World Bank warns of learning crisis in education in countries like India

File photo. “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. Photo: AP

File photo. “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. Photo: AP

Washington: The World Bank has warned of a learning crisis in global education particularly in low and middle-income countries like India, underlining that schooling without learning is not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children worldwide.

The World Bank in a latest report on Tuesday noted that millions of young students in these countries face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life.

According to the ‘World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’, released on Tuesday, India ranks second after Malawi in a list of 12 countries wherein a grade two student could not read a single word of a short text. India also tops the list of seven countries in which a grade two student could not perform two-digit subtraction.

“In rural India, just under three-quarters of students in grade 3 could not solve a two-digit subtraction such as 46 – 17, and by grade 5 half could still not do so,” the World Bank said. The report argued that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all. “Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math.

This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them,” it said. Young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills, it said. “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “When delivered well, education promises young people employment, better earnings, good health, and a life without poverty,” he added.

“For communities, education spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion. But these benefits depend on learning, and schooling without learning is a wasted opportunity. More than that, it’s a great injustice: the children whom societies fail the most are the ones who are most in need of a good education to succeed in life,” the Bank president said.

In rural India in 2016, only half of grade 5 students could fluently read text at the level of the grade 2 curriculum, which included sentences (in the local language) such as ‘It was the month of rains’ and ‘There were black clouds in the sky’. “These severe shortfalls constitute a learning crisis,” the Bank report said. According to the report, in Andhra Pradesh in 2010, low-performing students in grade 5 were no more likely to answer a grade 1 question correctly than those in grade 2.

“Even the average student in grade 5 had about a 50% chance of answering a grade 1 question correctly—compared with about 40% in grade 2,” the report said. An experiment in Andhra Pradesh, that rewarded teachers for gains in measured learning in math and language led to more learning not just in those subjects, but also in science and social studies—even though there were no rewards for the latter.

“This outcome makes sense—after all, literacy and numeracy are gateways to education more generally,” the report said. Further a computer-assisted learning program in Gujarat, improved learning when it added to teaching and learning time, especially for the poorest-performing students, it said.

The report recommends concrete policy steps to help developing countries resolve this dire learning crisis in the areas of stronger learning assessments, using evidence of what works and what doesn’t to guide education decision-making; and mobilising a strong social movement to push for education changes that champion ‘learning for all’. PTI

[“Source-livemint”]

Why blended learning is future of Indian education

Why blended learning is future of Indian education

The debate around the quality of higher education in India has been gaining momentum since the Union Budget 2017, which laid emphasis on skill development, employability and digitisation of the education process. The government announced a slew of measures, including ‘Swayam’, an online learning portal; revamp of the National Education Policy (NEP); the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) as a single higher education regulator; and the University Grants Commission (UGC) mandate to educational institutions to develop massive open online courses (MOOCs).

While India is making headway in digitising the learning process, world over, universities are disrupting and innovating teaching and learning. The country has a long tradition of face-to-face learning; the teacher or guru cannot be replaced overnight with an unseen, technological entity. However, it is pertinent to note that the gap between what students are taught in classrooms and what the industry is demanding of its prospective employees is growing every day. The rate of change in technology has, and will continue to, outpace the change in university curriculum, the fastest of which takes place once a year. It is not uncommon to see students spending more than 20 years in the education system and saddled with unattractive job prospects.

The solution lies in ‘blended learning’, a concept that is fast gaining pace in the Indian context. In simple terms, it is a hybrid form of teaching and learning which involves both classroom and online learning. The approach mixes concept building and enquiry-based learning which retains human interaction in education and allows students to combine traditional classroom methods with online-digital mediums. Blended learning strives to create a balance between prescriptive learning and learning at one’s own pace. It is important to note here that blended learning is not equivalent to technology-rich teaching; the core of blended learning is giving the student greater autonomy over his or her education growth path, using technology only as an enabler.

Simply put, it is a win-win situation for students and teachers. The emphasis is on development of the learner’s capacity and capability with the goal of preparing him or her for the complexities of today’s changing workplace. Since every individual assimilates information differently, online learning aims to bring greater and better choice of learning with specific interests. Teachers will not be burdened with the mundane task of imparting education through information overload; instead, they will be focusing on higher value-added instruction that synchronises technology with face-to-face learning. The automated and personalised system will allow teachers to turn into mentors, free from the pressures of formal education.

