Saturday, 11 March 2017

Leveraging IOT in K-12 Schools

The k-12 segment over the last 5 years has undergone a sea change. The way knowledge is imparted at the school through technology based products and solutions have changed the learning styles substantially. This has created more positive impact and shrunk the distances between various stakeholders in the education ecosystem. The schools have come a long way from providing a small computer lab with limited machines to a complete computer lab and tablet labs with complete infrastructure. However as you go deeper in the interiors the situation is grimmer. There is a remarkable polarization observed in penetration of various ICT programs restricting the schools to get exposure to various technological advancements. With the availability of internet bandwidth and programs the infrastructure development will have a remarkable turnaround by 2020. According to the study by Counterpoint research, with 220 million smart phone users India is the second largest consumer in the world. Out of the total market of mobile phone 33% is using smart phone (ref: This will penetrate the use of #IOT in schools through various module adoptions.
Technology adoption is not only restricted to using computer and computer aided devices in classroom for concurrent learning. You walk through an aisle in the schools and you can relate to any of the tech products and solutions that the school has adopted. Right from the biometric devices for scanning and attendance, CCTV cameras for continuous monitoring, Tab labs, mini handheld devices generating enormous data for the school environment. The day to day gazettes and gizmos that were earlier traditional has been converted into smart devices. The school operated bus that transports the student from home to school and back is fitted with a GPS tracker, the Student having a RFID or a GPS enabled ID card are all smart devices operational in school. Smart Classrooms connected to a central processing server and each classroom having roll number mapped smart devices to have a complete environment for experiencing tech enabled learning.
Government is also trying to leverage the internet and its technology by undertaking various tech enabled initiatives. They have already made e books available for NCERT through web and mobile App. During the recent budget by Government of India a central examination authority has been proposed under National Testing Agency so that the competent authorities like CBSE, AICTE, and ICSE focus on improvising academic excellence.  
Technology has been often related to improving efficiency in the system. The #BigData that the school generates through admission enquiry, enrolment, health, academic grades and co curricular activity is enormous. Moreover this data will be futile unless analyzed and not gone through the eyes of data analytics to form decision making matrix. Some or majority of the schools today have this data recording in manual form while others have school management system through offline server or cloud server. The input is still manual and this is susceptible to human error.
With the advent of super leased lines and fibre optics with growing interference of disruptive technology enabled solutions it gives a better customer experience in taking learning to new heights for personalised intervention. The smart tab in the classroom mapped to a particular roll number connected through a WIFI environment in school gives response instantly. This enables the teachers to know real time results while suggesting and focusing on the module that requires more focus. Through the device teachers can know students’ weaker and stronger sections whether basics or application of the concept. The devices that are IP enabled helps in improving the operations. Based on these inputs the system can throw assignments on the smart devices and help in sharpening the multiple intelligence levels. Some of the schools can go one step ahead of profiling the students through #DMIT (Dermatoglyphics  Multiple intelligence Test) profiling and psychometric profiling. The data generated can be used for personalised counselling and suggesting corrective actions to further sharpen the inherent traits and skills.
The data sensors play a very important role for administration of larger network of chain school. Schools can be linked with IP enabled CCTV so that the management monitors entire network through a central data center or a smart device. Imagine a fitness program run by an institute and spending enormous on training but without generating and monitoring the data. The smart fitness wrist bands connected to a central server and tracking the continuous physical activity can certainly throw lot data for corrective measures in improving the fitness level. Based on the physical activity data the system can suggest the calorie intake and nutritional values as well as monitor vital stats. Sensors talking about various green initiatives in school and their impact on the ecosystem, quality of air, etc. can be studied further. The VR and AVR based learning gives a real life 3D experiential environment.        
By far there are tremendous opportunities in developing data analytics centre and help the K-12 segment in making efficient use of IOT. It certainly enhances safety of the students, improves creativity and reinstates the focus in learning through personalised suggestions. Students themselves can be part of the data analysis and understand and practise trends followed by successful students. Today’s generation is the team of collaborators so we need to engage them and make them partners in learning. Ideation, platform sharing and being responsive in real time are the real benefits that students and teachers can garner from IOT.
The implementation of the IOT should be robust and create a technology fencing to prevent data theft and improve on data security. Schools wanting to leverage IOT have to invest in the virtual connectivity and a WIFI environment, bandwidth, user devices and moreover user training to use the smart devices in generating and using data. If the management has to create value for their students they should in principle align the infrastructure to the teaching methodology. Under a professional guidance and data analytics the IOT can give an enriched learning experience creating value for all the stakeholders.    

