Sunday, October 25, 2015

Accelerated learning mooted for academically weak students

MUMBAI: From the next academic year, students who are academically weak may be able to opt for an accelerated learning programme, which will teach them three to four years’ curriculum within one year, and help them catch up with their peers.
The principal secretary of the state school education de partment, Nand Kumar, has put forth this proposal to reduce the number of students failing in Class 9 and to arrest the dropout rate in secondary sections.
Cur rently, t he state has the highest dropout rate in Class 9- it stands at 8.9% as per the latest U-DISE (Unified District Information System for Education) report. This is much higher than dropout rates for other classes, which range between 1% and 3%.
According to officials, schools fail a large number of students in class 9, and as a result the students drop out. This trend has been aggravated with the introduction of the no- f ail policy in 2010, which provides for automatic promotion from class 1 to class 8.
“We are studying accelerated learning programmes that have managed to teach four-and-ahalf year’s curriculum to students in just one year,” said Kumar. “It was implemented for primary students by a private non-profit organisation.”
The department will rope in officials, educationists and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) working for education to provide their suggestions to the proposal. “The idea is at a nascent stage right now, we will finalise the details after consulting with experts,” said Kumar.
But educationists raise concerns over the benefits of an accelerated learning programme for secondary students. “Such programmes can be done easily for students in primary sections, as students are able to grasp concepts better at a young age, but it will be a little difficult for 14-15-year-olds to study at that pace,” said Farida Lambay, cofounder, Pratham, NGO.
City school principals welcomed the proposal. “Owing to the no-fail policy, children have lost the practice of writing and are hence unable to score in exams in higher classes,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal, St Mary’s School (ICSE), Mazgaon, and the joint secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education that runs 150-odd schools in the city.

At IIT Bombay, decade-old mentorship plan bears fruit


It gives protection from ragging, stress and offers solace to newbies

MUMBAI: Akanksha Yadav, a first-year engineering student in Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), recalls a recent incident. “One of my batch-mates had fared poorly in the Chemistry paper. She was feeling very low. Fortunately, one of our seniors consoled her and talked her out of the phase,” she said.
The senior student is one of the ‘mentors’ appointed as part of IIT-B’s Student Mentor Programme (SMP). The decadeold programme, launched with the primary objective of protecting newcomers from ragging, has matured into a larger campus acclimatization initiative.
This year the institute has appointed 80 mentors to cater to more than 900 freshers. “This year, we had received around 350 applications from those aspiring to mentor,” said Yamini Bansal, one of the coordinators of SMP. The mentors were selected after a round of interviews. A website launched by the group a few months ago had received more than 70,000 page views, say the group members.
These mentors have been tasked with guiding the firstyear students in their academics, helping them cope with stress, and making them acquainted with the institute’s culture. “The students come from various backgrounds and different parts of the country. SMP helps them navigate through IIT’s culture and even helps them with their personal problems,” added Bansal.
The IITs are known for their exhaustive curriculum and vigorous training, which often takes a toll on newcomers. To help these students, the SMP coordinators sometimes organise special stress management sessions.
Most of the freshers find their mentors to be very helpful. “When we come to IIT, we are clueless about most things here. So, whenever we get stuck with some problem we reach out to our mentors, who are always willing to help,” said Ajay Kotwal, a first-year student. “The mentors make it a point to visit us once in a while. In any case, they are just a phone call away, if we need any help.”
According to Bansal, the mentor-mentee relationship often develops into a valuable friendship. “Many of the mentors continue guiding the juniors even after graduating from IIT. It’s their way of giving back to the institute,” she said.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Visitors to Vaachan Prerana Diwas on 15/10/2015

 Image result for apj abdul kalam quotes on books

As part of the celebrations, the Learning and Information Resource Centre (Central Library) initiated a few activities as outlined below:
1) Take Away of Books
2) Sale of withdrawn books
3) Book Exhibition
4) Modification of the overdues
5) Extending Scholar's Card facility to students whose GPA is =/> 8.6.

The LIRC witnessed a huge response for the Take Away of books and the Sale of Withdrawn book bank books. More than 150 people visited the library and an odd 100 availed the same. Staff and students alike were happy and all smiles since almost everybody got something to carry with them.
Book Exhibition was well organized with a majority of the books on "Wireless Communications". Many faculty members glanced through the displayed books and a few selected them too.
The modification in the overdues structure came as a pleasant surprise for the student community and they were more than happy to take note of their reduced fines.
From the next semester onward, Scholar's Cards would be extended to students whose GPA is =/> 8.6 thereby maximizing the library's usage.

Thank You all for making Vaachan Prerana Diwas a SUCCESS!

Happy to note that 100 people including staff and students of SFIT availed the "Take Way of books, CDs and magazines!
A big thank you for making the "Vaachan Prerana Diwas" (Reading Inspiration Day)" a success!!
Photos will soon follow this post!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Change in the Overdues Structure for Books


Fine Structure has been changed with effect from October 15, 2015 to mark the Celebrations of Vaachan Prerana Diwas.

