Educating Millions : a new approach

Going back to the Drawing Board:
Several years ago, around the year 2009, I wrote a piece for the National Council for Teacher Education, that was published in a volume ” Teacher Education: Reflections Towards Policy Formulation” edited by M.A.Siddiqui, A.K.Sharma and G.L.Arora.
The piece had the title ” Information and Communication Technologies in Education: Implications for Teacher Education” and while many details in 2009 have been fundamentally changed, it had a section at the end, for which it seems that the time is ripe today.
In fact the last sentences of the article have been copied below:
“In going back to the drawing board to ‘re-look’ the education system to meet the challenges of the future, where the starting point is not 20 students of similar abilities in a class but a million diverse learners who have to be transformed efficiently over a short period of time with predictable rates of success and then this model of teaching a million students at a time, has to be replicated a hundred times.”

For ready reference, the last part of that article is copied below:

11. Independent Educators:

We need to re-assert and re-establish the supremacy of the teacher, and not the bureaucrat or the Institution. S we enter the Knowledge Economy, it is important to appreciate that education alone will create valuable knowledge products for global use, and this alone will let us flourish ad thrive in the new age. If we establish a teaching profession, which meets International standards in keeping with the call of globalisation, it permits independent practitioners to move about under mode 4 of the GATS as well as practice their profession at home without the need for Institutional intermediaries, and with access to training in modern ICT tools, both for synchronous and asynchronous interactions across the globe.
In the recent years, the three ideas that have had a huge impact on the way organizations work are quality, business processes and their re-engineering and the importance of intellectual capital. All three must be assimilated into the educational systems, because it is the teachers who will become leaders in the knowledge economy, as they alone know how to construct knowledge. A mere expert knows his subject, but a good teacher knows how a person can learn the subject. If it can be done in a measured way, it can develop into teaching technologies rather than mere magic at the hands of a great teacher or anon-replicable art in the hands of a few that will eventually die out. With the help of well developed learning contracts, clearly articulated learning outcomes and learner tracking systems, it can almost be ensured that the agreed learning outcomes are achieved.
Just as it is legitimately possible for any lawyer, doctor, engineer, architect, chartered accountant to work for a state government, the central government, a large corporation, a small business or to work independently on his own, it should be possible for qualified educators to work outside the traditional Institutional framework on their own.

The separation of powers doctrine in governance applies most neatly when ministerial departments implement legislation made by Parliament and are subject to judicial review by the courts. Like the separation of powers in good democratic governance and the principles that are being applied to good corporate governance, if we decouple the responsibilities for laying down of standards, conduct of examinations, the teaching-learning processes, and maintain databases that are shared with potential employers of qualifications acquired by learners, holding the certificates in de-materialised forms like we do for de-mat shares, we can see a lot of opportunities for educationists. Collective, co-operative networking arrangements with branded teachers working together under a brand that communicates a commitment to a shared vision would remove many ills of the present system and unlock the large potential that we have in retired accomplished teachers or unemployed younger talented people. Teachers need not ever retire and can continue to play a role in imparting education till they can do so (incidentally there is no retirement age for politicians, lawyers, doctors and many other professions). This idea is a very straightforward solution to the twin problems of educated unemployment and not enough access to education to the needy.

The other professions have bodies such as the Bar Council, the Medical Council, the Institute of a Chartered Accountants. We can have such an Educational or Teachers Council, which may be a constituent component of NCTE.
The recent amendments in the Companies Act that are proposed regarding the one person Company and the concept of Limited Liability Partnership can help facilitate this further. Educators can work independently as one person company in their individual capacity, or a group of educators can form a limited liability partnership, and in both these ways can seek investors and support from financial institutions, especially those dealing with small and micro-enterprises. And if required there can be special provisions for such educational entities to prevent any possible abuse.

