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How MOOCs are changing the way students learn and education is delivered!

With the internet there came about a change which reduced the mail transit time (the biggest drawback of the correspondence course) and allowed students to interact not only with the instructor but also with other students in the class in real time.

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Education has always been an integral part in the development process of humans. It has made a long journey to where it is now. Everything in today’s world is technology driven and plays a vital role in the education sector. In the bygone era education was accessible only to a certain group who could pay to learn or to those who had accessibility to a school or tutor. With the advancement of technology the learning field has been levelled, helping the masses to access learning like never before.  Today it doesn’t matter which part of the world you are sitting in, whether you have access to schools in your area, or whether you don’t have a particular time slot for studying, you will still find that with just an internet connection, education can be brought to your homes or anywhere you choose and at anytime, as long as you have the hunger to learn.

The concept of distance learning was initially through correspondence where a student applying for a course was sent study material through the post and in- turn would complete coursework and examinations, return them to school where it would be reviewed and graded before receiving the next lesson.

With the internet there came about a change which reduced the mail transit time (the biggest drawback of the correspondence course) and allowed students to interact not only with the instructor but also with other students in the class in real time. There came modernised versions of this mode of study over the years with the furtherance of technology.

What is MOOC?

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC or called as Mu Ke in China) is an online course that aims to attract unlimited students to learn through the web. It provides the usual traditional classroom material in the form of filmed lectures, readings, problem sets and also provides an interactive forum where students, teaching assistants and professors can communicate. MOOC was a term that was coined by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island.  MOOC’s are fairly recent, as it was introduced in 2008 and gained momentum as a popular mode of learning in 2012.

MOOC’s around the world

The industry has an unusual structure, consisting of linked groups including MOOC providers, the larger non-profit sector, universities, related companies and venture capitalists. Though traditional college courses cannot be replaced completely by MOOC’s, they will co-exist just as Twitter feeds, websites and magazines has found ways to co-exist in the media ecosystem.

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The key market factors considered going for MOOC are low cost certification, use of various technologies such as smartphone, tablet and laptops, cost reduction for training, and others.

Bill Gates said in 2010, “in the next five years, you will be able to find the best lectures online, and these lectures are better than that of any university.”

MOOC providers like Coursera, Udacity, edX, and FutureLearn keep churning out courses at an astonishing pace. Hosted by such illustrious institutions as Stanford, MIT, Yale, Harvard, and world-renowned international universities like Heidelberg, the Indian Institute of Technology, the Sorbonne and other universities, the number of massive open online courses has exploded in recent years.

Ideally the first MOOC’s were free where in the providers reached a large audience but that concept is now changing.

“The Big 3” MOOC providers, Coursera, Udacity, and edX are shedding their free and open roots one-by-one and are charging a small fee for certain courses as learners are demanding credit for the work they put into their courses. A move that is slowly redefining MOOCs’ role in the global marketplace of online education.

MOOC providers realized that they could offer more for less by marketing courses from top-tier schools much cheaper than universities could market a traditional college degree. Getting more private access to teachers, local cohorts, and more verified testing environments that also included anti-cheating measures and identity verification to ensure class quality was also provided.

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MOOC PROVIDERS

The top 6 MOOC providers that provide top notch courses accredited by elite universities around the world are:

edX: Created in 2012 by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University it is a massive MOOC provider and different from other providers as it is a non-profit organization and runs on the Open edX open-source software. It has over 7 million students taking over 700 different online courses.

Coursera: A for profit educational technology company that provide MOOCs. They work with universities and organisations to provide courses in physics, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital marketing, data science, mathematics, business, social sciences, among others.

Udacity: founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky and is a for profit organization offering MOOCs. Originally focused on offering university style courses but now focuses on vocational courses for professionals.

FutureLearn: launched and wholly owned by The Open University in Milton Keynes, England was founded in December 2012. As on January 2017 it has 109 UK and international partners and also includes non-university partners such as the British MuseumEuropean Space Agency, the British CouncilUCASUNESCOCancer Research UK, the National Film and Television School.

NovoEd: founded by Stanford University professor Amin Saberi and PhD student Farnaz Ronaghi, it partners with universities, foundations, and corporations to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) as well as small private online courses (SPOCS). It is a, for profit educational technology company and was originally known as Venture Lab. It rebranded itself to its present name in 2013.

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Iversity: A European online education platform that provides free courses for anyone to enrol and participate. It has ties with individual professors as well as many European universities and conducts many of their courses in English, German and many other languages. It has its branch offices in Bernau bei BerlinGermany and Berlin.

Canvas Network: Instructure entered the MOOC market in November 2012 by launching the Canvas Network. Instructure's approach to MOOC has been to facilitate experimentation with pedagogy and new ways to use multimedia environments to change cognition and enhance the learning process. One example is "Gender Through Comic Books," a MOOC taught by Ball State University's Christina Blanch on Canvas Network that used lessons from pop culture to explore evolving social norms and other anthropological ideals.

MOOC in India

India introduced ‘SWAYAM’, short for Study Webs of Active-learning for Young Aspiring Minds through the human resource development ministry. It is a web portal where MOOCs will be available on various subjects. MOOC’s in India will reach learners in any corner of the country as long as they have an internet connection. It has access to the top universities educational content that will help learners get quality education free of cost.

Statistics from major MOOC providers says that India has the second largest audience for MOOCS after US. This goes to show there is a huge requirement for quality education and MOOC is the best platform for providing this to a country that has billions in population.

There are presently 3 courses that are provided under ‘SWAYAM’, one from UC Berkeley’s Umesh Vazarani’s and two from IIT Bombay.  The Indian Institute of Management Bangalore has joined edX and will soon start their online courses.

Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation will be provided by UC Berkeley, introduction to programming and thermodynamics will be provided by IIT Bombay.

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The Government of India also has another project called the ‘National E- Library’ a digital library that is accessible to every learner with an internet access and has the best resources from the nation’s top universities.

SWAYAM is not only for enrolled students but for professionals and dropouts as well. With quality content, best online lectures, great discussions, knowledgeable assessment quizzes, SWAYAM will provide great opportunities for Indian students to learn without the fear of failure.

India’s leading E–learning protagonist Prof MM Pant, who is also a disruptive education technology enthusiast, did a week-long course on MOOCs learning. The course was taken by 145 educationists, educational professionals and scholars including from Sweden, UK, Bangladesh was perhaps first of its kind learning course using Whatsapp in India. The best outcome of this ‘disruptive’ and very useful course is a book on MOOCs.

Advantages of MOOC which the traditional classroom teaching does not have

MOOC’s online learning mode allows students not to sit in the classroom while learning basic theoretical concepts. This poses challenges to the traditional classroom teaching and the teacher’s classroom teaching content and quality.

Interaction and sharing is the essence of MOOC. As the old saying goes, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. MOOC allows learners to acquire knowledge which interests them the most through a network of independent learning, and apply the knowledge. Traditional teachers should adapt and learn in this wave of MOOC, change from “teaching based” to “learning-based”.

