November 23, 2013
Learning, Mobile Learning, Organizations
We do not have educators on leadership team. We consciously have educators as part of academic council and I interact and take their inputs seriously. I checked around with others skill providers and we are good to have thought of academic council with eminent academician. The public-private collaboration based skill development agency does not have educator represented in leadership team and is filled with industry people.
Exploring in education for more than 2 years, The teacher has a major influential role to help student and parent to enable a purchase decision. Are we aware that academicians are out of skill development initiative scope and any specific reasons ? Are suitable good academicians not available? Is the industry closed and selfish that they are not ready to engage with teacher? Is the industry not ready to take contribution of academician ?
On daily operations the skill provider is challenged to deliver in remote location. Some of guest faculty are not interested to travel and have other priorities . They help to arrive at “Train the Trainer ” program to train a set of fresh graduates by industry experts. Some of these graduates become facilitators for student interaction over chat or email or phone call. Do facilitators have real work exposure to answer questions? The answer of the industry is “Provide on-line course with videos, student would learn on-line”.
Do we forget to include teacher in solution?
- The industry expert is not available round clock. Should business depend more on him on continuous basis?
- May be the industry feels that college teachers are old school and there is no value explaining to teacher. They impress management and the management asks teachers to recommend student to join course. Why will teacher recommend the course that he has no knowledge?
- The teacher observes a parallel system where corporates are doing separate teaching and no one has explained what they are teaching and how is it better one?. The teacher is put under pressure to ask students to join the skill program, Do the teachers recommend without clarity?
- Will current approach solve academic deficit over time? Are you developing mistrust teachers? Why is teacher self-esteem damaged? What is plan to take take vocational learning main stream?
- Can we evaluate teacher and student associated for a long term in separate manner? Both of them need to be evaluated and their results, based on interactions, cannot be accurately measured.
Why will teachers get to a strong opinion “Creativity, appreciation, inquisitiveness are purpose of education and these cannot be scale. We teach to free minds, we teach to inspire, we teach to equip careers that come naturally. We do not want to prepare workers”. This does not help skill providers.
October 13, 2012
Mobile Computing, Mobile Learning
I think it should be “BYOD -Bring your own device” in educational space.
Enterprises emphasizes providing their own devices to their employees. Employees dislike them as it constraints the freedom to learn and experiment. Latest cool stuff would not work on the company approved browser and the company application would have challenges on the outdated company browser. But there is not much choice as the device is owned by the corporate and the employee uses the same till he is on job. Do you like the same locked devices in consumer space?
I observe tablet companies trying to sell the enterprise concept to sell tablets in Indian consumer market by bundling educational content in their outdated devices or unpopular devices(some with with earlier android versions) and push them to consumers. The advent of Ice Cream sandwich has made them at-least to upgrade from 2.2 to 4.0. Education players unable to sell the media educational content build over years want to sell the existing content through tablets. They are happy if some one can help them procure tablets( do not are what it should be) from China in bulk price and bundle educational content in to them and sell them as value for money. What is state of students who are locked to older version of education device?
One glaring example for this is iProf. iProf sold tablets as educational devices. when they started, they copied content from different education partners and bundled them with the price of the tablet with a upmarket price of more than 20K and for this they also received a large funding from VCs. I have seen them progressing to sell educational content to BYOD consumer model and also having their own learning management system.
We might agree that Apple tablets are costlier for Indian population and lock users to their device. Apple provides application for free and offer a good number of online courses from various universities and can be downloaded to iPad. I also like their iBooks and iBooksAuthor, which helps to complete ecosystem. Why are Indian OEMS selling tablets not look to build ecosystem like Apple?
I liked the Pearson approach towards education through tablets.They share their perspective and also their understanding of the market. Indian Tablet Market Lacks Eco-System: Pearson India . They are open to working with multiple providers and are ready to look SD card as option for the Indian market.
How to build educational ecosystem? is a question whose answers are still far away.
June 25, 2012
Mobile Computing, Mobile Learning
I have read from media about the introduction of Akash tablet by Indian government.I was wondering with states like Tamil Nadu have already provided laptops and why again a subsidized tablet. Keeping aside questioning whether the government needs to be in business of giving tablets, my thoughts were how to make this a positive thing for India?
