Digital is future, KITE is here to stay: Anvar Sadath
KITE-Victers has been playing a major role in school education in Kerala since the Covid-19 induced lockdown in March 2020. Though schools were opened in January 2021, they were closed soon following an increase in the number of daily cases in the state. After one year, we are looking at an imminent 'third wave'. However, the state has decided against another complete shutdown, as of now.
Until a few days ago, the discussions were about restarting the old timings for the schools unlike the current system of classes till noon. In this online interview, KITE director Anvar Sadath talks about the future of KITE and the channel KITE-Victers.
What are the plans of KITE if schools resume full-day classes?
KITE-Victers' First Bell digital classes were started during a unique circumstance. But even before that, Kerala had devised a method of the digital classroom. It was started as 'IT education' in 2000-2001. It later became ICT-based education in 2009. 'IT@School' became KITE in 2017. The Victers channel was started back in 2006 itself. Besides, 45,000 classes were digitized through the high-tech classroom project and also the 1-7 classes got high-tech labs during the 2018-19 period. Besides, we have the 'Samagra' portal, trained teachers and Little KITES unit as well. We have a good digital ecosystem for our school education.
Will the resources prepared during the Covid-19 lockdown be made available in schools?
'Samagra' portal has a lot of resources for teachers to help them plan. The digital classes are now a permanent part of our environment due to Covid-19. Students can go back to their chapters whenever they want. It is a historical situation. We have plans to properly archive them and also create short videos out of them.
How will KITE play a role in preparing the upcoming curriculum framework?
KITE will be an integral part of the new curriculum. Technological advancement is one of the reasons for the development of a new curriculum. In many states, the contents for ICT are prepared by private agencies and not the education department. They don't have the capacity. But Kerala has a different approach. Our teachers and researchers prepare the content.
Mathrubhumi English did a story about Nisha teacher who became famous through KITE-Victers digital classes. Can we expect an effort in future also to bring such talents to the forefront?
Digital classes during Covid-19 opened up the classrooms of our public schools to the world. In the initial days, we asked teachers from Thiruvananthapuram to present the classes. We started the planning only in May and also it was a centralised process. Many of those teachers became stars. Many learned new ideas. Such opportunities shall reach more teachers.
To make educational videos more interesting, we need good graphic artists, good video planners, curriculum designers etc. Does KITE have sufficient resources?
The Victers team is producing the videos. Teachers prepare the content and present it. During the pandemic, we set up infrastructure to shoot videos in 12 districts. Sometimes, teachers were roped in to do technical works as well such as camera handling and video editing. In one way, it empowered teachers. Video recording and editing are part of their curriculum. Besides, we use free and open software. We also explored the possibilities of AR and VR. Teachers were trained for that too. We continuously innovate and strengthen our teachers.
Plenty of ed-tech startups like Byjus are growing day by day. It is a huge market. Can KITE be a state-run alternative for such private agencies in future?
KITE is not an independent set-up. It is part of the educational system of the state. In that sense, we are the best example in India, if not in the world, in ed-tech. The World Bank and UNICEF have endorsed it. We have better resources than any private ed-tech company. It was limited to classrooms earlier. Now it is accessible to all. We have 35 lakh subscribers on YouTube at present. We also spread the ideology of free software. We aim to make ed-tech accessible to the most backward students as well.
How do you compare working in KITE before and after Covid?
KITE was almost like this even before Covid-19. At least since 2005, we have been providing IT education actively. During Covid-19, we were the only resort. People realised the power of KITE during those days. Earlier, we have aired the Haritha Vidyalayam reality show, works of the film development corporation and school festivals. These programmes were well received among the general public. These were centred at the schools. However, during the lockdown, we shifted from the schools to the houses of our students. But we did not stumble upon it though we couldn't foresee the impact of it.
Even though classes have resumed at schools, the future is hybrid learning. It may not be exactly like the current situation. We will try to improve it further.