Connected Bharat, Enabled Bharat, Empowered Bharat – An article for digitalEARNING Magazine!

Here was the request that came from the magazine, “After years of discussion and deliberations the ambitious ‘Digital India’ programme has been announced. What is the first step/initiative/challenges that you will address or take towards realising this goal, specifically in the field of EDUCATION?
I would request you to provide me a quote of around 100/words, along with the details mentioned below and a high resolution photograph.

Name: R. Sreenivasan;    Designation: Chief Innovation Officer; Co-Founder

Organisation: CL Educate”

————– My article to the request…..

I would want to call it, ‘Connected Bharat, Enabled Bharat, Empowered Bharat’ rather than DIGITAL INDIA. India has been in the digital era for the last three decades with only the URBAN INDIA making something out of it, and to some extent impacting larger masses too. We have had significant success in rail reservation, telephony etc, but mostly the service providers made use of it to deliver reasonably better services.

Now, the mobile revolution, especially the smart phone capability, in the hands of the ‘AAM ADMI’ is making the big difference now. I can see the impact happening in Education, Health and Sanitation, transportation while being connected with families live 24X7 from anywhere.

Having been at the forefront of web and related technology in the education space since 2000, I see now, the light at the end of the tunnel that we have been passing through over the last decade, to reach out to the real masses. The last mile connectivity is getting cleared now with Mobile technologies empowering their finger tips and their endeavours.

CL Educate started delivering live, interactive courses empowering Indian Children who used to log in from their homes in the middle-east (Indian expatriate population) in 2001 and have been doing so with fair amount of success since then. I can vividly recall one of the faculty, Mr. Pankaj Kumar, taking a session over the web,  on botany with a lot of animation built in, from his home in Patna, and students in Dubai, Manama and Kuwait city were enchanted and enthralled! Since then we have facilitated hundreds of children from the Middle-east to reach the sought after portals of IITs and IIMs and also the best of the universities abroad. Pankaj Kumar and his colleague, VM Sharma are reaching out to children in the remotest schools of Andamans, now!

Only in the last 4-5 years we have been able to generate the same momentum in India through better last-mile web connectivity, with about 3000-4000 students regularly logging in from homes across the country to attend one single session from the best of the masters in the test-prep space. But what is really transforming today, is the mobility – any time, any where – possibility. This year we have been able to reach tens of thousands with mobile apps within twenty four hours of launch of the courses on the apps – Truly enabling every Indian.

This morning when, I wrote this article, and was to upload on my website, I noticed a huge spurt, that happened yesterday, in the visitors on my site ! and I amended this article!!

Webgraph sreeni-vert

 

Over 900 visitors hitting the site in one single hour, to read an article on Piyush Tiwari and his endeavour, SAVE LIFE FOUNDATION – https://swamanthan.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/act-promptly-save-life-piyush-tiwari-founder-save-life-foundation-indialogues/”. Most of these hits have been from mobile, immediately after watching a reference to Piyush on television in the programme, “SATYAMEVA JAYATE”, powered by Amir Khan. So television and mobile together created this tsunami on www.sreeni.org.

Similarly, classes on the web and mobiles in hand to attend them and respond, creates quite a few tsunamis, every now and then!!

These tsunamis are bound to grow in magnitude pretty soon. I see the mobility dimension impacting the real masses with every human being in the remotest part of the country enabled. If we are able to ‘power’ the country with alternate sources of energy – solar charging panels, solar powered lights etc, then the boundaries will vanish sooner. There are endeavours in that direction by brilliant set of ‘energy’ enablers.

If world class education facilitation reaches every family, the nation will be enabled and empowered. We are heading in the right direction. We will see the impact in the next three to four years; 2020 will see a different dawn!

know more about http://digitallearning.eletsonline.com/

looking forward to your feedback. Humble thanks.

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On SREENIViews photoblog – Being abreast with the world!…

Human being has always been curious. Curious about knowing what is happening around the world. Who is behind this story? What could the response now be? Why is it behaving so? why does it look so? what is working as a catalyst? How will the world respond? The questions on who, what, where, when, why and how of every happening are interesting. We want to be aware, analyze with whatever data we have, create our own perceptions and take those decisions….