With the government announcing the intent to provide subsidized tablets, what steps the government can take to make tablet useful and effective to students? What are the applications and content that shall be preloaded in to tablet? How will the students know that the content in their tablet is obsolete and needs to be upgraded? Ok, they know how they can update the tablet, who would pay for internet connection ? The school does not have current bandwidth or know-how.
The idea”text books should be replaced with tablets” read by me made me think more. Seeing my daughter carrying a heavy bad, I think it is a good idea to buy tablets to read books and carry schools. Is there a way that her school bag is reduced and she does not become too dependent on internet.
- Student purchased their own tablets or obtain a tablet through Akash scheme. If they purchase tablet, it can be of their own choice.
- To enable student with content, the government enables the educational institutions with a special subsidized scheme using BSNL to offer internet for schools. This subsidized internet shall allow access to website that contain school books and educational materials and research papers.
- The subsidized scheme is offered to schools/ educational institutions that would setup wireless infrastructure network in school and appoint coordinator to enable students to download content.
- BSNL firewall should allow only educational institutions. They would start with a set of educational institutions and then add/remove educational institutions. To start with, only free content is made available through the network.
- Schools are free to have additional wireless network to enable students to download paid content from other educational institutions.
- Text book content and government related stuff accessed by teh student gets downloaded in to the student’s own device. It is quite possible that the coordinator shall download the required content in the school library and the students sync with local server on wireless.
All three line of tablets ipad, android and windows phone 7 devices support offline consumption of data. How to make this magic happen for the community?
April 24, 2012
Mobile Learning, Uncategorized
I am writing this blog after attending the conference “Preparing World Class Teachers Through Online Education : The Future is Now!” is held on April 20 and 21st, 2012 at Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Coimbatore. It was my first hand experience to interact with a huge set of teachers and educators. Before the conference, I was questioning that by attending the conference, what is the value provided by me/received by me?.
The conference was conducted superb and more than 300 delegates attended the conference. Foe me this was the first time I met this many number of teachers. There were a lot of teachers who were aware of technology. Guru presented mobisir learning from the field in the conference and challenge for online learning in India and a few teachers came to discuss with us how it works and I installed our mobile app on few of their mobiles and they were happy. I was privileged to meet Dr.Hema Ramanathan in conference.
I attended paper presentation sessions. Teachers were presenting usage of EDUSAT or usage of moodle or usage of mobile for learning. Most of the sessions looked theoretical and they were missing the implementation. As most of the sessions were abstract sessions, I got over enthusiastic and asked them whether they have implemented the technology in their organizations and the results obtained. After talking to a few of them, I realized that they are trying to learn about technology by searching on the web/ magazines. This was a good starting point and it was unfair that I expect them to implement technologies. Let me do unfair comparison of teacher with a software professional to see how things are different for the teacher.
Learn by action: Teachers used to perform offline tutoring earlier. when online tutoring became available, they happily migrated to the same and added with extra money. so teachers are waiting for existing methods made available through the use of technology in the simplest form with flexibility and space to commit errors. A software professional uses benefits of online learning by attending webcasts, webcasts and even attends Bangalore sessions through online webcasts. For a lot of paid conferences, the sessions are posted online, post the session and for no charge, he can attend and learn recorded sessions.
- Flexibility to learn Teachers cannot have planned leave to learn new education concepts or new technologies, during the day. Even after gaining theoretical knowledge, teachers have limited opportunity to become aware of where new concepts are effectively implemented and where not. A software professional have a flexible job that allows me to attend trainings, extend work hours, attend a late night webcast and go to work late the next day. What would they do if software professional have dependents waiting for them the whole day? .
- Awareness to technology Only few teachers are involved with software implementation in their institutions. That is person who is provided with leave grant or permission grant to work on software implementation. This makes simpler tasks for IT professional a complex tasks for teachers. For example, discussion forum usage is complex for teachers.
