Click and grow. That’s the hope with student-centric website, scooldudes.com. But ironically, as opposed to what most parents would love to hear — the idea is to expose kids to strictly ‘out-of-classroom’ fun only. Says founder of the website, Ramachandran Kannan, “They get enough of academics at school. This online hangout is for after school, where the focus is more on adventure and outbound learning.”
With offline activities like stargazing, bird watching and trekking in the hills – one can imagine this will inspire quite a bit of excitement in any 12-year-old. That, and offer something of an adrenaline-heavy education as well. But what makes this concept different from the abundant array of portals out there that offer adventure camps, contests and the occasional worthy cause thrown in the mix?
“Everything is done by the students,” responds Kannan, who is a father of a teenager himself. He explains, “Out of 2,000 odd school kids who are members across the country, 50 of these are student volunteers who organise and even judge some of our events.” Like their Hi-Fliers section on the website. “It’s a space where we feature a student achiever who has been interviewed by a student,” he explains. There’s also XPY – a section where kids can express themselves through their artwork and J4M, a series of four minute web contests held every weekend or fortnight.
Asked about what got this HR professional to turn web entrepreneur, and he recalls, “I did a survey on how often kids use the internet, and found that they spend substantial amounts of time online.” He adds, “And when we streamlined what they (kids) spent most time on, we found that it was mainly social networking, chatting and gaming.” So what's next in the pipeline? Kannan says, “We’re planning to do webcasts and web-inars on topics like goal setting and how to conquer exam anxiety.” Another prospect that Kannan is clearly excited about is the prospect of setting up internships with companies for school students. We’ve heard of college students in the arts streams getting their fair share of intern hours, but to get the opportunity in the 10th standard – before narrowing down one’s career options with that all important ‘group’ selection...sounds like Chennai’s kids are about to get hit with a truck load of real time experience, at an age when most of us could only dream of mugging formulae and essay answers.
(Registration for scooldudes.com is open for youngsters between the ages of 12 and 18 years.)