An issue which sees heated arguments and intense polarization, is the issue of allowing mobile phones (and in general digital devices) to school. I explore some of the arguments for and against. Would love to hear your researched opinion!
It has taken a Black Swan moment to push governments, institutions, teachers, parents and students to consider online teaching and learning as a serious tool for traditional education. In this moment, our approach to edTech from a policy perspective has been exposed.
A stitch in Time saves online
The last time we thought of Time in education was in the late 19th century, it seems. The online medium will cause us to rethink this conception of Time for many reasons.
To teach is to network
A fundamental principle of teaching online is to establish our own online learning networks - consisting not only of our peers and experts across the world, but also of our students.
Think about it. The only way you know how to teach is in person, broadcasting your thoughts and knowledge, engaging in full view so to speak. Let me take that away from you, for a moment.
Huh…what else is there to online learning anyways?
So this is what we have been told, right, that online learning is really taking your existing practices online - board teaching, presentations and shares, chat and forums. But that's not the truth.
Online vs Physical Class – What Changes and Why
Most teachers would approach the online medium very functionally i.e. a way to transfer ways of physical teaching, online. In this mode, we would be interested in how the medium can allow us to do things we normally do in the classroom. Tasks include: How can I take attendance?How can I write or present on... Continue Reading →
EdTech in a post COVID world
The COVID outbreak has created a fundamental shift in the way the traditional education system regards edTech. Here are the major shifts: Traditional Educational Institutions and all brick and mortar training organizations have had to ensure business continuity.Teachers have had no option but to bite the bullet and upskill themselves to take their classrooms onlineParents... Continue Reading →
Is edTech important for India
I chanced across a recent critique of the Draft NEP 2019 titled "Observations on the DRAFT OF NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY - 2019". It has been authored by the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru and National Academy of Sciences, India, Allahabad. From the preamble: This comment on the DNEP has been prepared by the three... Continue Reading →
An Election Manifesto for Education
Its time for the next General Elections in India, and I think it is also about time that citizens put together an education manifesto for all parties, given that they have been notoriously lax in laying down a concerted vision for the education system in their manifestos! India is an amazingly diverse country and its... Continue Reading →
The WhatIfs explored in this book cut across various dimensions of the traditional system. How do we structure time better to allow reflection, personalize learning, and pay personal attention? How do we structure groups so that they are porous or permeable and open to ideas, and interactions, emergent and collaborative, reflective of the abilities and... Continue Reading →
WhatIf the school day was not divided into fixed periods?
What flexibility do we need to provide our teachers and students so that learning effectiveness is improved? Is time an important factor? How can it be better leveraged? Can schedules be personalized per student or for smaller groups? Is Block Scheduling an option? Can children be guided on building their own personal and personalized learning... Continue Reading →
WhatIf school was not divided into classes and sections?
What impact does this grouping have on students and teachers? How do we determine grouping? Is it consciously designed and controlled by us? What does this grouping do to students and their parents? Are these group boundaries very hard? Are group boundaries porous? How do groups interact with each other? How do groups evolve over... Continue Reading →
WhatIf we did not train each teacher to have the same set of skills?