With MOOC students will take the initiative to learn, to read, to think, to communicate, and to compare, which will also change the traditional way of classroom teaching, making teachers re-examine what they should teach the students, how to teach, and how to meet their individual needs so as to ultimately improve the teaching quality.

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Interaction and sharing is the essence of MOOC.

Due to students’ different qualifications, the required time to accept knowledge is not the same, which gives students more freedom, and their learning will be more efficient. For the students who have spare learning capacity, they are free to choose and can better arrange their own learning.

Though MOOC can never replace getting a traditional degree, it can enhance the education experience and ensure that, as a society, we are continuing to push the bounds of knowledge.

Not only will students enjoy flexibility, but corporations will as well. Increasingly, partnerships between industry and higher education are offering benefits to both. Companies get a happier, more educated workforce, and institutions get access to more students. MOOCs are a low-commitment, low-cost way for institutions to offer specific courses to industry partners.

As a culture, we need to stop thinking of education as a “one and done” deal. Currently, we go to school, earn a degree and our education is complete. But with online education students from all walks of life now have equal opportunities to learn. No more excuses can be made to not gain an education. MOOCs are here to stay and have taken education to a whole new level for people of any class, any age by exposing them to the curriculum from the most elite universities from around the globe.

This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of ScooNews magazine. Subscribe to ScooNews Magazine today to have more such stories delivered to your desk every month. 

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Education Technology

All Students are Good Students

To know more about ValidateMe Digital Certificates, visit validateme.online.

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“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid”

We live by this quotation and believe that every child is talented and deserving. When given an appropriate platform, every child can achieve great heights.

Schools are intended to provide the right environment for children for their overall development. However, not every child is perceived as a “good student” at school. Not every child performs to the best of his capability at school and during formative years. The chief difference between good and bad students is that the former take responsibility for their education; the latter is passive in the face of their teachers’ expectations.

Teachers, you have prime responsibility in your students’ learning journey. An emphasis on learning and personal growth, not grades or testing scores, should be the primary goal of every teacher. Every child’s learning journey is distinctive. Hence, the focus must be shifted more to learning than just competition.

The best way to assist a child is to make him responsible for his/her learning journey and equip him with a sense of freedom to choose his/her path. With the teacher’s encouragement, all students should be nudged to take responsibility for their education path. If a student is confident about his abilities and abilities to learn, then they will not fear failure. Knowing what they want from education and being confident that they can master it allows a child or youth to take control of their lives in fundamental ways so that at least a decent standard of living is attainable.

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Learning with Digital Certificates and Badges

Good teachers keep the classroom going and actively promote their students’ learning. One of the easiest ways to bring a sense of ownership and motivation to a child’s learning journey is with  Digital Certificates and Badges to felicitate every student’s milestone. These milestones can be set according to a student’s learning capacity and pace. ValidateMe.Online is a unique platform that allows you to create and issue certificates when your students achieve milestones. ValidateMe.Online also gives your students access to an exclusive digital vault where they receive all the certificates, to enable them to keep track of their learning curve. Read “How schools are using digital credentials to empower students” to know how you can leverage Digital certificates and badges for your students.

At the same time, rewarding and pushing the students to do better isn’t always the best strategy. Teachers should know when to let their students slack off and even help them with their assignments. Learning and curriculum are only one part of development, and a student should know that it is not the end of the world if he/she is lagging.

In the end, we hope that every child carries a mountain of hope and confidence within themselves and that schools reinforce this daily.

To know more about ValidateMe Digital Certificates, visit validateme.online.

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How To Ensure Early-Years Children Aren’t Left Behind As School Reopen For Seniors

It is extremely exhausting to keep young children engaged in remote learning, children don’t look at the screen and tend to exit abruptly. Here are some tips by this Early Childhood Education Expert.

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News of COVID started trickling into our country around January 2020, by February we had a few cases and events were held cancelled. By March, it was clear that we would have to close schools and then we went into a lockdown. People still thought this is temporary and schools will open on schedule in June, but it did not happen and many schools were caught unawares and had to start working on their online modules in a hurry, whereas some were ready for a long haul and had everything planned in March. Questions that many asked, especially parents, were ‘So, what if young children miss a few months of preschool?’ ‘How beneficial is virtual learning to young children?’

Well, we are now in November and in a few months, it will be the end of the academic year! With no sign of any solution to the COVID-situation in sight, it only means perhaps we've to encounter another academic year virtually or of click-brick-click, that means a combination of physical and virtual learning.

Let us first answer the question – So, what if young children miss a few months of preschool?

Well, if 85-90% of the brain develops in the first five years then should we let our young children lose one entire year of stimulation? The answer is NO. Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), as defined by UNESCO, is the “holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing.” We know these experiences shape young learners minds, attitudes and often behaviours.

When looking at brain development, Linda Bakken found that “the years from birth to age 5 are viewed as a critical period for developing the foundations for thinking, behaving, and emotional well-being. Child development experts indicate it is during these years that children develop linguistic, cognitive, social, emotional, and regulatory skills that predict their later functioning in many domains.

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Does that mean children can be given the same stimulation virtually?

Young children require play-based, project-based approaches, hands-on learning and that is the very reason why going virtual became such a daunting task for early years educators. Early childhood educators rely heavily on openness to free play within carefully curated environments with open-ended materials that provoke children’s engagements with each other and their surroundings. And this was the biggest challenge in virtual engagements for preschoolers.

Ensure that your virtual learning session is not focussed on testing and drill-based learning, not only is it not developmentally appropriate, it will cause stress and anxiety in children and their parents. All-round development and immersion in the learning of the 5 essential skills are essential to be spread over the week. 

  1.      Physical skills
  2.      Social skills
  3.      Emotional skills
  4.      Language skills
  5.      Thinking/ Cognitive skills

To succeed in virtual learning for young children, ensure that the four pillars of learning quality are visible in your virtual program. They are:

1. Engaging: Children learn best when they are ENGAGED in the teaching-learning process with a specific goal in mind. Thus, what matters is the engaging content planned to hold the child’s attention in order to ensure the learning goal. Use puppets, micro-movements, shadow play, and silent gestures to engage children.

2. Actively Involved: This requires children to be involved both physically and mentally during the Virtual Learning. The content should be new, challenging and age-appropriate to keep them actively involved and stimulated for maximum learning outcomes. Some activities can have more physical involvement as compared to mental and vice versa. Yoga, science experiments, music and movement are some ways to achieve this.

3. Social: Children learn best when learning is SOCIAL. Children need to be given opportunities to have high-quality interactions with friends and adults in their environment. 

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4. Meaningful: Children learn the best when they are exposed to MEANINGFUL experiences and environment that they can relate to. The content and topics that are conducted with children become meaningful when the people on the screen are familiar like their teacher and friends and the content is integrated with a context that is relevant to children’s environment or lives and takes them from known to unknown.

