Lights off, coffee: How IIT Kharagpur aims to tackle student depression

IIT

 

Every now and then, one of India’s most prestigious engineering colleges cuts off power to its hostels for an hour in the evening.

The practice, at IIT Kharagpur, is not to save electricity or cut costs. It is instead part of efforts to get students to mingle — contact that officials hope will help cut stress after three of its students killed themselves between January and April this year.

IIT Kharagpur is part of the country’s marquee Indian Institutes of Technology colleges that lakhs vie for each year. Only a few thousands make it, entering a college of intense competition with some of the best minds to vie for top jobs at the end of their four-year course.

“Students are meeting increasingly less. This naturally creates a lot of problems as they end up being alone. This small step will help them connect when they take a 10-minute coffee or tea break,” said Manish Bhattacharya, dean of students affairs of IIT Kharagpur, while explaining another effort to draw students out by installing vending machines for free tea and coffee.

The machines, for which a Japanese company has been roped in, will be in place from the academic year beginning this summer.

The blackout hours are helping, students say. “It was like an outreach programme where the administration wanted to speak to us… tell us what had happened and how it was important to be connected with fellow students. Many came out of compulsion but realised that it helped. Students interacted with each other, even discussing the suicides that had been troubling for many of us,” said Anisha Sharma, a student.

The latest suicide was on April 8, when a fourth-year student was found hanging in his hostel room.

Other efforts include a programme for parents with psychiatric professionals, courses on happiness mental well-being, and reaching out to alumni who faced depression during their college days.

Depression is seen as among the main reasons and students say the institute lacks adequate number of counsellors.

Mental health professionals on campus reported depression, adjustment disorders and, in some cases, personality disorders as among the cases they often come across.

“The first thing that parents ask us when they come to drop their children to the institute is about placements and package. They need to stop this. It puts unnecessary pressure on the students. This is the reason we have decided to have an orientation programme with the parents too,” said PP Chakrabarti, IIT Kharagpur’s director.

Officials said they will also turn a microcredit elective on “the science of happiness well-being” into a 3-credit course for all students from the next academic year.

“We are evolving more courses so students will be able to go for micro-specialisation in science and happiness. The subjects that they take up include depression, grief, so these projects that they take up to engineer happiness are meaningful,” said Prof P Patnaik, IIT Kharagpur.

The courses are run by the institute’s Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness.

IIT Kharagpur has also decided to collaborate with an agency to identify the strength of students instead of their weaknesses, as is the case with current evaluation systems.

Officials are in touch with alumni for campaigns that will prod students to open up.

“Some of the alumni have approached us and they will share their experiences by recording it and circulating it on the website and Facebook page of the institute. There is a stigma attached with depression and this will address that,” the spokesperson said.

 

 

[“source-hindustantimes”]

Hip-Hop education aims to engage students

Image result for Hip-Hop education aims to engage students

MADISON, Wis. – Educators from throughout the Midwest came to Madison on Monday to learn how they can better serve their students through the art of hip-hop.

The Hip Hop in the Heartland training session focused on the need to move beyond just access and opportunities in education.

Dr. David Kirkland, executive director of New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, said hip-hop education is important because it interrupts the notion of standard education.

“We’ve used a certain system of education and we’ve argued that education is necessary in order for students to succeed,” Kirkland said.  But according to the data, this traditional system doesn’t work.

“The same students who fail continue to fail, and it’s persistent,” Kirkland said, “which means if we continue to try the same thing that is failing, we are what Einstein said: We’re crazy.”

Justine Page, a sixth and seventh-grade teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District, said the main thing she learned from the training was how important it is for teachers to get to know their students.

“I’ll tell them about myself and then that kind of conversation invites them in to talk about themselves,” Page said.  “Me showing vulnerability about myself invites them to show vulnerability to me.  We build relationships that way.”

Speakers discussed how literacy gaps are more cultural than educational.  Therefore, teachers should find ways to make course material appeal to students’ interests outside the classroom setting.

In his talk, Kirkland discussed how educators should reverse their logic.  He said it’s not that students are disengaged, it’s that the existing systems of education have assigned disengaged texts and constructed disengaged classrooms.

“That means we need to rework how we understand systems of education,” Kirkland said.  “It means fundamentally re-imagining education – that’s the work we have to do.”

Hip Hop in the Heartland is hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives and Urban Word NYC.  This summer they will host a weeklong training program on hip-hop and spoken-word pedagogy.   Educators and community leaders can register here.

“Teaching children to embrace where they come from, to embrace their music and not to hide is important,” Page said.

 [“Source-channel3000”]

UK AIMS TO BECOME BEST PLACE TO START AND GROW A DIGITAL BUSINESS

Image result for UK AIMS TO BECOME "BEST PLACE TO START AND GROW A DIGITAL BUSINESS"

The UK Government has set out its strategy to grow the economic contribution of digital businesses from £118bn to £200bn by 2025 in a wide-ranging document aiming to make the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business.