For students, a major advantage is the ability to dip into a knowledge pool that doesn’t end with classroom instruction. Blended learning incorporates information via online courses, developed by experts from different fields, and helping students access globally developed and industry relevant course material. Blended learning creates the possibility of practical, experiential learning, where students can learn at their own pace – both in terms of speed and complexity of information. It is only fair that the education process be flipped to become increasingly learner-driven than prescriptive in nature.

Data analytics from online learning platforms can help educators develop a targeted approach towards teaching a particular individual, harnessing data over time to help students learn better. This will provide teachers more accurate and specific insights into a particular student’s pain points, where he/she is doing well, areas they find most challenging etc. This can help teachers, and by extension colleges and universities, to understand student behaviour better and provide vastly effective learning interventions.

The natural affinity Millennials have to technology, their sense of entitlement to drive their own education, and the fast-paced and fast-changing work environments they are likely to be a part of, all point in one direction — online or computer-based education could well replace brick-and-mortar education in coming years.

Technology also enables students to access a global network of education and knowledge exchange. For instance Anant Agarwal, the CEO of Harvard and MIT’s online-learning platform edX, graduated with a degree from IIT Madras before pursuing a highly successful global career. Blended learning offers a window to a global world for students who might otherwise struggle to access traditional professional education programmes and supplements the wider work of universities, colleges and learning providers.

In short, blended learning aims to solve problems that plague policymakers, administrators and students. While many educators have adopted this unique form of learning, one hopes that in a decade’s time, blended learning becomes the norm rather than the exception. To its credit, the Government of India is formalising the online education space, ensuring regulatory recognition for online courses and encouraging universities to develop their own online curricula.

The blended classroom of the future can leverage the power of online courses and free up classroom time for interactive collaboration and discussion, testing and problem-solving, redefining how education is administered, while at the same retaining the ethos of India’s traditional classroom system.

[“Source-moneycontrol”]

Google Sheets Can Now Make Charts on Request Using Machine Learning

Google Sheets Can Now Make Charts on Request Using Machine Learning

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The updates are already available on Android and iOS
  • Explore feature was added to the app last year
  • Update adds support for spreadsheet shortcuts to the Web version

Google Sheets is already a useful productivity tool but the search giant has now updated it to add some more machine learning features. While users could already ask questions from Sheets to get data-related responses using Explore feature, machine learning now allows the app to create charts demanded by the users.

With the latest update, if users cannot see a chart that they need for their project or presentation, they can simply ask the app to create it for them. “Instead of manually building charts, ask Explore to do it by typing in ‘histogram of 2017 customer ratings’ or ‘bar chart for ice cream sales’. Less time spent building charts means more time acting on new insights,” the search giant said in its blog post.

google sheet story2 Google Sheets Story 2

Notably, users could already ask Google Sheets queries like “what is the distribution of products sold?” or “what are average sales on Sundays?” to get responses from the Explore feature, which was added last year.

Further, the giant has made it easier to keep your tables updated as users can now copy and paste data from Sheets to Docs or Slides and tap the “update” button to sync their data.

Apart from these updates, Google has also added the support for spreadsheet shortcuts to the web version of the app. The latest update is already available on both Android and iOS and can be downloaded through Google Play store or the App Store respectively.

[“Source-ndtv”]

HDFC Red CEO on How Drones and Machine Learning Can Improve the Real Estate Listings Business

HDFC Red CEO on How Drones and Machine Learning Can Improve the Real Estate Listings BusinessHDFC Red CEO on How Drones and Machine Learning Can Improve the Real Estate Listings Business
HIGHLIGHTS
Builders themselves are very enthusiastic about adopting technology
By 2020, the digital natives, will be buying houses
Machine learning has the potential to be a real game-changer
The startup-within-a-big-company is a narrative that’s becoming increasingly popular, but Sohel I S, CEO of the property portal HDFC RED, feels that six years on, the mindset genuinely applies to his organisation, where the average age of the team is still 28.