When we can have differentiated career and interest options for children, why can't there be enough types of career profiles and options created for teachers? What if teachers and professionals could take on additional roles like the school Chief Technology Officer or Data Scientist or Head of Game based Learning and Assessments? What if teachers... Continue Reading →
Dr. Vasudha Kamat
Baxi has assembled a set of wonderful and seriously educative narratives through 12 reflective scenarios which are a response to simple looking but very difficult challenges to the education system itself. I am sure every concerned 'teacher' must be thinking of these questions. WhatIfEDU explores ideas, research, development, experiments and efforts to make the whole... Continue Reading →
Prof. M M Pant
WhatifEDU is a refreshing and timely work that stimulates the reader to rethink the present system of education. As we prepare for the 4th Industrial Age powered by computers that can learn, this is urgent. Many of the vestiges of a system designed for the previous Industrial Age have to be given up in our... Continue Reading →
A brilliant and thought provoking book that manages to start a conversation about the Holy Grail - our education system. Baxi raises pertinent questions regarding the traditional approaches and makes a strong case for providing an ecosystem that is evolving and relevant and that embraces diversity and creativity and acknowledges individual strengths and perspectives. With... Continue Reading →
WhatIfEDU is an excellent compilation of all the discussions, dialogues and tweets initiated and moderated by Baxi over the last couple of years. The "what if" questions are very relevant and so is the commentary, analysis and insight! Hopefully this book series is just a beginning of a discussion about the core education issues and... Continue Reading →
A superb compilation of simple, yet powerful thoughts and ideas to change the face of education. A must have tool kit for all Educators. Baxi’s powerful “out of the box” narrative provokes and provides educators with simple to implement strategies at their institutions. WhatIfEDU infuses a new lease of life into our rather stale state... Continue Reading →
Baxi has made an in-depth assessment of the global education landscape and effectively presented the diversity of innovation in this sector. WhatIfEDU makes us realize what has been missed and the opportunities that await us in the future. The lucid synthesis of the vast amount of data and best practices globally are eye opening and... Continue Reading →
The Weight or Wait of Education in India
In the past few months and years, there have been rising concerns on two seemingly disparate things - the weight of school bags and the realization that we don't have a quality curriculum, basically that our children are still waiting for a respite from the inefficiencies of the present curriculum. So the Delhi government also... Continue Reading →
A dollar for the teacher
Recently, the Delhi Government decided to penalize a secondary (government) school Mathematics teacher by announcing a pay cut for a year with 'non-cumulative' effect. The official position was that the teacher "exhibited lack of sincerity, integrity and devotion to her duty, which is unbecoming of a government servant and tantamount to gross misconduct as per... Continue Reading →
A Board for Every Child
Well, not exactly. But there is an interesting thread on structural transformation of the education system in India that I am exploring. In India today, we have nearly 50 educational boards. These boards are national, state or other very specific kinds (such as based on religious affiliations). Most of our schools are attached to these... Continue Reading →
Rough Book and 3 Idiots
Here is a story you shouldn't miss. Rough Book is a movie built somewhat parallel to the theme of the movie 3 Idiots and has some common reflections on commercialization with the Nana Patekar movie, Paathshaala. Rough Book is a muted drama focused on the teacher and her friends in a K12 setting - preparation... Continue Reading →
A Chief Learning Officer for India
I think it is about time we instituted the position of a national CLO. Typically a CLO handles the strategic vision for education and training, implements initiatives for training and development, and is accountable for research. For a typical organization, the CLO is tasked with an internal driven focus. This means a national CLO would... Continue Reading →
I wrote this in 2011 but it seems almost current in terms of relevance. Some links may not work. Introduction Education has morphed across centuries of foundational thought and practice on what is learning, teaching and knowledge. Whether they are ancient practices and beliefs like in the Vedas or are contemporary like Connectivism, the landscape... Continue Reading →
A group of academics hailing from top universities have decided to create the world's first ever blockchain university called the Woolf University. They have released a rather illuminating whitepaper on the concept. Essentially, the University will disintermediate the traditional university structure and leverage 'trust' through an alternate federated structure powered by a non-profit trust and... Continue Reading →
India’s syllabus haircut
The HRD Minister is advocating a syllabus haircut for India. Following on the heels of the initiative by the Delhi AAP government in 2015 ("Delhi's Syllabus Haircut"), which apparently went nowhere, the BJP government has tried to give it a populist national character by inciting NCERT to trim the syllabus by 50%. Subsequently NCERT, the... Continue Reading →
The brief hiatus (not so brief as I look back) has been because, well, I have been writing a book. It is called WhatIf.Edu and it sprung out of a series of posts on rethinking the education system that I started over at LinkedIn and the blog I set up for it. The book asks... Continue Reading →
35. What if teachers made students laugh?
Happy children make happy students. Laughter breaks the monotony and endears students to their teacher. What if teachers deliberately engaged in lighter moments of mirth in class?
34. What if students could give badges to teachers?
The whole education system revolves around a hierarchical system of recognition - from teachers to students and certifying bodies to teachers and education boards to schools. What if we instead gave students the choice to certify teachers, for teachers to certify the certifiers, and for schools to certify the education boards, and perhaps the boards to certify government policies?
33. What if each student could define her own homework?
We know that no two students are alike. What if students were helped to identify their goals and given support to discover their next steps in reaching that goal?
