Giving teachers in India bonuses for performance really works, says research

Alex Tabarrok has an interesting article on which points to a very large, randomized experiment by Karthik Muralidharan and others on giving teachers monetary incentives based on the performance of their students in specific subjects, and reports that this significantly improves performances in not only those subjects, but also in other subjects.

Here, it is important to note that we are talking about Indian Schools, run by the government, mostly in rural India. It is also important to note that this is not an armchair philosopher spouting opinions, but actually data from a large, randomized experiment with controls.

Here is some data that really needs to be shouted from the rooftops:

Students who had completed their entire five years of primary school education under the program scored 0.54 and 0.35 standard deviations (SD) higher than those in control schools in math and language tests respectively. These are large effects corresponding to approximately 20 and 14 percentile point improvements at the median of a normal distribution, and are larger than the effects found in most other education interventions in developing countries (see Dhaliwal et al. 2011).

Second, the results suggest that these test score gains represent genuine additions to human capital as opposed to reflecting only ‘teaching to the test’. Students in individual teacher incentive schools score significantly better on both non-repeat as well as repeat questions; on both multiple-choice and free-response questions; and on questions designed to test conceptual understanding as well as questions that could be answered through rote learning. Most importantly, these students also perform significantly better on subjects for which there were no incentives – scoring 0.52 SD and 0.30 SD higher than students in control schools on tests in science and social studies (though the bonuses were paid only for gains in math and language). There was also no differential attrition of students across treatment and control groups and no evidence to suggest any adverse consequences of the programs.

… Finally, our estimates suggest that the individual teacher bonus program was 15-20 times more cost effective at raising test scores than the default ‘education quality improvement’ policy of the Government of India, which is reducing class size from 40 to 30 students per teacher (Govt. of India, 2009).

Read the full article

Online-only self-service education will never work? -Fredrick DeBoer

Fredrik DeBoer, a professor at Purdue has an interesting article on how there needs to be some realism injected into the debate on online education and MOOCs (massively online open courses) and the world-changing exuberance that usually accompanies these debates.

He points out that the only way he’s found to get students to learn is to meet with them every day physically and drive discussions with them. Here are his arguments:

Excerpt:

I’ve tried all number of ways to do that outside of class meetings – marking papers extensively, using Track Changes, real-time online collaboration – and it never, ever works. Most them don’t look, and most of them don’t care, unless there’s the basic human accountability of sitting down with them at a table and going through the changes together. That’s how I drag them to the skills they want.

The idea that students need to be “dragged” to learning is something that most real teachers will understand, while most other people will dismiss, saying, “the good ones don’t need to be dragged.”

Fredrik goes on:

I will have lost some of you with that verb. “Drag them! How presumptuous! That’s so insulting.” I assure you: no, it’s not. No, it’s not insulting to use the word “drag” to describe educating undergraduates. I promise you it’s not. Of course, there are in most classes one or two or three students who are both very bright and self-motivated. They’re wonderful to work with. But most students require a frankly endless amount of pushing, pulling, cajoling, motivating, and yes, dragging to competence. Some actively resist. I’m not complaining: this is what I love to do, and it’s why they pay me.

The system has been set up in such a way, that learning is not really a goal for most students:

I’m just relaying reality, in context with an education media that simply doesn’t want to hear it: our college students are not an army of young autodidacts who are pursuing knowledge out of a love for learning. They just aren’t. They’re here, in very large measure, to collect a degree that they identify as being a largely or purely economic instrument. Who could blame them? That’s what their culture is telling them education is for: making money. So they proceed rationally from that premise.

So, what’s the solution?

So you work, and you work, and you work, and you sit with them in conferencing and you revise their papers again and again and you chase them down when they don’t submit by deadline and you make your instructions explicit again and again and you hope that they’ll bother to come back to class after spring break and you work, work, work to get them to a reasonable level of ability. And then when you give them a B+ they write outraged emails to the dean about what a horrible injustice that is. But of course they do. Again, it’s natural: their culture teaches them that everyone is equally capable of everything, and that any problems in education are necessarily the fault of educators and not of students, so they rage when they get a grade that is commensurate with their work. They’re a product of their culture.