The Early Childhood Association published a wonderful resource on how to conduct virtual learning for the early-years students and it highly recommends dividing the child’s day into three parts:

  • Teacher-child interaction: This can be virtual on a safe platform.
  • Parent-child interaction: This can be sent by the school and can be in the form of games, activities or videos to co-watch.
  • Child independent activities: These can be simple activities of listening, yoga, home chores, etc. that enhance autonomy in children. Both Montessori and Erik Eriksson stress on autonomy or independent learning as the foundation of life and learning.

The early years are brain development years, so remember brain research and integrate it into your program in the following ways:

1. The brain is social: Just because you are ‘virtual,’ don’t let social learning disappear. Ensure that you stress on social activities during the virtual time or parent-child time. Children learn skills of waiting for their turn, listening to others, etc. during social interactions so plan for activities where they can speak, listen to each other, wait for their turn. Discussion starters help children speak during virtual sessions, and because they have to get an item for the discussion, it helps them look forward and plan for the next day.

2.The brain thrives on physical activity and needs it every 10 minutes: Enjoy brain breaks with physical activity like jump, twirl, and dance. This will keep children engaged and active and will break the monotony of staring at a screen! A science activity that they can do along with the teacher also helps.

3. It’s all about song and dance: Because song and dance involve both sides of the brain and when both sides are involved, the child is actively engaged. Try to teach concepts through songs and make math more fun with dance!

4. Between the ages of 2 and 7, children are in the preoperational stage: It is developmentally inappropriate to expect their learning to be entirely screen-based. So include listening activities like Podcasts. Give them podcasts for origami activities, or a 'listen and draw' activity or listen to a story and then draw the story. This helps children develop hearing as a skill. When we use visual skills all the time, children tend to see and learn and focus less on hearing or listening skills, podcasts and other such activities help develop listening and focus on young children.

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5. The brain needs ‘serve and return’ interactions: Don’t be the only one talking! Organize virtual field trips where children can see, talk, discuss and get a great immersive experience, augmented reality can also be of help here.

Share a visual like this, so that parents can be educated about the benefits of all the virtual learning activities to their child’s brain development – 

Young children are dependent on their families for their daily needs. In short, families are your partners and hence, it is important to build virtual relationships with them as well.

1. A good early years program emphasises on children’s voices to be heard. To do that, teachers should not be the only leaders in virtual learning and discussions. You can ask parents to submit photos of how children are playing at home. Compare and contrast how children are playing at home and you can use these photos in your daily interactions with children to add more of a personal touch. A child feels great when you are able to comment on their home play habits and choice of toys or themes.

2. Young brains thrive on routine, it gives them a structure. Help parents understand the need for having a fixed comfortable space for children. Also, distractions should be limited during their learning time. Give parents an idea about how to manage their work timing and their child’s virtual learning.

3. Create ‘virtual classrooms’ for children and parents to relate too.

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4. Take feedbacks regularly from parents. Many parents are overly worried about making their children ‘sit’ for virtual engagements, whereas children like to slouch, bend, walk around during virtual interactions. Help parents understand that there are different kinds of learners – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. The auditory and kinaesthetic learners will not ‘sit’ during a virtual session but are still learning and paying attention.

5. Be flexible with parents, they are working from home and working at home and may sometimes miss out on your deadline of sending their child’s work, etc. You can be firm with repeat offenders though!

Assessment is a must to ensure that you are aware of the impact of the virtual learning sessions:

  • Virtual assessment must meet the challenging demands of validity (accuracy and effectiveness) for young children and an approach grounded in a sound understanding of the appropriate methodology.
  • Assessments should be age-appropriate in both content and the method of data collection.
  • Assessments should be linguistically appropriate, recognizing that, to some extent, all assessments are measures of language.
  • Parents should be a valued source of assessment information, as well as an audience for assessment results.

For more details on how to do virtual assessments of children in early years, you can refer to Early Childhood Association manual 'Child Assessment In Early and Primary Years During Virtual Learning' at www.eca-india.org.

Don’t forget to take care of your teachers!

It is extremely exhausting to keep young children engaged in remote learning, children don’t look at the screen, they exit abruptly, there are sounds from the kitchen of each child’s home, etc. Many teachers were not savvy about technology and had to suddenly learn to navigate tech tools. Many had to make do with their own budgets for stationery, etc.

And let us not forget that teachers are also working from home, working at home and juggling their own child’s virtual learning needs!

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Be kind to them. Listen to their issues. Don’t expect too much and give them a break whenever needed.

In these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, children have been faced with a change in their routine. Suddenly, there is so much chatter and information around them making them anxious, lonely, and confused, hence, hampering their continuous learning process in these formative years. So choose the activities for their virtual learning wisely, don’t add to their confusion, stress and anxiety.

About the author: Dr. Swati Popat Vats

The author is the President of Podar Education Network that is successfully running virtual learning for more than 45,000 children in its 495 centres across India. She is also the President of Early Childhood Association and Association of Primary Education and Research that have been actively working during this pandemic to ensure that educators have the right research and resources to conduct virtual learning and assessment and have worked on creating educational posters and webinars to help parents, educators, school owners navigate the ‘learning’ storm cause by Covid-19. 

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EdBank’s Founder on India’s 1st Community-Powered Platform For Teacher Training

“EdBank’s inception shows that the Indian education sector is open to learning when given a good opportunity. It also proves that our teachers do not and will not step back at any opportune moment.”

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EdBank was launched in July 2020, amidst the global COVID-pandemic…a time when the entire education sector had to go virtual overnight and resort to online learning. That was the right moment for an online platform like EdBank, which is a community-powered platform for educators, to launch and support the warrior-teachers. Today, this online education bank helps exchange knowledge, perform research, serve resources, and share recommendations between teachers and school leaders. Apart from this, it connects people, practices, and pedagogies to empower schools and in turn, inspire the next generation.

CEO & Founder, Mr. Ravi Santlani informs, "EdBank is supported by Common Wealth of Learning which is considered the Mecca of Teacher-Training, a body created by several countries across the world. Having Common Wealth of Learning as our knowledge partner is truly a golden opportunity. Other than this, EdBank is under regular discussion with other government and non-government bodies to partner with."

Read the excerpts from the conversation with Mr. Santlani talking about EdBank’s journey so far and its various courses that are taking the education sector by storm.

What inspired you to start EdBank? Remember its initial days. 

In my career of five years in the education field, heading India’s one of the largest media houses that focuses on K-12 education, I realised that there was no such platform for our educators to come together and exchange their knowledge. Filling this gap soon became my mission and I took up the R&D work. The plan was to create an online space that we, as an educational media house, would want to leave behind as a legacy.