“We’re able to make decisions quickly and don’t have to go through so much hierarchy and we’ve had to be very fiscally responsible,” Sohel tells Gadgets 360. This also helped the company have a relatively narrow focus from the beginning, something he says helped a lot.

While many of the best known companies in the property space in India got their start in the rental market, HDFC RED stayed out of that segment, focused instead on the buying and selling of private homes from the beginning.

Last year, Housing.com announced layoffs and shut down its rentals; visit most of the other popular sites and the first option you now see is “Buy”. In some ways, RED was ahead of the time when it launched and Sohel sees the current trend as a validation of its business model.

“When we were getting started we talked about what all we should be doing, and we were clear that we aren’t going to try and do everything at once,” he says. “The problem with rentals is that there is a lot of demand, but the supply is very erratic. You’re spending money to acquire each listing, but that money is only good for about three weeks. In that much time, any house which is in a decent condition, where the rent is reasonable, goes off the market.”

“On top of that, the listing will be there on a dozen sites, and you’re all spending money to improve the quality of the listing and bring information,” he adds. “It’s just not really practical.”

On the other hand, the supply side for selling houses is a lot better, he explains. For one thing, builders are ready to pay to be on the platform. Additionally, you’re capturing the data for an entire project and not just a single house. And of course, the listings are live for a lot longer, so the money that is spent on getting and maintaining them is a lot lower in the long term.

Additionally, Sohel continues, the builders themselves are very enthusiastic about adopting technology. It’s a cost effective way to grow, and in a market where buyers are often not purchasing locally anymore – buying property in their hometowns while living elsewhere, for example – technology becomes essential to finding homes.

“Also what’s happening is that the second generation of builders is now taking over, the ones who grew up around technology and have a lot more exposure to the world,” Sohel explains, “and this means that people who are much more comfortable with technology, are much more immersed in technology, are the ones who are making the decisions now.”
And this is bringing about a big difference in the way buyers and builders are using technology. “Six years ago, people were worried that you wouldn’t buy anything online,” Sohel continues. “But when I saw people start to buy clothes online, I knew that this was possible.”

“Today, we use video conferencing for discussions, VR tours of the building to give you a 360-degree view of the apartments,” he adds, “and it’s been stopped now, because there’s not much clarity on what you can and can-not do with drones, but we were doing some really great things, like using drones to shoot the view from every window on every floor of the building, so you can decide if the 15th floor is right for you or the 20th.”

But all of this barely scratches the surface of how technology has been changing the real estate business according to Sohel. The real game changer, he believes, is artificial intelligence. “Machine learning has been moving too slowly if you ask me, mostly confined to the lab, but it’s a real game-changer,” he says. “Right now, there is a lot of data. And not much of it is useful to everyone, and it’s presented in a way that makes it hard to find the information you require.”

“What we can do is improve on the presentation of data to help you find the houses you need more easily. The next thing we do is congruence, where we help you to fine tune the data and come up with a filtered list that suits you,” he explains. “Then there are recommendations, where we can actually say we know what you like, we know what you really want, and these are the houses you should look at.”

HDFC RED has applied for a patent for its recommendation engine, and it uses everything from social profiling, to demography-based suggestions, but he admits that this is one area where further improvements are required. “I mean imagine if we know the kind of music you listen to, and what music other people like,” he says. “Maybe if we know that you’re someone who likes to listen to rock music, you’ll be better off with neighbours who like it too, so they won’t complain about your music playing late, right?”

It’s a slightly far-fetched notion, as he quickly admits, but it does show some of the ways in which the real estate business in India is changing. “Things like having an app for your property to showcase it, which then becomes an internal social network once the houses are sold,” he adds, “or setting up a VR zone to demo houses instead of having people come to the project unnecessarily, this is moving from being high tech to just hygiene.”

“By 2020, the digital natives, the ones who grew up with the Internet, will be buying houses,” he says, “and right now, we’re taking care of the search part of the equation. By then, you’ll have to have solutions for site visits, negotiation, payments, and paperwork for these buyers.”

Tags: HDFC, HDFC RED, Property Search, Real estate, Housing.com

[“Source-Gadgets”]