32. What if students were awarded for asking the ‘right’ questions rather than only answering the questions given to them?
In a rote learning environment, students end up virtually learning to the test, bounded by certain kinds of questions and 'approved' or closely scoped answers. Instead, what if part of the student's evaluation consisted on evaluating the quality of questions that she would come up with?
31. What if teachers connected their students to networks of experts across the world?
A hugely successful strategy for the early MOOCs was the practice of connecting diverse practitioners and experts on the subject, to the personal network of their 'students'
30. What if teachers learned to perform to transform rather than be a guide by the side or a sage on the stage?
Teachers perhaps need to be an equal part performer who enact and 'live' the subject in their interactions with students.
29. What if teachers had to go through an effective communications course before they started teaching?
A lot of teachers may benefit from professional coaching on specifically their language and communication skills.
28. What if teachers played online games with students?
What if teachers were to actively participate in the world of games? Perhaps they would be able to profile their students better, assess their learning needs from their actions and performance on these games, engage with them better in the language they understand and weave instruction around the game contexts?
27. What if classrooms could be like Lego blocks, configurable as per the need of the lesson?
Today's classrooms largely resemble a factory mode workroom with rows of desks and chairs (and rotation of children through the year across rows, seats and partners), and the teacher at the head of the room, between the instrument of written communication, the blackboard, and the rest of the class.
26. What if school leaders (principals, heads) had to undergo specialized training and assessments before they were appointed to a leadership position?
A school leader has to have many specialized skills in order to administer and lead a school.
25. What if we neither had marks nor grades as the criteria for student performance and progression?
The decisions around progression from year to year are made around marks or grades. Where people don't like marks, they move to a grading system - but it is really between those two - we need some system to sort the wheat from the chaff, to rank and select for the next level, and marks/grades look like the logical way.
24. What if we did not educate teachers in the same ways we educate our children?
Today we expect our student teachers to be exposed to the same systems, pedagogical practices and theoretical focus that we expect our students to follow. The system generates people trained to think in the ways of the system - that does wonders for an effort to replicate at scale, but doesn't create transformation patterns.
23. What if we did not train each teacher to have the same set of skills?
When we can have differentiated career and interest options for children, why can't there be enough types of career profiles and options created for teachers?
22. What if students could choose the teachers they want to learn from?
Today the student has no choice in determining which teacher she can relate to and learn from the best. What if students were allowed to gravitate towards, not the "best" as we determine them, but the ones that they comprehend best? Can schools provide that choice, even if it is limited?
21. What if schools were really a network of small learning centers instead of one “place” of learning?
So what if schools did not teach, but instead managed a network of smaller centres that were largely autonomously led by expert teachers and counselors?
20. What if students spent one mentored school hour a week to improve their learning ability?
What if we helped students identify and analyze their learning patterns, behaviour and showed them the impact changes can make to their performance?
19. What if teachers had to take exams that tested their knowledge of the students they teach?
In the absence of any formal mechanism, it is up to individual teachers to explore how their students are, and are performing - their attitudes, skills and knowledge.
18. What if all sections of a class learned together?
Traditional classes or grade levels are divided into sections. Subject teachers are allocated to each section. Each section operates in isolation to the other.
17. What if we made teaching and learning process yield more data?
What if we made teaching and learning process yield more data? This data would cover not just scholastic and co-scholastic information, but participation in class, techniques employed, student profiles, activities and other data of classroom transactions and student behaviour?
16. What if institutions did not award degrees, and only focused on teaching & learning?
What if students could learn at the university, but the degree could be awarded by learned gurus, selected institutions or bodies or even employers and associations?
15. What if teachers and parents formed cooperatives to run schools?
Many models of cooperative structures in education and other fields exist successfully.
14. What if minimum qualifications for a college teacher included a certification of teaching proficiency rather than just being a scholastic qualification it currently is?
Today, teaching in a college does not need the candidate to be certified in "teaching",
13. What if the post school tuition teacher became an integral part of the education system?
Tuition post-school hours has been looked down upon by the education system
12. What if every student got a personalized path to mastery of the concept?
What if homework was a starting point for achieving mastery through a series of learning and assessment encounters initiated by the student and facilitated by the teacher?