The next generation shall be blessed through personalised inputs, however one need to take note that the solution should not be cluttered. The product and solution innovation should be definitely Economical and User Friendly!!!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Year end Exams – A Nail Biting finish

Burning the Mid night oil won't help

Dear Parents, Teachers and Students:

Come March and the parents are grappling and running helter-skelter. Every year I get lot of requests especially during this period an anxious parents call, how to focus for the study and write an exam. The fear of non performance compared to the other candidate is real and residing in the subconscious of the parents. The parents are more ambitious and this leaves the student in disarray. In my follow up to Holistic approach it is important for a parent to give that kind of conducive environment and not to think obnoxiously and be over driven.
There are subtle things that as a parent we all need to understand. I ask a simple question to the parents as to what they wanted to be in their life and what they have become. The second simple question I ask them is what their parents wanted them to become and what they have achieved till now. Not often everyone gets that environment to chase their ambitions. The environments are to be made. It cannot lead to the easiest choice and mark your responses and submit to the external reasons. Creating an environment is more intrinsic and we as a change agent, the driver to bringing that change are very important.  It is very often observed that parents have this habit of mentioning often “In our days” that gives birth to a rebel in today’s generation. Everyone who has been making a living in this world has undergone the rigours of pain, anxiety, courage and perseverance. The testimonials are on the wall but do not make it a point to blow the trumpet and make planned decision for your child.
Everyone has a freedom to dream and shape the career. As a parent we cannot shy away from this responsibility to be a facilitator at home. However, it is observed that the unaccomplished dreams are often seen laden on the child. There are times where the parents drive the decision making of their child. Today’s generation is the world of collaborators, innovative and technology enablers. Let them think and you be the guide. You need to keep yourself updated with the current trends and be talking in their terms, paraphrase and understand the problem situation more closely. While understanding the correct symptoms of the problems, develop a frank channel of communication between you and your child. The wonders of the world are in developing that sense of achievement when you can be a mentor and understand the physical and emotional needs of your child. You need to make them understand that exams are just a precursor and kind of parameters to keep you focus on your goals and it is in no way detrimental and stopping from achieving the set goals.
The continual approach to exams is important. It is not a onetime activity. Exams are not meant to start and end as the time table specifies. Exams start much before the actual dates of exams. There are ways in which you have to open your mind to think about it. There are big days which are often put up as a special event in life especially by the society and the academia. These are just one of the indicators of your personality and not a true showcase of the personality. As a student treat exams as you have seen that and done this before. Have your basics in place and ensure that you have covered and understood the philosophy behind the topics that you are made to learn. Treat the subject as a story and see the fun in learning.
Set your goals and breakdown in terms of smaller targets like we all do in the corporate world. At each accomplishment there is a reward. Treat yourself for a dish you like to make or eat, or a movie you like to watch, or go for a sport or shopping that you wanted to do. The topics that interest you should be touched last and topics or subject that you struggle should be marked as the priority. Give at least 1.5 times more time allocation to these weaker sections while making your weekly time table. First 3 months focus on the basics and the philosophy. The next phase is to start the time bound study to ensure that you are moulding yourself to be a timekeeper. Ensure that you complete the tasks within the stipulated time. The revision of the topics along with solving test papers makes a huge difference. After every set of topics you cover you should test your limits. Follow the simple technique of Basic philosophy-Time bound study –Practice-Revise –Test-Back to Basic philosophy.
Your approach towards the day to day matters of your life will also govern the way the exam period gets along. Time never stops for anyone and this too shall pass. Having followed the back to basics methodology there is enough self confidence that is built during this process. As I mentioned in my earlier blog physical endurance is more important coupled with peace time, time for self. Having a balanced diet and sound sleep is very important to make a fresh and energetic start every day. Fortnights from exams ensure that you keep stacked all the class notes, syllabus and solved papers arranged in chronological order of time table, the first subject test on top or front.
As the penultimate day of exams approach ensure that you have all the requisite stationery properly arranged. Have couple of sets for writing material properly kept in an accessible position in the bag. The uniform or dress should be properly ironed, shoe polished and all accessories that makes you comfortable will boost your confidence. Do not wear anything flashy or something that makes you uncomfortable and please realise that there is nothing called lucky shirt or a trouser or any lucky under garment. In the evening on previous day of exam have a stroll in the garden, feel the nature and take self time. Refer the stacked notes and have a light dinner and sleep early.
On the exam day get up early and have your daily chores. Have a good breakfast balanced with carbohydrates and protein. Check all your writing material once again. To the exam hall Carry a bottle of home made fresh lime juice with salt and sugar – popularly known as Shikanji in India. This will keep you hydrated and whenever there are any tense moments have a sip to make you feel cool and calm. Reach the exam hall at least before 15 minutes. Check your hall ticket, seat and make yourself comfortable to the rooms surrounding. Once the exam paper is handed over ensure that you read all the instructions and if not understood do not hesitate to ask the question to the invigilator. Prioritise your thoughts and give yourself a Déjà Vu feeling. You have done and passed through numerous such occasions during your back to basics methodology and this is no new situation. If you are stuck in case with any question, revisit it later and do not stop there.
When entire scheduled exams are over rather than sitting idle in your time do a course, join a club that will take you one step near to your goal in life. Whether the results are favourable or not is the secondary thing but following a process that leads to better self realisation and accelerating towards the life’s goal while trying with best of the ability is important.
So, unwind, relearn and strive ahead with much more vigour, rather than being anxious and marred with negative thoughts. Let it not be a nail biting finish.

