Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Why Blended Learning is important for schools?

Each class is unique in its composition and learning needs. By composition, I mean the demography, student’s family educational and economic background. All these factors impact their learning capabilities. Technology has become part of schools be it in the form of Smart Classes or to the least in the form of WhatsApp groups for sharing homework and notes. It needs to be extended beyond the walls of schools as learning does not stop after school hours. There is a need for blended learning, there is a requirement of Online Learning Platform for schools. Times like Covid-19 make it more obvious but even after it, schools must have their Online Learning enabled.

One of the most important and critical reason to emphasise on Online method is varied pace of learning of students. Time spent in classroom lecture is not enough for students, not all students are able to grasp the concepts taught in the classroom. It is quite evident by the no. of home tutors, tuition centres and flourishing eLearning platforms like Byju’s etc.

Can a learning platform become a turning point in study habits and learning processes? Perhaps. What is clear is that the traditional meaning words like “study” and “homework” have changed.
Following can be clearly marked as benefits of having an Online Learning Platform:

  1. Better organisation of Study Material – Learning platforms give every teacher the opportunity to place a wide variety of learning resources at their students’ disposal. Notes prepared by teachers or reference material can be organised at one place. Students can add their own notes making it available from anywhere. Students can share their notes with their classmates making it a collaborative learning. Online learning is a greener option, it saves on paper and photocopying.Although creating these extra materials may take time for most teachers, once they are on the learning platform, the materials can be re-used in different courses and with different students. They can also be shared with colleagues in the school.
  2. Opportunities for Independent and personal Learning - The use of learning platforms leads to a greater variety of learning resources, and so can both motivate and support independent learners. Instead of going for tuitions or using learning apps, students can learn from the material provided, which is in sync with his school and use other tools provided on the platform to clear doubts. Studies have shown that this kind of learning leads to better grasping of concepts and improved learning outcomes.
  3. Increased Collaboration and Interaction – Learning platforms offer simple ways to teachers and students to collaborate and interact. Peer-to-peer learning, students can learn from their classmates, they can help each other in clearing doubts or understanding the concepts. Teachers can also help students in their studies after school hours. Positive outcome is that all these interactions are stored digitally and can help future generations. These interactions can also be analysed to understand how to improve the teaching methodologies.
  4.  Self-evaluation tools - Moving on, learning platforms have multiple variables for checking the success of learning. In this sense, a learning platform provides the student with self-evaluation tools, (tests, interactive material, contextualised situations, etc.). Through the self-evaluation, the student becomes aware of their progress, their level of learning and their areas for improvement. Furthermore, the professor may detect these areas to strengthen, develop exercises and specific content and improve the level of learning.
  5. Supporting additional educational needs and inclusion - Schools and teachers have to cater for students who, for one reason or another, have a greater difficulty in learning than the majority of their peers. Learning platforms can help by enabling the teacher to tailor the learning experience to suit the individual. For example, teachers can create groups. Teachers can then assign different materials to different groups or individuals, ensuring that students are working at the appropriate level.
  6. Building the school Community - By encouraging students to create and share their own resources, and giving them a space to voice their opinions, learning platforms help increase a sense of community. For example, discussion forums can be used for encouraging deeper opinionated discourse in a safe, school-monitored environment.

It may be an extra effort initially, but once setup and used regularly, an Online Learning Platform can help schools in saving time and money of their students as well as improving the learning outcomes and results.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


Yesterday afternoon, I was passing by my neighborhood park, saw a bunch of children completely immersed in their creativity. They had found some sheets of thermocol and they were trying to create numerous things out of it. Somebody had cut out a revolver; somebody had cut out an airplane. I was not struck by their creativity but what stopped me was the stream of joy and happiness which was flowing there. Unknowingly, without effort I was smiling. I realized, smile does not need any effort.

