Friday, 11 August 2017

SCHOOLS CAN DIRECTLY ORDER BOOKS FROM NCERT PORTAL



June 14, 2017
NEW DELHI: From this year, schools across the country will place textbook orders with the NCERT directly online to ensure they are available in time to students for next year.

This would save parents paying extra money to source books from private publishers, often on account of non-availability of the NCERT books.

The portal, where the schools can place orders, is in the works.

When in place, schools will also be able to track the movement of the books, right from placing an order to the delivery.

The portal, which is being created by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), will start taking orders for this year itself so that it is able to assess the total number of books it needs to publish.

Parents had complained to the human resource development ministry about schools forcing expensive books on them.

According to NCERT spokesperson Hemant Kumar, the portal is likely to be launched during the first week of August this year.

“This will enable approximately 19,000 CBSE-affiliated schools to upload their requirement of NCERT textbooks.

The schools will be given one month’s time to upload their requirement.

The data received will allow NCERT to assess the actual requirement of its textbooks,” he said.

According to officials, the NCERT portal will ensure that no complaint of unavailability of NCERT textbooks is received from across the country.

Officials further said that so far NCERT used to do the exercise on its own rather than asking schools to provide them the information.

There have been several complaints in the past about the non-availability of NCERT books and schools end up recommending books by private publishers.

Source | Hindustan Times | 12 June 2017

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

WORKPLACE REDESIGN FOR MILLENNIALS


Technology innovation at workplaces has always been guided by culture. This is even more pronounced in the case of collaboration technologies, because it closely mirrors the way we have learnt to communicate. Today’s technology changes are largely influenced by the millennial generation—a generation that has a completely different mindset from Gen Xers or the baby boomers.

As opposed to the earlier generations that modelled their way of working as per the tools and technologies that were available to them, this generation actually demands technology that can enable them to work the way they want. This generation was the key force behind the growth of consumerization of IT and bring your own device trends.

Given that India will become the youngest country by 2021, with 64% of its population in the age group of 20-35, according to the Economic Survey 2013-14, Indian businesses need to shape their strategies to remain relevant to this section. It is fair to say that it is mandatory to morph our workplaces to accommodate the millennial generation. If we do not, we will not be able to acquire and retain top talent, which will stunt our ability to innovate.

In my view, organizations should keep the following factors in mind while redesigning workplaces for millennials:

Deploying relevant infrastructure: The millennial workforce understands the importance of teamwork and knowledgesharing with their global counterparts and collaboration with their customers. They will either break rules or leave workplaces that do not satisfy their needs. According to Digital, Disparate,and Disengaged, a June 2016 study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Prysm, 71% of the information workers who responded to the survey have said they are more likely to remain at their company if investments were made in a modern, digital collaboration solution. Further, according to 83% of information workers, the right technology tools can help them be productive regardless of location. Similarly, three-quarters or more of IT and facilities respondents reported that a modern, digital workspace could help their organizations make strides in product development, grow revenue and speed time-to-market.

Supporting innovation: The way we act as a team is changing—from traditional, “passive” meetings to meetings where we innovate in groups. A case in point is the R&D departments in multinational companies. There are several companies whose R&D teams have been pooling resources globally to drive innovations for different markets. Consider the example of one of the IT leaders, IBM India—its scientists work in close association across the company’s world-renowned research labs. IBM Research India has also emerged as a premier research lab in the region and is working to solve unique challenges in emerging markets. Tech solutions that are deployed should be conducive for employees to be able to work together and innovate. Sharing highly visual information in real time: The advent of mobile technology has enabled our workforce to be geographically distributed. This has also created a need for technology that allows us to share highly visual information in realtime among disparate team members. Enabling multidimensional experiences: The optimal goal is to choose tools/solutions that allow for multidimensional experiences that mirror the way we naturally think and interact. And this is not just limited to the way we talk, but also the way we work.

