Author Archives: Varadu Sridharan

About Varadu Sridharan

Education Technology Enthusiast, Serial Autodidact, Conceptualist, Mentor, Entrepreneur - Social Learning & mLearning, Creator of #TheStateOfEdTech

India’s Ed Tech Explosion – Question from Dr. Rod Berger PsyD

Dr. Rod Berger (Vice President of Education, RANDA Solutions – conducted an interview of my mentor, Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhyay ( on Jan 14, 2014.

You can view the recorded video of the entire interview at

Post that interview, Dr. Rod asked me these questions:

  1. How do you think India’s explosion in edtech development can impact the rest of the world?
  2. Can they now be considered as the leaders in this space?

This was my response to Dr. Rod: Continue reading


Is online classrooms for everyone or just the affordable few?

One of my friends Rathish Balakrishnan, co-founder of Sattva Media, asked for my feedback on one of the articles posted in his company website (The Alternative –

This is the article:

The article broadly covered the recent trends in education like Online Classrooms, MOOCs and Flipped Classrooms, and mentioned the various brands like Coursera, Khan Academy and edX which are pioneering in this space.

The overarching question that this article posed was:

Are online courses the next Napster movement or is it just a buzzword phase for alternative learning? Aparna Srivastava wonders whether this online movement will bridge the gap in learning in India where internet access still remains privileged. 

This was my response to this article:

“First off, this is a very good topic to write on. However, what is the actual question being asked here – will technology be accessible and affordable to all sections of people or will it be the Rolls Royce of sorts for a elite crowd? Or if technology is accessible, will online learning be helpful? Think the second question is a no-brainer.

As for the first question, great question! But the answer does not lie in what is happening in online learning, but what is happening in technology. Look at Project Loon from Google for example, or what other biggies are doing to make tech accessible in Africa. Or look at Serval Project. Look at Google Fiber. Actually blackboards and chalk were radical technology available to a select few many years back, look at them now. Cell phones are another example, a recent UN study said India has more cellphones than clean toilets! Or textbooks, if you want another example in education! So this is just a demand vs supply gap here. Is the demand there for Online Learning or anything else you want to do with technology? I assume you would say YES (It’s a separate discussion if you say NO) – Is the supply matching the demand? If not, any supplier will charge a premium as there is a market need – that is the way capitalism works! For the supply to reach demand raising from unaffordable sector, government and non-profits intervention is required. Is that happening? See Aakash for govt sector OR read about TFI (Srini Swaminathan), Deepam (Karthikeyan of Twenty19), Pratham or talk to Pragadish who uses technology to teach at orphanages or many other such orphanages!

As for the second question, online learning is definitely not a fad. It will definitely take over as the defacto standard, just as textbooks overtook scrolls or chalks overtook writing on sand! Talk to people like Devavrat RavetkarSaurabh MukhekarAditi ParekhShah Yasser Aziz – these are some self-learners or MOOCers or lifelong learners who can give you a great deal of input on online learning! Or better yet, talk to Prof. Sugata Mitra about online learning! :)”

So what do you think? Is online learning a Rolls Royce for a select few or will it be the “cyber-air” for the common man?

A background on The Alternative (, it is “a new media platform for sustainable living that strives to make social good an everyday conversation by highlighting choices we can make to positively impact the world around us.”
And you can read about the parent company to The Alternative, Sattva Media here:
The State Of Ed Tech

The State Of Ed Tech at Education Tech Summit 2013

I spoke on the Role of Technology in 21st Century Education at India’s first Education Tech Summit 2013, held at The Claridges, New Delhi on June 21, 2013.

This is the presentation shared at this summit.

Tags: EdTech, Education, Education reform, Online Teaching and Learning, Education Tech Summit, dynamicCIO, Ed Tech Review, Digital Learning, eLearning, mLearning, Social Learning, Education Technology

Top 3 Ed Tech Trends Impacting Existing Ed Tech Landscape

As part of the HireArt Ed-Tech Challenge, I was asked to answer the following question:

Please name the top three education technology trends that you think we should be paying attention to in 2013 and explain how each trend will impact the existing ed-tech landscape. If you have data to validate your responses, please add it in your response. You can type out or attach your response.


Trend 1: Ed Tech becomes more B2C, as there are many communities of lifelong learners springing up across the globe. Currently Ed Tech is more B2B, in the sense that Ed Tech companies reach out to educational institutions to provide administrative services or technology integration into classrooms. As the learner community becomes more focused on continuous lifelong learning, and as the traditional format of classrooms continue to get challenged, learners will directly subscribe to new Ed Tech that cater to them. MOOC is a clear evidence of this phenomenon. We have also seen this phenomenon with iPad and Android apps for language learning, teaching mathematics, game based learning for kids, etc. We will continue to see MOOCs becoming the defacto informal learning platform, and in parts replacing formal learning in many countries. We already saw the explosion of MOOC providers in 2012 with Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, edX. We continue to see this with NovoEd, iVersity (Germany), FutureLearn (UK) and now even India trying to come out with its own MOOC. Flipping the classrooms is another phenomenon that has caught on well in late 2012. We can expect to see a steady growth in the adoption of MOOCs and Flipped Classrooms. Any services that helps interoperability or accreditation from these platforms will also naturally gain traction.