11. What if curriculum was mandated for teachers instead of students?
What would happen if children no longer had to follow an explicit curriculum?
10. What if employers stopped asking for degrees as a criteria for employment?
What could be other forms of evidence that could help employers select the right employee for the job? Could we apply alternate criteria to all fields?
9. What if teachers were to create a guild to manage the education system?
What if teachers were to create a guild to decide for themselves entry, performance objectives, progression and exit criteria for teachers, instead of it being decided by academic elites, bureaucrats and policy makers?
8. What if teachers decided how to assess and when to assess?
What if the were no mandated assessments by an education board?
7. What if students apprenticeship was implemented at scale?
What if students apprenticeship was implemented at scale and a significant fraction of total learning hours (say 10%)?
6. What if teachers spent 1 period a working day on sharing notes on classroom experiences?
What if teachers spent 1 period a working day on sharing notes on classroom experiences, teaching strategies, learning edTech, special improvement projects, curriculum and professional development in small or large groups?
5. What if we did not support increasing returns in Education?
Does the education system exhibit increasing returns - the rich get richer, those that have get (more)?
4. What if students (and their parents & community) created their own curriculum?
4. What if students (and their parents & community) created their own curriculum instead of having no say in its construction & delivery? How would they know?
3. What if there were no boundaries around subjects?
What if there were no boundaries around subjects and we had only topics or themes? What if the syllabus was not divided into Chapters and Topics?
2. What if school was not divided into classes and sections?
What if the school was not divided into classes and classes were not divided into sections?
1. What if the school day was not divided into fixed periods?
What if the timetable was personalized to the needs of the class?
Nationalizing Indian EdTech
Indian edTech has always been a tough battleground. It is getting tougher and more inexplicable by the day, and unless we, in edTech, take a stand, it will get far worse. Here are some of the major forces shaping the industry. The government has always had the lion's share. They maintain the right of exclusion... Continue Reading →
National Education & Destiny
What is National Education? Following a session of the Indian National Congress, H V Dugvekar, in 1917, came out with a compilation of essays by prominent freedom movement leaders including Bipin Chandra Pal, Gopal Krishan Gokhale, Annie Besant and Lala Lajpat Rai. A speech from Bipin Chandra Pal, founder of the Brahmo Samaj and part... Continue Reading →
In education systems that have an oligarchic organization, with a small number of large private and/or public players, educracies acquire a kind of totalitarian rather than an egalitarian expression. From a current example in India, the government is flexing educratic muscles on a set of private affiliated (to a national education board) schools that comprise... Continue Reading →
Recently at a conference, someone asked me about the future of publishing. Remarking that it was a interesting question the answer to which I really did not know, which evoked much mirth, I ventured further to assert that the publishing and edTech are both a product and a function of the underlying system of education... Continue Reading →
Education Systems: Flawed Design?
In the traditional system of education, there are many fundamental incongruities. For example, let us take certification of progress or advancement. The output of an academic level (degree, year) is a certification of progression. This certification, awarded by the institution, indicates the achieved levels of learning and performance. The value perception of that certification is... Continue Reading →
Shaken, not stirred
The events of the past few years following the National Curriculum Framework (2005) creation have culminated. In my reading, the constructivist efforts to systemically shake up the system in its aftermath, through the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) scheme, the Open Text based Assessments (OTBA) and the Problem Solving Assessment (that was scrapped earlier), have... Continue Reading →
What if teachers treated teaching as an extension to research? What if teaching was really enculturation of students into a field of inquiry? What if teachers were to engage in discovering new insights with the help of their students, activity by activity, day by day? What if this co-research also included the additional studies of... Continue Reading →
The Demonetization of Indian Education
Very recently, the Indian government announced a demonetization measure by removing 500 and 1000 rupee notes as legal tender, ostensibly to combat cash hoarding (black money) and counterfeiting (which was helping fund terror). Of course, we have seen the impact of fiscal demonetization on the economy in the short term, though the long term prognosis... Continue Reading →
Lessons that Lessen
