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Elephant in the room: How augmented reality takes online classes to exciting highs

The kindergarten children of AEM AUP School at Moorkanad, near Valanchery, jumped up in excitement as a giant elephant popped up beside their teacher Sindhu last week. Their online class had become a virtual reality of thrill all of a sudden, thanks to the brilliance of an enterprising teacher.

Shyam Vengalloor, a social science teacher at the school, has become a hero by introducing augmented reality (AR) to online classes. Many schools and teachers from across Kerala have begun to seek his help. Some have begun to borrow Moorkanad’s AR classes and some others, to imitate.

When the whole world was in a lockdown in April, Mr. Shyam Vengalloor was racking his brains on finding a way to make virtual classrooms more exciting for children. Using green screen, Gif (graphics interchange format) images and several apps, Mr. Shyam succeeded in creating an augmented reality for the virtual class by superimposing graphics, audio and sensory enhancements.

“We need to do everything possible to retain the attention of the children. We are experimenting with several innovative methods of teaching, including Glassboard doodle,” Mr. Shyam Vengalloor told The Hindu.

A social science teacher of AEM AUP School, Moorkanad, introducing the globe through augmented reality technology during an online class.  


Convincing teachers

His colleagues were unconvinced at first. “I went and told the KG teacher that everyone else had agreed and done their parts. So she had no way but to agree. And thus came the elephant into her class. Showing the KG class, I could convince the other teachers too,” he said.

Soon social science teacher Jayasree introduced images like a globe, solar system, astronauts and a space vehicle into her class. Hindi teacher Preeta had a tiger, cow, snake and rain to augment the virtual reality of her class. Many others are in the production line.

They are offering classes through the school’s YouTube channel and PTA WhatsApp group. Several schools too have subscribed to the channel.

“Visuals create a big impression in the minds of children. Visual level of teaching benefits them much more than auditory level. We should encourage and promote such enterprising talents,” said Mary Decosta, a kindergarten teacher at St. Thomas Residential School, Thiruvananthapuram.

With limitless possibilities for AR technology, it remains to be seen how the State’s teaching community takes it forward from what Mr. Shyam Vengalloor has given them.

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