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The team has learnt a lot since the inception of its idea. It was a great experience to have such learned, veteran educators spending their valuable time to record sessions with us. While at it, we also learned using many technical tools that helped us with the recordings, editing, case studies, questionnaires and assessments. The silver lining in this dark cloud of the pandemic is that we managed to launch EdBank on time. 

What are the specific features, according to you, that make EdBank one of the most efficient online learning platforms for educators? 

There are different features under the banner and the brand EdBank. The first thing we launched was the online teacher training. Till date, 9 courses and 68,000 learning hours have been delivered to about 9,000 educators from different parts of the country. Next, we’re planning to launch the second feature called ‘Communities.’ In this, we would give an opportunity to the educators to come together and discuss the various topics that they would like to learn or teach the community. There will be different forums and topics available to interact on, like Early Childhood Education, primary & middle years’ pedagogy, content, curriculum, technology, etc. Apart from this, we’ve got another feature called ‘Resources,’ wherein educators would be able to share their resources like curriculum, lesson plans, tools and training materials with others.

And finally, we plan to launch the ‘Recruitment’ section. This will be an exclusive portal which will make job applying, hiring and the selection process easier for teachers and recruiters. We are also ambitious about giving a 10-second video tool to the educators who would want to put forth their resume in an interesting manner. This will make it easier for hiring sides to filter out the finalists for the said job. In fact, recruitment interviews with video CV option on an end-to-end encrypted platform with full privacy guaranteed will be possible soon. 

Which collaborations/courses would you say stood out the most until now?

Without a doubt, it's ‘Coding in Eary Years’ by Dr. Swati Popat Vats, the President of ECA, APER & Podar Education Network. It is one of the most visited courses on the platform to date. We have been very exclusive about the type and quality of the courses that appear on EdBank, though this slows us down as the processing takes longer than usual. So far, we’ve received interests from over 600 educators who wish to conduct a course on EdBank but we’ve been very careful and particular of our choices. 

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Since each course is unique in its own way, we are leaving no stones unturned and taking steps cautiously. Another thing that comes into play is the educator who’s conducting the course. Their own footing and following in the educational ecosystem is a major part when it comes to attending the courses. Dr. Vats, as I said, is a big influence, especially among early childhood educators and trainers in India. 

In courses like ‘Coding in Early Years,’ the audience aka the registered educators also need hands-on experience apart from the regular theoretical data. How does EdBank or the mentor-in-charge provide this opportunity?

Honestly, there are limitations of virtual learning even though it reaches more people than any physical seminar ever can. In such cases where the students are educators themselves, they already have a basic knowledge of the topic so the entire learning process becomes easier. 

Dr. Vats’ course comparatively is less technical and more learning-oriented, for example. She’s provided the learners with her experienced knowledge which has more to do with ‘coding’ in daily life and activity, not the literal ‘coding.’

Additionally, we sent across a book authored by Dr. Vats named ‘Yash and Yashika Learns Coding’ to those who enrolled for her course, so they could get a hold of the topic right from the basics to teaching it to their students in the future. We also have a live chat section to help clear the doubts of the attendees.

What do EdBank and the instructors you collaborate with have common in their vision?

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The common goal is to leave a legacy behind and not to take the immensity of knowledge repository to the grave. Also, to archive the thoughts and learnings of these amazing educationalists that others can gain from, especially during emergencies like a pandemic. Imagine having a platform where the crème de la crème of the education sector would record and save their life’s learnings for the coming generations to take inspiration from. 

The topic of ‘Humor in Classroom’ is rather new and untraditional in an Indian set-up. Talk about the response you've received on this? Also, what's your takeaway?

While we were doing a conference ‘The Mad Conclave’ a few years ago, we wanted to invite the Ad-guru Prahlad Kakkar for it. Due to time constraints, he could not join us and so, we zeroed in on Pratish Nair, who is the managing director and co-founder of the Prahlad Kakar School of Branding and Entrepreneurship. Mr. Nair came like a storm and the most amazing thing about him was his humour. Since then inviting him to the otherwise dull conferences and giving them a new life became a constant for us.

So, when we reached out to him to ask if he had a topic in mind for EdBank, his immediate response was to record a session on ‘Humor in Classrooms.’ This couldn’t get better. Humour is one of the most significant ways to connect teachers and students emotionally. This course is undoubtedly one of the most phenomenal and memorable ones. The response so far is enormous, even the educators who did not initially support the idea of humour in their classrooms were bound to rethink.

I personally feel that Mr. Nair should consider writing a book on his ideas and philosophies as it can help many educators come out of a formal, orthodox setup and consider some good laughs a healthy part of their teaching style.

Lastly, how do you see EdBank leading in the future and contributing to the education sector?

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We are very confident and hopeful that in the years to come, EdBank will become a go-to learning platform for every teacher. We are also planning on creating courses in different languages to welcome a diverse audience. It doesn’t matter which board they teach for, CBSE, ICSE, or IB, they can easily log in and improve their skills. 

Simultaneously, we’re trying to identify educators who are at the top of their game and can conduct unique courses efficiently. We envision EdBank as a platform that attracts teachers to come and learn rather than spend hours scrolling through Google and other apps.

We are also working towards building a tool that will allow educators to go Live, pick a topic of everyone’s interest and explain it directly to the viewers in real-time. This will send a notification to the possible attendees that a chat room is created and they are welcome to join it. Here, EdBank will act as a virtual staffroom, allowing chatting, making new friends in the education sector, and discussing their ideologies & philosophies.

I strongly believe that EdBank’s successful launch has written history, it shows how the Indian education sector is open to learning when given a good opportunity. It also proves that our teachers do not and will not step back at any opportune moment.

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8 Questions Explaining AIM, Selection Criteria of Atal Tinkering Labs, Grant-in-Aid & More

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, housed at NITI Aayog, with a focus to build an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem across India, with public-private partnerships. 

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The ‘new India’ is about innovation and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) aims to foster this exact spirit in the young minds, who’re responsible for the future of this country. With more than 5,000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) across India, the govt. is encouraging children to come up with unique innovations and ideas in the field of STEM. In fact, the initiative is also inspiring teachers to become master problem-solvers and excellent mentors leading the way as ATL-in-charges, who're boldly challenging traditional teaching methods today.

According to Shri Ramanathan Ramanan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, “With these new schools, NITI Aayog’s AIM envisions strong growth in the collaborative ecosystem created by the ATL initiative, where students, teachers, mentors and industry partners work to facilitate innovation, foster scientific temper and an entrepreneurial spirit in the children of today, who will go on to become successful contributors to nation-building tomorrow."

Let's learn more about the transformational initiative here.

What are AIM and ATL and how are they connected to NITI Aayog?

The National Institution for Transforming India aka NITI Aayog was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on January 1, 2015. NITI Aayog is the premier policy 'Think Tank' of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. 

