Sunday, July 26, 2020

Online Learning - My Two Cents Opinion

Until February 2020, didn’t we think “screens replacing classrooms” was at best a good topic for debate competitions or coffee table discussions? Maybe in a distant future, where our cars were solar-powered and daily lives AI integrated but the outbreak of corona virus has made some unprecedented changes.

Having a black/white board behind you and a room full of students in front you was so tight knit to the idea of teaching, that even the thought of no physical classrooms was never really acceptable. Online education was thought of as something for the western liberals, not for India. Of course, the reasons for such an argument were not limited to centuries-long of mind conditioning of the education fraternity but also the serious shortfall of infrastructure and support systems in India. Many Indian households are not privileged enough to own computers or smartphones. In today’s times, when Internet is talked of as a basic commodity, a smooth Internet connection still remains a dream for a sizable portion of the Indian population. (Hopefully this will will change with arrival of 5-G in the game.) And yes, these arguments cannot be denied.

But the outbreak of the Corona pandemic came with a force of realization, of acceptance of the inevitability of online education. Such was the magnitude of that force that it made us aware of the need to strengthen our education model and welcome technology into our lives.
Educators began exploring different online platforms to teach students and evaluate them. Online meeting platforms are drastically gaining popularity.  Students started getting accustomed to learning without their friends sitting around them (its really more personalized - in a sense) or without their teacher continually peeking into their notebook (a boon - I must say:-)) to check if they were taking down notes. Acceptance about online education has grown tremendously; partly because it is the only practical way forward and partly because of the numerous advantages it offers. It gives teachers an impetus to get creative and teach students in more engaging ways. Students perceive this as more personalized learning as against learning in a classroom with students having highly different grasping abilities. They can now get their doubts cleared without the fear of being judged.

The sudden transition to online education is definitely not without hiccups.  Here are some I would like to list (some of them might be a repetition of what I wrote above):

  1. Many (Old and Young) are still resistant to the very idea of online education. These hardliners  would jump back to old wagon at the first opportunity. Old habits die hard. 
  2. Some teachers are still struggling to come to terms with the new technology. (But I feel - this is  just a phase - these are fighters with a huge potential to influence students.)
  3. The biggest problem with the current model of online education is the lack of class control. But this might also mean that a teacher needs to be more creative to make class more engaging. I am sure the new soft wares will take care of teething issues like attendance (for systemic    requirements) 
  4. Not every household has the luxury of laptop or desktop. Moreover it becomes more challenging when the same gadget needs to be shared among children and WFH duty of parents.
  5. There are more challenges in terms of connectivity and testing.
But while there are cons there are many pros. I believe that:

  1. Online education cannot be one sided process. Only those students will get engaged who are     interested.
  2. Learning will be students' responsibility as would be teaching - a teacher's responsibility.
  3. I have personally experienced - not so active - students suddenly asking more questions without the fear of being labelled.
  4. The physical distance is a passe. The students can have access to best teachers rather than tin-pots.
  5. Online model is fueling teaching creativity among the good teachers.
  6. It has shown that a hell lot of time (otherwise lost in travelling in big cities) is saved. Time saved energy and money saved.
The online learning model might be in nascent stage but it is here to stay. Those discarding it are living in fool's paradise. The blend of physical and online will be the golden mean for a majority of  the courses. In either case the key to learn online effectively is being responsible toward your education.

We, at Learners' Academy (LearnAc - as we fondly call our academy), have embraced online education with open arms. Ours was the first academy arguably in Pune, to go online. We had our online education platform ready in 2019 with the intention of going online globally. We do intend to go global in the near future. But right now we are concentrating to catering to our existing students in Kothrud region of Pune. 

The e-learning platform of LearnAc (fondly called eLearnAc) is a state-of-art portal offering a virtual classroom, live streaming of lectures, recorded lectures, theory paper correction and mock tests for competitive exams like the JEE, MHT-CET and NEET. Its an amazing Learning Experience Platform (LXP) offering students a personalized learning experience. LearnAc is making even the online learning an enjoyable experience and as real as possible. We intend to continue with blended model of learning in the future and also increase our horizon beyond Pune. We believe that the mode of education is hardly an obstacle for committed educators and learners. LearnAc intends to share its space with everyone in the world.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nikola Tesla - The unsung HERO

I love to teach electromagnetism and I teach it fairly well (or so do I think (?)). When I reach a section of introducing Electro-Magnetic Induction (EMI - as it is popularly known at HSC level) and when I start talking about DC and AC - EVERY TIME and I mean EVERY TIME - I have goose bumps when I talk about that great Serbian-American GEEK called Nikola Tesla. I still feel he should be talked about from school days. Films should be shown. He is in the league of extraordinary gentlemen (READ PHYSICISTS) who probably has NOT got his due in the history of science - or may be the masses do not know him as they do the likes of Sir Issac Newton and Albert Einstein. The guy was a GENIUS. I would rate him among the top in the pantheon of physicists - at par with the likes of Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. The IDEAS he proposed changed the way we live. Many of those were probably ahead of time - IDEAS whose time probably had not come.

