InnoVidya Event Presentation: My Open Campus

Here is the presentation Arun Prabhudesai of My Open Campus used during the InnoVidya event on 26 November

If you don’t see a presentation above, click here.

My Open Campus brings seamless collaboration to colleges, communities and closed user groups . MOC aims to bring all stakeholders (for e.g: students, faculties & administrators in a college) on single easy to use unified platform, where they can communicate and carry out all regular activities online.

MOC offers secure messaging, online assessments & exams, Information repository, student & Alumni groups, event management, Student database management, discussion forums, placements along with host of other features..

The vision of My Open Campus is to create employable intelligent students. There cannot be knowledge enhancement in an isolated and restrictive environment. Hence MOC brings together all stakeholders on a single platform to make learning a fun & social activity.

Very high-powered India/US education conference, Dec 5-7, Pune

From 5 to 8 December, a very high powered conference on education, featuring some of the top names in education from India and US is being held in Pune. And by top names, I really mean the top: everyone’s listed in speakers and panelists, from ministers (Sharad Pawar, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, and others), Governors, bureaucrats (from planning commission, AICTE, UGC), heads of various universities and colleges too numerous to mention (including Kadam, DY Patil, Navale, Karad, Mujumdar – all the big names in Maharashtra’s higher education), and a whole lot of others.

From the US there are members of congress and senators, top officials from Princeton, UC Berkeley, and a bunch of other universities. Just look at the detailed agenda for a full list. This is the first time this conference is being organized, so there is no track record, and I don’t know whether all the listed speakers will indeed show up, or there will be bunches of last minute cancellations, but even if a fraction of them show up, it will still be one of the most impressive collection of movers and shakers in the higher education space. Just look at the delegation coming from the US

The conference is organized by three organizations: Alliance for US India Business (AUSIB), State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF), and Dr. D Y Patil University.

For more details, see the AUSIB website.

You can register for the conference here. It costs Rs. 5000 per person.

Higher Education in India: Changing Scenarios – Anil Sahasrabudhe, Director CoEP

At the first InnoVidya meeting, Prof. Anil Sahasrabudhe talked about the change that is sweeping through higher education in India.

Here are a few quick notes I took during the talk, followed by his presentation.

The current state of education in India is that we have made great progress in the years since independence, but major challenges remain.

For example, consider the gross enrollment ratio over the years:

  • 1951: 0.7%
  • 1961: 1.4%
  • 2001: 8%
  • 2011: 15%
  • 2020 Target: 30%.
  • World average: 30%.
  • Developing countries: 36.5%
  • Developed countries: 45%.
  • We had 20 Universities in 1945, 5000 in 2011. From 5000 colleges to 25000 colleges.

As can be seen, we have made great strides, but we’re still significantly behind the world average. And there are major challenges


  • To reach our goals, We will need 800 million qualified faculty
  • The progress needs to be progressive – How to reach out to the rural sector?
  • We cannot compromise quality
    • Employability (Or Lack Of it) is already a big problem
    • Recently 44 deemed Universities were found to not be up to the mark

How to tackle these challenges? Innovation is necessary. For example, consider the historical teaching-learning process: talk/lecture by teacher using chalk/blackboard; Q&A in class; discussion; assignments; reading material; and exams with subjective and objective tests. This needs to change. What needs to happen is the effective use of computers, interactive boards, e-books, mobile phone, tablet devices.

Remember though, that with adoption of technology, quality of teaching is getting compromised. Teaching style has changed, speed has increased, but that makes absorption difficult. This separates the students in two categories – those who are well prepared by using e-resources, and the remaining who don’t follow anything and get lost and left behind.

Other challenges: PC/mobile/internet games, unwanted material, social networks on the net and their misuse by students, resulting in top educational institutions (e.g. some IITs) banning the use of internet. Similar is the problem of students being sleepy in class due to over-use of computers late at night, and poor communication skills due to the new abbreviated language being used by students on the internet.

On the other hand, there are great resources available on the internet for free:

  • MIT USA’s Open Courseware
  • NPTEL by IITs and IISc of India
  • Virtual Lab project of MHRD – online lab experiments
  • Khan Academy Videos
  • Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, TED

So there needs to be balance in the use of internet.

There is also a paradigm shift in education. From instructor-centered methods, we need to move to student centric methods. And the learning should be life-long, not just in college. In 20th century, a electronics/computer technology person had to relearn 3 times in ones career (vacuum tubes, transistors, and IC/VLSI). However in the 21st century, one’s knowledge becomes obsolete every 5 years.

What needs to be done?