Is there any science behind being happy? Is it an art to be happy? Should we master happiology to be happy. I thought this is a new word I have coined, Happiology, science and art of being happy. I reached home and googled to claim that I am inventor of this word. Google results took away all my happiness, Happiology exists and it exists as a subject.

Important is not my inventing this new word or Happiology existed as a subject.  How come children are so happy all the times, with momentary interruptions created by elders? How come they find happiness in useless sheet of thermocol which was most probably thrown away as waste? Why we elder are so serious and need reasons to be happy. When did we learn that smile is an effort and its required to look pleasant?

I strongly believe positive psychology or happiology, though both are not same and are two different schools of thought with same goal, should be part of school curriculum. I strongly believe at this point of time, the world needs to be happier than any other thing.  How obvious this statement sounds?

What is the last thing you did, just for the sake of happiness?

Friday, 4 September 2015

Experiential Learning: The how and why!

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.~ Confucius, 450 BC
Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as "learning through reflection on doing”.
The concept of experiential learning explores the cyclical pattern of all learning from Experience through Reflection and Conceptualizing to Action and on to further Experience.
Experiential Learning includes an out-of-class component that involves the students in "doing" an aspect of the topic. These active learning experiences complement the students' in-class learning. Essentially, the experience gives it greater resonance, while the classroom studies give the students' "doing" greater contextualization. Consequently, students' understanding is deepened and enriched.
Experiential learning is a method of educating through first-hand experience. Skills, knowledge, and experience are acquired outside of the traditional academic classroom setting, and may include internships, studies abroad, field trips, field research, and service-learning projects.
The concept of experiential learning was first explored by John Dewey and Jean Piaget, among others. It was made popular by education theorist David A. Kolb, who, along with John Fry, developed the experiential learning theory, which is based on the idea that learning is a process whereby knowledge is created through transformation of experience. It is based on four main elements which operate in a continuous cycle during the learning experience:
  • Concrete experience
  • Reflective observation
  • Abstract conceptualization
  • Active experimentation
Let us try and understand what Experiential Learning really is and take a look at the four different approaches taken to understand a particular topic.
Learning by doing. Here the learner prefers to learn actively, through hands-on experience. The learning occurs at the same time as the doing. It is almost as if, out of awareness, the learner reviews what she has done, and stores the knowledge or skills somewhere in her experience.
Pooling experience. Here the learner prefers to reflect upon past and present experience, both from herself and others. From the mass of information which she is able to compile, she can then work out the principles. On later occasions she can then use the principles and theories which she has devised.
Applying the principles. Here the learner prefers first to understand the theory, for example by reading or by learning from recognized experts. She then wants to be able to use the theory to plan what can be done in the future.
Applying the principles in practice. Here the learner prefers to have a detailed and step-by-step “package” which can be followed. She can then “fine-tune” the package in the light of her experience with it, so that it suits her, and her situation, and the other people who will use it.
These four types of approaches are distinct and have there own results. The four styles can be put together to form a complete cycle: the “experiential learning cycle”. Action feeds into review; review precedes theory; theories are applied in planning, and then planning is implemented as action. A complete cycle which results in a takeaway that will improve there approach to learning.
All of this is pointless if you don’t have the attention and interest of participants. Effective learning activities therefore give a lot of attention to what might be called “energy management”. This if often most important at the transition from one segment of a learning activity to the next. It is especially important at the beginning and end, where it usually requires special attention.
It is common to talk about the end activity as “closure”. But if you tie off the experience too neatly, they may not take any of it with them. The best conclusion to aim for, I think, is one where people have thought about the later uses they can make of the material, but are not too distracted by it. You might think of it as emotional closure, but not cognitive or behavioural closure.
Some benefits for students are outlined below.
Increased interest and strengthened focus
Improved academic performance
Improved oral and written expression

Beneficial for developing engaged citizenship, fostering civic responsibility, and the importance of contributing to the broader public good
Improved attitudes toward social responsibility
Respect and tolerance for diversity and connection to others
Increased likelihood to continue working with the community

More defined career plans
Improved likelihood of going for higher studies
Professional networking opportunities

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Education, Knowledge and Degrees

Image Courtesy:

Recent appointment of Ms. Smriti Irani as Minister of HRD initiated a nationwide criticism of PM to appoint a High-school graduate as Minister of HRD. I do not want to go into the debate whether Ms. Irani is suitable for this complex portfolio or any experienced one should have been appointed.