And just in case you feel that this really reflects the (poor) quality of the students, note this:

And trust me: my students here at Purdue are not unusually unmotivated or unintelligent. Just the opposite; they’re remarkably bright, attending a competitive public research university, in a period where getting into good colleges has never been harder or more competitive. Yes, they’re a restricted range. They’re restricted near the top, not the bottom. Still, it’s a struggle to educate them. I’m just trying to be honest with you.

Read the full article

Better education at higher cost, or same education at lower cost?

Clay Shirky writes, that we are at an important inflection point as far as higher education is concerned, and we should get used to the fact that major changes will be forced upon us whether we like them or not.

While he is talking about higher education in the US, some of his thoughts would be relevant to India too.

The main point he’s making (regarding higher education in the US) is that the middle-to-late 20th century was the golden age of higher education – the various governments funded/subsidized education to a very large extent, for a variety of reasons. This led to the creation of a system with good quality education, but very high costs. Over time, the amount of funding from the government has reduced, and the costs have been passed on to the students in terms of higher fees.

This is not a sustainable situation. In the modern world, higher education is becoming necessary, and the costs are too high for most people. Specifically, higher education is failing most people – they are getting no, or sub-standard education because of the lack of affordable quality institutions.

How can this be fixed?

One obvious way to improve life for the new student majority is to raise the quality of the education without raising the price. This is clearly the ideal, whose principal obstacle is not conceptual but practical: no one knows how. The value of our core product—the Bachelor’s degree—has fallen in every year since 2000, while tuition continues to increase faster than inflation.

The other way to help these students would be to dramatically reduce the price or time required to get an education of acceptable quality (and for acceptable read “enabling the student to get a better job”, their commonest goal.) This is a worse option in every respect except one, which is that it may be possible.

The first option, increasing quality without increasing the price, can only happen if governments starts increasing funding for education again. But, that is unlikely to happen, he argues:

If we can’t keep raising costs for students (we can’t) and if no one is coming to save us (they aren’t), then the only remaining way to help these students is to make a cheaper version of higher education for the new student majority.

The number of high-school graduates underserved or unserved by higher education today dwarfs the number of people for whom that system works well. The reason to bet on the spread of large-scale low-cost education isn’t the increased supply of new technologies. It’s the massive demand for education, which our existing institutions are increasingly unable to handle. That demand will go somewhere.

Those of us in the traditional academy could have a hand in shaping that future, but doing so will require us to relax our obsessive focus on elite students, institutions, and faculty. It will require us to stop regarding ourselves as irreplaceable occupiers of sacred roles, and start regarding ourselves as people who do several jobs society needs done, only one of which is creating new knowledge.

Read the full article

The key takeaway for me is that we should stop expecting the system (i.e. government) to come in and fix the system. Instead, we should accept the fact that the goal has changed. Instead of focusing on trying to increase the number of people to whom we can provide very high quality education, we should probably focus on reducing the cost at which we can provide some acceptable quality of education to large masses.

InnoVidya Event: How findings in basic research lead to useful products

InnoVidya and IUCAA present a talk by Dr. Virender Sheorain on “Enlarging Knowledge Horizons” on Saturday, Sep 21, 2013, at 11am, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Dr. Virender Sheorain

Virender Sheorain received his PhD from Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, (PGI) Chandigarh. He did his post doctoral Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, Nashville, TN (USA). He was also Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow and instructor in Physiology at Vanderbilt. His doctoral and subsequent research was on regulation of metabolic pathways responsible for manifestation of diabetes and related complications such as cardiovascular disease. He returned to India and worked nearly 15 years in R and D centres of three major companies i.e. Boots Pharmaceutical, Mumbai, Hindustan Lever Ltd., Mumbai and Seagram, Pune. Global sale of Seagram, in 2001, took him to Jamaica (West Indies ) where he was responsible for running of Diageo plc’s rum plants.

