Tag Archives: MOOC

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 – http://thealternative.in)

This is the article: http://thealternative.in/education/online-classrooms-are-we-moocd-out/

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 (http://thealternative.in), 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: http://www.sattva.co.in/who-we-are/about-us
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


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 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2012/07/29/sight-an-8-minute-augmented-reality-journey-that-makes-google-glass-look-tame/)
    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 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubiquitous_computing
    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?