Published: 18th June 2021
How this interactive take on the Panchtantra tales can teach your kids COVID hacks and behaviour
HiVoco offers voice-interactive series for children and this time, they are going to narrate Panchtantra stories that will captivate the attention of children and teach them a thing or two about COVID
Have you met Hoshiyar Singh? The young lad is as smart as a whip and as cautionary as one ought to be in times like these. So much so that when he encounters a thief, he offers to sanitise his hands clean! What do you say to that? Well, the kids who are listening to this story via HiVoco's platform really seem to be enjoying it.
They're lapping up this story titled Hoshiyar Singh Aur Germs Ka Safaiya (loosely translated to Hoshiyar Singh And Cleaning Out the Germs), and the five others they have to offer. Think of these stories as a modern-day twist to the good ol' Panchatantra tales. The kind that offer your kids a dose of value-based education along with a dash of COVID-appropriate behaviour. Here's the best part — none of this feels like gyaan because it comes warmly wrapped in short, bite-sized stories. Hear, hear.
Tracing the beginnings
Voice technology-based learning platform HiVoco was launched just last year in June, joining in the slew of EdTechs looking for a piece of the online learning pie. At the same time, they stood out by matching the CBSE curriculum for students, aged 4-10, to their interactive audio and video lessons. This was last year. This year, in fact, just last month, they started to up their game by introducing Panchtantra Interactive - six stories that implore them to think about what's going on outside the world and inside their own hearts. "The second wave was so tough on all of us and we know by now that the third wave is going to be particularly tough on our children. We hope that with the Panchtantra Interactive series, we can inspire them to be more vigilant towards their own health," says Pritesh Chothani, Co-Founder and CEO, HiVoco.
Pritesh Chothani | (Pic: HiVoco)
Children are bearing their own cross during this pandemic, wanting to break free from the cage and at the same time realising that they might be the ones passing on the virus to their parents. "Tackling this problem through storytelling is a start," says Chothani, who was a participant of MasterChef India Season One and finished on the list of India’s Top 10 Amateur Chefs. The prep to solving this problem started in December 2020 and it began with reimagining the Panchtantra and giving it an upgrade - making it much more contemporary in its appeal to suit the sensibilities of both parents and children. And then, of course, layering it with self-hygiene practices. These two to six minutes-long stories break four times to ask important questions centered around the five Ws (who, what, when, where and why) and one H (how). At every break, the story pauses to record the kid's response, converts the audio input to text to analyse it and accordingly, gets back with the correct audio-based reply to the child.
Never stop talking
Remember the Hoshiyar Singh story we were talking about? One of the questions posed in there is, 'Double masking is better but do we cover our mouth and the nose with the mask or is it enough if we just cover our mouth?'. Listening comprehension, logical reasoning, decision-making, ethical behaviour and moral of the story — all these themes are camouflaged but covered well within a few minutes. "All this comes together beautifully to ensure that this is not just random content being consumed by children, they actually feel that someone is talking to them, having a conversation," he says.
And it is conversation that is key, as Chothani discovered. Time for a personal anecdote from him. "So when my wife and I had to let my daughter stay with her grandparents and had to be away for business in Mumbai, she would go on consuming YouTube videos endlessly and had somewhat become aggressive. We noticed and I started sharing my very own YouTube cooking videos with her and she started watching them instead. That conversation with someone close is all that is needed. Today, she is in Class II, on top of her academic game and a frequent participant in Olympiads. Conversation is key, that's how a child learns," he explains.
Time to let the stories do the talking!