Abstract of the talk:

Most basic researchers pursue their research to satisfy their curiosity and publish their findings in scientific journals. But there are some who think of applying these findings to create useful products. Therefore, objectives of almost all industrial R & D centers are to commercialize either their own research or research published, but not patented, in scientific journals. The presentation will cover three such examples which will illustrate how an idea or scientific observation can lead to very useful products. The examples are : Statins, a class of drugs used for lowering blood Cholesterol, Fair and Lovely, a fairness cream, and Starumol, a source of non protein nitrogen for ruminants. All three products are classical examples of how basic research can be commercialized for the benefit of humans and at the same time create wealth for companies.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, September 21, 2013, at 11am, at the Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here. There is ample parking at the venue.

InnoVidya Event: The Idea of Growth by Anupam Saraph

InnoVidya and IUCAA present a talk by Dr. Anupam Saraph on “An Agenda for a Resurgent India” on Saturday, Aug 17, 2013, at 11am, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Dr. Anupam Saraph

Anupam Saraph holds a PhD in sustainable systems design from the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, the Netherlands. He has made important contributions in domains such as systems, governance, environment and civil society and has done pioneering work in economic carrying capacity modeling & use of systems as a pedagogy in education. He teaches systems – information systems, environmental systems – and sustainable development at universities in Europe, Asia and the Americas. He also advises the World Economic Forum through its Global Agenda Council for Complex Systems and the Club of Rome Indian National Association as a founder life member.

Abstract of the talk:

Growth is all about getting Bigger. Individuals, corporations, governments – all of us wish to grow. What is their IDEA of GROWTH? Is there a limit to how much one can grow? What are the practical constraints behind such growth? Is there a conflict between <earning> & <learning>? Does the economics of growth drive all life forms and the dynamics of growth itself? Do the complex systems we create and are a part of decide the pace of growth and its impact on the system itself? What are the fallouts arising from Growth? How does Growth impact our Quality of Life? Some scenarios of our Growth and the Key elements contributing to Growth shall be defined & the ideas behind them shall be examined.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, August 17, 2013, at 11am, at the Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here. There is ample parking at the venue.

Event Report: Transforming and Scaling Education – D.B. Phatak

(This is a live-blog of a talk Prof. D.B. Phatak of IIT-Bombay gave a few weeks back in Pune, titled “Rethinking Education – Transforming and Scaling the Learning Model”. Note, this is a live blog, so please excuse the fact that it is unstructured, incomplete, and might contain errors. Note: this talk is being live-cast to 30+ colleges and other institutions all over India.)

Introduction of D.B. Phatak, by Anand Deshpande (CEO of Persistent Systems)

  • Prof. Phatak is my Guru. I have not been his student, formally, but I know him since early 90s and I always go to him for advice before anything important.
  • He did his engineering from Indore and PhD from IIT Bombay.
  • He got the Padmashree last year
  • He is a great speaker and anytime he is going a talk, you should always attend it.

Transforming and Scaling Education – by D.B. Phatak

  • This talk will touch upon these topics: 1) Learning, 2) Education, 3) Scaling, 4) Open Sourcing of Knowledge and 5) Technology Crystal Gazing