Trend 2: Paid Learning Services will replace Paid Content. Learning services or value-adds such as content curation, content delivery, access to experts, etc will gain traction. Courses from experts or crowdsourced curated content will continue to rise from the likes of Coursera, Udacity, YouTubeEdu, Khan Academy, Quora, LunrQ, CodeAcademy, Udemy, etc. A decade back, Google solved a big problem in education, namely Content Discovery. Now, as we become experts in discovering content, the real challenge we will face is content accuracy (spam info, fake Wikipedia pages), content curation (Common Core, Learning Registry) and content delivery / expert interactions (MOOCs). Adoption of free content platforms like Open Education Resources will also accelerate this phenomenon. So Ed Tech companies should gear up to offer more such services, and not mere content.

Trend 3: Internet is seeing a wave of changes with Web 2.0 and Mobile, which will also impact the Ed Tech landscape. As Adobe abandoned Flash and HTML5 grew in popularity, we see a plethora of content providers porting their content to the new internet. But replatforming just the content will not help these companies, as the delivery medium has also changed from static desktop for Flash content, to highly responsive UX delivered via today’s browsers and mobile devices. Content for today’s Ed Tech offerings should also focus on being contextual (geo-based, augmented reality), current (Twitter trends) and common experience across varied platforms and form factors. For example, Moodle suffered a setback because new age providers like Edmodo capitalized on Web 2.0 and Mobile early on. While Moodle has officially released its mobile app in beta, industry experts believe that it has come in too late.

My references:

The Future Of Education Technology

I wanted to take a stab at answering this question posted on ISTE group in Linkedin by Mr. Thomas Johanson (a Teacher at Houston ISD):

What is your most exciting vision of technology in the classroom?
Everything I read seems to be tethered to available technology already designed or adaptable for classroom use. Please, I’d like to hear if anyone has a more far reaching view. It doesn’t have to be science fiction, just look around at off the shelf software and hardware!

(here is the link to ISTE group Linkedin)

I decided to answer this using my first blog.

First, I took the liberty to go sci-fi on this one as Mr. Thomas Johanson did not specify a timeline in his question. And what we deemed as sci-fi 10 years ago has become reality today! Plus, most of what I have written as my vision already exists today in some form!

Let us start with what we know today:

  1. Web content will continue to get mapped better to specific learning objectives and learning frameworks (Common Core, Open University, MOOCs)
  2. FOSS technologies will continue to evolve and be adopted more widely (As more cost-conscious devoloping nations / economies evolve, FOSS will be on their agenda for tech adoption. India is already seeing this today, Africa as well to some extent)
  3. Free content will surpass paid content in availability, reliability, accuracy and quality (MOOCs)
  4. Technology will continue to shrink and get closer to the skin (giant monitors to Google Glass)
  5. Open Source Hardware will gain popularity and lead to more DIY or experential approach to learning
  6. World economy will continue to evolve to a more flat and open economy. I am not an economist, but if Europe could pull off with Euro – why not an APAC currency for Asia Pacific or Gulf currency for Middle East? How about a Kickstartr for the world?)

Now to my vision of future (classrooms er.. not really) Education Technology:

    1. Traditional classrooms from the industrial revolution era will fade into more virtual classrooms, thanks to internet becoming more common place, connected devices and concepts like webinars, video conferencing, augmented reality and holographic projections.
      CNN used this technology during 2008 US elections

      Indian politician Narendra Modi used this for simulcast of his election campaign
    2. Technology will continue to shrink and move into the human body as implants. Bone conduction instead of headphones (Google Glass apparently already has this!) Retinal implants will allow for augmented reality projections into our line of sight (
    3. Computing will also become ubiquitous – all surfaces (walls, glass doors, restroom mirrors, dinner tables, walkways, etc. will compute and will allow for user interaction) I don’t have to give examples for this one! But you can read more about this here –
    4. Students will build more complex systems at younger ages. Proliferation of open source software and hardware will help these students. Learning to code at school will also gain popularity.

    5. Factual knowledge and foundational learning objectives will be directly uploaded to students DNA. Teaching will become more of facilitating the student to selectively retrieve data and correlate them, to arrive at human logic (or what their brains will understand)


    6. Given the complexity of the above process, more integral or inner learning will be needed to prevent brain exhaustion. Something like Qi or the Force from Star Wars? Yoga perhaps?? Why not, we already fight physical obesity by dieting and exercise, what will you do for mental obesity?
    7. With any prediction, you must have a buffer for the unexpected. My picks for the unexpected would be light-speed travel and eternal memory persistence (like Vox 114 in the movie Time Machine or a prolongated version of Dr. Lanning’s Hologram from the movie I, Robot)


And on the lighter side (or darker?) if the machines take control of our lives at any time during this transition – ta da! Welcome to The Matrix!

What do you think?