Quiz series, access to the library and updates on its courses based on user feedback make learning at Classle a dynamic experience.
A graduate student of engineering, K. Balu, was surprised when his teachers advised him to develop his communication skills to do well at campus interviews.
“I didn’t quite understand what they meant. But finding a course on communication on Classle really helped. It explained what exactly those abilities were as I worked my way through. It helped me become a confident speaker,” he says. Classle is a free online resource for students and teachers to share information and topics which students can access anytime to learn at their own pace. Launched about two years ago, the platform today hosts nearly 2,00,000 students and 8,000 faculty in partnership with 92 colleges in India.
Classle came about when MIT alumnus Vaidya Nathan realised that while students were eager to learn and improve their skills, the lack of facilities and access to ideas often proved to be a huge stumbling block. “I wanted to develop a scalable solution that could address fundamental education as well as provide basic teaching and have a business model around it,” he says.
Classle works exactly like a university or a college except that no formal degrees are awarded here. It uses different social networking technology targeted towards learning. Students register and log on to access the different learning materials posted. Teachers and students can share the resources they find useful from other sites as well. Facebook and Gmail ids can also be used to log in. The user interface is simple. The site presents different subject options, and it isn’t hard to find subjects of interest.
Classle uses a variety of audio and video clippings to ensure that learning isn’t only text dependent. For example, a series on “Computer Organization” by Prof. S. Raman, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras, has videos that can be played to understand concepts better. Most of the assessments online are via quizzes. As Tirosha V., Anjalai Ammal Mahalingam Engineering College, Tamil Nadu, says, “The quiz questions, especially the content containing examples of C-programs in the Classle library were useful for my practical exams.”
Being online means being available at all times, and this is its biggest advantage. “The new Course+ makes me feel that I have an expert coaching me all the time and helps me learn better,” says Ashu Chaudhary, GLA University, Mathura. Nathan says Classle demands a high level of motivation from learners. “This isn’t conventional classroom learning and a lot of it has to be done alone,” he explains.
Divided in different sections, the site hosts a library as well which has material ranging from HRM overviews, networks to convolution codes. The Communication Skills section checks for language and comprehension abilities. Learners here answer questions after listening to an audio clip or reading materials. Volunteers can post answers to questions in their areas of expertise. “We make sure that learning here is structured,” says Nathan. “Students must have information presented with clarity and in a way that rouses and holds interest.”
User feedback is an important way the site updates and incorporates changes. “Learners from vernacular backgrounds requested that certain concepts be taught in local languages,” says Nathan. “So, in the 'Ask!' feature students can indicate the language in which they would like an explanation. Also the 'WishList' section lets learners request content in languages of their choice.”
Currently, Java programming and Communications skills are the two most popular courses. Recently, Classle has also added a recruitment part to the site. “We use analytics to suggest suitable jobs based on the work and the way students interact with the site,” explains Nathan. While at the moment the site is more geared towards engineering students, Nathan says in the future they plan to add humanities subjects like history and literature as well.