Excellence In Education

The education industry in India has been estimated to be worth $50 billion by the end of the current calendar year. Though it can prove to be a lucrative business, it’s not all about moneymaking for a few good people. You’ve already read what one educator had to say on the subject; now feast your eyes on the progressive academic plans of these forward-thinking institutions.
International Baccalaureate
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) was established in 1968, and is taught to students aged 16-19. More than 2,600 schools in 140 countries offer the IBDP, which prepares students for success in higher education and life in a global society. It is a demanding, two-year, pre-university program leading to an examination and qualification accepted by leading universities around the world. The IBDP helps develop students physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically. Its philosophy focuses on developing inquiring, knowledgeable, caring young people who can help create a better, more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The curriculum consists of the Diploma Program Core (as listed below) and six subject groups that focus on broadening students’ educational experience, challenging them to apply their knowledge and skills.
The three core elements of IB are:

  •     Theory of Knowledge (TOK), in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. Students make connections across traditional academic disciplines and explore the nature of knowledge through TOK.
  •     The Extended Essay, an independent, self-directed piece of research culminating in a 4,000-word paper. In this, students undertake in-depth research into an area of interest through the lens of one or more academic disciplines.
  •     Creativity, Activity, Service, in which students enhance their personal and interpersonal development through the aforementioned components.
  •     The six subject groups of IB are:
  •     Studies in language and literature
  •     Language acquisition
  •     Individuals and societies
  •     Sciences
  •     Mathematics
  •     Arts

The Approach to Learning (ATL) in the IBDP aims to nurture thinking, communication, social, self-management and research skills. These ATL skills link closely with the attitudes and dispositions identified in the learner profile of an IB student.
Source: www.ibo.org
The International School of Hyderabad (ISH) was founded in 1982.  A non-profit organisation, their first IGCSE Cambridge exams were administered in 2003, and the first IBDP class graduated in 2007. ISH is the only school in Hyderabad to be accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC). ISH is also the first school in Telangana authorised to offer the IB diploma. The school recently hosted an IB information session led by the head of school, Dr. Oli Tooher-Hancock. Dr. Tooher-Hancock completed her doctorate in IB education and has more than 20 years of relevant experience. At the session, Dr. Tooher-Hancock pointed out some of the key reasons why one should opt for the IB program at ISH, including the following:

  •     A truly international and diverse student body with children from 27 different countries.
  •     An experienced and strong IB faculty, both international and national, with tenure ranging from 5-20 years.
  •     Small class sizes mean the faculty-to-student ratio is less than 1:6, and the school’s preferred class size is 15 students, which helps foster an individualised and personalised approach to learning.
  •     A dedicated college counsellor helps ISH prepare students for university. Indeed, almost all their students go on to attend prestigious universities across the world, with the majority of them studying in the US and Canada.
  •     ISH believes that each student is unique, helping them achieve academic excellence and enabling them to become a socially aware and responsible individual equipped to excel in a global society.
  •     An excellent school facility spread over 10 acres within the lush, green ICRISAT campus.