My point of contention is why a high-school graduate cannot be a good leader. Why a high-school graduate cannot learn the nitty-gritty of one of the most important ministries. Does it mean, to understand problems and issues of higher education, you need to be a graduate or post-graduate or a doctorate. HRD covers all aspects of education in the country including technical and other higher education streams. With the logic given by most of the critics, there should be at least 5-6 ministers of HRD for each main stream of education handled by ministry of HRD. To formulate policies for technical education, Minister should be a BTech/BE or MTech and so on.

All these discussions has raised few questions::

Is a degree a certificate of our knowledge, skills or capabilities?

Why we need more education after high-school?

Why graduation is so prestigious in India?

What should we expect from 14-16 years of education till high-school?

Who can we call an educated person?

This is the time, when we should find answers to these questions.  This is the time when we should define the meaning and importance of an academic degree. This is right time to define the purpose of education. This is the time to define the outcomes of the education at different levels.

In my view, education till high-school is essential and these years of education should not only give enough knowledge to understand the world but also give skills to take decisions, think critically and solve problems. Above all, this education should make a person amicable, who can respect different opinions, who can sympathize with others, who holds peace and humanity supreme. Academic knowledge is must but life skills cannot be ignored at these founding years. Once our schools start imparting this wholesome education, we will produce responsible and capable citizens. We will not have to wait for graduation or post-graduation to start a living, and by start a living, I mean by choice and not by force. We will not look up to government to create jobs;  we will create jobs for ourselves. I do not discourage graduation or higher education but that should be for specialization, specialization in some subject or technology. We indeed need scholars and scientists but this way we can reduce the pressure on students, education system and government.
Image Courtesy:

Let us put efforts to remove the status and prestige associated with degrees. Let’s remove the awe factor attached to degrees. Rather, we should respect the work done by the person; we should value the capability and contribution of individual irrespective of degree he/she holds.

Krishan B Chandak
MD, Pivotal

Monday, 10 February 2014

Flipped Classroom

In a classroom, typically a lecture is delivered or passages are read out or a concept is explained. As homework, students are asked to solve some problems or write an essay or some similar assignment. If I reverse these exercises, you get the model of flipped classroom. Students study the concepts using videos or some notes, prepared beforehand by the teacher. Student come prepared to the class with his doubts and teacher explains them and the activities or problem solving is done in the presence of the teacher.

There are two parts to education, teaching and learning. Every student learns or grasps the concept at their own pace, some can learn it instantly, some need it to be repeated a couple of times before they understand it fully. This concept is indeed a boon for majority of the students as they learn the concepts using videos and other content online at their own pace with the help of their classmates and/or the teacher. At the same time, students need maximum support when they are using these concepts and learnings to solve problems or applying them to some activity. In this concept this is the time when teacher is with them.

This model supports students:
  1.            They can learn at their own pace.
  2.            Parents can view videos and content and thus can support them.
  3.           They do not miss lectures even if they are sick or due to any other reason.
  4.            It makes students more responsible for their studies.
  5.          Better learning as they collaborate more with their classmates.

For Teachers:
  1. Teachers focus more as “Guide on the side” rather than “Sage on the stage”.
  2.  Teachers are more involved with the students.
  3. Saves time as do not need to take extra classes to explain some of the concepts.

