Flow


After a gap I have gone back accepting global assignments in ERP consulting again. Iám also studying MBA under Andhra University.  I accepted part time work  so that I can spare time for my passion for teaching. I was once a Mentor for MSIT (Master in science and information technology,   under “Center for Higher learning”) course,   in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University (USA) at JNTUK campus.  Juggling between global software project work , studying MBA and teaching needs proper time management schedules and I  follow a certain flow  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology) for doing my best. I  love getting to my peak performance at anything i take up  pretty quickly. In other word I want to get back to flow. It took a while for me to find the rhythm I needed. But I felt that I should share my experiences with my students and others  who read  my blog. While interacting with students I  found that many are struggling to get the best out of their day  and to find success in whatever they dream of doing.  But many are not able to focus on neither studies nor in other positive actions, that contribute to their success due to lack of willingness to work hard towards their goal, lack of focus ,concentration and the facebook effect  (https://skillsnest.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/facebook-or-other-social-websites-are-harmful-to-you/ ) .  If you are building a new machine or developing  software games or you are a software coder you cannot achieve peak performance at your work with just a couple of attempts. It takes some time and good effort to find a rhythm and consistency at your work. If you want to become expert in one area , it takes ten thousand hours of practice to achieve perfection in whatever you do. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/on-luck-success-and-10000-hours.html Here are some ways of getting back to your peak performance of whatever you want to do.

  1. Yoga, Meditation is a proven way of getting back your focus. Try learning the right way of yoga/ meditation and practice it. Yoga improves your health tremendously, and Meditation brings peace and tranquility to a turbulent brain.
  2. Visualization .Imagination.  Many from sports use it. It is mental rehearsal. It enables them to find some way of achieving what they want to. More about it here. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/sport_psych/a/aa091700a.htm
  3. Try doing something that scares you,  for example presenting in front of audience. It is emotional feelings  that have to be controlled to bring the best out of you.
  4. Your study room matters a lot. Keep your table tidy. Remove the mountain of books on the table. The more clutter you find on your table the less you ware inspired to study. Otherwise find a serene place where there is good lighting. Well lit parks are good places for yoga,  studies and physical exercise .
  5. Moods matter a lot in whatever you want to do. If the mood is not good then listening to music and going to gym or parks is a good way of relaxing your brain.
  6. For some,  Coffee gives the relaxation they need but too much of coffee is not good for health.
  7. Visiting temples, church or mosque gives the peace of mind you need so that you can come back with peace and work on your assignments. Try that out.
  8. Finding the best time of the day for studies also helps to prioritize what you want to do at that time.
  9. Everyday exercise , morning or evening walks in parks  helps to tone up your body. Prayer, meditation helps your mind.
  10. Doing what you love the most is what matters. So from early stage of life try finding what you love the most and develop the skills you need and find success.

Uncommon Sense and Common Nonsense


“What the human being is best at doing, is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

The above statement reminded me the struggle I’m going thru to convince that there is a greater need of modernizing education to prepare our young  students to the fast changing corporate needs. All that I see with students and the college managements are that they make sure the old “Status Quo” remains in spite of knowing how technology is shaping our daily lives and how influential it is in learning new skills.  I tried to categorize the problems in to the following segments to go deeper into the main problem and understand the core issues rather than come to conclusions/answers to the problem.

Economic: Colleges divert scarce money to activities such as functions, worthless seminars, meetings and other unproductive activities just to garner media attention with an intention of getting more admissions for the college or making sure their photos and news about them is printed. There is no mechanism in place to check the return on Investments of Seminars, meetings and press releases etc.

If this money is used in building laboratory’s students can make something useful to society. The quality of the outcome from the practicals in the Labs will bring repute to the college and that will make the college the most sought after for student admissions. The path to reputation of quality education/college is hard and most of the college managements take the easy routes of popular unproductive mechanism to sustain.  .

Students on their part should make sure they are getting skills and education they deserve for what they pay the colleges. After all they are the customers of the college. Instead most of them are influenced by cinema, media and other factors that divert their efforts, creativity, and energy to wrong issues that won’t help them to acquire skills, education, and knowledge to succeed and have good life for long time. They struggle after college to get into jobs they love.  Most depend on luck to get jobs but later repent the life of working on something that they do not like.

Functional: The class room teachings, planning of syllabus are most unscientific and still continue traditional way. Today’s awareness levels of students , their interests, their attitudes towards life, their learning abilities and the students attentions should be considered while planning the syllabus and the way a professor teaches their students. Universities and Colleges should make it mandatory for students to learn from “Massive Online Open Course ware (MOOC’s) taught by top professors from elite  universities of the world. University and colleges should grade on practical projects that students work on to  solve the problems faced by society.

Students on their part should allocate proper time to learning vital skills required for their career;  not for tests and marks. They should realize that there is vast difference between reel life (cinema type life) and real life and without putting some efforts they cannot get the skills they need to succeed. For their projects they should look at the challenges the nation faces and provide solutions in the form of their project submissions.

Students should be encouraged to take challenges posed by global philanthropic organizations such as Bill and Melinda gates foundation http://www.gatesfoundation.org/ , Hult prize (http://www.hultprizesix.com/)   and http://www.xprize.org/

I wrote an article “chance favours the connected Mind” to elaborate on how technology is reshaping what we learn and how we learn.click here to know more https://skillsnest.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/chance-favors-the-connected-mind/

Access: Colleges lack modern class rooms with fast internet connections, practical labs and other teaching aids. This is again due to the wrong priorities of the colleges to divert funds to other areas which won’t help in bringing quality education and skills to students. Even traditional libraries are not attracting enough students to reading because they are not treating that as priority and just act as record keepers of books.

