Virtual “Gurukulam”, completely new way to teach and learn Indian Folk Art remotely!

Virtual “Gurukulam”, a completely new way to teach and learn Indian Folk Art remotely!

Have you wondered how to deliver Indian Folk Art courses professionally, like our traditional “Gurukulam”?

COVID has certainly increased the demand and need for remote learning, online schools.

With online schools, you are no more restricted by the need to travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres to learn from the guru a particular art form. However, for some art forms, face to face interaction is still the most effective way to learn and coach a student.

Many like me had the opportunity to get back to their love for art. I probably created more artwork during COVID than I would have ever done previously.

Also, I managed to learn about Madhubani and Kerala mural paintings. Both are extremely beautiful and colourful folks arts of India. For the Madhubani painting, I took inspiration from the books of Ms Bharati Dayal. However, for Kerala Mural, I enrolled on an online course, by Bhadra Kaushik, a truly passionate teacher and coach. For learning a new art form, I certainly felt the online course was more effective than reading books.

How can we prevent people from stealing teacher (Guru’s) hard work and knowledge?

I also have been delivering Tanjore painting classes remotely. To deliver Tanjore painting classes remotely, I had created a series of over 60 videos, explaining the step by step process to create beautiful Tanjore paintings. However, I was always worried to teach outside my close friends and small family circle.

My main concern was how to protect my many months of hard work and knowledge from being stolen from many of these existing platforms, such as YouTube, Google drives etc., It’s so easy for anyone to download all the hard work within a couple of minutes and reuse it without our knowledge.

When I started looking for alternative solutions, they are either too expensive or not designed for teaching art. Today, most teachers use the freely available platforms, from YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google Drive, Zoom etc.,

When I look at the options available for students to learn remotely, we can broadly classify them into the following three categories, here is my take with the pros and cons:

Free video tutorials available on YouTube and similar platforms,

  • YouTube and similar platforms are great sources of information for students. It’s free and works very well for most simple art forms. The only drawback for students is the lack of interaction and coaching from instructors.
  • The other advantage is no timezone barriers for students. They can learn from anywhere and at any time
  • However, the main challenge is for the instructor, for them to make money they have to increase the number of views to their channel, they may get paid around $5 for 1000 views.
  • Obviously, there is a lot of competition out there. According to Paige Cooper’s report, approximately 500 hours of videos are uploaded every minute! To even get started, you will need at least 1000 subscribers to your channel.
  • So teachers have to constantly create high-quality videos (praying no one copies their hard work and makes better videos)
  • It’s a big gamble for teachers, especially if you don’t have all the right tools to create amazing videos.

Paid (or free) workshop delivered through on Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Zoom etc.,

  • This is a great solution when it comes to interaction between student and guru. You have a much higher degree of engagement and coaching opportunity than watching videos on YouTube or similar platforms.
  • However, the challenge for the student is the ability to learn. We all have different learning behaviours, some like to learn in the morning and some in the afternoon and some in the evening.  This makes it difficult for students, especially when you are watching the teacher (guru) do it and then you try and do it later.  The success rate for learning is very low.
  • Also, the other major challenge is how to accommodate different timezones. This makes it difficult to reach international students.
  • The other concern is where does the teacher (guru) store the videos of training materials? On almost all of these free platforms, students can download training videos (without needing the teacher’s permission). All you have to do is search and you will get instructions on how to download training videos from these sites.

Custom-built remote training applications using professional learning management systems.

  • These are great tools, invested and deployed by the large training institution to serve their own commercial purpose. It certainly has all the advantages of the above technology, in addition, they protect knowledge drain and certainly make it difficult for students to download protected training contents.
  • For students, a great way to learn in a structured way.
  • Provides perfect coaching experience and day-to-day interactions.
  • Provides the best opportunity for remote learning with the highest success rate.
  • The drawback is that it’s very expensive for a common folk artist to invest in such a system and then make an income. This also makes it expensive for students to learn.

So, I built a virtual “Gurukulam”.

State of art learning management system for Indian Folk Artist, a platform that will help all folk artists, like me to reach domestic and international students with peace of mind.

“Gurukulam”, will be a platform to support and grow our Indian folk art and artists. The platform allows over 40 different traditional folk art styles of India to collaborate in one digital space.

Each artist will have their own personal online training school and art gallery with unique branding. We encourage the artist to run their own training classes on Indian folk arts to help transfer knowledge and skills. The platform has been integrated with the state of art learning management system to deliver university-style online and offline art workshops. Inviting Indian Folk Artist and Art lovers to join the movement to revive our thousands of years old beautiful heritage.

Teachers (guru) will be able to deliver courses in any of the below formats. In all cases, your hard work and knowledge are protected.

  1. Self-learning courses
  2. Live workshops (integrated with Zoom)
  3. Hybrid model: This includes self-learning classes, plus weekly coaching/review sessions.

Self-learning and Hybrid coaching models are great strategies to create sustainable income but “teacher” will have to invest some time in the beginning to create training contents. Hybrid models help to train more students than compared to live workshops. Easy to scale up and reach more students.

Email me or leave your feedback below. This is the beginning of our long journey to recognize Indian Folk Art on the world map!

Senthil Vel

Founder – International Indian Folk Art Gallery (IIFAG)

5 comments on “Virtual “Gurukulam”, completely new way to teach and learn Indian Folk Art remotely!

गुरुकुलम एक शानदार प्रयास है। संचालन टीम को बधाई और धन्यवाद।
गुरुकुलम कोरोना जैसी आपदा को कला सीखने के अनुपम अवसर में बदल रहा है। अतः ऐसे कार्यों के लिए पुनः धन्यवाद सेंथिल वेल जैसे कलाकार व कलाप्रेरक इंसान जो भारतीय कलाओं को विस्तारित करने के प्रयासों में अग्रसर है। कोई कला तब ही जीवंत होती है जब वह नई पीढ़ी में एक अवसर के रूप में स्थान्तरित होती है।

[…] platform has been integrated with the state of art learning management system to deliver university-style online and offline art workshops. You can enroll for any course, keep […]

Brilliant concept. Art fortheloveof Art. No teacher needsto lose their work and techniques. I only came by chance of wanting to learn Inadian Folk Art .

Hi Jeya,
Thank you. Appreciated.

[…] India is home to over 50 traditional folk and tribal arts. These Indian folk arts have been passed down from generation to generation for more than 3000 years. However, a large proportion of these traditions are at risk of extinction. The once-thriving community of artists is now dwindled down to a couple of families fighting to keep the art alive. […]

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