Concluding, I do not have answers to question of my blog. They have expanded more. How will we be able to take technology to teachers when they do not have a formal awareness of using technology for their own benefit?. I see two alternatives
- Train them to make use of technology for education.
- Provide them education through technology can come with his own idea of how to use technology effectively.
Is there a third alternative for teachers?
April 10, 2012
Mobile Computing, Mobile Learning
Today we have a working solution to protect content in android mobiles for audio, video and files. The solution is embedded in our mobile app present in Google Play. The solution is going through multiple rounds of testing. Credit for the work goes to Balaji kutty.
Though we started building applications in early 2011, we had serious questions raised about the need to protect the content provided by educational content providers to us. We implemented a solution for J2ME phones and the solution has its own limitations for large media files. We had a way build to control the expiry the content based on date on the mobile. When we were planning to move to android in end of 2011, we assumed that life would be cool with assumption android is matured system compared to j2me.
To start with content protection, we did not have good news. Android devices can be rooted by the users and there is no way for application to detect whether a device is rooted or not. Neither one could modify the hardware or the user’s system. Google play was only helping in license protection for the application and did not offer much help for application content.
The first hand thought was to encrypt the content and try to decrypt the content by the application. This worked for text files, xml and images, but we has a question where to store the private key safely? Then came playing media files. We found that there was no direct approach to pass a local video stream to the player. The player supported methods to work with HTTP stream and played, but the player did not have methods to read local file streams also. Any solution should cover the following
1. Bind content to the phone.
2. Bind Content to an application
3. Control the validity/expiry of the content.
Thanks for the initial thought to the solution at stack-overflow link. Using this solution, we made the player to play local files over HTTP stream. The player received decrypted HTTP stream of protected local media, which it plays beautifully. This helps to make sure that the content was blinded to the application.
To bind the content to the phone, we decided to ask the user to activate their content subscription on the first start of the application by sending the same credentials(login name , password) used during purchase of the subscription. we used this to make sure that the content was blinded to the phone.
there is still a challenge that the user can still activate the content from his tablet and also from his phone using the same credentials. We strongly believe that the user has right on the content on his devices. IT is also possible to implement checks to ensure that activation happens once for a specific user, which brings additional issues like replacement of user’s device due to loss or device upgrade.
March 30, 2012
Learning, Mobile Learning
Today the teacher teaches lessons in the class and ask the students to perform activities and projects at home. For some home work, my daughters are not able to perform the entire activity by themselves and my wife jumps in to help to complete the task. When I assist, I overdo and the child loses the fun of learning. Can we do something different?
Today I see there are tablets coming with online learning, tablet based learning. I see companies want to provide videos and audios for classes. they also providing text book problems and solutions to text book problems. This means that tablet and teacher are duplicating learning process. Will this make the school class room boring? How can we make learning a joy at school?
Let us provide learning content on tablet and let us make it available offline. Once every student has the offline content, I would propose the changes to education and learning system across all classes and courses.
- Teacher ask the student to read lessons before he comes to the next class.
- The student can watch the lesson again and again multiple times at home. They can even ask questions online (anonymous)
- The teacher explains crux of the topic or does not teach/repeat what is present in the book.
- The teacher conducts a discussion session in the classroom and the student has already spend time to learn topic.
- The student start participating in the class
- The teacher utilizes the extra time to provide guidance for the student to perform the activities and projects at school independent of others and clear doubts. In addition , he needs to answer the questions asked in the forum or moderate the forum.
Will students take initiatives to perform learning of the ? Will teachers be ready to migrate to the new model?
March 28, 2012
Learning, Mobile Learning
When traditional e-learning LMS needs to transitioned. there is no more trade off between logistics(administration and knowledge creation) needs and learning needs of the student and the faculty. The design cannot sacrifice one ideal for the other. On needs to fin lowest common denominator that will embrace interoperable, modular infrastructure to enable learning relevant, and engaging. Some guidelines to be adhered by next version of digital learning version of LMS
- Content in Cloud, also available offline : Why should everyone create content? Can the university cannot create standard content and publish got its syllabus? A teacher or the college can add additional content to add value to the university content? Can we crowd source the content creation? Can there be a feedback on content or ranking system to identify the best content? In the digital world, content is lot more than just text, it includes audio, video and multi-media. In addition one needs to make sure that content be organized and categorized to support devices with multiple form factors and student enjoys seamless learning across all devices. The design should support multiple tenant model and unified user experience models to enable easy usage by students. The design should also support offline support of learning content to reduce the cost of accessing content and making sure more people can access content.
