Kerala's online classes 'First Bell' cross 1,000-mark

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Thiruvananthapuram: The virtual classes, introduced by the Kerala government from June one in the backdrop of schools remaining shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has now crossed the 1000-mark.

The initiative was launched by the education department through its KITE (Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education) VICTERS educational channel under the name "First Bell" as an interim arrangement. The class teachers and school headmasters or principals have to ensure that students have access to a television or a smartphone or a computer, and the Internet for attending the classes.

If not, they need to find an alternative for the students to attend them either in real-time or later. The sessions on Victers channel are available simultaneously on the KITE Victers website, mobile app, and social media pages.

Through the First Bell programme, 604 classes were aired through KITE VICTERS channel in addition to 274 Kannada medium classes and 163 Tamil medium classes, which were telecast through local cable networks in the state.

The education department had identified that there were over two lakh students, who lacked facilities for online classes and had suggested alternatives including television or Internet facilities of neighbours, friends living nearby, libraries or Akshaya centres.

Through sponsorships and making use of common facilities, the issue has been largely sorted out, Chief Executive Officer of KITE, K Anvar Sadath said.

Many good samaritans and organisations have been offering help to needy students even now, he said. In addition to the viewership of classes through the channel mode, the web-streaming platform of KITE VICTERS www.victers.kite.kerala.gov.in, has also seen tremendous response which is evident from that fact that as many as 442 TeraByte data has been reported from 141 countries, he said.

The monthly views of the YouTube channel "www.youtube.com/itsvicters" is 150 Million, while the average daily viewership of classes in youtube alone is 54 lakhs, which translates to a whopping 5 lakh hours a day.

Despite limited advertisements, the revenue generated from it stands at an average Rs 15 lakh per month.

The classes are also broadcast through Facebook LIVE on the Facebook page of the channel "www.facebook.com/victerseduchannel".

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several places in the state including the capital city have been made Hotspots, restricting the movement of people, which impacts the preparation of classes and to tackle this crisis.

"To supplement this decentralised process, KITE has planned to provide necessary support through the 2000+ schools where Little KITEs units have been set-up," Sadath said.

At present, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are being used to the extent possible, which would be expanded in due course.

The schools would be making use of the Free Software applications for developing the classes to be aired through KITE VICTERS channel. New classes of general nature, beyond subjects and including Sports and Yoga would be ready from August onwards, he said.

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