Learning

  • We are all familiar with learning in groups. Classroom learning. Fixed time slots. Typical: 1 teacher, 50 students, 1 hour. Teacher has (hopefully) pre-prepared the lecture. The students are supposed to listen with attention, throughout the hour, but this never happens.
  • So does learning happen in a classroom? Partially. Maximal learning happens when you try to apply knowledge that you’ve acquired.
  • All the advocates of e-learning and e-everything claim that if there is access to good quality knowledge, that is enough for anyone to learn. This is false. If just access to knowledge was good enough for learning, then librarians would be the smartest people on earth.
  • Learning needs applying knowledge, failing to apply that knowledge, correcting the failures. Without these steps, learning cannot happen.
  • Can an individual learn entirely on his/her own? Eklavya. Yes, there are cases of this. But don’t forget that here is only one Eklavya, but 7 billion non-Eklavya humans who also need to learn.
  • Why do we learn? Primarily for survival. Then betterment of ones life. Two other reasons which not everybody follows: learning for the sake of learning, and learning to advance human knowledge (research).
  • Unfortunately, we seem to have separated “research” and “education”). But research shouldn’t be just the domain of PhDs writing papers. The most important things needed in research should really be included in the mindset of everyone – Meticulousness. Curiosity. Precise Articulation. Diligence. Discipline. Rigor.
  • The most important learning happens from the age of 0 to 5 (-9months to 5 if you consider Abhimanyu), before the child goes to school. Social behavior. Basic Articulation. A second language. Ethics. Humility.

Education

  • We think of education as a formal system of knowledge being imparted through training and/or research. But education is happening all the time. Every interaction with someone else is an opportunity for self-education.
  • Our existing system is broken. Too much emphasis on rote learning. Children cannot apply what they learn. Industry says that less than 25% of our engineers are employable (and apparently the number in China is even lower).
  • We as a society have concluded that getting a degree with good marks implies that your career will be successful. And also, that the manner in which the degree and marks are gained is irrelevant – so optimizations (classes, cheating, leaked papers) are widespread.
  • The teaching is syllabus driven, and the learning by students is examination driven. The teacher must stick to the syllabus because the exam papers will be checked by a different teacher based on a paper set by a third teacher.
  • Is autonomy the answer?
  • The problem is not that our existing system is broken. The problem is that our system refuses to break! It is so well-entrenched. So any solution cannot emerge from complete disruption. The change has to be incremental and needs to work with the system.

Scaling

  • A claimed advantage of India is the demographic dividend. 300 million people under the age of 19. Educating them well can lead to huge gains for us. But we spend a very small fraction of our GDP (compared to other developing countries).
  • Gross enrollment ratio – the ratio of students who actually enroll for higher education to those actually eligible for higher education – is 60-80% in developed countries. In India it was 8% about 6 years ago. It has been brought to 13-14% now. We are hoping to bring it up to 30% by 2020. Double! To achieve that, we need to double all our educational institutions in 7 years. This is a tall order.
  • Another problem: last year, our engineering colleges’ capacity was 1.45million, whereas enrollment was 1.25million. So, while capacity is growing, enrollment is not growing. Parents and students have begun to believe that getting an engineering degree might not be worth it in all cases.
  • This is the situation with engineering education. It is much worse as you go lower.
  • Think of the problems we face, and the scale of the problems. And we need to solve them at that scale. If we double all our higher educational infrastructure in 7 years, and we convince students/parents to join the new schools, we’ll just get the enrollment ratio to just 30%. And we need to get to 80%
  • Teachers need to be convinced that their main job is not to teach. The main job is enable students to learn. The student should be able to transcend the knowledge of the teacher if/where needed. Also, student should be able to learn in the best possible manner for that student. The manner will be different for different students.
  • Our current education system allows a fixed amount of time for learning, but given that different human beings learn at different rates, it results in variable amount of learning. How does our education system deal with this difference? We grade the students. And denigrate the students who get lower marks. Not just society, friends and family start looking down on the student, but the student himself loses confidence and motivation.
  • What is needed is fixed amounts of learning in variable time (as long as the time is not too long). Is it possible to do this? Maybe – the technology, for the first time in human history, might allow this. Conventional education does not admit this possibility.