This jewel from Alice in Wonderland: And how many hours a day did you do lessons?' said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject. 'Ten hours the first day,' said the Mock Turtle: 'nine the next, and so on.' 'What a curious plan!' exclaimed Alice. 'That's the reason they're called lessons,' the Gryphon remarked:... Continue Reading →
An open letter to CABE
The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meets on October 25, 2016 to discuss many important issues. The apex education advisory organization features education ministers, HRD officials, key institutional heads and key influencers from outside government. The CABE takes the important decisions about education in our country. This time around, on the tentative agenda are... Continue Reading →
Courage, Craft and Character
There are three things I believe are necessary for success in product development, and perhaps in other endeavors in Life as well. Courage. You need the courage to dream on a very wide canvas, the courage to fail and make mistakes, the courage to acknowledge what can defeat you and persist in your efforts to... Continue Reading →
The Digital Isolation of Classrooms
Our classrooms are digitally isolated by their very design. It is a distortion of our bureaucratic education systems wherein, on the one hand, grade levels are broken down into separate groups/classrooms, insulated from each other, while each group is encouraged (or mostly not) to independently interact with the outside world. As a result, students learning... Continue Reading →
edTech vs. ICT – New Education Policy
The New Education Policy, 2016, has to give mission level status and significance to education technology by: Systematically building up our intellectual and institutional capabilities in edTech Planning and implementing strategic edTech initiatives Actively promoting edTech entrepreneurship and R&D Mission Level Focus on edTech The NEP draft places no mission level emphasis on education technologies... Continue Reading →
Today’s news article on the SWAYAM MOOCs and open-ness by Anil Sasi of the Indian Express raises some very important questions about the future of MOOCs in this country. The facts of the matter are as follows. A proprietary rather than open source approach has been adopted because open source seems not be open after... Continue Reading →
The corruption of the SWAYAM RFP
It seems the SWAYAM RFP dated 21st November, 2015 is actually inspired from previous RFPs made for other contexts. You have to only compare the SWAYAM RFP with two earlier RFPs: National Career Services Portal RFP dated 13th August 2014 A JNU RFP on eLearning Development dated 5th February 2015 To give a sense... Continue Reading →
Draft New Education Policy – India 2016
The recommendations to the NEP 2016 had come out earlier. Now a draft of the NEP 2016 has been made available - Draft NEP-2016. There is a crowdsourcing Wiki that has been set up as well. Here are a few comments. Vision The National Education Policy (NEP), 2016 envisions a credible and high-performing education system... Continue Reading →
The last laugh – Microsoft and SWAYAM MOOCs
Microsoft may well have the last laugh in the struggle to build SWAYAM - the Indian government's flagship initiative on MOOCs. The deal is priced at 38 cr INR or about USD 6 mn for a 3 year period post which the government will handle it. This is supported by changes in regulations which permit... Continue Reading →
The New Education Policy of India 2016 – Recommendations
The Report of the Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy 2016 is now available. The report is a scathing indictment of political interference and corruption in the Indian education system. It is unrelenting in stressing lack of political will to make education a priority. It strongly condemns the corruption and malpractice in India's... Continue Reading →
The Anatomy of Change
An interesting post by George Siemens on how he is negotiating change in the education system. This lead to reflection about how change happens and why many of the best ideas don’t gain traction and don’t make a systemic level impact. We know the names: Vygostky, Freire, Illich, Papert, and so on. We know the... Continue Reading →
The Indi(an)gnity of Education
Of late, I have been increasingly dismayed by the growing indignity in Indian Education. Somehow the very character of the system seems to be under great stress. Take for example, the Manoj Mishra-ization of Indian education. This gentleman, lauded by the Times of India as one who is Leading a fight to get India's truant... Continue Reading →
2015-Slow year for edTech
This past year has been very eventful. Here are some of my impressions of 2015. xMOOCs have strengthened this year. The major players have received lots of new funding, added 1800 new courses, 100 new credentials, doubled enrollments to 35 mn students and co-opted many new partners from academia (over 550 universities in all) and... Continue Reading →
RIP Jay Cross
People ask how my new book is coming along. I tell them I’m not writing a book, I’m leading a crusade. Jay Cross, The Real Learning Project. The last interaction I had with Jay was in August this year. Jay shared a copy of his latest work "Aha! Get Smart - The missing manual for... Continue Reading →