  • Computer and Internet Literacy is very important and must be an area of focus
  • Availability of PCs and internet to everyone (no digital divide)
  • Colleges should focus on teaching fundamentals. This trend towards “industry ready” (at the expense of all else) is not the right approach.
  • Students should be given notes/e-content to be read before coming to every class, and the actual classroom should focus on discussion about difficulties and solving problems.
  • All colleges should be given autonomy: academic, managerial, administrative, financial. CoEP has gotten autonomy and hence has managed to change the curriculum 3 times in the last 7 years. Which is great progress
  • Have credit based systems and allow students to learn at their own pace; education and courses should be on demand
  • Use technology – open courseware, blogs, tweets, discussion forum, webinars

Dr. Sahasrabudhe went on to talk about more specifics, and the various programmes CoEP has instituted in these directions. See the full presentation below:

If you’re unable to see a slideshow above, go here

The importance of community in learning and education

Meeta Sengupta has an interesting blog post on Peer Learning Networks where she points out that:

What I miss as a teacher is a staff room where I can share my concerns, my ideas and my trials in the classroom. The joys of a good class are shared by all. I would not want the journey to stop there. I want to be able to learn from another teacher’ experiment with a class, to learn to repeat that success consistently. And to be able to share it with others. All without being judged.

She goes on to wonder what is the modern equivalent of the staff room in our brave new world of technology where the way we learn has totally been transformed by blogs, and Twitter and Facebook. There are a number of interesting points made in the article which I would recommend that you read.

However, I would like to specifically bring your attention to her concluding paragraph:

The simplest networks start with curated conversations. Starting one is easy, connecting these conversations is easier still. The gains are clearly visible. The tools are almost free and accessible to all. With apologies to the great Marx, I paraphrase – learners of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your learning gaps… and a community of support to gain.

I totally agree. And in fact, InnoVidya is intended to be exactly this. And InnoVidya is also starting with a curated conversation – over at the InnoVidya mailing list. Please join the conversation.

What should you be reading if you’re involved in education technology

Technology is transforming education rapidly and there are so many things going on in this area that it is difficult to keep track. So what should someone interested in education technology be reading?

This question was asked on Quora (one of the best question & answer sites on the internet – you should definitely join, if you aren’t already a member), and has garnered a bunch of interesting responses. Check it out here.

But that list is US centric. For people in India, what additional resources would you suggest? Here are things I am reading these days:

What else? Please give your suggestions in the comments below.

InnoVidya meeting: Changing Higher Education – 26 Nov

The gap between what our engineering colleges produce and what our industry would like to consume is widening, and will become an increasingly severe problem for the health of the software industry in India. Everybody realizes there is a problem, and there are lots of people working on this issue from various angles. Entrepreneurs are rushing in to fill the gaps, educators, especially those in independent institutes are trying interesting new experiments, and social media has the potential to change everything. InnoVidya is a platform that aims to bring together the people at the forefront of this revolution.

On November 26, we invite you to the first InnoVidya event – where the speakers will include Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Director of CoEP, Mohit Gundecha, CEO of hot and recently funded startup, YourNextLeap, and Arun Prabhudesai, CTO of My Open Campus, a startup that aims to change how students interact with everybody. But the excellent line-up of speakers is not the main reason to attend this meeting – come for the audience: trustees of colleges, directors and HODs of educational institutes, heads of software companies who are desperately searching for solutions, and other Pune entrepreneurs who are looking to get rich as the Indian education system is forced to transform itself by inexorable global changes.

This is a free and open event, on Saturday, November 26th, from 10:30am to 12:30pm, at Venture Center, NCL Innovation Park, Pashan Road. Please register here.

Agenda for this Meet

  • 5-minute InnoVidya Introduction by Raja Bellare
  • 30-minute talk by Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Director CoEP + 15 min Q&A
  • 20-minute pitch by Mohit Gundecha, Co-Founder & CEO YourNextLeap + 10 min Q&A
  • 20-minute pitch by Arun Prabhudesai, CTO MyOpenCampus + 10 min Q&A
  • followed by free time for hallway conversations.

Higher Education in India – Changing Scenarios – Anil Sahasrabudhe, Director, COEP

Anil is the Director of College of Engineering Pune (COEP). Anil joined COEP as the director in 2006. He holds a vision to take COEP to the next level with a view to enriching the life of every student who enters COEP.

Anil will talk about the changing scenarios in higher education in India.

Anil did his BE Karnataka University (Gold Medalist) and has a PhD from IISc Bangalore. In the past he has been a researcher at IISc, faculty at NERIST, Itanagar, and Professor at IIT Guwahati.