Open Sourcing of Knowledge

  • One of the important reasons for creation of the copyright and patent laws was to ensure that after a fixed amount of time, the knowledge contained there is available for all of humanity. But industry is manipulating the system to increase the amount of time.
  • The open source movement, creative commons are ways to get around the problems now being caused by copyright and patent problems.
  • There is lots of knowledge available on the net for free downloads, but because they are not appropriately licensed, it is not possible to distribute this knowledge in a system like Aakash. It is quite likely that the original author would have happily consented to the knowledge being used in this way, but often it is not possible to contact the person, or other problems get in the way. So good knowledge gets lost because of lack of awareness of open sourcing of knowledge.
  • However, if there are companies who are spending money on innovation, and would like to benefit monetarily from those innovations, it is only fair to expect that they use copyrights and licenses to enforce their rights. But as far as knowledge dissemination is concerned, open sourcing the knowledge is what will benefit the most people. There needs to be a balance between these two forces.
  • To do anything sustainably – including bringing changes into education – there needs to be revenues and financial management. But, for some reason, India has conferred a moral high ground to the education sector, and there is a belief that education sector should not be making money. That is not a sustainable thought.
  • Premji Foundation has an initiative in rural Karnataka where they are using computers to enhance education. They’re not teaching computers to the students – they are using computers to improve teaching of Kannada, Maths, etc. The program is funded by the foundation, the government, and the students. (There was a proposal to make this free for the students by taking more money from the government, but they found works better if the students pay.) The foundation has used controlled studies to show that the technology results in significant improvements in education.
  • IIT-Bombay runs a course to train teachers. It reaches 10000 teachers in 250 institutions across India. They’re trained by faculty from IIT Bombay. 4 of these centers are in Pune. This initiative is extremely well received. It is a costly model because it costs Rs. 6400 per teacher for a 2-week program – but by introducing a fee for teachers (because the teachers and colleges do benefit from this program) they’re hoping to reduce the cost to run this program.
  • MOOCs (Massively Online Open Courseware) like Coursera and MIT OCW are a new entrant with a lot of promise. IIT-Bombay has just concluded an MOU with edx and should be the first Indian university to offer an MOOC in about 6 months. Some courses can easily scale up to 1 lakh students. This would ensure that quality education will reach the masses.
  • Sam Pitroda makes a point that students who earn credits via MOOCs should be permitted to transferred credits/marks in their educational instituation. i.e. a COEP student taking an IIT-Bombay MOOC should be able to get COEP credits for passing that course.
  • Currently MOOCs are free, but there needs to be a revenue model for MOOCs. IIT-Bombay believes that knowledge should be free – so all the course material should be available using an open source license, but actual interaction can be paid.
  • But, one problem of MOOC is that often students don’t complete the course, or don’t take it seriously. One big advantage of actual physical classrooms is that in spite of all the distractions, you still end up paying attention to a significant fraction of the lecture.
  • These problems with MOOCs will be solved, and MOOCs will play a very large role in scalable education in India. Via internet. On the cloud.

Technology Crystal Gazing

  • MOOCs will be big – and will become the predominant technology platform for education. (IIT-Bombay picked edX instead of Coursera and others because edX is open source.)
  • Everything will be on the cloud
  • Bandwidth requirements will increase significantly
  • Every educational institution should plan for 1 gbps bandwidth.

