Learning Prescriptions:

Learning Prescriptions: 

For about 5 years, since the World Economic Forum in January 2016 described the present era as the 4th Industrial Age, and Anthony Seldon used the phrase “ Fourth Education Revolution”, I have been exploring disruptive innovations in education. While using mobile phones as access devices and WhatsApp as the messaging platform was relatively easy to arrive at, the real disruptive thought was that the emphasis on teaching has to give way to focus on learning. British Universities have a long tradition of two formats, where most undergraduate courses are delivered through taught classes, but Masters degrees can be either postgraduate taught programmes (PGT) or research programmes (PGR).

In today’s time, with an  abundance of digital resources, especially AI powered learning Apps such as Duolingo, the alternative to ‘being taught’ is perhaps more desirable as Guy Claxton says in this video, traditional education causes “ taughtitis” https://youtu.be/JxWybvns1jg

 I have created a WhatsApp course on “ Learning to Self-Learn”. For details follow this link : https://mmpant.com/l2sl/

This has been followed up by the concept of “ Learning Prescriptions” for what is not traditionally taught or not accessible to you. I had been earlier espousing the idea of a “ to learn” list in analogy to the “ to do “ list that is well known in project implementation. Prescriptions have a better possibility of being acted upon and followed, than mere suggestions or exhortations. I am developing this concept, as learning is eventually personalised. It builds upon the concepts of “ Bibliotherapy” and “ CBT: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy” to create a product for self-directed learners, who would want to follow the 5- hour rule and try to stay away from joining the useless class predicted by Yuval Noah Harari 

I just did a short one hour WhatsApp fast a-synchronous session scheduled from 4pm to 5pm on 26th May 2021 for about 70 participants to explain this concept and share a sample Learning Prescription for “ Visualising the world in 2030”. 

In future, this program will be on offer, every Sunday from 4pm to 5pm. To know more, kindly send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

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The Transformational Term:

The Transformational Term: 

The phrase “ Transformational Term” refers to the period of transformation from adolescence (~15 years) to adult/ youth ( ~18 years)of an individual. It also refers to the transformation from ‘education for the past’ which could be about the Vedic times, the 5th Century, the 15th Century or even the last two decades of the 21st Century, to the future beginning with the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. Most progressive thinkers agree that the future, even the present decade itself, is very different from the entire past. The “Transformational Term” is also very crucial for adult learners, getting ready for the rest of their lives. It is important to appreciate that Future readiness isn’t expensive. It’s priceless. But only around 5% of the youth and their parents are aware and informed about this. 

While there are many evolutionary and disruptive changes taking place before our eyes, I have made a small endeavour to facilitate this transformation for those who wish to future proof their learning and career. 

I have developed and have on offer from June 2021 through WhatsApp a set of six one month long course modules that can be pursued during this transformational term. They are :

1: Learning to Self-Learn ( L2SL) : https://mmpant.com/l2sl/

2: Becoming Invaluable, not Useless (BINU): https://mmpant.com/bi/

3: Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence ( MSAI): https://mmpant.com/msai/

4: Readiness for a Quantum Future (R4QF): https://mmpant.com/qr/

5: The Foundations of Biology (TFOB): https://mmpant.com/fob/

6: Becoming Fluent in Mathematics (BFIM) : https://mmpant.com/fim/

The duration of this transformational term can be customised by  each person and can range from 6 months to 2 months, depending upon the learner. 

A: The six month default plan is to pursue the 6 courses in the listed order. Alternatively after doing the first course in the first month, the remaining 5 courses may be done in any order. So there would be 5! or 120 different routes to do the 6 month program. 

B: The four month plan would have course 1 in the first month, 2 courses each in the next 2 months and 1 course in the 4th month. In this model, the second month courses can be chosen in 10 different ways and the  3rd month courses can be chosen in 6 ways, leading to 60 choices for this model . 

C: The three month plan would have the first course in the first month, 2 courses in the 2nd month and the remaining 3 courses in the 3rd month. the 2 courses for the second month can be chosen in 10 different ways. Even that is a lot of choice. 

D: For the really enthusiastic ultra-learner, this suite of 6 courses may be done in 2 months. The first month pursuing these 3 courses concurrently : 1: Learning to Self-Learn ( L2SL) ; 2: Becoming Invaluable, not Useless (BINU) and 3: Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence ( MSAI). Then during the second month the remaining 3 courses may be pursued concurrently :4: Readiness for a Quantum Future (QR); 5: The Foundations of Biology (TFOB) and 6: Becoming Fluent in Mathematics (BFIM). 

