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Teaching the wise

Majid Maqbool | Updated on May 21, 2021

Reaching out: Bilal Abidi (left) and Mubeen Masudi have created an app that seeks to make online lessons easier for teachers and more engaging for students

Mubeen Masudi

An app connects teachers to their students notwithstanding slow 2G connections

* Given its easy interface and access to several tech tools, the app has so far attracted more than 1,50,000 teachers, who are now teaching over five lakh students across the country

* ‘Once teaching moved online last year following the Covid-19 lockdown, I observed that only tech savvy teachers could teach their students properly online’

* Available free of cost on Google playstore, WISE is designed to work even on basic and low configuration smart phones and also on slow internet bandwidth

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The message from a Delhi teacher warmed the hearts of the two recipients. Ever since the pandemic last year, the educator said she had been trying to reach out to a student in a remote spot in Kargil. She finally managed to do so when she came across an app that the two men had created.

Online classes are not everybody’s cup of tea. Across India, teachers and students have been complaining about technical glitches or dated mobile phones that come in the way of a good lesson. And it is for them that the two men — friends from IIT Bombay — devised an app that seeks to make e-learning a cakewalk.

Called WISE, it brings together some of the best aspects of online platforms in one app. What’s more, it enables smooth online teaching and learning even on slow-speed 2G internet.

When schools and colleges shut last year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bilal Abidi from Lucknow and Mubeen Masudi from Srinagar, who graduated from IIT in 2011, decided they had to do something to help students and teachers.

Masudi was running a successful educational institute in Srinagar. When he started teaching online durng the pandemic and faced technical difficulties, he turned to his friend for help. Abidi, who had done an MBA from London and worked there as a consultant, had returned to India and set up a digital marketing agency.

The friends stress that they created the app to make online teaching easier for teachers and learning more engaging for students. “Its design is minimalistic by purpose,” says Masudi, who has been teaching IIT aspirants in Kashmir for the past eight years.

The Delhi teacher who wrote to Masudi and Abidi recounted how the app helped her student in Kargil. “She thanked our team as she was finally able to teach her student,” Masudi says. “We feel honoured to help teachers like her who go the extra mile to educate each and every student.”

Given its easy interface and access to several tech tools, the app has so far attracted around 1.5 lakh teachers, who are now teaching over five lakh students across the country. Over 100,000 students attend classes on WISE from across the country every day. The app has optimised live streaming using Zoom and other features that work on low bandwidth. Besides, Masudi, who been teaching in Kashmir on 2G internet, regularly shares tips with teachers on WISE on how to reduce internet usage while taking live classes.

“Once teaching moved online last year following the Covid-19 lockdown, I observed that only tech savvy teachers could teach their students well online. Just like every teacher can use WhatsApp, YouTube etc with ease, every teacher should be able to teach online,” he says.

Masudi firmly believes that technology should never prevent a good teacher from becoming a good online teacher. But he found that as education gradually moved online, sections of teachers and students who didn’t have access to sophisticated devices and good internet bandwidth were being left behind. “WISE was created so that teachers could easily transition their teaching online and continue offering their students the education they need,” he adds.

Available free of cost on Google playstore, the app is designed to work even on basic and low configuration smart phones and also on slow internet bandwidth.

The app makes it easy for a teacher to conduct live classes, take tests, assign homework, collect a fee and share study material and motivational posts with their students — all at one place on the app. The application has automated attendance, which not only informs a teacher if a student is present or absent, but also how long the student was present in the class.

“Given how easy testing is on the platform, many teachers and institutes have launched competitive exam test series for their students on WISE, something students from remote areas didn’t have access to earlier,” says Masudi.

WISE’s USP, he adds, is that it has been created by people who have real life experience of teaching students. “Having taught for almost a decade now, I understand the specific challenges teachers face,” he says. “WISE was created to solve those challenges.”

Post-Covid-19, as education institutions adopt a hybrid online plus offline approach, WISE co-founder Abidi says that they hope to serve more teachers across India. “Given the range of features and ease of usage, WISE is being used by small tutors, government and private schools and in some cases even in big medical colleges,” Abidi adds. “In addition to benefiting teachers, we also want to expose more students to the latest developments and online teaching tools in the field of education.”

Majid Maqbool is an award winning independent journalist and writer based in Srinagar, Kashmir

Published on May 21, 2021

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