Time Out Bengaluru June 2013 - Google Hangout Classes

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 Time Out investigates why Bangaloreans are increasingly taking to online courses.


"It isn’t just big institutions and academies with deep pockets that have taken to the web to teach skills. Independent teachers have discovered that social media tools are a great way to move their classes out of the garage and onto a global platform. Archana Doshi, who trained and worked as a software engineer, made the move from coding to conducting online cooking classes after she had two sons. “I wanted to do something with my time at home,” she said, “And I loved cooking. So what better way than to start blogging my recipes!” After a couple of offline classes in Bangalore, she eventually got on Google Hangout after demand for her classes reached global proportions. In her classes, she teaches vegetarian fare from rajmachawal and biryani to more complex desserts including cheesecakes. Today, she runs a free live class twice a week, which has had over 200 registrations. About 50 per cent of her students are based in the US, Canada and Dubai.

Doshi explained that most of the traffic for the live classes came from abroad because her audience demographic in India, which includes homemakers and stay-at-home moms, aren’t very tech savvy and haven’t warmed up to the idea of online cooking classes. “They’d check out the pre-recorded videos and try the recipes, but I’m still working on breaking that barrier with the Indian audience,” Doshi said.

Her biggest challenge in the early days was to tailor-make her classes to be as hands-on as possible. “I’d heard of online courses before, but a lot of them involved conceptual knowledge that can be taught on a blackboard,” said Doshi, who lists her class on gobi manchurian as the most popular among pupils. “I wondered how I’d manage to get the taste and smells into their kitchen while they were watching me live.” But through audience interaction and taking questions on her live show, she has figured out how to progress from teaching simple rajma chawal recipes to classes on making cheesecake. And then there are those who sign up for massive online open courses based on the sheer novelty of the curriculum on offer. Ayesha Sruti, a 21-year-old analyst, enrolled in a free course run by online service Coursera. org because she found that her favourite author was taking it. “I’d been reading up quite a bit on behavioural economics for a while,” Sruti said. “And I discovered that Dan Ariely, a well-known academic in the field, was running a course on the idea of irrationality.”


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