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The prime responsibilities of the NITI Aayog are: 

  • To evolve a shared vision of national development on priority sectors and develop strategies with the active involvement of states, in light of the nation's objectives
  • To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the grassroots level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government
  • To pay special attention to the sections of our society that need special attention to enable them to join the national economic progress
  • To design strategic and long-term policy and program frameworks
  • To create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and other partners.
  • NITI Aayog has also been nominated as the nodal agency by the United Nations to monitor, coordinate and effectively implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals across the country to bring about the desired transformation. 

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, housed at NITI Aayog, with a focus to build an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem across India, with public-private partnerships. 

Former Indian Prime Minister, late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, believed that the future of this country lies in the hands of youth. Keeping in mind his vision, Atal Innovation Mission was named after his legacy. 

The Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL) introduces technology, innovation, problem-solving, Artificial Intelligence to students as young as 12. It provokes creativity, innovation, critical thinking, ethical leadership and cross-cultural collaboration in young minds who’re the leaders of tomorrow.  

What is the mission and vision of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)?

AIM promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in India. AIM, under NITI Aayog, is envisaged as an umbrella innovation organization that would play an instrumental role in the alignment of innovation policies between central, state and sectoral ministries, by incentivizing the promotion of an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship at various levels – higher secondary schools, higher education and research institutions, and SME/MSME industry, corporate, and government ministerial level, by a public-private partnership. 

For example, through the Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL), AIM is fostering innovation at the school level, wherein students get an opportunity to experience design thinking and widen their intellectual horizons in pursuit of solutions to day-to-day problems and showcase their innovations at prestigious platforms. 

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On the other hand, AIM's Atal Incubation Centres (AICs) are creating world-class ecosystems for start-ups to flourish, with the required handholding including access to mentoring and investor networks.

Other programmes include Atal New India Challenges (ANIC), launched by AIM in collaboration with five Ministries of the Government of India, that provided innovators with an opportunity to propose technological solutions in 24 different areas of national importance, and AIM-Atal Research and Innovation in Small Enterprises (ARISE) that encourages the Ministries to invest in research and innovation and thereby accept innovation from small enterprises into the public system, through a comprehensive framework for procurement.

How many Atal Tinkering Labs are there pan India and how does the grant-in-aid work? 

As of September 2020, more than 5,300 ATLs have been set up and 14,916 schools are selected covering 86% of all districts and 98 Aspirational Districts.  These labs, established in both government and private schools with a majority in co-educational and girls’ schools are serving as community hubs of innovation while transforming the way India learns, thinks, ideates, and innovates. As per the ‘Strategy for New India’ published by NITI Aayog, AIM is on its way to establish over 10,000 ATLs in the country.

Under the ATL scheme, grant-in-aid of up to 20 lakh is provided to schools selected for setting up an ATL. The grant must be spent exclusively for the specified purpose within the stipulated time of a maximum period of 5 years, with Rs.10 lakh for the capital expense and remaining Rs.10 lakh for operational and maintenance expenses. 

What is the significance and objectives of Atal Tinkering Lab for India?

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These labs are all about combining the traditional teaching methodologies with today's experiential learning to create a unique blended education system in India. It aims to make an ecosystem that nurtures futuristic skills like complex problem solving, critical thinking, adaptive learning, computational skills in children, with a vision to create 1 million neoteric innovators, with the ATL initiative. 

Its objectives include:

a. To create workspaces where young minds can learn innovation skills, sculpt ideas through hands-on activities, work and learn in a flexible environment.

b. To empower our youth with the 21-century skills of creativity, innovation, critical thinking, design thinking, social and cross-cultural collaboration, ethical leadership and so on.

c. To help build innovative solutions for India's unique problems and thereby support India's efforts to grow as a knowledge economy. 

What is the selection criteria to provide grant-in-aid for ATL? How can schools reach out to apply?

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The selection of schools for ATL comprises of three distinct stages and the entire process takes around 6-8 months to complete.

Stage 1: Inviting applications via the online application portal (3-4 months)

Schools are invited to submit online applications for ATL. The ATL online application portal is a seamless platform developed for schools to submit their ATL applications. The online application broadly consists of four sections including contact information of applicant school and principal, basic information related to the identity of the school, the performance of the school in terms of scores and participation in competitions and other ATL related information such as the existence of basic infrastructure and so on. Applicants are not allowed to make more than one submission each and they must refrain from furnishing false/ inaccurate information in part or in full. Moreover, submission of applications does not, in any way, guarantee selection.

Stage 2: Screening of applications (1-2 months)

The selection process for ATL will be in 2 stages – screening and final evaluation. Received applications would be processed on the basis of eligibility criteria, which includes the availability of built-up space of 1000– 500 sq. ft., minimum enrolment of students, dedicated mathematics and science teachers, basic infrastructure including the availability of computers and internet connectivity, steady electricity connection, science lab, library and playground, and regular attendance of staff and students. 

Stage 3: Final evaluation (1-2 months)

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After the screening, selected applications will be evaluated further for final selection, based on a weighted average, on parameters, but not limited to district coverage, school participation is in science, technology, arts and creative festivals and awards won, existing mentor and alumni engagement. Data for all the aforementioned parameters are captured in the application form, and it helps us to assess how committed is the school to utilize the ATL as a platform to transform their school into a local innovation hub. After the final evaluation, the list fo the selected schools shall be communicated through the AIM website and via email communication to the selected schools. The schools will be required to complete the compliance process, including documentation related compliance and PFMS related compliance. Both of these steps are detailed in the next section.

What sort of difficulties can the ATL in-charge face?

Challenges are usually regarding the introduction of technology in teachers’ life and training them to become self-sufficient in order to inspire children to innovate and create. Take the example of Dr. Dhananjay Pandey from Government Higher Multipurpose Senior Secondary School, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh.

His first exposure to innovation was at a training program in Raipur at the J R Dani Government School’s ATL. Someone who has never heard of design thinking and problem solving, being a part of the hands-on training sessions that discussed 3D printing, robotics, etc. was like an adventure for Dr. Dhananjay.

It was quite challenging for him to motivate students to visit the Atal Tinkering Lab initially. Most of the students at the government school were from the poor socio-economic background and did not attend school regularly as they were engaged in part-time contractual jobs to earn a living for their families. Adding to the agony were Dr. Dhananjay’s fellow teachers who advised him to let go of the Atal Tinkering Lab initiative in their school.

This made him determine to prove otherwise, that the government school students, when given an opportunity and coached in the right direction, could also be an outlier. "I live and breathe my tinkering lab. I feel like I belong to this lab, and I am born to mentor students so that they can excel in life,” he says. Today, within a span of 12 months, he has established one of the most promising and outperforming ATLs of the country with the students creating wonderful social innovations and winning prestigious accolades at the national and international stage. 

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Who are the other partners helping ATLs reach the goal?

The community plays an important role in the successful implementation of the ATL as the local hub of innovation. This includes parents, students from the community, non-government organizations (NGOs), volunteers, and government bodies that contribute towards providing support and creating awareness about the ATL innovation activities. 