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The transformation of education because of ICT and Internet

ICT integration in Education:

Whether we draw analogies from tipping point, phase transitions, paradigm shift, disruptive innovation,points of inflection, singularities, metamorphosis, emergence in complex systems, or a quantum jump, we cannot help drawing the inference that because of the influence of ICT, education in the future is likely to be very different from the educational models of the past.
The recent and predicted advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence ( see video ‘humans need not apply : ) clearly point towards developing creativity and higher order thinking abilities which are at the top levels of Bloom’s taxonomy as opposed to the base levels of remembering, understanding and applying that is the focus today, but will be done by software and robots in the future. See also the Economist May 9th-15th 2015 issue articles on pages 11 and 18.
The big challenge of the present is how can we rapidly, at massive scale and at affordable costs train in the desirable new skills and build the new expertise. Teachers are central to this, because while an expert may demonstrate an expertise, it is the teacher who through a series of steps progresses the ignorant person into an expert. That is why the role of the teacher will be more important in the future, than it has ever been before. To develop our model, we have invoked ideas presented by Sir John Daniel in 2009 at an ICET conference keynote ” How do we recruit and train 10 million teachers?”.

I think we have to collectively re-define the role of the teacher/educator as moving forward from merely the transactor of the syllabus/curriculum prescribed by the regulators to a set of passive learners, to designing and managing the learning experience of each learner as an active self-directed learner, who will no longer be seated for hours on neat rows of desks. Google “sitting is the new smoking”. Further a group of Scientists at Stanford have done research to support that walking enhances creativity:
The term in vogue for self-directed learning is ‘Heutagogy ‘. The educator of the future therefore will be a practitioner of ‘heutagogy’. And most frequently will work as an ‘ independent’ professional rather than a low level employee of a public system, at the mercy of the powers that be. The disintermediation that is driven by the Internet will disruptively transform the existing model.

The key technology for this mission will be access with mobile and handheld devices(and wearables soon )with mobile Internet for connectivity, which is very effective for creating and sharing bite-sized content or ‘nano-learning’ objects that fosters social learning and custom made learning pathways based on learner analytics.
Educators will have to leverage existing technologies for a more effective personalised learning experience. While one view is that better efficiencies occur when the learners are told the principles/facts, which they ought to know, the other view is that technology enables learners to find information and construct their knowledge, and acquire ‘ deeper learning’. The metaphor of ‘giving a fish or teaching how to fish’. So the pursuit for quality content is not the main task. Content can be priceless or content can be worthless; it depends upon how the content is transacted, and how and what knowledge is constructed?
The most important task is therefore capacity building, both for the learners as well as the organisers of the learning experience. It is often assumed that the young learners who are digital natives can respond well to the new technological age. They may be good at navigating the devices, but seeking the right resources and constructing learning requires guidance for most. And organisers of learning have greater challenges, because of their additional responsibilities.
Learning from MAAM is now about learning from Mobile Apps and MOOCs. Learning a language with Duolingo or Maths from Khan Academy and preparation for the IELTS exam from FutureLearn are examples of events that happened very very recently. Organisers of learning have to respond to them and benefit by their presence.
The new pedagogies of Flipped learning, Personalised learning and Social learning are able to integrate OERs, MOOCs and Mobile Apps readily in the learning experience.

What have we done:
We are great believers that individuals and small groups of committed persons and communities can make a big difference. We are inspired by Margaret Mead < > and Elinor Ostrom <; in this approach.
As a group of committed individuals and sometime with support of external agencies, we have delivered the following:
1. A MOOC about OERs run on the Wiziq platform.
2. A 4 week course using only e-mail and WhatsApp on ” Becoming an UberSmart Autonomous Self-directed learner”
3. A 4 week course on thinking using only WhatsApp with title ” An Open mind”. Even the registration was by sending a WhatsApp message. So even a feature phone with built in WhatsApp is good enough. Need not be a Smartphone

What are we doing ?
Addressing 4 categories :
1: Young Learners typically in grades 6 and above
2: Grown up life-long learners ( aged 40+)
3: Committed, progressive, aspiring teachers who want to make a difference
4: Parents who want to take part in the educational journey their children
For each of these categories, we are designing about 3-5 modules, each delivered over 4 weeks entirely on e-mail and with WhatsApp that can be transacted entirely with mobiles and handhelds across the 3 major platforms in a BYOD mode.
Opportunities will exist for Meetups in person occasionally but will not be a mandatory requirement. Compressed and intensive versions would be available for those who want it.
Participants will then become part of a mentoring-coaching program that will cater to their individual needs.
The domains of interest are:
* Learning to learn: making all learners more self-directed learners
* Learning to think: New Thinking for the new Millennium
* Overcoming Maths Phobia
* Coping with a VUCA ( Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) future