YourNextLeap – Smart Career Counseling and College Decisions

YourNextLeap is a recommendation engine which acts as a virtual career counselor to help students make smarter career and college decisions. It involves a suite of applications, which use psychometric evaluations and math models on past admission patterns, to give out personalized suggestions. Team YourNextLeap is excited about its mission to enhance the way millions of students and young professionals treat their careers. The team comprises of students from top US and Indian universities like BITS, NID, COEP, PICT, USC and Stanford University. More at

About the Speaker – Mohit Gundecha

Mohit is the CEO & Co-founder of YourNextLeap. He was an early team member and head of India Operations for mig33, a mobile community with more than 50 million users. Prior to mig33, Mohit studied at Stanford University, where he co-founded Mobile Momentum with Prof. Tom Kosnik. Mohit has also co-authored a widely referenced mobile industry report, ‘Future of Mobile VAS in India’.

My Open Campus – Online Community for Faculty, Students, Employers and others

My Open Campus brings seamless collaboration to colleges, communities and closed user groups . MOC aims to bring all stakeholders (for e.g: students, faculties & administrators in a college) on single easy to use unified platform, where they can communicate and carry out all regular activities online.

MOC offers secure messaging, online assessments & exams, Information repository, student & Alumni groups, event management, Student database management, discussion forums, placements along with host of other features..

The vision of My Open Campus is to create employable intelligent students. There cannot be knowledge enhancement in an isolated and restrictive environment. Hence MOC brings together all stakeholders on a single platform to make learning a fun & social activity.

About the Speaker – Arun Prabhudesai

Arun is the CTO of Enhanced Education, the company behind MyOpenCampus. Having worked for over 15 years in I.T Industry across the globe, Arun returned back to India to pursue his dream of starting on his own. He has been quite active in Startup and Entrepreneur community is always in forefront in advising upcoming Entrepreneurs.

About InnoVidya

InnoVidya is a group of educators and industry professionals who want to reach out to students, teachers, trainers and working professionals and catalyze significant improvements in their learning ecosystems. In addition to the InnoVidya website and the InnoVidya mailing list, we also hold public lectures on the 4th Saturday of every month. Lectures usually involve talks by senior educators, industry visionaries, or social and/or for-profit entrepreneurs working in the space of higher education.

We are currently based in Pune, but we expect that this initiative will expand all over India.

More at:

And please join the mailing list:

Venue Sponsor – Venture Center

Entrepreneurship Development Center (Venture Center) – a CSIR initiative – is a not-for-profit company hosted by the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune. Venture Center strives to nucleate and nurture technology and knowledge-based enterprises by leveraging the scientific and engineering competencies of the institutions in the Pune region in India. The Venture Center is a technology business incubator specializing in technology enterprises offering products and services exploiting scientific expertise in the areas of materials, chemicals and biological sciences & engineering.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here. And join the InnoVidya mailing list (optional).

Steve Jobs’ advice to Obama on Fixing American Education System

(Cross posted from Shrikant’s Blog)

Just finished Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson. On page 544, last para, he advises Obama in his typical no hold back mode.

Jobs attacked America’s education system, saying that it was hopelessly antiquated and crippled by union work rules. Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was utmost no hope for education reform. Teachers should be treated as professionals, he said, not as industrial assembly line workers. Principals should be able to hire and fire them based on how good they were. Schools should  be open until at least 6pm and be in session eleven months of the year. It was absurd, he added, that American classrooms were still based on teachers standing at a board and using textbooks. All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time.

Please note, all of the above, relevant to India and India’s education system. The question is do we have some like Jobs to get the government to listen and execute.

Lant Pritchett: India’s Battle to Educate the Country

(Cross posted from “Shrikant’s Blog”)

I bumped into Lant Pritchett’s interaction with Indian Express this week. Lant is the Faculty co-chair of the Master’s in Public Administration / International Development Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He discusses various issues with the Indian education system. His insight and observations are astute, profound and the heuristic for what needs to be fixed.  We can fix if there is a will to fix it. Some of his observations are ->

We churn out millions with zero skills

The same system also produces 100,000 students a year in the global top 10%

We have an over ambitious curriculum, more equipped to teach the elite rather than the masses

To educate all of India we need scale down the learning and focus on learning

RTE is one of the most ill-conceived programs, instead of focussing on learning we have just enshrined additional legislation

India does not have any semi-skilled labour, people with basic lieracy, basic numeracy but no advanced skills

Any systems that gives control of hiring and allocation of teachers to parents produces much better results

SSA is popular because it allows politicians to hire more teachers with government air-cover and promote political patronage.

This interaction basically highlights the various issues with India’s primary education system. We pay education cess, the whole country is contributing, but the model is wrong. The structure, the incentives, the process of teaching and learning need to change, if we have to educate India that will contribute to convert the demographic dividend into a long term assets. However most indicators are pointing the other way.