This includes:

  • Orientation sessions for parents and students outside ATL school.
  • Collaboration with local NGOs, community centres, volunteers to reach out to the extended community
  • Seeking assistance from local government bodies to identify meritorious students with proven innovation potential, who could be involved in ATL activities. A special timetable to accommodate such students and other students from the community could also be designed. 

Apart from this, many corporate houses have supported AIM under NITI Aayog, for example, Intel, IBM, DELL, Learning Links Foundation, FICE, KPIT, Microsoft, Network Capital, SAP, Stratasys, tGELF, AICTE, Workbench projects, Maker's asylum, etc. 

What are the primary responsibilities of partners adopting ATL schools?

  1. Assigning a Resource Person (RP) to manage ATL related activities in school like ensuring successful implementation of the ATL initiative, facilitating teacher training programs, student workshops and boot-camps, conducting community outreach sessions to increase awareness, etc.
  2. Bringing in volunteers who would take mentoring sessions for ATL students and teachers, which will eventually lead to the creation of technology innovations. 
  3. Conducting events/competitions/exhibitions/workshops and encouraging ATL students to participate in various innovation events/competitions, challenges. 
  4. Supporting ATL schools to increase their social media presence.
  5. Planning mentoring programs during which experienced professionals could spend time with the young innovators, helping and advising them on furthering their innovative ideas.
  6. Organizing Teachers Training Program in different ATL schools, to educate the ATL-in-charges on the ATL mission and impart hands-on learning on the different equipment that the lab shall house.

https://niti.gov.in/

https://aim.gov.in/

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Edtech Startup Tinkerly Makes Monotonous Online Coding Fun With STEM Toys

Founded by IIT Delhi and XLRI alumni, Tinkerly brings coding & STEM to young minds with superior pedagogy, blended learning, and play-based curriculum.

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It's about time the myths surrounding coding get shattered. From having to sit in front of the computer for more than 15 hours a day to the notion that coding is only for serious people (read: nerdy kids), all these statements hold untrue in case of this tech-skill. Thankfully, Jaipur-based Edtech startup named Tinkerly is now changing the common perception which most of the parents and educators have regarding coding as a learning option for their young wards.

Interestingly, coding can be learned by anyone who's 6+. The innovation is such that children can shut down their computer while building their robot or AI pet dog and can take inspiration from thousands of other kids within its community of STEM enthusiasts.

About Tinkerly

It's a Jaipur-based ed-tech startup that has come up with a unique initiative of mixing fun and hands-on learning experience for kids who're bored of the monotonous online coding classes. They've incorporated STEM toys as a part of their play-based curriculum which is going viral these days. The company also enables custom learning to each child at his or her learning pace by the usage of a flipped-classroom approach in their online courses. 

Founded by IIT Delhi and XLRI alumni, Tinkerly brings coding & STEM to young minds with superior pedagogy, blended learning, and play-based curriculum. Enabling an innovative journey for Grades 1-12 with their expert educators and focused lessons, Tinkerly has 200+ projects on coding, robotics, AI, and other STEM subjects benefitting 100K+ students with STEM learning content and free mobile app ‘Let's Tinker’.

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Sharad Bansal, Co-founder & CEO, Tinkerly, says, "It’s not essential for each child to learn coding or similar skills, but it’s worth tasting the flavour. Our aim is to create an environment where Coding is Love and not Fear. We created this play-based curriculum to unleash the true potential of each child."

What does their course offer?

Tinkerly's STEM Learning & Coding course covers all the grade-wise concepts of logic, AI, IoT & Coding for Grades 1 to 12. There are 4 basic divisions of Grade levels such as Grade (1-3), Grade (4-6), Grade (7-8), and Grade (8+). Each Grade consists of 2 class packages – Learner & Achiever.  

The Learner is a package for foundational learning which consists of 8 recorded lessons and 3 Live one-on-one sessions with expert educators. 

The Achiever package is special for it starts with foundational learning, followed by simulation-based projects and then real projects on AI, Robotics, and IoT take place. The Achiever package consists of 24 recorded lessons and 9 Live one-on-one sessions with expert educators along with a special offering of 1 STEM kit.

Parents can choose the most suitable package according to their child's potential and can schedule the Demo class (free of cost) to make a decision about the course subscription. In addition to the paid course subscription, Tinkerly users will also get lifetime free access to various projects, community learning, and support on its Lets Tinker App.

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Best Alternative to Monotonous Online Coding Classes

Currently, there are several online coding curriculum providers in the market but sadly, all of them are entirely based on-screen. Hence, there is very little scope of learning at one’s own pace left for kids, especially those with special needs.

So, what makes Tinkerly more user-friendly, practical and effective?

1. It’s Flexible – In the flipped learning approach, there are recorded lessons and weekly Live classes in each course. This has two advantages:

a) Students have the flexibility to learn whenever they want to.

b) The self-paced learning of the student will get promoted in the course. 

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They can watch the recorded lessons anytime later and clear their doubts simultaneously by using the support section of the Let's Tinker App to get in touch with the expert educator. This allows the expert to take a dedicated online one-on-one live session for the child to resolve the doubts and also revise the topic.

2. It’s Fun & Engaging – In Tinkerly, learning is not limited to ordinary online classes but also goes beyond the screen with the help of STEM Toys. This way the students can also limit their screen time and experience the thrill of experiential learning with the help of STEM toys. Those who enrol in Tinkerly's STEM Learning & Coding Course not only just learn the innovative technology like AI, IoT and robotics but also get trained by the expert educators (who are graduates from top tier institutes and have excellent mentoring experience) to build their own NextGen Projects that can solve real-world problems. 

Recognitions and Vision

US' largest STEM accreditation organization STEM.org has accredited Tinkerly for its curriculum and allows Tinkerly's students to achieve certification from it. Recently, NASSCOM featured Tinkerly among the top startups that are leading the AI revolution. In July 2020, Forbes India featured Sharad Bansal, Co-founder & CEO of Tinkerly, in its web-series called Education Evangelists of India.

“There are 250 million kids in India but currently coding courses in the market are priced too high to serve only the top 5% of them. Our aim is to provide equal opportunity to each and every learner irrespective of their socio-economic status. Tinkerly’s vast experience in setting up Tinkering labs in schools has given it this unfair advantage of using its own proprietary kits and curriculum to save a big pie of time and cost for scale.” explains Sharad

India is on its path to becoming a leading manufacturing and electronics hub that means millions of jobs in the hardware and software space are emerging. Tinkerly’s blend of STEM toys with its courses is a thoughtful effort to develop a future-ready skill set that will be essential for kids of today to become innovators of tomorrow.