The happy conclusion is that the answers to the challenges of the new technologies including ‘ machine intelligence’ which has got some illustrious persons like Stephen Hawkings, Elon Musk and Bill Gates extremely worried lies in our responses of learning to harness the enormous powers of these emerging technologies, to make a better world, through knowledge and a higher purpose to serve humanity, rather than a few corporates or Governments.

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A set of resources to help develop a University Strategic Plan

Recommended readings and viewings:
1: The Sabre Tooth Curriculum:
2: Every Curriculum tells a Story ; The Dragon Slayer Curriculum:
3: Humans Need Not Apply – YouTube
4: Clayton Christensen on ‘ Disruption’: the Clarendon lectures delivered at Oxford, Said Business School :
5: UKOU report on Innovative pedagogies :
6: New Horizons report 2015 on Higher Education:
7: Preparing for the digital University :
8: An avalanche is coming by Michael Barber & others:
9: A set of resources on Flipped Learning curated by Prof MM Pant ; post dated February 13th, 2014
10: Research Universities and the future of America :

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7 Desirable Traits in a StartUp Team member:

“Making The Right Startup Employee: The Traits That Count”.

Traits in startup employees:

1. Adaptability : Being able to play multiple roles : Chaprasi to Chairman or Peon to President ( पीर बावरची भिशती खर)

2. Effective Communication, persuasion ( selling), networking, story telling and presentation skills. A sense of humour.

3. Risk taking with confidence : Smart recklessness: intelligent conservatism : To go boldly where no man has gone before : perseverance but not obstinacy. Tenacity , Grit

4. Understanding Analytics and having a good handle on numbers; Computational Thinking; capacity to understand and handle complexity

5. Integrity, Ethics and Gender Sensitivity : Awareness of POSH and other laws

6. Nextsensing : anticipating the future? Sensing opportunities: specially adept at identifying, noticing or creating new opportunities and acting on these opportunities when they arise.

7. Innovation : both continuous and disruptive

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Some thoughts and 5 recommended books for young parents

Some thoughts on Parenting for the early years:

1. Of course, every parent’s number one concern will be: “Is my child getting a proper education to compete and thrive in our world?” ( prosper, flourish)

2. The one thing most parents have in common, is an experience with our education system. As a result, almost everyone has an opinion on what is right and, even often more vocalized, what is wrong with the system. What complicates these views further is the fact that most of us were educated by teachers who employed 20th century pedagogy and methodology, which means that the 20th century is the basis of our educational experience.
3. Since we are now almost halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, we need to get everyone up to speed. This requires educating parents about the education of their children.

4. Some points:

No longer can a teacher’s quality be judged by the amount of homework assigned.
Quiet and complacent kids are not necessarily signs of students engaged in learning.
The teacher’s content expertise should no longer be the controlling or limiting factor in a student’s education.
We do not need rows of desks to ensure attention.
All learning is not limited to the classroom.

5. What makes parents qualified to play a role in the education of their children?
5.1: A vested interest in their children. All parents want the absolute best for their children and desire to equip them to succeed in life. Even the most passionate, dedicated teacher cannot be more committed to a child’s success than its parents.
5.2: The key to this is parents who are committed to providing their children an encouraging and conducive learning environment. The elements of this are : books, owned or borrowed, paper or e-books on kindle or iPad, fiction, non-fiction, classics, modern lit, historical fiction, poetry etc.
5.3: A passion for learning. A parent with a passion for learning is as capable and equipped to teach his children as an educator with a degree. A parent doesn’t need to know every aspect of every subject.