The raft of objectives covering infrastructure, education, data and security, public services and other areas aims to accelerate growth of the UK’s estimated 200,000 digital enterprises which are believed to support 1.4m UK jobs.This includes fast-growing digital centres in Southhampton, West Cornwall and Dundee and key northern cities, as well as the the biggest cluster of digital businesses in London and south east. Digital sectors also attracted a record £1.57bn of equity finance in 2015, more than four times the level of 2011.

The report lists six UK sectors in which the country is globally leading – artificial intelligence, cyber security, Fin  Tech, gaming, virtual reality, and Gov Tech – and other sectors, such as advertising and design, in which a fusion of digital and creative expertise give the UK an international lead. Developing areas such as the Internet of Things, Autonomous Vehicle Technologies, Health Tech and Ed Tech are seen as providing further opportunities.

As part of its seven strand digital strategy, the Government aims to:

  • Improve digital infrastructure by completing the rollout of 4G and superfast broadband, and giving every individual, business and premise the right to request  affordable high speed brodband;
  • Establish a new digital skills partnership and adopt the recommendations of a review to ensure computer science students have up to date, real world skills;
  • Use its Autumn 2016 pledge to invest £4.7bn in R&D funding by 2020-21 to ensure British business benefits from scientific and technological breakthroughs;
  • Support the work of a new Productivity Council to encourage appropriate use of technologies across the economy;
  • Support the National Cyber Security Centre and introduce new active cyber defence approach;
  • Implement the Government Transformation Strategy, including by working towards 25m GOV.UK users by 2020;
  • Act to make the UK a world-leading, data-driven economy, including by implementing the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation by May 2018.

The strategy applies the framework set out by the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper, published in January 2017.

Announcing the digital strategy, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP said:“This Digital Strategy applies this framework to the digital economy across the whole country. It will boost our world-leading digital sectors and overcome barriers to growth and innovation, creating more of the high-skilled, high paid jobs of the future. It will deliver the first-class digital infrastructure and advanced skills base that businesses across the country need to be able to take advantage of digital tools.”

[Source:- thecreativeindustries]

Vocus.io Chrome Extension Aims to Boost Email Productivity

Vocus.io Chrome Email Extension Aims to Boost Email Productivity

Usefulness
Functionality
Price

Summary


Vocus.io is a Chrome extension that will help you to accurately track email opens and link clicks, find any person’s email from their name, automate “gentle reminder” followups and more.

Want to keep better track of your email? Vocus.io, is a Google Chrome browser extension that founder Ahmad AlNaimi says will “dramatically improve your productivity on Gmail”  — and more.

How It Works

Adding the extension to Google Chrome is pretty straight forward. Just go to the Vocus.io website and click the get started tab. The extension will immediately ask your permission to integrate with your Gmail account. You will also receive an email confirming your request.

Vocus.io Chrome Email Extension Aims to Boost Email Productivity

You will also be prompted to add the extension to Google Chrome. Here’s how it appears when integrated.

Vocus.io Chrome Email Extension Aims to Boost Email Productivity

Now you are ready to start using the feature as you please.

Features

The Chrome extension carries with it the ability to: accurately track emails, find any person’s email from their name, integrate with Salesforce and other CRMs, launch multi-stage mail merge campaigns, schedule emails, and more.

Accurate Email Tracking

Vocus.io helps you to take the guess work out of email tracking. The extension is able to tell you not just who, but also when, where, and how your email was opened. Classic email trackers will just send you a notification that someone opened your email and that’s just about it. Vocus.io, however, goes on to tell you who that someone is, the gadget they were using and the exact time they opened the email.

Automation of Followups

Another important feature that any business will find useful is the ability to automate followups. We all know that followup emails certainly double the chance of getting a response, but many times, the day-to-day business activities hinder effective followup of emails. Vocus.io, however, allows you to create what they call “a sequence of gentle reminders” to your recipients. This instantly doubles the response rate.

Smart Planner

The Chrome extension also offers you a chance to smartly organize meetings. Instead of engaging in the daunting back and forth emailing when planning a meeting, Vocus.io allows to you share your availability and poll the invitees in a single email. The poll content automatically changes to show responses from your team members.

Ability to Write Now, Send Later

The extension also allows you to schedule your email to be sent at the most appropriate time that your recipient is most likely to see and respond to it. You can therefore write an email on a weekend or late on Sunday night and schedule it to be sent at 9 a.m. in the morning.

Besides, you can also use the extension to run a multi-stage business campaign with attachments. All you have to do is to create a new campaign from Dashboard > Mail Merge and upload a CSV file. The CSV file must have a column with emails. You can as well have any number of columns that will be available as variables in your subject line or message body. You can then schedule the emails to be sent at a certain time.

Pricing

The company offers a 30-day free trial of their extension and if satisfied with its performance then you can opt for the Starter pack that costs $4.99 per month or the Professional pack that has a limited offer of $7.99.

Conclusion

Vocus.io is truly an effective email management tool that will dramatically increase your productivity. The downside is that it is only works with Gmail for now, but in an email to the Small Business Trends, Ahmad says that they will soon be bringing support for Outlook.

Image: Vocus

[“source-smallbiztrends”]