In this article, let us look at how the explosion of digital content and access to it can aid the self-learning journey, Swadhyaya as defined in Sanskrit, of a child.
To do this, we will deviate from standard K12 academia framework, and look at art as a topic. Art by definition is creative expression, and to delve into the depths of art, we typically need a 1-1 connection with an expert, or in the Indian context, a Guru who can be a strong mentor. However, the basics of art can today be learnt, in a fun, anytime, anywhere, self-explorative way, via Digital Contents and the internet.
Let us examine this via the journey of Jo Ann, a Class 10th student, who loves to play the guitar and also sing in the choir.
A Child’s self-exploration and learning
Jo Ann got fascinated with music at a very early age. Her initial interest was vocal, and she started humming little tunes that she would hear from her parents and grandparents. Her grandfather can play the organ, is self-taught, and her mother has followed that tradition. They are part of the Church Choir.
Her immediate family has really no one who has formally studied music. So for them, it was curious to see how Jo Ann picked up this skill with ease. Possibly genetics or maybe nature just gave her a good musical ear!
One of her uncles can play the guitar, and she was fascinated with the instrument. She picked up a few notes and tunes herself, the uncle mentored, and at some point, he had to leave the country, leaving the guitar with her. She seemed, as per her parents, picking up fast, a few attempts to learn formally happened, although that did not sustain. The formal learning was a mix of vocal, keyboard, and guitar, for about a year, at a local Music Academy.
As Jo Ann grew up with the guitar, and got access to digital contents via her dad’s computer, a new fascinating world of learning from the comforts of her home opened up. Articles that she could read around guitar, YouTube videos that taught her the basics ; strumming patterns, playing notes, chord sequences, Guitar solo clips, and much more.
The computer became her facilitator, the content became her companion, and her urge to deeply explore and learn has brought her to a point where she now is a regular at Church Choirs, performs on the stage at her school, composes small sequences, and is a little star, in her own right.
The last I heard Jo Ann play was about 6 months back. It was clear to me that she had picked up very well, the heart is in music, and she is confidently able to play chord progressions and simple songs on her own. It also means that she has a keen ear for music; for listening, understanding and decoding music and replicating and expanding on that is a great gift that very few get.
Jo Ann is a regular at the church choir, where she also sings along with the choir. Her journey of learning continues, self-taught, via the material that she constantly explores on the internet.
Can one really learn music via the internet? Here are a few courses, that have sprung up, that the readers can sample, and then decide for its effectiveness. More structured that the raw search of the internet, which can be quite painful, at times.
What lies next for Jo Ann? Well her path ahead is certainly bright, and there is no dearth of content and formal courses that she can do online, to go deeper into music. Her current dream is to be part of a music band. She prefers to continue self-learning, and still cannot read the music sheet.
Music being intense, at some point, she will definitely benefit finding a good teacher, who can steer and course correct, and help her find her niche in this journey. And who knows? By the time she gets there, in a few years, the virtual world of VR and AR and 3D imaging combined with fast internet can possibly create a method, where she can find a good virtual tutor that she can interact with in real time, a tutor that is visible as a 3D holographic projection.
Her bigger dilemma now is if she should pursue vocal or guitar. Well, let that also will be a journey of self-discovery, for it is clear to me that she will find it, and narrow down and focus on one.
Inferences: Digital media is fascinating, and with the right set of tools, and some help from parents, it is an enormous library, bringing the best from across the world, to help a child engage, explore, experiment, and enhance their learning. The computer can become a great facilitator, and curated content, a beautiful self- explorative way of enjoyable learning.
In the next part of this series, let us take a look at how a teacher can make use of the power of the Internet and content, to support and enhance their teaching methods, and turn themselves into facilitators of learning.
(Ullas Ponnadi, currently Director and CTO of GRAHIK LEARNING, an India-based Education & Learning Space Start-up, has been in the Engineering & IT Industry for the past 30 years, having worked in the USA and India at Wipro Technologies, CMC and HP; with a decade long experience of working with K12 schools, undergrad institutions, corporate training and its associated methodologies and pedagogical backdrops.)