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To know more, contact:

Sharad Bansal, Co-founder & CEO, Tinkerly, at [email protected] 

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shrdbnsl/ 

Tinkerly Website: https://code.tinker.ly/ 

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5 Blogs to Follow For Exclusive & Authentic Educational App Reviews

Here are some of the websites/blogs you might benefit from while searching for an appropriate app for online teaching

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In this world of unsure times when schools had to shut down and teachers, as well as parents, turned to online learning, finding an effective and reliable online platform has become a basic need. However, equally difficult is the part of actually finding such platforms. It is like a buffet of applications and websites that are claiming attractive benefits either free of cost or at a lesser price. To find the best application that works on both, a desktop and a phone, is a dream come true. The cherry on the top is the ability of the said app to help educators and parents, not to leave out the students, in online learning.

Here is an assortment of blogs that do authentic application reviews which you could rely on. Check them out and choose the tailor-made platforms for you and your students.

App Ed Review

Dr. Todd Cherner and Dr. Corey Lee, former educators, are the brains behind this successful application review website that is seven years old. They review the applications based on:

  1. An original app description
  2. A comprehensive app evaluation
  3. Instructional ideas for using the app

App Ed Review gained the attention of Myrtle Beach’s local news media, television, online, and in the press. They were also featured in a podcast.

https://appedreview.com/

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Teachers With Apps (TWA) 

Co-founded by Jayne Clare, a former educator, TWA along with curating the application reviews to be used by educators, also offer sage advice through blogs and media releases. They extensively field-test every area of the application that is being analysed. They also do research, blogging and works directly with app developers and start-ups, designing state of the art learning games as well as writing curriculum guides and sketching extension activities to accompany digital tools. 

https://www.teacherswithapps.com/

Children's Technology Review

The website service is almost 3 decades old. It is an independent, subscriber-supported review & curation service designed to help parents, teachers, researchers, publishers and librarians find interactive media products. CTR is sold as a subscription service and is delivered both weekly and monthly to subscribers in electronic form, and as an online database called CTREX (Children’s Technology Review Exchange).

https://reviews.childrenstech.com/ctr/home.php

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KinderTown

They offer quality tools and information to build up early learners by creating and organizing the best educational apps and activities for kids ages 3-8. The material is divided age-group wise, their mission is to improve early childhood education by empowering educators and parents with the tools to engage deeply in the child’s learning journey. KinderTowen is powered by Demme Learning, which has been providing innovative learning solutions for homeschoolers, parents and small group learning environments since 1990.

http://www.kindertown.com/blog/category/educational-app-reviews/

Educational App Store

It discovers and reviews online platforms for educational apps. All the apps are certified and reviewed by professionally experienced teachers to help fellow educators in progressing a younger child's education. Educational App Store is co-founder of the Edtech Evidence Group (EEG). The EEG brings together leading UK EdTech companies. The EEG believes that educators need to be able to easily assess the value and impact of EdTech products, services and platforms.

https://www.educationalappstore.com/ 

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10 Myths & Truths About Online Learning You Need to Read Now!

An explanation for the most speculated topics about online learning during COVID-19 outbreak

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The truth is – it is all MYTH!

Yes, it is a myth that online learning is not similar to authentic classroom learning, and it is definitely untrue that students cannot learn effectively via a virtual classroom. Lately, there has been a lot of speculation on the online classes that the schools had to turn to because of the global lockdown. Whether or not these are effective, if children can learn properly, calling the screentime harmful, worrying about those who are technologically-challenged and how parents can track the online learning – there have been countless questions by teachers, parents and even the students that are doing rounds. Let’s decode some of them here.

MYTH 1: Virtual classrooms are a one-way street

It is imagined that in online classes, the teacher switches on the camera and the microphone, gives a lecture, assigns homework and leaves. However, Prof. Dr Sugata Mitra has something else to suggest. According to his Self Organised Learning (SOL) theory, children with computer and internet access can actually learn better and quicker if given a chance and guided properly. More importantly, if they’re asked the right question. Certainly, this activity of asking a question is done by the teacher and finding the right or right adjacent answer is a task of students, so how can it be called a one-way street? This small example shows that not depending solely on the educator, online classes can be way more than just a lecture.

MYTH 2: Students lose interest during e-learning

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To be fair, students can lose interest even while sitting in front of their teacher in the physical classroom or while doing the homework in front of their parents. It has nothing to do with a screen presence but more to do with the kind of material taught to them. Another of Prof. Dr. Sugata Mitra’s experiment, ‘The Granny Cloud,’ comes to our mind. Numerous educators around the world have volunteered to teach children online on the Granny Cloud. Since they can be anywhere in the world, there always is a screen present in between them and the students, they maintain the interest by picking such material that is relevant to the particular set of children and can make them think and create. To presume that since the teacher is on the screen and the students will inevitably lose interest is premature and unjust.

MYTH 3: Screentime is bad for kids

Since we were told watching TV is bad for the eyes, it is assumed that taking online classes must be bad for a child’s health as well. To be honest, the children would have that much screentime anyway if the schools are closed and they are not going out. Please remember that the technology has improved way more in all these years and the screens come with antiglare and zero eye strain effects now. Worrying about screentime is a redundant point because of the guidelines governments all around the world have passed that ban the extension of screentime post a moderate stretch. Rather than worrying about ‘screentime,’ it’s better to worry about the 'screen content.' Plus, to avoid children from playing video games all day or watching nonsensical content, it is better for them to watch something education-related.

MYTH 4: It is easier for the teachers

There are always some guardians who believe that the teacher is taking a holiday and it is they who have to make their ward study. It is untrue! These teachers taught throughout their lives on a black/whiteboard, being physically present in front of their students and looking at their innocent faces to analyse what more needs to be done from the expressions. Now, they had to overnight turn to computer screens, start from scratch, learn how to start Zoom calls, and overwork in order to prepare for the long classes. All this so they could continue to teach their students. It is the time to support the teaching community, not doubt or question them unnecessarily. 

MYTH 5: Online learning only works for theory-based subjects 

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It seems like online teaching and learning is for subjects that are more theoretical and have more reading and writing to do because we imagine online learning to be a one-sided job – where the teacher comes online or records a video and students listen to them ramble away. But what if it is not how the reality works! As Prof. Dr. Sugata Mitra has stated on numerous occasions, remote learners are to be given more credit for; and also the instructor has more powerful leverage when viewed as a facilitator, not just an education provider. As experimented by him in his ‘Hole in The Wall’ study, he proved children grasping a complex subject like Biotechnology efficiently, and this was given the circumstance where the children had difficulty with the English language and had almost no other help apart from a computer. What if these methods are applied in regular e-learning but with an advantage of the right facilitator, who’s aware of the grasping power of his students?

MYTH 6: Personal attention by educator towards their pupil is lost online

Parents worrying about their child’s personal attention time with their teacher is natural. If one notices a kid blankly staring at the screen without comprehending anything or not being able to pay attention to the classes, it’s good to address those issues to the teacher immediately. To solve such matters, educators have begun to hold virtual parent-teacher meetings quite frequently these days. Honestly, these are the times to build trust amongst parents and the school; the teacher has enough experience to analyse even in online class whether the lesson is comprehensible or not. The online curriculum is built on the basis of all the shortcomings and flaws of virtual presence and just transforming the same physical classroom syllabus onto the virtual one.