The web is filled with information about him so I would not copy/paste the information about him here.
Here are two sites you might want to go through to get a first feel about the MAN HIMSELF.

Website: 1. Nikola Tesla
                2.Things you didn't know about Nikola Tesla

There is a wonderful documentary by the BBC which you SHOULD WATCH
WebSite: 1. The Story of Electricity

The story of electricity Part - 2 tells us about the great war of currents fought between Thomas Edison and Westinghouse (Tesla). It is an amazing/chilling story of the two great men at war.

The story also reveals the human side of Tesla when in order to help Westinghouse, Tesla sells his shares. Tesla died in a hotel room in New York. A tragic death.

But HE continues to live with us through the GENIUS of his inventions. All the students of science must know his history and his GENIUS.

Even if one of the students reads the articles and watches the film and gets informed, I have done my job in spreading the gospel about the MAN - NIKOLA TESLA.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Knowledge Sharing

Date: 31 March, 2017, Friday
Place: Pune, Maharashtra, India
Time: 23:20 Hrs

Where do I begin? The title of the blog is "Knowledge Sharing" . First thought. Title appears esoteric. hmmm....

What is Knowledge? I am thinking. Zillion thoughts come and go. Is knowledge a positive realization of ignorance? Is it the process of perpetual learning?  Is it the experience one gains while living on this planet earth? Or is it certificate given by the system as a quality check for having attended (?) certain lectures  (of the so called teachers) for a fixed period of time and clearing - some thing called EXAM - so that society recognizes you as respected person.

I do not know. Its a personal choice. The idea of knowledge just keeps on narrowing and becomes more and more suffocating when you start discussing it in the context of certain regions of the world - in this case India, Maharashtra, Pune.

To me knowledge is positive realization of ignorance. I learn, grow as a person every single day. Its all about liking what I do and do what I like. Learn and teach and share.

Holy COW Ninad!!! What about Money? That is the crux. The crap I gave - Will it give me money? Monies is the essence of life. It gives me "the" choice. TRUE. We dive into a deeper question - Are we learning to earn money or to be happy to gain knowledge. Personal choice again. But the experience that I have had tells me that if one enjoys what one does then money follows. Philosophical CRAP!!! Yeah.... But that is my experience. As a young blood I didn't believe it either when my GOD mother Mrs. Hemalata Honwad told me.I started believing it when I started doing what I really love - TEACHING. And many things followed or are following.

I, of course had to pass through the process - Buddhist teaching or learning process - if you want to call it that way. But yeah.... it has been a fantastic journey. Academics is the area I want to live, breathe and die for.

I have had the fortune of meeting and befriending some of the best young minds till date. Vaishnavi, Kunal, Trupti, Sharvi, Rohan, Sonali, Maitreyi, Manasi, Shivani, Ronak, Rohit, Adeesh, Raj, Akshay, Warke and the list goes on.......Amazing SOULS.....Learning from them...Sharing my knowledge....growing with every lecture....

I look forward to many more - the likes of Manas, Ishan, Swarangi, Sharwari......

I want to learn more and share my knowledge with all humility.

Cheers to LearnAc.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hello World !!

Welcome to my blog. To begin with, I do not intend to distribute "GYAN" here. I would honestly like to share my experiences, pieces of information and knowledge that I gain on a daily basis as I teach in the classroom. Some anecdotes are worth sharing.

The things that I share will not be bounded by topics related to physics. This would be a very general blog.

So here's the first thought that's coming my way. I am remembering a poem by Dr. Hariwanshrai Bacchan.

अग्निपथ, अग्निपथ, अग्निपथ,
वृक्ष हो भले घने, हो घने, हो बड़े,
एक पत छाँव की मांग मत, मांग मत, मांग मत,
अग्निपथ, अग्निपथ, अग्निपथ
तू ना थकेगा कभी, तू ना थमेगा कभी, तू ना मुडेगा कभी,
कर शपथ, कर शपथ, कर शपथ,
अग्निपथ, अग्निपथ, अग्निपथ
यह महान दृश्य है, चल रहा मनुष्य है,
आश्रू श्वेत रक्त से लथपथ, लथपथ, लथपथ,
अग्निपथ, अग्निपथ, अग्निपथ