As a school-going child, did you doze off during history class? Was the teacher’s drone-like voice enough to guide you into a stupor, staring out of the window, wishing you were one of the birds flying outside?
Well, it takes special skills to bring history to life, and an NGO, the Indian Literacy Project, an NGO, which has collaborated with Google Earth is doing just that!
Students across 15 schools in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are travelling back in time using Google Earth Voyager, which allows children to explore empires and significant monuments in 3D. The project was developed in May last year, with classrooms all over the world lapping it up, to make classes engaging and enjoyable.
Take, for instance, the Government Higher Primary School in Anthapura, Gobbi Taluk, Tumakuru, where the technology is being used to teach children about the Vijaynagar Empire, which dates back to 1336 AD. Students are experiencing history come to life, from textbooks.
Flat 2-dimensional photos don’t do justice to the glory of the past, which is why teachers are relying on visual aid and videos to grab the attention of students.
A teacher from the school, Chandrakala R, exclaimed that students were remarkably enthusiastic about their history lesson. She used the tool to teach class 7 students, showing them first-hand the history and culture of the people of the era.
3D views of the Virupaksha temple and Stone Chariot in the Vittala Temple Complex were quite a treat for the kids!
The stories are storyboarded using Google Sheets, which consists of all relevant texts, and map links, as well as a slew of interactive content. Her student, Renuka Prasad, termed the class exciting, as he felt he was really in the place they were studying about.
This feature was developed thanks to the Indian Literacy Project, which approached Google Earth to build interactive content for the Social Sciences component of their Multi-Dimensional Learning Space project.
The project aims to make children explore, experiment, discover and learn in a variety of ways, rather than sticking to conventional ones. The NGO also conducted an orientation with 400 teachers.
The pilot project rolled out in 15 schools across Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, see stories focusing on historical sites, kingdoms and rivers, in tune with the curriculum of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The pilot covered four chapters as part of the Class 7 syllabus. The next academic year will see this project reach 2,000 schools and 5 lakh kids in the states mentioned above.
Authorities expressed their optimism, with Pramod Sridharamurthy, Secretary, Board of Trustees (India), ILP, saying that the initiative wants to give students a holistic view of different places, and encourage explorative learning outside classroom realms. Also, this is especially good for those children who may not travel often.
Emily Henderson, the Google Geo Education Outreach Program Manager, said that the primary objective now, is to make sure children like the lessons.
The implementation of Google Earth’s Voyager, may very well open opportunities to make learning more interactive and fun, so that children are eager to absorb knowledge for the sake of learning and not just to pass exams!