The messages went across the world using birds – mostly pigeons. Then came the printing press and slowly newspapers came into being. Then television stepped into world to beam films that made knowing the world more interesting and visually appealing. Then came along other forms of media like tapes, CDs, DVDs that made sharing easy. As the world moved into twenty first century, world wide web reached out everything to our desks. The world is at our finger tips. Anytime anywhere is the choice we all have. Now we can peep into any country, city or a colony from the sky, drive through a road looking all around sitting at our desk, even appreciate the art pieces in a museum! The future seems to be even more exciting with possibilities….

For most of us, the early morning cup of coffee with a newspaper in hand is a bliss! Each one eagerly awaits for the newspaper boy to through it every morning and scurry to get it. It is no different in a city, small towns or villages. Every curious human being quenches his thirst of catching up with the world, through the newspapers…..

 
 

Let me catch up! Chor bizaar, Mumbai
Let me catch up! Chor bizaar, Mumbai

 
 
 
 

““Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization””
— George Bernard Shaw

 

Visit the full story on sreeniviews

Like my Facebook – Photo and Visual arts Page
Visit the story stream on Flickr

Sreeni’s Brij Holi Photo Feature on popular French Portal – Linternaute.com

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a message on my account from a journalist in France, Julien Achard. Julien had gone through my Brij Holi photos and was keen on writing a story about it using the photos. I just gave my acceptance and in a weeks time this photo feature appeared. Technology makes life easier.

Graduating Class with the faculty and Chief Guest Deep Kalra

For more photos from the Holi series Vasu.. on Flickr.

To check out all the photos in the series, you may click on the above link to peruse on flickr. If you are really keen on photos with story you would love to visit my Photo and travel blog – Sreeniviews.wordpress.com

Social Media – tread judiciously to safeguard yourself and your institution

(An article written for a publication, to appear soon. While we are aware of all the lovely upsides, very few look at the downsides, especially in an institutional environment. This article / interview has been in that context.)

Social Media is a great tool to reap rich rewards, if tread judiciously.  Institutions and individuals have adopted social media (e.g. Facebook, Linkedin, blogs, Twitter) as a medium of sharing information and connecting with people.

  • Institutional uses include connecting with work groups, sharing knowledge, recruiting, rapid dissemination of information as conditions change, and connecting with immediate stakeholders or larger audience.
  • Individuals are excited about reconnecting with people who are distant in both time and location or engaging with others who share similar interests and many a times to show the face that would get them more following and LIKES!!

The impact of these tools of ‘unimaginable speed’ is far reaching. While this rapid and widespread dissemination has many advantages, many times the social networking sites end up being a place for big online cocktail party or even an open glasshouse! It is no more about reaching twenty people with ‘an image’, but about twenty million with a click of the mouse!

1. What are the specific concerns around security on social networks as it relates to the higher education sector (Institution, students and faculty)? Any incidents of security threat through the social network especially in academic environments?

The very nature of the medium makes an individual, institution, organization and even a nation vulnerable. The unintended and intended consequences are pretty high –

  • Classrooms with laptops and wifi connectivity have not only created distractions, but also made the institutions vulnerable – anything can fly-out any time!
  • Break-ins resulting from innocuous Tweets about being on leave or vacation
  • Students posting a short video on YOUTUBE –
    • A discussion among themselves about a situation or a faculty, tarnishing the image;
    • A video of preparing food in an unsanitary way leading to charges of health code violations
  • With corporate recruiters and other stake holders always cross checking the veracity of statements of individuals in their CVs or publications with their online presence and activities, every individual is vulnerable
  • Social friendship building to an emotional plane and at times threat to personal privacy leading to really bizarre situations; god forbid the extreme personal safety incidents that come to light!
  • At an extreme, institutionally –
    • It shapes perceptions and thinking like the one that may lead to revolutions like the African spring across nations, an Anna Hazare’s movement in India, ‘Occupy squares’ in the US – universities and institutions have always been the hubs and epicenters!
    • Educational, corporates, research labs, national agencies – The number of channels of exit of classified documents have multiplied: Wikileaks is a great example of thriving on such a phenomenon

Knowingly or unknowingly many of the innocuous acts on this medium of ‘anonymity’ and ‘lulled privacy’ are leading to damaging the public’s perception of an individual, institution, organization and nation.

In fact, the law has not yet caught up with the pace at which technology is moving, leaving many helpless! Nations like India are still groping in the dark!

2. What guidelines do you recommend/suggest to prepare students and faculty in the higher education sector for the security concerns on social networks?

Social networks are highly impacting channels to communicate to the outside world in an economical way. What could be a better way than reaching the target segment directly without clutter! World wide they have taken away about 20-30% pie from conventional marketing channels. But, yes, if it is not handled judiciously we can end up in a soup.