Concluding remarks

  • Government must invest much more money in education. Government should not be a benevolent dictator. Education institutions, good or bad, need to get autonomy. Why do we have bad institutions who are simply degree factories? Because industry and society tremendously value degrees and marks. As soon as industry discovers that it can quickly and accurately evaluate students/job-seekers on the basis of their actual capabilities (as opposed to their marks and degrees), universities’ arrogance will disappear, and education will become much better.
  • The same technology which allows us to teach lakhs of students simultaneously and scalably, will also allow companies to assess and evaluate lakhs of students quickly and accurately.
  • Education does not end when you graduate from an educational institution. Education continues forever. Students and professionals need to understand this, and companies need to start focusing on this aspect.
  • Parents need to re-think their priorities. Forcing your child to prepare for JEE for 2 years is causing them to lose two years of their life that they could be using for actual education. And they’re learning to cheat – attending classes and skipping college, but getting “full attendance” at college anyway is being encouraged by parents.
  • It is well established that the best education of a child happens in his/her own mother tongue. Yet, most parents opt for English education. This is acceptable for parents who converse with the children in English on a regular basis. But this is a tiny fraction.
  • Students: enjoy education. Enjoy solving problems. Enjoy life. Dream big. But work hard.
  • There are 300 million Indians younger than 19, younger than the people in this room – and they’re waiting for us to do something for them. Independent of whatever else you are doing in your profession, you must think of making some contribution to making life more meaningful in terms of better learning and better education for those 300 million.

InnoVidya Event: Introduction to Inquiry-oriented Education by Prof. K.P. Mohanan

InnoVidya and IUCAA a talk by Prof. K.P. Mohanan on “An Introduction to Inquiry-Oriented Education” on Saturday, July 20, 2013, at 11am, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Prof. K.P. Mohanan

K.P. Mohanan received his PhD from MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), under Noam Chomsky, and taught at the University of Texas in Austin, MIT, Stanford University and National University of Singapore. At NUS, he initiated the General Education Program for undergraduate students, and as part of this program, created a web course on Academic Knowledge and Inquiry (http://wiki.nus.edu.sg/display/aki).

In January 2011, he moved to IISER-Pune to set up and develop the Centre for Integrative Studies. At IISER, he has created a three-course package on rational inquiry, covering scientific, mathematical, and conceptual inquiries. He is currently engaged in developing courses and programs on different types of inquiry based learning for high school and college students.

Abstract of the talk:

Scientific inquiry is a form of rational inquiry that seeks knowledge by formulating our ignorance as questions and arriving at answers on the basis of data/observations. Most forms of science education focus on helping students to understand a body of knowledge — the conclusions resulting from scientific inquiry — and to apply that knowledge to solve problems. As an alternative, I have been pursuing an inquiry-oriented form of science education that goes beyond understanding and application, to help students acquire the capacity to engage in scientific inquiry, to function not only as consumers of knowledge, but also as producers of knowledge.

The youtube video clip on What Ruca Likes and Dislikes will give a brief taste of what an inquiry-oriented classroom is like.

In this talk, I will briefly outline what my colleagues and I have been doing to bring scientific inquiry into classrooms, textbooks, and examinations. It should be of interest to both students and educators.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, July 20, 2013, at 11am, at the Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here. There is ample parking at the venue.

Heredity, Genetic Information & Its Manipulation – Dr. Sohan Modak – 16 March

InnoVidya and IUCAA invite everyone to a lecture on Heredity, Genetic Information and Its Manipulation, By Dr. Sohan Modak

Abstract

Living cells require proteins, fats, carbohydrates and nucleic acids for their structure and function. DNA, the master molecule, is embedded in chromosomes
and contains a linear array of thousands of Genes that encode information for proteins. Each Gene represents an informational unit for one protein. Before a
cell divides, DNA is duplicated so that the each of two daughter cells receives identical sets of Genes. Many chemical and physical agents damage DNA, and a
faulty repair changes the informational quality or even loss, which can be lethal or cause carcinogenesis, metabolic disorders or reduced life-span. Genes
can be modified in a test tube, or inside a cell. Genetic manipulation involves deletion of a gene or insertion of a new Gene. Gene insertion may be
beneficial or disrupt the Gene order leading to as yet unknown dangers.

