You don’t have to be a techie to design a code, all it takes is ‘learning by doing’, beyond the realm of your classroom. The drive to bridge the stark employability gap made the founders of Unclassroom Learning hit upon the idea of debunking the popular notion that programming falls only in the domain of computer geeks. They not only chalked out a blue print for an interactive learning platform, but also decided to reach out to the ‘non-specialists’.
A common passion to revolutionise the education sector with technology brought Deepa Vivekanandan, who was involved in etching out projects that bridge the gap in education through technology in the Computer Science Department of IIT-Madras, technology-buff Souvik Roy, a two-time Google Summer of Code participant who loves to create fun apps in his free time, and Shrikrishna Shrin who has spent over two years researching and teaching application development together to create Unclassroom Learning.
The enthusiastic young innovators decode their plans for the venture, currently incubated in IIT M’s RTBI (Rural Technology Business Incubator).
“We found that there is a huge gap between industry requirements and students skills, and there was a need for a better way to impart employability skills, outside of a physical learning programme,” notes Shrikrishna, who graduated with a Masters degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University in the year 2008.
While students learn the nuances of programming during their college days, they don’t realise that they can use it to build their own applications, adds Souvik, who has set up SocialKhoj, an online platform to meet people with similar interests. Deepa a graduate from the Institute of Software Research International, Carnegie Mellon University felt that a one-stop shop to cater to the needs of the students was the need of the hour.
Following a brainstorming session by the like-minded threesome, the idea for a relevant and engaging platform for imparting skills to students took shape last year.
Unclassroom in collaboration with the entrepreneurship cell of SSN College, Chennai helped over 200 students build their own Facebook applications within a day in an event called ‘Kickstart’ recently.
It provided a platform for students to model applications to put across business ideas and float them by sharing it with all your friends on Facebook. From an app to track placement details for job seekers to an app to learn communication skills, the stimulating environment helped foster innovation.
Unclassroom coordinated with innovation cell of KCG College of Technology, Chennai for Apps24 this month to help learn the basics of a web application development language and design simple apps through the interactive platform. Participants churned out their own Twitter applications, including one for tracking their favourite celebrity tweets.
Shrikrishna, who has an interest in Facebook apps, throws light on the distinctive approach. “In most cases, learning and doing are decoupled. We wanted to change that. Even students who didn’t know much about programming got to build an application,” he says.
“Since they get to apply it instantly, it gives them a sense of accomplishment,” Shrikrishna explains.
Future road map
Undoubtedly, spreading their idea by aiding youngsters to mould their skill sets in a fun and engaging way is the USP of this innovative start-up. Scrolling through the modules on the website that draws you to the world of fun apps highlights their objective. “Anybody can pick up web application. Programming is not just for geeks,” sums up Deepa.
Unclassroom Learning will host workshops in several colleges in the coming months. For more details check out http://unclassroom.com.