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Oct 26, 2016

Fail Forward: A solemn undertaking towards awesome photos!

Example of a great photo - 1
Example of a great photo - 1

Stories towards the best social media experience!

Social media exposure is a critical component of creating
awareness about our project.  Great content, Search Engine
Optimization, effective usage of hash tags, timing our posts
strategically, sharing awesome photos are all part of the efforts
towards that goal.  Especially, photos play an important role in
sharing our stories online, which not only get us 'Excellent' 
rating for our reports at Global Giving, but also creates the
excitement in terms of likes, reactions, shares and retweets
in social media platforms like FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

In fact, we had won the Global Giving Photo contest 2016!:

What we tried:

So, we wanted our schools to take pictures of all the events
that take place in the schools - education methodologies,
visitors and volunteers visits, "Profession with Passion" series
talks, to name a few.

We bought digital cameras and gave them to all our schools,
so that they can take the photos with these.  We also conducted
a few sessions about how to operate those cameras.

We failed. Why?:

The photos taken so far are not consistent in terms of quality,
and were not up to the mark.

  • The no. of photos taken were too few (3 photos), or too
    much (40 photos).
  • The photos were taken with smart phones instead of the
    digital cameras that we provided.
  • Some photos were very grainy and the content was
    almost indecipherable.
  • In some cases, attempts were made to take selfies with
    students in the background, which failed miserably because
    of wrong light exposure and bad coverage area.
  • The width and height of the pictures were not uniform,
    and created difficulties in aligning them and producing a
    consistent look and feel.
  • The resolution was a mix of low and high without attention
    to detail.
  • Because of high resolution, some pictures were too huge
    to be shared.
  • Some pictures taken during school closing times (evenings)
    and events that happened in late evenings produced bad light

What we learnt:

  • Just providing the necessary technology like digital cameras
    is not sufficient to get great photos!
  • Not all the people out there on the field who take the pictures
    are great photo-shooters!
  • They (photo takers) operate under heavy time pressure.
  • They need to understand the requirements of what constitutes
    a great photo-set, and keep that in mind while shooting photos.
  • They need to know how to operate during various conditions of
    weather and lighting.
  • They need hand-holding in case they are having technical
    difficulties or have some questions regarding the camera
    settings, no. of photos to be taken, the phases of the event
    to be covered, etc.

How are we using that experience to improve our work?:

First and foremost, we definitely felt the need for a standard
set of guidelines for taking pictures.  We decided that the
guidelines should not be just a document sitting in the Google
Drive, but something that anyone can refer to before taking
the pictures.  

We also realized that since the people who take the pictures
will change, we need to have a mechanism for the schools to
know that such a set of guidelines exist, and the school admin.
or the Principal should make the person who take the pictures
aware of such guidelines well in advance before the event to
avoid last minute surprises.

The guidelines that we came up with:

(Note: we shared what constitute great photos along with
our guidelines)

1. Contact the person (Name, Mobile number) with technical
    knowledge about taking photos and the digital cameras in case
    if you have any questions or if you have technical difficulties,
    well in advance before the event.

2. A typical set of photographs for an event should have 7 to 8
.  Some events like cultural programs may have more
    additional photos which is fine.

3. All photos should be taken with HIGH resolution. The photos
    should be re-sized to 1024x768 pixels using the custom
    software provided to all schools, before being sent to be used
    in the reports.

4. Use night lighting/flash appropriately depending on the
    weather/light situations.

5. Make sure that light is coming from behind you (the
    photo taker), and light that's coming from the sides like
    windows is not creating a bad effect on the photo.

6. Take moving objects photos with proper settings. The
    point-of-contact person can help you with how to adjust the

7. Avoid too far (or) out of focus objects.

8. While covering activities like students work or volunteers
    work, please make sure that the photos cover all phases
    of activity, not just the end products. For example, if students
    are making Diwali lamps, make sure you take photos of children
    starting to work with the chart papers, gluing the components
    of lamp together, applying colors, etc. rather than just a lot of
    photos of finished lamps with children.

Some examples of great photos and bad photos attached.