- Open Architecture: A proprietary systems is a closed approach that does not offer offer an effective means to connect with people, content, sharing, and social interaction. This is changing in the education ecosystem. The next level design needs to commit to an open ideology and build on foundation of openness. We need to make architecture open to support widely usable interoperability protocols and standards, open-source applications, open identification, and open digital rights. Openness would become critical success benchmark for the new-LMS era.
- An extended modular architecture: The design allows participants to engage in learning outside of the classroom, combining personal knowledge with public knowledge. Effectively supports “any time any where learning”. They allow social learning interactions and contents generated are made persistent, organized and not an on-off events in time. The system can be available to be hosted on the cloud or on-premise.
- Learning analytics: Traditionally LMS has been used as variant data repository primarily capturing only course and student assessment data. The new system gets transitioned from a static data reporting system in to a source for real-time data about academic activity, student behaviour, and engagement to enable capturing and aggregating student behaviour within the learning ecosystem.. In addition, the data collected should support innovation of core strategies in assessment, engagement, retention, and outcomes. The design should enable student s and faculty to self organize and discover their content and generate reports.
March 28, 2012
Learning, Mobile Learning
@MobiSir, we wanted to build learning management system(LMS) for mobile learning. We decided to based our development on moodle with assumption that it is widely used by academia and all content creation capability was available, multi-language was available too and we thought we save time to market using moodle. It was been tricky to satisfy my customer with changes to user interface in shorter time and the development team is concerned about customization reuse across versions of moodle with change requests. oH!NO, I do not want to be kicked in both sides.
Today,I see traditional LMS focus more on content creation. Today the faculty member is learning manager who manages/adapts to content creation using moodle and is one guy who uses moodle most. So we see that faculty is forced to make use of what is made available, rather than demanding for support teaching and getting the demands incorporated in to LMS. For example, the created content is going to be on multiple form factors, how to get a preview in all the form factors and decide which to s form factors to support or provide content specific to form factor,?
Let us consider the student. There are more students than teachers using the system. where should LMS give more importance. content creation? content consumption? Should LMS be restricted only to school students or should it be accessible to all students? Should user interface of LMS be more cool for students/learners than faculty? How to support multiple devices with different form factors a student might carry? Students are migrating to newer areas other than web,where content standards have evolved.
Now let is see I am school. How should I think to decide on LMS?
1. Is LMS matured? Will it be sustainable when the learning migrates from web to mobile to tablets and from online to offline? Will I be able to create content for new platforms as upgrade?
2. Is there a list of key criteria used by others to make decision? That can serve input for my decision.
3. What are the key problems LMS needs to solve and why? What are the innovation or milestones that needs to be looked for in the roadmap for LMS?
4. Is LMS open with respect to interoperability? How to reduce barriers to platform lock-in and integration? How to reduce language barriers to make use of Indian language?
5. Is content going to be king? Is content re-purposing going to become king? What is support available to create content in Indian languages?
March 25, 2012
Learning, Mobile Computing, Mobile Learning
I, @MobiSir is involved with adoption of mobile learning in India. I assumed that mobile based learning would make education affordable and reachable to students in rural and villages. It has been a year. To start with one needs to understand that schools and colleges are registered in India as non-profit organizations. The Indian student is captive audience for the school and if schools/colleges are convinced they can enable adoption of m-learning among Indian students.
Let us start with first observation. Schools maintain a fleet of buses to pick up children to school. Parents like the idea of pickup and drop of their children, as it ensures safety of the children. The school needs to collect a fixed fees from the parents for the bus fees. With the fuel price fluctuating, how can the school manage the logistics of transport at the pre-determined fixed price, unless the think like business or for-profit organization.Why should the school spend energy on transport logistics when there is larger focus needed to hire teachers for teaching students?