Resources for Parenting:

1. The most well known book in the field ( almost a Bible) is Benjamin Spock’s ” Baby and Childcare”. It has a special edition for India, and also and e-book version.
While it is still available in paperback, Dr. Spock”s Baby and Child Care is now available for Kindle, Nook, and iPad from Skyhorse. Along with more than 1,000 pages of invaluable time-tested wisdom as in its previous editions, the e-format will include a search function to help parents locate terms, and updated information by Dr. Robert Needlman on relevant topics, such as:
* Child care in an era of expanding choices
* Promoting success without overstressing competition
* Electronic media and the obsession with electronic games
* New views on nutrition: how to prevent obesity and other chronic illnesses, and enrich happiness
* Creative coping with the stress of economic insecurity
* Diversity in cultures, families, parenting beliefs, and children themselves
* The newest thinking on children with special health and developmental needs
* Solid approaches to common, yet severe conditions including ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and depression
2. Another very useful but not so popular book is by the Mathematician Philosopher Bertrand Russell with the title ” On Education, specially in early childhood”.
3. A recent book is by Sir Ken Robinson with the title ” The Element”.
4. A fourth book that we suggest parents should read is by Paul Tough and its title is ” How Children Succeed”
5. The fifth book we suggest is Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, Chihiro Iwasaki

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Some thoughts for AIMA event on 31st March 2015

Management Education: Design and Structure- The Way Ahead

Summarised as 3 key statements and 5 bulleted points for each. This is supplemented by some links to other readings.

1: The world is changing:
* Abundance: the future is better than you think by Peter H Diamandis and Steven Kotler
* The Internet of things
* 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing
* General purpose Robots and Drones
* Very rapidly advancing machine intelligence

2: All education including management education therefore has to prepare itself for a CIIDD world
* Complex
* Innovation Intensive: Minimum Viable Innovation Systems
* Data Driven ( actually Big Data Driven)
* Computational Thinking for Business Leaders
* Coding Skills for all Professional Managers

3: Traditional degrees have to give way to new ways of micro-credentialing , the nano-technology principles applied to education.
* Open Badges
* Principles of the Washington Accord:12 attributes expected of every graduate
* Moving from Andragogy to Heutagogy
* Learning to learn and becoming a life-long learner
* 21st Century Thinking Skills

Some links for further engagement/amusement. Repeating a few earlier tweets:
1: What is worth learning? Not that is in demand today. But what is not programmable tomorrow. View the video link here:

2: This is a must read for those interested of higher education. A spoof on curriculum development :

3: A must read for every educator struggling with regulators of curriculum:

4: The chicken and egg metaphor in the context of typist and the typewriter. A great read for productive procrastination:

5: The joke about the fire extinguisher factory being gutted is not a joke.
I had imagined that hundreds of Management Education Institutes closing down were an illustration of this joke. But it can be frightfully real:

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The Countdown to success: in 55 inspirational words

The Countdown to Success:

55 words of inspiration:

In this VUCA ( volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world) living in an age of brevity of instant messaging with WhatsApp, I began to reflect upon what age old wisdom I would share with the youth of today, perhaps as Tweets.

So I created a countdown beginning with an inspirational message in 10 words, then one in 9 words and so on in decreasing order, till finally I was down to one word.
And amazingly, a one word Philosophy of ‘ Excel’ or a two word mission of ‘ Just Shine’, which is the purpose of the sun, while it burns fiercely inside are just amazing.

Here it is:

{10}: An inspirational thought in 10 words “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached “: Swami Vivekanand

{9}: Get inspired in 9 words ” Let noble thoughts come to us from all directions”: Rigveda

{8}: Get motivated by 8 words : ” The harder I work, the luckier I get” : Thomas Jefferson

{7}: Stay away from financial crises with 7 words : “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” : William Shakespeare

{6}: Your real freedom in 6 simple words : ” No one can imprison my mind”: Mahatma Gandhi

{5}: Guide your life with 5 words: ” Be a lamp unto yourself ” Gautam Buddha

{4}: Being responsible in 4 words : ” God does not play dice” : Albert Einstein

{3}: Going Solo in 3 words” Ekla Chalo Re”: Rabindra Nath Tagore

{2}: A life’s mission in just 2 words: ” Just Shine”…. like the Sun

{1}: The one word world view : “Excel”: Aristotle

” We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act but a habit”: Aristotle

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