We are extremely happy to have come across Global Giving's
structured feedback, learning from failures, and follow-up to
correct and move-forward mechanisms to improve our processes.
Taking part in Global Giving's various initiatives has enriched our
knowledge and experience about how to go about this.

We constantly strive to give the best for the constituents and the
beneficiaries in the field whom we work with, and initiatives like
Fail-Forward provide us with the opportunity to admit the failures
we had in the field, express ourselves, and improve towards a
better tomorrow!

Thank you Global Giving!

Example of a great photo - 2
Example of a great photo - 2
Example of a great photo - 3
Example of a great photo - 3
Great illustration of infrastructure photo
Great illustration of infrastructure photo
Bad lighting - 1
Bad lighting - 1
Bad lighting - 2
Bad lighting - 2
Bad lighting - 3
Bad lighting - 3
Too small
Too small


Oct 24, 2016

Profession With Passion: A peep into Commerce!

Jithu presenting his profession
Jithu presenting his profession

A Peep Into Commerce

Jithu Koshy is a Chartered Accountant in Qatar.

His passion is Commerce, and he enjoys sharing his profession,
career and experience with people. He came across Isha Vidhya
project at Global Giving recently, and wanted to visit one of our
schools, and talk to the children. We offered that he could in fact
conduct a session to the children about his profession, which he
gladly accepted.

During his trip to India recently, Jithu visited our Coimbatore
school to talk to the children and conduct his session. Most of the
students, especially those from the rural areas are not aware of the
opportunities in the commerce field, but they have choose their
education stream for the higher education, so Jithu presented to the
9th, 10th and commerce stream of 11th grade students.  Jithu
introduced the students to the world of commerce, which included
options and requirements, and in the next session, he answered
questions from the students.

Jithu shares: “It was indeed a great privilege coming to the
Isha Vidhya school. The positive vibes I take away from the school
will stay with me for a long time. The kids simply amazed me with
their clarity of thoughts, vision and proficiency over English language.
The teachers, who I understand are B.Eds look completely a class
apart and their humility and care was astounding. I was really
impressed to hear about the central academy for teachers, training
them to be how they are. That is a model lots of schools can look
at adopting. I was also thoroughly impressed by the class room walls
with different pictures, statements and a completely different way of
looking at the world. The maths lab with so many facilities, the yoga
classes etc were all new for me. Keep up your great work and I can
only whole heartedly thank you for giving me this opportunity to meet
so many blessed souls. It has truly made my day.”

Interestingly, many students shared that they did not know about
career as a chartered accountant and few confided that they were
going to take it up as a career!  Students also admired his presentation
skill and wanted to become as eloquent as he was. We are very grateful
to Jithu for sparing time with our students!

students listening attentively
students listening attentively
how am i going to apply that to my life?
how am i going to apply that to my life?
Jithu addressing a student's question
Jithu addressing a student's question
Another question!
Another question!


Oct 24, 2016

How does map learning happen in Cuddalore school?

Students get to map reading!
Students get to map reading!

In Social Science, one of the difficult things is map reading.
It is a tough task for the teachers to create and sustain
interest in map reading among the students.

In Cuddalore Isha Vidhya school, it has been conducted as an
activity for 8th grade. After teaching the lesson and the
important places, the teacher writes the name of the places
on the class board one at a time. The children who are ready
with the map and their pencil will mark the place once the
name is written on the board. At the end of the activity, the
teacher marks the correct spots on the map, so that the students
can do correction of their answers in their maps.  The student
who marked everything correct will be given a thunderous

Deekshanya, an 8th grade student shares:

"I generally find map reading tiresome and boring till our
teachers introduced an activity to mark the places in the map.
I slowly developed interest in it. This activity helps us to have
healthy competition between us the students, which enhances
our map reading skill. I thank my teacher for making this possible
for us."

Roshini, an 8th grade student shares:

"The fun filled activity made the class to master the map reading.
We are so involved in the subject that we started spending our
spare time in conducting games in marking places. We have started
looking for the present names for the ancient places like Patna for
Pataliputra. Our knowledge of history is being widened thanks
to the novel initiative of our teachers."

Map reading - 1
Map reading - 1
Map reading - 2
Map reading - 2
Places on the board
Places on the board
Map reading - 3
Map reading - 3


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