Recognizing the vulnerability and threats, intentional and unintentional, an institution has to safe guard itself and its community. The aforesaid reasons are compelling enough for most institutions to come out with behavioral code or advisory on ‘net-etiquettes’. Everyone will benefit if each one of us keep a few things in mind –

  • Discretion is part of valor – While creating your profile page or writing on any blog or public forum, do not divulge any detailed information [addresses, designations, birth dates, family details, schedules, business or financial information.] that would expose you or anyone else to unscrupulous individuals who may take advantage of it in the future or makes you vulnerable of identity theft or malicious threats.
  • Think before you type – Internet gives false security, your guard is low and at times you type things without any inhibitions.  This includes gossip, insults, obscenity or even outrageous claims. Be careful so that nothing will come back to haunt you.
  • Being a Skeptic helps for sure – Useful information as well as useless propaganda is abounding on social networks. While a few out there are wearing colorful masks or even masquerading as some one else to further their personal agenda, certainly a great number of posts or stupid or ignorant. Take everything with a pinch of salt!
  • Professionalism pays
    • Never post any picture or video of individuals, contexts and situations that can compromise anyone’s dignity and security, above all institutions.
    • Never download anything from untrusted sources that can compromise your personal privacy – computer, personal data, bank accounts and also institutions privacy.
    • Check the privacy and security setting details on your net-tools and bring in appropriate checks to thwart any untoward data flow.


  • Vigilant Firewalls save – Take precautions by creating monitoring methods to track individual accounts for unusual bandwidth traffic. This can help quicken any response towards untoward endings.

All in all, if our sensory and analytical antennae are conscious and alive, we can certainly take advantage of such a wonderful medium. Let us tread judiciously.

My Journey “Vacuum TUBE to You TUBE” @ IWSB – Prof Srivathsan, Eminent changemaker, a developmental catalyst with technolgy

Nation building, in these times of ANNA, is a very ‘in thing’. There are quite a few people who have been working tirelessly for years now and prof Srivathsan is one such person. He is a visionary with great combination of Modern and Tradition. While, on one hand he has headed IIT kanpur Computer science department and then went onto head Indian Institute of Information technology (IIIT), Trivandrum as founder director and now Pro-VC of IGNOU with a mandate to use technology to change the education delivery; on the other hand he is a philosopher and a scholar in the Indian thoughts – well read about all the ancient books and literature from all religions. His energy is infectious.

Here are a few of the imprints left by prof. Srivathsan –

– kisannet kerala : The kissan project : His brainchild and it is actually headquartered in IIIT.
– Elements of the television channel based on Kissan net kerala – A You TUBE feature on Kissan Net
– His work along with quite a few heads of IITs and IISc resulted in NPTEL channel on Youtube as the project took off. It is to support all technical institutions that need support for academics. You can watch these links on the web and youtube. NPTEL HOmepae; NPTEL CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE

– His vision and work at IGNOU and beyond can be gauged by his paper that you can access on WIKIPEDIA

His talk at IWSB took him back to the days of his struggles with vacuum tube and his experiments with it in his childhood days, and tracing the journey through to bringing in the net connectivity to IIT Kanpur in the early days of internet. How he had to interact with universities in the US to do the troubleshooting, and oversee the laying of the cables at the last mile between the telephone exchange and IIT Kanpur. He shared about the memory on the computers being 64KB in those days and how today people say a few GBs is less.

The session was very insightful and enriching.

He then shared his idea of creating community centres for development. Al these are going to be learning and facilitation centres for Rural development. He has named them interestingly HEART of the real India –

H – Healthcare
E – Education
A – Agriculture
R – Rural Development
T – Tourism and Artists

We are looking forward to contributing in every way to make the HEART matters come true.

http://www.sreeni.org

‘Outlook Money’ interview on On-Line MBA – My take

Outlook Money interviewed me for a feature on on-line MBA in one of their forthcoming issues.  Here are my answers to their questions that may become part of the feature coverage.

Question 1 – Online MBAs cost less money and are more convenient. How do they differ from a conventional MBA in terms of boosting one’s career prospects?