MYTH 7: Specially-abled children are the most disadvantaged in online learning

The worry is understood and acknowledged, but what parents of kids with special needs are required to remember is that the special-ed teachers are empathetic to the cause and it definitely is not impossible to teach online. Do you remember how a group of special-ed teachers from Punjab recently used creative ways like DIYs, craft activities and dance to teach special students mobility and life skills? Read more about it here.  

MYTH 8: Children in pre-schools do not require dedicated online learning

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Children in this age are highly impressionable and it has been psychologically proven that the development of the brain is rooted deeply in the early years. Dr. Swati Popat Vats of APER has many a time advocated the importance of not overlooking the child’s early year comprehensible development which in term also supports the decision-making capacity when older. There is also a discussion around toddlers finding it difficult to cope up during the school-lockdown as they cannot see their friends and teachers every day. With online learning, seeing a familiar face (of their teacher) even for half an hour can go a long way. Parents who complain of having to sit with the child during these classes should remember they need to sit with the child even if the classes were not happening. Watch ScooNews' webinar #SwaLina to understand more. 

MYTH 9: Technology is tough

Applications and online platforms are difficult to understand and taking an online class is a hassle – well, that’s not always true. It’s 2020 when a majority of apps are user-friendly, even a child can access them. Luckily, schools are adopting platforms that are easiest to handle for both, the sake of their teachers, whom they do not want to overload and students, whom they want to attend every class without a hassle. The key is choosing the right platform, reading about the application beforehand and maybe doing a test run. 

MYTH 10: This is just for the time being 

Online learning or remote learning is here to stay, this is the futuristic way forward in the education sector. Prof. Dr. Sugata Mitra has said on occasion innumerable that looking back on the ways of old times will only keep you from growing. “We are not teaching the children for the past or present, we are teaching them for the future, so naturally the techniques should be futuristic too.” The savant of the education sector with decades of experience has already proved that the old ways should be left in the past for the betterment of future generations. The online ways of teaching and learning need to be adopted for good, do not take this to be an option for the time being. Like he said, “Every black cloud has a silver lining, the turn of education towards technology is the silver lining of these dark times; make the most of it.”

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Watch his fabulous talk with ScooNews here

Image courtesy: Pixabay

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Guide to Implementing Technology in Your Everyday e-Classes

Infusing technological tools to enhance e-learning can become easy if we follow these suggestions.

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While private schools could immediately manage to operate their classes online during the lockdown, it was the rural sector or schools with limited aid that took longer to adjust to the new norm, considering the lack of gadgets and internet services in their regions.

There’s no doubt that technology is helping students stay at par in their studies in the middle of a pandemic. After many expert discussions, some supporting and others against the screen time, we’ve finally come to the conclusion that in order to keep acquiring skills and back up our economy, we need highly technological knowledge-based pedagogy. For now, we can't wait but use technology as a brilliant substitute for physical classrooms. 

However, there are a few aspects that need to be taken care of while implementing technology in everyday teaching methods:

Get the Basics: One must know how to access easy apps like Zoom, Google Hangout, etc. that are proving to be extremely handy in taking everyday classes. From installing them to conducting a conference or classroom, their simple features are considerably easy to grasp. It’s okay if you’re not tech-savvy but the enthusiasm to learn is important in this case.

Teacher’s Training: Don’t hesitate to welcome your staff for training or ask for help if you’re a teacher and don’t understand the know-how of the tech-world. Don't all educators believe that there's no age limit for learning new things? 

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Get Compatible Technology: To begin with, get apps that are user-friendly, something that you can access on both your phone and computer screen. Also, initially, lookup for those that are freely available to both you and your students.

Integrating Technologies or Curriculum Integration: It means infusing the technological tools to enhance learning. Effective integration of technology is when students are able to study, complete assignments, attend classes using apps and the internet. For teachers, integration helps manage database, make planners & programs and speed up assessing and grading. In fact, it becomes comfortable to share this information in real-time across all the systems of the campus even from the comfort of our homes, which is the case at the moment.

Staying Updated on Emerging Technology: Since the COVID-outbreak, many new technologies and apps have been innovated that claim to make e-education easier and more efficient. Of course, it can be hard to simultaneously stay aware of all the new tools and apps, hence, it's suggested to keep an eye on the reviews (via blogs or podcasts) before investing in any.

Explore Virtual Reality (VR): Virtual Reality is a simulated experience and can be used for both entertainment and educational purposes. From interacting with a person in a seemingly real or physical way using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors, or touring museums, underwater life, lands in any part of the world, everything becomes a reality with VR.

Focus on Individual Learning: It may occur that a few students take extra time to grab the online lessons. For them, go back to the 'pen and paper' method and simply record a video solving the problem or explaining the diagram. Then use something as easy as WhatsApp to share these video-messages with them. It’s okay to give that computer screen a break sometimes. 

Making technology a part of our life is not unmanageable or incompetent, it's just a new phase that we need to embrace and get comfortable with. We hope you agree with us.

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IIT Alumni Builds FILO, an App That Provides Professional Support to IIT/JEE/NEET Aspirants

Education minister appreciates the app and the developers in his tweet

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IIT alumni have developed an app called FILO, which caters to the aspiring students to sit for IIT/JEE/NEET entrance exams. The app provides a way to directly learn from the subject expert of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics & Biology via video calls. 

The usage of this app saves 4 times more time than any other platform and also works very well on 2G network.

These experts are a team of undergrads from best institutions like IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur, IIT Dhanbad, IIT Guwahati, DTU, NIT Srinagar, GMC, Nilratan Sircar Medical College, Kolkata and some medical professionals.

Muhammad Athar and Faisal Rafiq from IIT Kharagpur and Huzaib Ul Hassan from IIT Roorkee, who work together to develop and manage the app, have received many praises.

The education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ also tweeted appreciating their effort and encouraging them and the students who could use the app.

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CIET Launches NCERT Audio Books For Primary to High School Classes

Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank informed about the audio books via Twitter 

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Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET) has launched NCERT audiobooks on its official website at ciet.nic.in and e-pathshala mobile app. Students from primary sections to class 12th can now access these books online. In fact, special-needs children will be benefited by the same according to a tweet on the Education Ministry’s official page.

 

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Union Minister of Education Ministry, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank,’ also tweeted about the development saying how these are the new times when students do not need to go out looking for books anymore as they are available on their fingertips. 

Find the ebooks here: https://ncert.nic.in/ebooks.php

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To access them via Google Assistance, follow these steps:

  1. Activate Google Assistant and ‘OK Google’ – the voice-modulated Google assistant.
  2. Say ‘Talk to NCERT.’ Google Assistant will ask for your preferences for the books, after which you can access them.

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