Rupees 2/- per day for the first five days

Rupees 5/- per day for the next ten days

Rupees 10/- per day subsequently

An online platform that makes education more personalized

 Vedantu enables students in remote areas to receive tuition from highly qualified teachers

The platform has now completed providing 21,000 hours of live learning to more than 17,000 students through 180 listed teachers.
Bengaluru: Its almost 4 pm on a Tuesday afternoon and Vasavi gets ready to take her daily physics lessons for 9th and 10th graders. An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras graduate, Vasavi, on maternity leave from her corporate job, dedicates three hours daily to tutoring students from Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai and remote towns such as Rudrapur in Uttarakhand.
In Wani taluk, Yavatmal district in Maharashtra, 9th grader Tanusha M. gets ready for her physics and mathematics class. She takes two classes from highly qualified teachers whose location Tanusha does not know. She only knows them through their qualifications and names.
Vasavi and many others like her are teachers by choice and Tanusha is one of the thousands of students they teach daily via Vedantu, an online tutorial service run by Vedantu Innovations Pvt. Ltd. The journey of Vedantu began almost a decade ago when Vamsi Krishna from IIT Mumbai), Pulkit Jain, Saurabh Saxena and Anand Prakash (from IIT Roorkee) got together in 2005 to start something that their parents did not encourage.
Giving into their parents’ demands, they joined corporate jobs, but lasted for only about six months. On 16 December 2005, Anand resigned. The others followed. With a bit of teaching experience gained during their summer breaks at the IITs, they decided to teach. They wanted to challenge conventional teaching methods.
They started by teaching the children of the workers at Trident Group Ltd’s yarn plant at Barnala, Punjab. “That was the pivotal step,” Vamsi says.
This led to more students and their first venture, Lakshya, a test prep establishment where they helped students crack engineering entrance exams. Among the four, they claim to have taught over 10,000 students from 2006-12 in places such as Patiala and Chandigarh.
At Barnala they swept floors, set up classes and even slept at the same place where tuitions were held. “The energy we used to get from these sessions... we could really see the spark that really motivated us to take up the profession of teaching,” Vamsi says.
In 2012, Mumbai-based education coaching service provider MT Educare Ltd acquired Lakshya Forum for Competition Pvt. Ltd. The model had its limitations. “Being there as teachers ourselves, we felt the challenges with the offline set-up... no matter what, there were challenges of scalability.”
Determined, and now equipped with Lakshya’s experience, they challenged institutionalism and generalisation in education to make it more personalised and democratic. But the disparity in learning would remain, which called for a technological intervention.
In April 2014 they started developing a product and six months later Vedantu was live. Vedantu was the so-called anti-model of its predecessor. It developed WAVE (whiteboard, audio and video environment) technology and the teachers marketplace model. In order to get access to more good teachers, Vedantu started developing technologies like whiteboard and audio and is currently developing facial expression reading algorithms for better engagement and greater efficiency from each session.
“We are coming out with engagement metrics. For every session the algorithm analyses the session and goes back to the teacher,” Vamsi says.
Vedantu says, “Innovation has come to facilitate the why.”
Initiatives like Digital India and fast growing Internet infrastructure provide platforms like Vedantu with tools to connect more students and teachers facilitating effective learning.
Though the motivation was not money, the company did not want to be an NGO. The priority was to make a difference; money would follow. The platform has now completed providing 21,000 hours of live learning to more than 17,000 students through 180 listed teachers.
The platform, which charges around 30% of the teachers’ fees, says average tutor earns around `40,000 (depending on the number of hours) and the top earner raked in `98,000 (August 2015). Vendantu has a mix of professional teachers, corporate entities and college students. Vamsi says the presence of teachers working only on Vedantu (10-15%) is where the real disruption is happening.
Vedantu is aware of its limitations. This venture cannot be run as a mainstream institution due to regulatory requirements. “So we can at least be a parallel education system,” Vamsi says.
Vamsi says that there are around 250 million students in India and around 33% of them go to private schools. This hasn’t deterred its global ambitions. “Global expansion can be tempting,” he says about moving to other markets like in South Korea, Singapore and other East Asia markets.
Accel and Tiger Global led a $5 million funding in Vedantu in May this year. Anand Daniel, an early stage investor with Accel Partners, says Vedantu has huge potential. The tutoring market size in India is around $11 billion (2014). “Very few teams in India have a great sense for the education sector as well as how technology can be used for effective scaling Vedantu is one such team,” he says
Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the mBillionth and Manthan awards.
Source: Livemint 

Poetry takes musical route to score high with students

MUMBAI: In an effort to garner interest for poetry among students, the state education department will put the poems in textbooks to music in the voice of popular artists with background scores.

Sur Kavitanche, as the initiative is called, is a brain child of deputy director, Mumbai, B B Chavan. It is slated to kickstart with the launch of an album of poems from the Class V Balbharti textbook in Marathi.

"Children learn movie songs so quickly because they are catchy and interesting. We wanted to do something similar for the poems as well. If the poems have a tune to it, students will be able to sing them and teachers too will be able to teach them better," said Chavan.

The album will be launched at the B N Vaidya Auditorium, Dadar, on October 20. To ensure easy and free access to these recordings, the education department will host them on their website. "We want maximum number of teachers and students to benefit from this. We will also be creating a mobile application to enable students and teachers to download it. We will also create ringtones of these songs," said Chavan.

Various musicians and singers have lent their voice for this album without a fee. "Students need to be given the best opportunities to learn and this is a way we can do our bit for them," said music composer, Sambhaji Bhagat. Sachin Khedekar, Sadhna Sargam, Urmila Dhangar and Rahul Ranade are among the musicians and singers who are part of the initiative.

The curriculum for class V was changed starting the 2015-2016 academic year and is expected to remain the same for the next five years. "We thought it was worth putting in the effort because the same recordings can be used for students in the future batches. We are also planning to do the same thing for other mediums like Hindi, Urdu, English etc," said Chavan. It is also expected to be extended to classes VI, VII and VIII when the syllabus changes.

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