Post 2000, computers and technology has entered in to schools in a larger way. This needs a heavy capital investment. The schools do collect one time capitation fee from the student and the money to spend on computers across student tenure is becoming quite high. Here comes the education public companies in India. Education companies tie up with schools as partners and try to build value to schools, effectively building their business model. Let us look at two values they provide and analyze the same.
- Integrated Coaching or Smart Class: At the end of the school, students can attend special coaching classes for preparing for coaching examinations. Few schools make it optional and large number of schools make attending smart class mandatory. The school bus is rescheduled to pick them after the class and drops the child home and parents are happy as the child’s commute is taken care of.
- Managed services: All hiring, organizing and technology services like computer, e-learning and m-learning are handled by the serviced by the education companies. Schools cannot hire people with skills to evaluate what technology is suited to adoption in the school and these companies take responsibility of deciding the same.
Let us start with smart class. With educated people migrating to software jobs and BPO jobs, Schools face challenge to recruit teachers. There is already a wide gap created between supply and demand of teachers. Education companies attract good teachers and increase the gap. Then the education companies offer coaching class in addition to the regular school system. Please notice that the parent pays fees for both school and Smart class of the education company. A coaching class and school together would charge a student close to Rs one lakh in city schools, with coaching classes charging more than the school. Coaching classes charge more than the school and schools get share of the money for offering their building infrastructure to coaching class.
Should school not share the school fee with coaching class, as it is not able to hire teachers? With the help of education companies, schools have passed on the responsibility to the students.Today even small coaching academies want to partner with schools for a integrated model of coaching to get the captive power of the school over its students. What is more happening is schools stop hiring teachers and expect the coaching class partner to provide the smart class teacher to handle regular school subject also. Education companies offer the same to get school contract. Is this fair to the parents and students?
Let us move to managed services offered by the education companies to schools. In this model, the school has come under control of the company and the captive audience of the schools, students can be influenced by the company. This seems good to start with. A startup or a creative company providing technical or multi-media educational solution can reach multiple schools in scale by tying with the education company and can even offer the solutions at affordable costs to this happen. No this is not real situation..
The education company is for-profit company and comes with its charge to distribute and the profits above the cost price of the startup. The price paid by the student becomes way above the price that it can be offered by the creative company, padded with administrative overhead costs and profit share with education company. Do students need multi media contents or do they need good teachers?. Are multi-media introduced in school to generate profits or to genuinely help the students to learn better?
March 15, 2012
Mobile Computing, Mobile Learning, Uncategorized
- Who chooses the time of the session for the student? who chooses the content for the student? The decision maker is not the student. The success of the learning program lies in student’s acceptance to the concept and content delivery process.
- The student would pay money, but not attend the class due to his other engagement, playing cricket. used to invigilation, without invigilation any digital education is tough. Who is there to monitor? When parent pays money for digital learning, he expects that experience engages the student.
- How to engage student on regular basis? you need creative and innovative hooks for the student to feel some non monetary award for the time they engage with the solution? May be this is why we try to achieve by converting all the subject in to games and toys that show the actual application of every scientific law.
- The parent has pushed the learning by subscribing to e-learning or buying m-learning. What is the role of the parent beyond payment? You take the responsibility to include limited display not to distract the student, but be the reason to complete the course.
- Though mature organizations want to reduce the learning modules from 25 minutes to 10 minutes to better engage with learners. How much research has gone by indian teachers in this area? They feel it is easier to have a single 60 minute video rather than 10 6-minute video. Who is helping them to prepare better videos. Today they go to expensive studio to do the recording.
- How would the behavior of sharing work in Indian sense in the process of transition from books to mobiles and also laptops today. What happens when the student buys tablet this year? will he want to give to his junior the next year? Using second hand book is normal procedure in India. He uses money for movies across holidays. Once he buys content, he has right to what he has purchased.
- Is it possible to innovate every year to make sure that next year students come to us instead of buying from his senior. Are the content providers prepared to innovate? Are we both ready to repeat this process very year with the fast changing technology and realizing sale price?