Building a culture of collaboration: Tools are only as effective as the culture we build in our organizations. Enterprises should start with this as their goal, to build a culture of collaboration that is most relevant for them and result in the highest productivity for their employees. They should then envisage ways to drive adoption and train their employees for maximum impact.

Workplaces of the future are going to be transformed into visual workplaces, which will bring together content, data, live applications, video conferencing, live sources and the Web into a touch-interactive visual workspace where teams can simultaneously create, edit, share and store content to maximize productivity, regardless of device or geographical location. To attract and retain millennials, businesses should look at embracing tools that make this possible. Varadha Raju is country head (India) and vice-president of sales and operations at Prysm Inc.

Source | Mint | 11 April 2017

Innovations in Education

Innovations in Education

With Innovations touching almost every aspect of our life, education is not far behind.  Education is seeing innovations not only owing to technology but also through its teaching methods, teaching tools and some creative ideas to simplify concepts to its students.  Here’s sharing some wonderful innovations in education that has helped in the upgrading of the teaching methodology.

·         Creative Tools
·         Technology Tools
·         Practical Learning
·         Group Discussions
·         Natural Surroundings
·         Storyboard & Dramatics

You’ve got mail! Now here’s how to manage it better


For most communication, instant messenger apps have become the default mode of communication. However, in the traditional workspace, email remains as critical as ever. At times managing email could take more of your productivity time than you may ever have imagined. This is where smart email apps, designed to reduce the clutter, come in handy.

NEWTON MAIL

$49.99 per year (around Rs3,410) Android, Android Wear, iOS, Apple Watch, Mac OS X Earlier known as Cloudmagic, Newton Mail is a subscription based service that works with all Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo!, Outlook and Office 365, iCloud as well as IMAP accounts. Since the rebranding, even basic features like notifications for new mails are offered only to paid subscribers. Apart from that, this remains a robust email app. It has added the OAuth 2.0 to enhance mail account security. It integrates cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud storage.

NOTION INTELLIGENT EMAIL

Free Android, iOS, Amazon Alexa This truly is a one-of-its kind email app. The problem is, a lot of us get many emails every day that are not relevant but clutter the inbox so much that we tend to miss the important mails. The Notion Intelligent Email app for smartphones learns constantly from user behaviour and ensures that important mails are not lost in the clutter. This app does not need to replace the email app you may be using, but you can choose to turn off notifications in the older app, and let Notion send notifications for mails that may be important. You can also snooze mails and deal with them later. Notion.ai has added support for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant as well, and you can ask Alexa to inform you about the new mails.

AIRMAIL

Rs300 iOS, Mac OS X This email app is what you need if you want to set custom actions (archive, snooze mail, etc.) and this reminds us of the now discontinued Mailbox app of Dropbox. Airmail also has integration with third-party apps, such as Apple’s Calendar and Reminder app, Todoist, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive and iA Writer, among others—this makes it easier to manage reminders, lists, share tasks, access cloud storage, save and edit documents. It supports Gmail and Exchange accounts, and integrates with iCloud for syncing with a Mac computing device.

ALTO MAIL

Free iOS, Android, Web The app, available for both iOS and Android devices, supports multiple email services, including Gmail and Outlook, as well as Yahoo!, AOL and iCloud. You can create mail stacks, essentially bunching up certain types of email.

Source | Hindustan Times | 18 April 2017

Bridging the gap between employers, employees @ Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)


Last year, the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report had predicted that artificial intelligence and robotics will take over more than 5 million jobs by 2020.
Last year, the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report had predicted that artificial intelligence and robotics will take over more than 5 million jobs by 2020. The report noted that “some jobs will be wiped out, others will be in high demand, but all in all, around 5 million jobs will be lost.”

In addition to robots taking over, the increasingly competitive job market is making the lives of employees no easier. The dynamics have changed considerably—just a college degree no longer guarantees a job. This is because the rapidly advancing technology has transformed many jobs and the sought-after skills for professional success.

