Computer Masti - IIT-Bombay’s Awesome eBook

An e-book that has a mouse giving computer lessons to two students has become a rage on the internet. It has been downloaded in 98 countries, has 300 Facebook friends and 169 followers on Twitter. Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has described the e-book — Computer Masti — developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) and InOpen Technologies as “Super Stuff!”

In a bid to extend computer science teaching in a fun and an innovative manner to schoolchildren across India, the English e-book will be available in Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Kannada, Tamil, Telegu, Gujarati, Bengal, Arabic and French.

Developed last year by the IIT-B’s computer science department and InOpen Technologies, Computer Masti is an integrated program that uses animation, games and extensive use of interactive multimedia content to teach computer science to school students.

“Operating a computer has become quintessential. Children spend a lot of time on computers with either little or no guidance. Using the machine in a proper manner is important,” said Rupesh Kumar Shah, chief executive officer, InOpen Technologies.

“We got a lot of requests from different states to translate the English e-books,” said Shah, adding that the local language speaking audience is fifty times larger than those who speak in English.

The translated e-books will be transliterated and customized keeping the sensibilities of various communities and cultures in mind. For instance, activities prescribed in the Marathi e-book will be centered on the Maharashtrian culture. The Urdu e-book will not have yoga exercises as part of their content.

Apart from the e-book, Computer Masti is also being used as a textbook in four languages — English, Marathi, Urdu and Hindi — from Class 1 to Class 5 across 35 schools in India. For the next academic year, the textbook will be available for students till Class 8 and will cater to 150 schools.

Atharv Negi, Class 4 student at Juhu’s Jamnabai Narsee School, which introduced Computer Masti this academic year, loves ‘Scratch’, a program that allows him to create his own animations.

“Earlier the teacher would ask us to complete worksheets on programs such as Microsoft Office. But, now after explanations, we get down to playing games and other activities. It’s so much fun,” said Negi.

At the Rizvi School in Bandra, Computer Masti replaced the prescribed computer textbook from Class 1 to Class 5. “Our routine computer classes have now transformed into fun with animations and games that aid learning,” said Lalitha Hariharan, principal, Rizvi School.

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