Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Notes from StoryWeaver's Mumbai Workshop


It's been a little over three months since StoryWeaver went live. StoryWeaver is an open source digital repository of multilingual stories for children. We have been overwhelmed with the response the platform is getting from the community. With close to 90,000 reads, many new language additions, many translations and many new stories, the journey till date has been exciting. 

With StoryWeaver, Pratham Books' goal is to get stories to every child in as many languages as possible. With this mission in mind, we conducted the first workshop with educators, librarians and non-profit organisations in Mumbai.

On the sunny mornings of 16th & 17th December, 60 bright people gathered at a venue in Kurla, Mumbai to know more about StoryWeaver and how to use it effectively in their classrooms/reading centers. The participants came from different walks of life, the diversity of their knowledge and expertise adding to the electric atmosphere in the room. Representatives from Pratham, Unicef, CHIP education, The Tamarind Tree, Angel Express Foundation, Muktangan, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, QUEST and various other organisations along with a few CSR representatives from JSW, Aditya Birla and Essar were present. In the august company were also a few parents and storytellers and book club owners working towards promoting reading among children.

The session started with introductions of each participant and a fun exercise which got them guessing a story's end! Many whacky answers emerged and a question was thrown open to all participants : 'What role do stories and books play in the environment you work in' ? Many hands went up. Educators spoke about how stories kindled imagination and creativity takes wings when you have stories in a classroom. Another participant responded that books/stories are a great way to familiarize children with languages, while another asserted the importance of books and stories as a bonding mechanism between an adult and a child.

With the context set in about the big role stories and books play in our lives, the session moved on to a detailed demonstration of the platform and the participants also got to experience StoryWeaver first hand during a one-on-one worktime. The participants also shared their thoughts on the platform and their experience.

Reshma, an Education Specialist with Unicef complimented Pratham Books on the launch of StoryWeaver which, in her opinion, had a potential to grow and provide access to communities and children in far flung corners of the country, especially in tribal areas where resources are always scarce. Manisha Ahuja, from VIDYA Integrated Development for Youth and Adults was very excited and said she could already think of atleast 20 different ways in which she could use StoryWeaver in Vidya classrooms to enhance learning and engagement. Vidya Classrooms operate out of Corporation run schools and have computers connected to the internet. They have already been using books from Pratham Books in the classrooms and their teachers use the stories as a starting point to create activities. With StoryWeaver, many more and new ideas can be put in place.. From images serving as writing prompts to Flashcards been made and used to tackle difficult subjects, there are many interesting ways to use StoryWeaver. Manvi and Arvind, both from Pratham expressed their desire to curate content from StoryWeaver to be used in the reading programs that Pratham is piloting across various states. They stated that options of choosing from various languages was a big plus, as their areas of work range from Rajasthan to Telangana and they could choose from the bank of Hindi and Telugu stories, all at one place.

Radhika from v-shesh, an organisation that works with hearing impaired children, commented on the need of adding more ways to access books for children with disabilities- from audio stories to stories in sign languages.

After a long and hearty discussion on StoryWeaver and its role, the session closed with a vote of thanks to all the participants for their time and engagement and to ESSAR Foundation for providing a lovely venue and delicious lunch on both days!

The Pratham Books team came back from Mumbai brimming with new ideas and a stronger belief in the power of technology and StoryWeaver in providing access to great quality books and stories to India’s children.

We are in the process of organizing many more of such demos and workshops across the country, both virtually and physically. If you would like to be a part of any of these workshops please sign up here and we will stay in touch with you with further information.

Ms.Suzanne Singh talking about creative collaboration
Working together
Full house!
Let's weave-a-story together
Finding and reading stories
Educators collaborating
Various ways to use StoryWeaver
Participants at work
StoryWeaver on mobile

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