Compressing the 6 courses into a shorter time frame is not recommended, and the first month should always begin with course 1: Learning to Self-Learn. 

We are offering a big choice in the sequence/ path that the learner may choose to structure “ The Transformational Term”. 

Brief descriptors of the courses: 

1: Learning to Self-Learn ( L2SL) : https://mmpant.com/l2sl/

This course begins with drawing attention to the significance of self-learning, describes the attributes of successful self-learners, and explains the techniques ( or you may call them the toolkit) for becoming a successful self-learner. It concludes with sharing how technology in general, and AI in particular can help in making a better self-learner

2: Becoming Invaluable, not Useless (BINU) : https://mmpant.com/bi/

There are several reports that indicate the widespread job losses for educated workers and professionals. The title of this course is a reaction to the 2017 statement by Yuval Noah Harari that the rise in AI technologies would create a “useless class”. The WEF in its January 2020 meeting estimated that about a billion people have to be reskilled by the year 2030. The key to prospering, flourishing and thriving in the future will be to continuously enhance your value and become the most ‘invaluable’ person in your niche. This 4 week course helps build a general ‘immunity’ against knowledge obsolescence by fostering skills considered valuable by various think tanks and forward looking organisations. But the foundation for becoming invaluable is “ Fostering a Scientific Temper”, a fundamental duty cast upon all Indians by Article 51A(h) of the Constitution of India. 

3: Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence ( MSAI): https://mmpant.com/msai/

We are now in the 4th Industrial Age and while Artificial Intelligence has been compared to being the new electricity, it’s availability through the cloud and mobile devices is much more universal. Since AI helps automate tasks which were earlier done by humans, it’s potential to enhance almost all human activities is enormous.  This is an introductory course for anyone who is curious to know what are the various aspects of AI. That is why it has been given the title ” Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence”. This course is a fascinating introduction for the curious, with substantial guidance on more for the serious. 

4: Readiness for a Quantum Future(R4QF): https://mmpant.com/qr/

After the nuclear race, the space race and the AI race, it is the Quantum race that has the spotlight. Quantum Technologies will shape science and the world economy, re-defining the speed, and scale of scientific and technological progress in the future.  Google achieved ‘ Quantum Supremacy’, on 23rd October 2019.

Quantum readiness, therefore, is a very crucial element of future readiness.     

Thus students of all streams, engineering, medical or business are well advised to get an early start on appreciating the quantum world. 

5: The Foundations of Biology (TFOB) : https://mmpant.com/fob/

Biology is the science of life. Its name is derived from the Greek words “bios” (life) and “logos” (study). Biologists study the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution and distribution of living organisms. 

The customary introduction of fundamental biological entities such as individual organisms, cells, genes, catalysts and motors remains largely descriptive. This new introductory course attempts to  describe the foundations of biology in terms of a certain unity of human knowledge that transcends discipline boundaries. 

6: Becoming Fluent in Mathematics (BFIM) : https://mmpant.com/fim/

Galileo said that the book of nature is written in the language of Mathematics.  

Mathematics is humanity’s best tool for trying to describe how the world works; indeed, the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics at explaining the world is a bit of a mystery. It is therefore said to be the Queen of Sciences. 

This unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics is both an asset and a curse. It’s clearly an asset in that it generates interest in the subject to have key problems solved. On the other hand, it’s a curse because it leads people to misunderstand the reason for doing mathematics is its present day utility.


My Scheduled posts time :

Around Lunch-time:

12:30 to 1:30 pm : Learning to Self-Learn ( L2SL) 

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm : Readiness for a Quantum Future (R4QF)

During afternoon tea-time:

4:00 pm to 5:00 pm : Becoming Invaluable, not Useless (BINU)

4:30 pm to 5:30 pm : The Foundations of Biology (TFOB)

Over Dinner: 

7:30 pm to 8:30 pm : Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence ( MSAI)

8:00 pm to 9:00 pm : Becoming Fluent in Mathematics (BFIM) 

Scheduled dates in June 2021:

1st week : Tuesday June 1st to Saturday June 5th

2nd week: Monday June 7th to Friday June 11th

3rd week: Monday June 14th to Friday June 18th

4th week: Monday June 21st to Friday June 25th

Scheduled dates in July 2021:

1st week: Monday July  5th to Friday July 9th

2nd week: Monday July 12th to Friday July 16th

3rd week : Monday July 19th to Friday July 23rd

4th week : Monday July 26th to Friday July 30th

The schedule for later months will be shared nearer the course offerings, as there may be other changes as well.