About the Speaker – Dr. Sohan Modak

Sohan Modak has a doctorate from the University of Geneva and did post-doctoral work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Kentucky, Lexington
(USA). He served as staff scientist at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (1970-77), Visiting Professor at the Ohio State University and
Scientist-Engineer at French Center for Nuclear Energy Grenoble(1978-79). In 1979, he joined  the University of Poona as Professor. He founded the
Biotechnology Training Programme, NCCS, Bioinformatics-DIS. Sohan was Professor Emeritus at the Karnatak University, Dharwad (2001-03) and G.N.
Ramachandran Sr. Res.Fellow at the IGIB Delhi (2005-2008). He published research in Developmental Neurobiology, Molecular Biology and Genomics. He now
mentors studies on Molecular Evolution.

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.

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to email/RSS updates at: http://innovidya.org.

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at 11am, at the Chandrashekhar Auditorium, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. There is no need to register. There is ample parking space at the venue.

The Promise of Bio-Tech remains Unfulfilled

LiveMint has recently published an article by Gouri Agtey Athale titled Pune newsletter | The promise of biotech remains unfulfilled, which argues that although Bio-Technology was touted as the next big thing in India, and was expected to produce another transformation similar to the information technology wave that swept the country, but this has not really happened.

The article extensively quotes InnoVidya member [Sohan Modak][http://in.linkedin.com/pub/sohan-modak/1/805/450], who was one of the pioneers of Biotech in the country, and initiated the first biotech course at Pune University.

What went wrong? The article quotes Sohan Modak thus:

“That’s what happened—biotech became an interesting proposition and universities wanted to do their own courses. Private universities, run or backed largely by politicians which had been running MBA courses till then, got into the act seeing the market opportunity. They offered a two-year course with training of some kind leading to a degree. There was no quality control either on the students taken in or on the faculty. Now the country has over-produced biotech students who have not learned technology, not been taught much, and there are no jobs”

Opportunities still exist, though.

Opportunities in biotech exist in the agriculture and floriculture sectors, covering so-called exotic vegetables such as coloured bell peppers, mushrooms, or cut flowers for the overseas market. As one grower explained, the cost of production of one coloured bell pepper is Rs.0.50, which retails at Rs.5-10. And the cost of production falls as the farm gets bigger.

There are more interesting points made in the article, including the promise shown by the creation of high-quality science education institutes like IISER in Pune. You can read the full article here

Alternate Energy Systems – Myths, Facts & Challenges – Padmashree Paul Ratnasamy – 23 Feb

InnoVidya and IUCAA invite everyone to a lecture on Alternate Energy Systems – the facts, the myths and the challenges, by Padmashree Dr. Paul Ratnasamy, who was the directory of NCL (National Chemical Laboratory), from 1995 to 2002.

Abstract

Currently over 80% of our energy comes from fossil fuels. However these fuels are the major sources of the green house gas pollutants which lead to severe environmental degradation including climate change. Energy from non-polluting sources – like biomass, solar and wind – is under development worldwide. Due to the recent exciting research and technological advances, it is now technically feasible to produce conventional transportation fuels like diesel and gasoline from biomass like sugarcane bagasse and municipal / forest wastes. Solar energy, in addition to generating electricity directly (photo-voltaics), can also produce liquid fuels, like diesel. Waste gases like CO from steel/cement/power/chemical plants can be catalytically converted to transport fuels like ethanol & diesel. Presentation describes some of these technologies and their potential adoption in large commercial plants.

About the Speaker – Dr. Paul Ratnasamy

Dr .Ratnasamy has a PhD from Loyola College, Chennai, and did his post-doctoral works at Clarkson College of Technology, New York, at Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and at University of Munchen, Germany. He was the Director of the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, from 1995 to 2002 and Professor (Biofuels) at the  University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA, from 2009 to 2011. He received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award for Engineering Technology in 1984, Viswakarma Medal of the Indian National Academy in 1994 and a Padmashree in 2001.

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.

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to email/RSS updates at: http://innovidya.org.

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013, at 11am, at the Chandrashekhar Auditorium, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. There is no need to register. There is ample parking space at the venue.