Today the need of the hour is more practical labs and less class rooms. Traditional Class rooms should be replaced with Online teaching and online lecture videos. 

Colleges also bring some eminent scholars for seminars or meetings but it just concludes within that day and follow up on the seminars outcomes are rarely followed subsequently by staff and students. Most of the managements are more interested in media news of the activities on the next day. That is the only follow up I keep seeing.

Students on their part seriously lack interest in reading and attending Seminars. They should develop reading and listening habits to learn new skills. They should realize that reading good books, listening to a professional  is time well spent.

Students should network with the professionals that come to college for subsequent relationship buildings and getting to know what industry is expecting from them.

Social:  Parents and society is influencing colleges/school to a large extent in shaping how these colleges/schools function. In schooling parents are expecting their kids to get the best marks rather than worrying what their siblings are learning. Most of the parents don’t care whether their siblings are having physical exercises, knowing the importance of yoga and meditation and getting the right knowledge and skills to succeed in life and career.

At college levels most of the parents are forcing their kids to join what they think is right for the students instead of knowing the interests of their kids.

There is a dire need of constructive role for parents and society to play in shaping how we educate our youth.

First Parents, tutors should learn the trends that are happening in Industry and in particular how education is changing due to MOOC. Parents and all concerned authorities, business leaders should  closely work with colleges and help/force colleges to deliver what they are supposed to. Colleges on their part should work closely with Industry and constantly upgrade the syllabus to meet the modern corporate requirements.

Equal importance should be given for sports, Yoga and Meditation because this are more important in today’s corporate lifestyle for a balanced, healthy life.

Students on their part should realize that they should give equal importance to learning and acquiring new skills to take on the challenges of modern industries. They should realize that they are not only shaping their destiny but the overall destiny of the country and the quality of living standards of society.

The whole world is becoming competitive and many are looking at India because we the only nation with maximum young population with average age of 26 years.  Here are some links related to our state of education in India.

http://forbesindia.com/article/briefing/primary-education-in-india-needs-a-fix/35287/1

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/world/asia/indian-universities-still-lag-behind-in-world-rankings.html?_r=0

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/11/india-education-state-private-school

http://www.asercentre.org/Keywords/p/205.html

http://mhrd.gov.in/

http://www.articlesfactory.com/articles/education/higher-education-in-india-how-it-looks-and-where-does-it-stand.html

http://www.norrag.org/es/publications/boletin-norrag/online-version/a-world-of-reports-a-critical-review-of-global-development-reports-with-an-angle-on-education-and-training/detail/india-ranked-at-105-in-the-education-for-all-development-index.html

So my pursuit of bringing this kind of awareness will continue  to convince the college/school management and parents about the seismic shifts in imparting education to meet the modern society’s challenges. The most uncommon Sense of changing dynamics of education and skills enhancement to meet modern industry requirements, needs lot of attention but the challenge to eliminate  Common Nonsense of today’s educational institutes and students attitudes towards learning is a big challenge and i’m hoping to hear from you what we can do together. Comments are  much appreciated. Thanks

Free Online courses from MIT, Harvard and others


Education is evolving rapidly and traditional methods of attending classes are replaced by online courses. There is a need for students to take advantage of attending these courses offered by some of the world’s top universities from across the world.

According to a New York Times article Harvard and MIT are joining hands to offer free massively open online courses, or MOOCs, as they are known, called edX.  edX will offer 5 courses for free to students . Courses will be in engineering and humanities.  Those who complete the course will get a Certificate of Mastery and Grade.  More details can be obtained here http://www.edxonline.org/

Meanwhile at another company called Udacity   http://www.udacity.com/ 20,000 students are taking online course on six subjects.

Not only Harvard and MIT are in the race to offer free online classes but universities such as Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced their partnership with a new commercial company,  Coursera  to offer online courses to students. https://www.coursera.org/

Coursera also offers free humanities courses . https://www.coursera.org/courses

Online education can affect local universities badly if they don’t reform their primitive way of imparting education to students. Technology is rapidly influencing everything and traditional Indian Universities are still lagging way behind in restructuring their courses, modernizing their labs, teaching methodologies to a generation of digital students who will soon abandon going to traditional colleges and adopt online courses which are mostly offered for free.

“Projects like this can impact lives around the world, for the next billion students from China and India,” said George Siemens, a MOOC pioneer who teaches at Athabasca University, a publicly supported online Canadian university.

“Online education is here to stay, and it’s only going to get better,” said Lawrence S. Bacow, a past president of Tufts who is a member of the Harvard Corporation.

Above are mentioned in New York times article.

More about online courses please click the links below

https://skillsnest.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/free-education-from-mit-princeton-or-stanford/

https://skillsnest.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/grass-root-student-to-global-standards/

https://skillsnest.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/education-at-your-door-step/

https://skillsnest.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/stanford-university-offering-free-online-courses-anybody-can-enroll/

https://skillsnest.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/learn-anything-free/

https://skillsnest.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/internet-resources-and-opportunities/

http://www.sr.ithaka.org/research-publications/barriers-adoption-online-learning-systems-us-higher-education