Augmented Reality
A joint KPMG-NASSCOM report pegged the Indian augmented reality (AR) industry at US$354 million in 2012, and that is expected to grow to $5.1 billion by 2016. Globally, AR developers invested $670 million in 2013, according to ABI Research. In India, AR has mainly been used for marketing by multinational corporations. According to a market research report titled “Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Market”, AR ($659.98 million by 2018) and immersive virtual reality     ($407.5 million by 2018) are expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 15.18% from 2013-2018, reaching $1.06 billion globally in 2018. The report says that by 2015, AR will be widely used in the education field for advanced learning and teaching technologies.
While many companies are working on developing products based on AR, Smartur has found a strong case for the use of this technology, touted as a revolutionary step. A Hyderabad-based  start-up providing affordable digital content solutions to schools and students, Smartur has a diverse set of offerings suited to international schools and urban students, but it can also cater to economically challenged segments of society.
Smartur is using AR as an experiential learning tool to teach science in schools through e-learning models. This move could possibly create a new paradigm in the digital learning sector, not just in India but across the world. Smartur’s is the only known digital classroom solution built on AR. In fact, only a handful of organisations in the US have introduced AR-based products, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). AR technology has been around for 12 years or so, but only Google Glass has thus far been successful in incorporating the platform.
With AR, one can experience the next level of virtual imaging, which transports characters or elements into one’s world. This can be a foundational technology in education. Learning in Indian classrooms is basically blackboard-dominant, which caters to students’ semantic memory. With AR, children can view the human heart as though it were in front of them. It would cater to episodic memory, which is known to last for life.
Using technological innovations in the delivery of education is unheard of in our country. A couple of large e-learning players have used 3D technology to create static videos; that’s all. Smartur is using research on the human brain by scientists studying Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. This research unravels the learning processes of the brain, and the team at Smartur then juxtaposes these learnings with technologies like AR.
Smartur has earlier experimented with the ‘gamificiation’ of learning, in which maths lessons are designed as levels of a computer game, allowing students to collect coins as they complete each level. The company also developed a fun learning activity for children to comprehend the basics of Indian politics, using AR to create 3D-augmented images of Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi.
Smartur3D is an award-winning interactive classroom solution by Smartur, an educational initiative of Trendyworks Technologies, and is targeted towards the K-12 segment in India. Smartur was launched to provide affordable digital content solutions to schools in India, which has one of the largest school-going populations in the world. The core mission of Smartur is to offer cutting-edge digital solutions to schools across the private and government domains; solutions that are effective and affordable, all while leveraging the latest developments in technology. With more than 200,000 registered users across 25 states, 140,000 loyal and loving Facebook fans, and 6,000 teachers engaged in Smartur eLearning programs, it is the world’s most advanced 3D classroom solution. In fact, it’s the only such solution in the world to have the following visualisation features in a single application:
• Augmented reality
• Stereoscopic 3D
• Interactive 3D
Different Perspectives
Afshan Jabeen heads Ripples Centre for Enhanced Learning. According to the institution’s official website, they are “devoted to the transformation and growth of an individual beyond set barriers” by challenging “conventional ways of looking at learning”. Ripples focuses on dyslexic students, who have for so long been treated as lacking in mental faculty, when it is only their perception that hinders their benefitting from conventional teaching methods. We spoke briefly with Mrs. Jabeen on what Ripples does.
Tell us briefly about yourself and your organisation.
Ripples Centre for Enhanced Learning was started around three and a half years ago to cater to the needs of an increasing number of children and adults who struggle with learning disabilities like dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is the sole authorised training centre in Telengana for Pearson Clinical and Talent Assessments (PCTA). Apart from providing dyslexia therapy, Ripples also conduct dyslexia teacher training programs and runs a psycho-educational assessment centre. I’m the founder-director of Ripples, and a certified dyslexia therapist, psychological counselor and Montessorian. I have been in the field of education for the past 16 years, and in the field of dyslexia education for 13 years.
How far has Hyderabad come in accepting that not all children can be educated the same way?
Things have definitely but relatively improved over the last five to seven years, but we still have a long way to go. It often looks like we are on auto-pilot to adhere to popular trends in education and schooling, irrespective of whether or not they suit the child. I feel our schools still have a very strong colonial hangover, so the same methods used during British rule are being employed even now, leading to a strong perception that what was good then is good now.
Many seemingly underachieving children can do extremely well if they are introduced to non-conventional ways of learning. A lack of awareness among the people and shortage of trained, competent professionals are other stumbling blocks in the use and popularity of better, alternative teaching methodologies. Children with dyslexia, despite having normal IQs, are most affected because they don’t belong into special education programs, but many regular schools do not provide alternative ways of teaching to them.
What are some of the methods and techniques employed by Ripples?
We primarily use Orton Gillingham-based Sounds in Syllables dyslexia therapy procedures for language intervention, and a combination of research-based methods and activities, both concrete and abstract, to provide intervention for deficits in: working memory, inattentiveness, visual and auditory processing difficulties, etc.