Published: 24th August 2020
This 25-year-old Kerala school teacher is behind those viral videos of school lessons using Augmented Reality
Shyam was an engineer, who now teaches at a school in Kerala. He's been using augmented reality to teach during his online classes. We find out more
While schools all over the country remain shut, brand new ways to make the online classes more engaging is the need of the hour. With every passing day, these classes become mundane and tiresome, especially for the younger ones. However, that is not the case anymore in this modest school in Kerala’s Malappuram — all thanks to the efforts of their Social Sciences teacher. The online classes at AEM AUP School at Moorkanad near Valanchery in Malappuram have become the talk of the town with live animals, astronauts, images of the Earth popping up next to the teacher - and children attend every session with a sparkle in their eyes. Shyam Vengalloor, who has been teaching at the government-aided school for the past eight months has now become everyone's favourite for introducing Augmented Reality (AR) techniques into online classes.
This is the first time ever that a school in Kerala is using AR to teach its students during online classes. Shyam (25) is an Aircraft Maintenance engineer from Thiruvananthapuram, who earlier worked in Mumbai but had always wanted to teach. After completing a Diploma in Education (DEd), he joined as a Social Sciences teacher at the AEM AUP School. "I always had a passion for teaching, both my parents are teachers. So I came back to Kerala to teach. When the pandemic hit, I saw how children needed to be taught in more interesting ways. There was a need for some kind of innovation to actually make the classes effective where they can see and feel what they are learning. I had come across the concept of AR on the internet before and was fascinated by it. I did an extensive amount of research and studied it. Earlier I had the idea that it would be expensive and would need a huge amount of investment and resources. But I found free augmented reality apps, GIFs (graphics interchange format) to make it work using just laptops and phones. It took me about a month to get everything together and I introduced it to the other teachers at the school as well," says Shyam.
Shyam did it for the first time for the LKG students and the video of online classes with teachers having an elephant, a tiger, an astronaut and the solar system appearing beside them to explain several concepts had gone viral on social media a few days ago. "It was a success because all the teachers were very excited about the new method and pretty quickly learned the concept — how to use and they put in a lot of effort to understand and implement it. We began doing it for classes 4 to 6 later explaining general topics in science. The AR technology is pretty simple to use and it depends on the positioning and space while the teacher is teaching a class," adds Shyam. The classes are put up online on the school's YouTube channel and WhatsApp groups with the teachers and parents and can be accessed by around 1,000 students. Several other schools from across Kerala have also subscribed to the AEM AUP's channel.
Now, nearly 40 schools from across Kerala, and even some from around the world are seeking Shyam's help in making their online classes innovative and exciting. "I also got calls from Delhi soon after I began the classes. One of them was a company that partnered with the school to provide us with free AR tools to make things easier. We received a lot of encouragement in the state and other schools also have shown their interest in adopting this methodology," Shyam tells us.
The 25-year-old has quite a few interesting plans for the future. "We are planning to conduct a Delhi virtual tour for our students with AR where they will get to see real-like famous monuments and the tourist places in the national capital. All of this will also lead to the promotion of online learning so that the government can spend more money on getting schools equipped with such facilities for the benefit of students," hopes Shyam.