunil considers as their biggest compliment.
One of the teams | (Pic: EdSense)
For every three teams, there was one moderator who was rating the team as well as the team members individually. For the next state-wise hackathons, they want to bring on board academicians from that particular state for the local connection. "Teachers who have won will automatically be selected for a teacher incubation programme that can help them develop their skills to a much greater level," he shares.
Currently, EdSense is even organising virtual workshops for both parents and teachers. They have organised 10 already and intend to organise 60 more in areas like blended learning, multiple intelligence, social and emotional learning and many more.