All the Best!!!    

Monday, 20 February 2017

Holistic Approach – Learning Introspection

It has been decades where the buzzword on the holistic approach is used and abused with much fanfare. However what the intent of the usage of the word and the actual usage is very satirical. It looks like most of the educators have taken a sabbatical and looking forward to each other to take the first step. The more egalitarian usage that we see in today’s education system especially in K-12 segment, the whole lot is confused out there. The maze that the so called humans have created has become an educational and occupational hazards in the Child’s growth. 

The kind of wisdom that is depicted by a chosen few is actually devoid of any narrative correlated to the emotional quotient of an individual. The loads of projects moreover getting done by the parents themselves so as to showcase their ward the best is alarming. This leads to a very interesting phenomenon in the designing curriculum in itself. There are two aspects in designing a curriculum; Intelligence and Emotional. The other similar nomenclatures like co scholastic, scholastic, co curricular activities; extracurricular activities, etc. are raising enough doubts on the system to practice the same. The basic understanding should be very clear. 

What is a holistic approach?
The purpose of education is to build a happier society; we need a more holistic approach that promotes the practice of love and compassion – The Dalai Lama

How I as an educator engage the student completely. Human being is a natural thinker and has conceptual building platforms that propagate in multi direction. Am I as a teacher, as a mentor facilitating enough to raise the participation of an individual with or without a team and guide the participation physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually? 

I as an educator have to inculcate the habit of exercising the mind and body. Physical endurance is an important parameter to lead a sustainable life forward. The mind plays an important role. It knows the things that we like - to accept and the things that we dislike - to reject. It is the Yin and Yang in the mind that truly identifies with the theory of acceptance of selective wisdom. As an educator I have to remove the blocks formed in the minds of my students. 

In my interactions with various mentors, teachers, educators over a decade I have observed that somewhere people are caught in the dichotomy of knowledge dissemination and syllabus completion. As a teacher I need to be facilitated as well. If I have to take a holistic perspective then my suggestions should be heard. Holistic approach is not about only making the students techno geeks, hands on learning activity experts and wizards. The onus on the education system is to help them acquire enough skills so that they can build upon a sustainable career over a period of time. In my interview with 200 Principals only 2 Principals have taken session on importance of nutritional value that to once in 6 months. However, some have made charts on what to bring in the lunch box. 

Teach them the values and life skills that will make them better human being. Ironically we see that the life skills session is narrated, mind well I am using the word narrated and not taken as participative, once in a fortnight or a month. The physical education session is hardly there. Even if it is there the part timers are there to operate. So clean that mess created by our inhibitions, shrug them and stride ahead. The small differences that we make in each other’s life carry a long way and inculcate the pride of developing roundabout personality in a true – Holistic Approach