To cope with the current workforce’s needs and culture, employers are seeking employees who are skilled in artificial intelligence, robotics and Big Data. This is a skill-set that most Indian colleges and universities do not include in their curriculum.

And it’s not just artificial intelligence and engineering skills that are in-demand these days. With businesses going global and dealings with international clients becoming a norm, soft skills are more important than ever for potential employees.

According to the findings of the SEED Report 2016 (Student Enrichment and Employment Development), the employment scenario in India has changed for the better, but the curriculum continues to lag behind. Although a lot has changed in terms of market trends and technology, the education system needs updating. Most college curricula in India are still not equipped enough to teach in-demand, job-ready skills. Aspiring Minds, the country’s leading employability solutions company, recently conducted a survey and the numbers reveal that India has almost 8 lakh engineering diploma holders who enter the job market every year and only about 20% of them are employable. A report by Assocham presents that of the lakhs of business graduates produced every year from over 5,500 business schools in India, only 7% are employable. This ascertains the fact that there is a major gap between learners, potential employees and employers.

With all of these factors at play in India’s education and professional landscape, the massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer a solution for employees and employers. MOOCs help in bridging the gap between what employers want and what are the skills job-seekers possess. Job-seekers in India do not need to be dependent on their traditional curriculum alone, but can take an unbundled approach to education and pick and choose online courses and programmes they need to advance their skills and expertise.
An example of this is the MicroMasters Programs, developed by MIT and adopted by various universities. MicroMasters Programs meet the needs of top corporations and provide learners with valuable knowledge and a career-applicable credential for highly competitive in-demand fields, while also providing a new path to a Master’s degree. Adding MicroMasters to a resume/CV or LinkedIn can help one advance his or her career. MOOCs make it easy to learn from any top university across the world from home, and since courses are online, they are easily updatable to stay in sync with the latest job trends and workforce needs.

Many use online learning to upskill or reskill to get a new job or to do better in their current careers. Digital learning helps job-seekers stay updated with the latest trends and technologies, and not become obsolete. India has a large youth population and MOOCs can be a perfect answer to job woes, considering online learning’s impact and cost-effectiveness. MOOCs are one of the latest progressions in the education sector and have the potential to go a long way in India. By embracing flexible, online learning programmes that expand access to higher level and continuous education, India can pave the way for democratisation of quality education for all.

Source | http://www.financialexpress.com/jobs/bridging-the-gap-between-employers-employees/630195/

What if we could upload books to our brains?



Human brain might interface directly with non-biological forms of intelligence
What if humans could upload all the great classics of literature to their brains, without having to go through the arduous process of reading? Wonderful and levelling as that may seem, it’s a prospect that I’m not sure we should readily embrace.

A while ago, I listened to an interview with futurist Ray Kurzweil on astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s radio show StarTalk. Kurzweil described how our brains might someday interface directly with non-biological forms of intelligence, possibly with the help of nano-bots that travel through our capillaries.

Given how much faster this interface would be than regular reading, he went on, we’d be able to consume novels like The Brothers Karamazov in moments, rather than the current rather clumsy form of ingestion known as reading, which, he said, “could take months”.

At this point Tyson interjected: Are you saying we could just upload War and Peace? Yes, Kurzweil answered: “We will connect to neocortical hierarchies in cloud with pre-loaded knowledge.”

This snippet of conversation has baffled and fascinated me ever since. I confess that I do not know a lick about neuroscience. But just knowing something about reading makes the above story implausible, if not alarming.

From my perspective, the learning that we do when we read a book has little to do with knowledge — what would a pre-loaded version of The Brothers Karamazov constitute? — and everything to do with responding emotionally and morally to the story. As I’ve become older, I forgive hypocrisies more quickly, and I identify with decay more readily. I understand spiritual conflict but I’m not alarmed by it. Thus the book itself is different each time it’s read by a different version of me.