·         In one case study, 75% of student stated they preferred lectures prior to the implementation of the flipped model. After implementation, 90% said they preferred the new model
·         In another case study, the state exam pass rate increased from 30% to 75%, including 9 out of 10 special education students
·         At Purdue University, they see 15% less Ds, Fs, and withdrawals in classes that are flipped

Krishan B Chandak
MD, Pivotal

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Gamification in education - 1

When I was a kid, games and studies used to be two separate worlds. Life was simple, there was time allocated to games, stretched usually every day, and time for studies. School was more or less only for studies for most of the students. There were lessor options in both the categories and both were serious businesses. Both the parts of a kid’s life were not competing significantly with each other. As I see today, schools have become slightly more interesting and games or entertainment part has massively grown and with enormous options. Games, fun and other activities are far more exciting than education or learning. Children need motivation to study and learn. They need to be engaged in learning activities. They need to be focused from the distractions all around them. Gamification is one of the answers to the challenge faced by today’s schools.

As per Wikipedia, Gamification is defined as
Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. Gamification is applied to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, timeliness, and learning.”

In this series, we will try to answer questions around Gamification in education. What is Gamification, why Gamification in education is required, how Gamification can be applied to education and what are the advantages and disadvantages of Gamification.

What Gamification exactly means? How different is it from games? This is a very fundamental question and as described above, Gamification is not introducing games. At the core of the games is, either you lose or you win, whereas, Gamification is all about participation. Gamification is about an environment where involvement not result is rewarded. At the same time, it does not mean to digress from the core business of learning. Rather, Gamification is used to increase the involvement and participation in the learning processes.

Though the term Gamification may be new but it is not new in education. It has been in education in some form. For example, giving points or badges for completing homework or classwork correctly. Another example could be to give a quote from some renowned person and asking students to put punctuations in that. It is same as teaching the use of comma but now in a different perspective.

-Krishan B Chandak
MD, Pivotal

Friday, 7 February 2014

First Teacher

[© William James Warren/Getty Images]

The first image which appears on your mind after reading the title is of your kindergarten teacher or the earliest teacher you could remember. Who taught you so many things even before you went to play school or kindergarten? A smile lights up your face, yes, your parents were your first teacher, the best teacher forever. I will come back to the last sentence, specifically to discuss forever.

As a parent, it’s a huge responsibility to be the teacher. There is no curriculum designed, no text books to refer to. Only thing which comes handy is the experience as child and seeing our parents. Parents play dual role as a teacher, one to support in the formal education, getting homework done, helping in studies etc. and the other one to prepare their children as a good human being.

Founding years are rigorous and both the roles need equal attention but as children start growing mature, focus shifts to the second role. No matter what constraints or lack of resources, every parent put their best efforts to fulfill every aspect of parenthood, equally of the teacher.
The point which I wanted to discuss here was “the best teacher forever”. There are two parts to it and will discuss one by one, first one is the best teacher and another is forever.

How can as a parent, we become the best teacher of our children. This gives rise to another question, best teacher for what? Teachers of life, courage and compassion. We as parent must teach our children to be happy, to enjoy life, to appreciate the boundless beauty around us. To be courageous to choose paths in life, that gives them satisfaction, that makes them happy. To be compassionate for fellow beings. Respect the nature, opinions and beliefs of others. They will be successful and will lead an awesome life. In contrast what we teach them, to be someone, to become some designation, we mould them for their future job profiles. We tune them to our unfulfilled dreams. We prepare them to be strong against our bad experiences of life. We embed the righteousness of life in their thoughts. We try to implant our life in our children. They are whole and perfect, they can create their life, and they just need assistance not molds.
Other part, to be forever their best teacher. Our life and our child’s life are different and both the lives are unique. If we try to map them and teach them with our experiences, we will create molds. These molds will not fit in some course of time and when they will start breaking it, they will no longer consider us a teacher.

A perfect teacher is one who identifies the potential of his/her student and helps him/her to enhance it further but does not try to create something which does not exist. If we walk along with our children in all paths of their life, sometimes holding their hand or sometimes just listening to them or sometimes by just being there for them, we will be their best teacher and forever too.

-Krishan B Chandak
MD, Pivotal