Imagining another future: Teacher Cooperatives
Let us for a moment imagine a future where schools are run by teachers' cooperatives. That is, instead of an administrative and financial superstructure of wealthy philanthropists or businesspersons or trusts, political muscle, non-academic leadership and all the trappings of modern world schools, teachers would cooperate to teach, learn and administer the school. The Amul... Continue Reading →
Exploring a future without textbooks
Let us imagine a future. In this future, textbooks have been removed for students. The only people that have to use them are teachers. This has solved many problems. No longer do children have to carry heavy bags to school. It discourages rote learning from a single source. It forces certain habits of learning to... Continue Reading →
India’s MOOCs – A tryst with India’s education system
India's MOOC strategy is turning into the ephemeral. From the initial heady days of EdX to fragmentation between the IITs, to not so secret ambitions of 'make in India', first with CDAC and now it seems a more formal platform development agenda, MOOCs seem to be a buzzword that is losing steam because of both... Continue Reading →
Delhi’s Syllabus Haircut
The most amazing thing has happened in Delhi. Something that I have been advocating for the past few years has actually seen the light of day. Delhi's AAP government has cut syllabus upto Class VIII by 25%, with the promise of doing that for Classes IX-XII by next year! Director, education, Padmini Singla explains that... Continue Reading →
The de-amplification of Amplify
Nearly five years ago, Newscorp's Rupert Murdoch bought over Wireless Generation (90% for USD 360 mn, such a hit) with the belief that “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach... Continue Reading →
East or West: Their rhetoric is the best
George Siemens vents in a post that describes his emotions upon coming out of a consultation on Innovation and Quality in Higher Education at the White House recently where he was invited. He sees many key things happening: 2. Higher education generally has no clue about what’s brewing in the marketplace as a whole 3.... Continue Reading →
Imagine a future is here
Let us for a moment imagine a specific future. Let us also imagine that future is upon us now. In this future, pedagogy and technology have advanced so much that students are being taught by intelligent virtual learning environments. Students learn is small cohorts entirely through these machine authored and directed experiences. This future has... Continue Reading →
Hacking the Indian MOOCs
The game is afoot. There seems to be some signs of a resurgence in xMOOCs in India. The government, it seems, is asking folks at CDAC to put together an indigenous platform within 3 months and asking both school and higher education institutions to contribute by January 2016. This is SWAYAM 2.0 it seems, an... Continue Reading →
Did someone just learn?
Most of our education system is geared towards a particular conception of a student and her specific way of learning. Let's face it. We give our children the same amount of time to learn every day. It is the same time in the day for learning. It is mostly the same cohort with which you... Continue Reading →
The Myth of Learning in India
Update (Aug 6): IIT Roorkee has decided to re-admit the expelled students, on certain conditions.They have taken a lenient view, considered the situation again and accounted for the impact of the expulsion on the students' future. #inanity-of-it-all IIT Roorkee, a premier engineering institute of India, recently expelled several first year students for not meeting the... Continue Reading →
#Rhizo15 Week 6 The Practical Guide to Rhizomatic Learning
A brief introduction Rhizomatic Learning is an important way to think about learning and teaching. It describes a learning experience where learning itself is organic and emergent, deeply driven by personal context, flexible boundaries and multiple pathways. It describes a teaching experience that sets the context, facilitates the inter-connections of ideas through conversations, and empowers... Continue Reading →
#rhizo15 Week 5 Communities are the same
Dave Cormier asks many interesting questions in his challenge for Week 5 of Rhizomatic Learning. He asks: This week take a critical look at the rhizomatic approach. Are we just replacing one authority structure with another? Trading tradition for community? What does this mean in our classroom? How can this get us into trouble? What... Continue Reading →
#rhizo15 Hacking the Week 4 challenge
Not just being sympathetic to Dave who must have spent many a sleepless night pondering over the questions for each week, but I thought we would have a bit of fun and try to predict the challenge he will pose in Week 4. How do we really learn online? How much of control and direction... Continue Reading →
#rhizo15 Week Two – Counting networks
A rather belated post on #rhizo15 week 2! How do we count or measure learning in our networks or learning rhizomatically? How do we begin to "grade Dave"? "Counting" evolution of our learning networks is very important. How does a network or community form? When does it acquire critical "mass" of conversation? How does it... Continue Reading →