I’m not sure what Kurzweil thinks when he says our computer minds won’t need to bother to read the book, and I want to give him and his other futurist computer-brain friends some credit. They surely mean more than having the text of the book itself available to us, or even memorised. That wouldn’t represent knowledge. It must be something deeper, a representation of the book possibly as a narrative, or maybe a movie. But again, if we have access only to that movie, it doesn’t represent the same learning that would come through reading and experiencing the book.

There are only two more possibilities left, at least in my limited biological brain. First, that the “true meaning” of the book is codified once and for all by a computer, and is inserted into our long-term memories. This would inevitably be unsatisfying, because it would mean that if I “read it again” I’d actually experience the same exact thing. Also, whose experience gets codified?

Finally, there’s the possibility that the book’s true meaning would change depending on the state of my brain — that the interface would look into my mind, see and understand my patience with hypocrisy and spiritual conflict, and then transform the story accordingly. In which case, every time I uploaded that book or any other, I’d experience a different story. I doubt this is possible, and in any case I would find the lack of active participation creepy. That said, I’d definitely pay a monthly subscription to try it out.

Source | Business Standard | 17 April 2017

Digital clutter is a phenomenon that increasingly plagues modern digital devices.


Digital clutter is a phenomenon that increasingly plagues modern digital devices. A recent research by IT security firm Kaspersky Lab reveals that user attitude towards app care and maintenance on their devices is making sensitive data on computers and tablets particularly vulnerable to security threats.

The study reveals that keeping control of the content on their devices is a task that users tend to avoid. Just 50% of users revise the content on their computers and tablets on a regular basis but as many as two in three (63%) people do this on their smartphones. This is because smartphones have less memory than computers and tablets. In fact, 35% of users have deleted apps on their smartphones due to lack of storage, whereas only 13% of users on computers have done the same.

According to the Kaspersky Lab research, a quarter of users don’t remember when they last uninstalled an application from their computers, while this figure goes down to 12% for smartphones. This has led to a situation where a third of applications on user computers are completely redundant— they are never used, but stay on the hard disk taking up space and potentially running in the background, putting sensitive information at risk.

All of our devices store sensitive data, and they should therefore be maintained in the same way. However, the research shows us that users do not treat their devices equally. The survey found that 65% of users update apps on their smartphones as soon as they are released, providing them with the latest security patches and updates. By contrast, users are less likely to update apps on tablets and computers, with just 42% and 48%, respectively, updating apps as soon as possible.

As a result of this behaviour, users are risking a range of problems associated with a buildup of digital clutter on their devices—particularly on their computers. Kaspersky Lab statistics show us that users face malware on their computers more than other devices (28% compared to 17% on smartphones). Worryingly, the study has found a contradiction in user attitudes towards their devices and the threats they face on those devices. According to the survey, despite users’ risky attitudes to managing clutter on computers and the greater threat of malware infections on these devices, most respondents still consider computers to be the safest place for their data.

“The digital devices we use every day store precious data that users don’t want to fall into the wrong hands or lose due to a device crashing or malware infection,” says Andrei Mochola, head of consumer business at Kaspersky Lab. “Combating digital clutter requires users to take action managing, cleaning and updating apps across all devices in their household. Care and maintenance should be a priority in your digital life as in the physical world, in order to keep the hackers at bay.”
In order to keep digital devices safe, users are advised to take the following steps:

Update apps: Update apps as soon as new versions are released because they might include security patches that prevent or reduce vulnerabilities in the app,

Clean apps: Improperly managed smartphone apps also represent a security threat because they often transmit data even when they’re not being used,

Change app settings: These enable the user to manage how the app interacts with the device. For example, apps can get access to user sensitive information, track user locations and share user data with third party servers. Failure to manage these settings can result in unused apps gaining access to information on the device without the user being aware,

Use specialist software: Install specialist software that can help to distinguish apps behaving suspiciously and those that are not used, as well as those which need to be updated.

Source | Financial Express | 13 April 2017