Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Our shame

Violence in the classroom. How many of us realize how unsafe our children are in their classrooms and schools? How many of us are still silent spectators to child sexual abuse, corporal punishment and all forms of safety violations for children going to our schools?

The recent horrifying stories of corporal punishment (15-year-old girl assaulted by teacher dies in coma, Delhi girl in coma after school punishment dies, Student abuse: School sacks teacher), sexual abuse (Teacher gets death for rape, murder of student, 10-year-old raped in MCD school) and the state of legislation/policy (Despite law, no sparing the rod, Finally, strict norms to curb child abuse, Teacher hitting child may become crime), leave me stunned.

In an environment where the child’s personal safety cannot be ensured, how can any learning happen?

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In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, I have witnessed in graphic detail the many aspects of socio-political crisis. On one hand, there is the actual terror and consequent military action. On the other is the political shakeout because of mass opinion that reflected in the local elections and change of power positions in the state.

There is also the role of the media as an agent provocateur, irresponsible in its behaviour and indicative of the explicit power mass media has in shaping opinions. In fact the media took upon itself (through its famous media icons), to show their bias and partisan nature, a shocking revelation of the lack of maturity. For example, when the Muslim groups in India expressed their shock and anger at the terror attacks, one media channel anchor said it was a “welcome change”, not understanding that the channel was not a medium to voice her personal bias.

What did the people do? A famous ex-actress, and there were more of these who were interviewed rather than thought and opinion leaders (of those leaders that were interviewed, it wasn’t a dialogue but more a diatribe anyways), stated that taxpayers in Mumbai should not pay taxes next year in protest! That probably is liable to be branded a seditionary comment. Ironically, these people rail against such comments made by people who are really seditionary and communal in nature!

What this all really exposes for me, is the lack of reflection, the lack of serious thinking on serious issues have large geo-political, social, economic and other impacts. Even more the lack of practice, of social action that an individual can contribute to.

For me this reinforces what I am only being able to appreciate in-context now – that our education system needs ecologies where diverse influences are made available – not awareness courses, but strategies for engendering critical thought and refection and avenues for actuating practice through social action.

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Predictions for 2008

Well, it is that time of the year when everyone would perhaps be reasonably interested in forecasting what the next year will bring. Here are my 2 cents:

  • PLEs will be shareable – tools shall arrive on the web that shall allow entire learning experiences to be sliced and shared between users. This shall be followed by ratings on which PLE slices are great. Any learner wanting to learn about a topic will take a PLE slice of a person who the community says has mastered it and follow the learning path.
  • Hybrid VLE + PLE systems – LMS/VLE enterprise systems shall incorporate many social constructivism inspired features and organizations will pick up this trend.
  • The first classification systems to manage and search the huge amount of tagging will start to surface. Folksonomies will start getting structured in some way.
  • The shift to rich Internet applications in e-learning using Flex and Silverlight among other tools, shall become a reality thus providing a boost to gaming and simulations for learning.
  • Learning process outsourcing will get established as a business model for small and medium companies.

Hopefully, all these will come true. We will check back at the end of next year, then, to see if these were any good! Meanwhile, all my best wishes for the new year!

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Only the paranoid survive. Andrew Grove’s 2003 book by the same name reflects on the strategic inflection point when something in the environment changes in a fundamental way that is not so apparent in our daily chaos of survival.


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