  1. An MBA is all about experiential learning.  In a good regular program the  class has diverse learners. (My batch at IIMB 17 years ago had somewhat following profile –
    1. Age 21 – 45+
    2. Various streams – linguists to scientists, to police commissioners, CA, ICWA, Doctors – I have experienced all of them over the years
    3. From a variety of industries – as widely as you can imagine – IT and biotech companies on one end to governmental departments on the other..
  2. In MBA has to do with how you run an organization in an entrepreneurial manner – including government and even panchayats (Chavvi Rajawat, an MBA is a sarpanch in Rajasthan). So the learning happens through intense sharing and gaining from not only the curriculum and pedagogy but also with fellow learners.
  3. In a purely On-line MBA, all the above elements that form the core of learning process is completely opaque. Hence the learning during an on-line MBA program depends greatly on the learner’s initiative of how he or she will practically implement in the working environment.
  4. So the boost to the career is going to be completely dependent on the learners eagerness to learn, relating to his contextual existence and application of it.  Indirectly performance of the individual will get rewarded in the organizations they work in.

Question 2: How does one select which online MBA courses to go for? Are courses offered by reputed institutes, who have campus MBA programs necessarily good?

 

  1. Online MBA programs are basically for continuous professional education to enhance ones perspective and possibly ones prospects.
  2. In the US it has been in existence for almost two decades now, but mostly subscribed to by people who are working and cannot afford time to go for a regular program.
  3. There are a few variants in online MBA programs that are blended. It means a few hours of contact classes. This varies from a few hours every week to a couple of days in a term. So blended programs do work better than purely online program for it facilitates face-to-face interaction with the fellow learners that enables greater learning.
  4. A few of the on-line programs will not only have canned sessions for access anywhere and any time, but also have virtual sessions or webinars that try to simulate the interactive learning environment with learners participating from across the world. Such a thing will have the advantage of cross-boundary learning.  Still the human beings are missed.
  5. Hence, if you really want to get the maximum out of the program, look for programs that offer a good blend of on-line as well as off-line in-class interactions

Question 3. Do online MBA’s provide placement facilities?

  1.  As I shared already, On-line MBA programs are for practicing professionals; for learning and enhancing skills, and not necessarily for placements;
  2. The learning may add value depending on the investment of time and effort of the learner. Hence the rewards and remunerations are a function of the efforts of the learner.
  3. Yes, in the same organizations they may gain enormously if they apply their learning and show results; and later the switch in jobs may happen.  So, indirectly better placements.
  4. Though the industry has a lot of opportunities, one who really invests in learning and applies well, gets well placed even in a regular MBA program, not to talk of an on-line MBA program

Question 4. What are the things one needs to keep in mind before going for an online MBA? How does one figure out whether the investment he is making is worth it and will make him get a higher paying job or enhance his career prospects? Who should, according to you, go for an online MBA course?

  1. The first requirement is – what is the drive one has to run for himself or herself without the push from outside. The person has to be highly motivated and self-driven
  2. In the current context, it is for working executives, who wish to enhance their skills and continue upgrading their knowledge; One may even pursue programs that are very specific to their domain.
  3. Look for programs that have a good blend of on-line and classroom. That at least allows a fair amount of interaction with fellow learners.
  4. An MBA is also about networking with like-minded people. Opportunities throw up when greater interactions happen in the learning spaces. So the blended versions help.
  5. Look at the track record of the programs. Seek greater inputs from the institution. Better to ask from the institution for references of people who are already doing the program or alum and seek their inputs

Impacting society (radio, mobile):Readings to introspect for the day – 120511

Can India rise up through radio?

Pioneering broadcasters use mobile phones and creative programming to push the limits of India’s ban on news radio.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/110420/india-radio-news-freedom-of-speech

Interesting issues dealt with in this Pull in Radio station –  CGnet Swara is a platform to discuss issues related to Central Gondwana region in India. To record a message please call on (080) 4113 7280.

http://cgnetswara.org/

Dabba Radio is India’s first independent news radio network. We create great shows on a range of important topics: from news, politics, and current events to food, art, music, and culture. We then disseminate these shows over as many mediums as possible, including cell phones, internet streaming, and podcasts. Named after the eight-sigma dabbawalas of mumbai.

http://www.dabbaradio.org/Site/Dabba_Radio_Home.html

By going mobile, developing world leaps ahead

Commentary: Networks, devices will change way business is done; India, China and Africa will lead the growth of the world economy!!

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/by-going-mobile-developing-world-leaps-ahead-2011-05-12?reflink=MW_news_stmp

Gramin Radio Inter Networking System v0.3
Documentation

If you want to set up a radio station, here you may find good info and advise…

http://gramvaani.org/docs/

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