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Learning Prescriptions:

Learning Prescriptions:

During the last year, it has become clear that we need new innovations in education. One such innovation is the “ Learning Prescription”. I had been earlier espousing the idea of a “ to learn” list in analogy to the “ to do “ list that is now well known in project implementation.

The five-hour rule was coined by Michael Simmons, founder of Empact, who has written about it widely. The concept is wonderfully simple: No matter how busy successful people are, they always spend at least an hour a day — or five hours a work week — learning or practicing. And they do this across their entire career. For more read here : ……https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/317602

When you make learning a habit, you’ll very likely be more successful and productive across different areas of your life. By investing in a reading habit, you can ensure you’re growing yourself — and your company — every day.

Prescriptions have a better possibility of being acted upon and followed, than mere advice or exhortations. I am developing this concept, as learning is eventually personalised.

To get a flavour of what “ Learning Prescriptions” might look like, here is a sample 5-hour learning prescription to use during the coming week. Prescription to be carried out to build ‘ learning power’. 


Videos: (5) ~ 3 hours

1: Ken Robinson : The element (40 minutes) : https://youtu.be/3TAqSBMZDY8

2: Paul Nurse : What is Life? (60 minutes) : https://youtu.be/_z-SUo2wP4I

3: The map of Mathematics (11 minutes ): https://youtu.be/OmJ-4B-mS-Y

4: The usefulness of useless knowledge: (55 minutes) : https://youtu.be/atn65fZGYUM

5: Why most people will remain in mediocrity (12 minutes) : https://youtu.be/rH94x03Wl-M


1: The Sabre tooth curriculum: https://users.ugent.be/~mvalcke/OWK_1415/toetsing/thesabertoothcurriculumshor.pdf

2: The Dragon Slayer Curriculum: http://www.socraticarts.com/docs/SCCwhitepaper.pdf

3: The parrots tale: https://www.parabaas.com/translation/database/translations/stories/gRabindranath_parrot.html

4: ElDorado : http://web.thu.edu.tw/ccj/www/El%20Dorado-Robert%20Louis%20Stevenson.pdf

5: On being the right size: https://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/rightsize.pdf

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Success Skills for School Leavers:

Later in the day, I am in conversation with a group of students who should be completing their School education soon. Unlike their seniors who had a rather predictable and deterministic future, these children of the 21st Century are witnessing that what lies ahead is a VUCA ( Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous ) world. While the details of the courses and career paths will be unique to each person, here are some general suggestions for them to prosper, flourish and thrive in the coming age of Intelligent Machines. Inspired by the 8 sutras of Patanjali Yoga and the 8-fold path of Buddhism, I have prioritised 8 skills. The first 4 of them are generic skills and the other 4 are more specific. They are: 

1: Learning to Self-Learn

2: Pursue Mastery Learning 

3: Fostering a Scientific temper 

4: Developing Foresight 

5: Fluency in Mathematics 

6: Fundamentals of Biology

7: Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence

8: Become Quantum Ready

To explore these further, feel free to seek guidance from Prof. MM Pant. 

e-mail : mmpant@gmail.com

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Learning to Self-Learn:


Certified Master Trainers Training Programme (Learning to Self – Learn)

🎙️ Resource Person – 

Prof. M M Pant Madan Pant Former Pro Vice Chancellor, IGNOU & Brand Ambassador – CED FOUNDATION ( MMPant.net and MMPant.com) 


National Institute of Education (Maldives) & GTEF -Training & Assessment Unit Registered under MSME, Govt. of India

📚 Programme Schedule –

🗓️  Date : 05th April 2021 – 30th April, 2021(Except Saturdays &  Sundays)

⏰  Duration : 04Weeks | Timings : 04:00 PM – 05:00 PM(IST)

💻  Delivery Platform : Zoom

👩‍🏫 Who should join the programme ?

For Trainers, Teachers, Counsellors & School Leaders

👉 #RegistrationLink – LIMITED SEATS          

Training Unit

#CEDGlobal Ced India 


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What is worth learning?…in the age of intelligent machines

What is worth learning? 

……..In the age of intelligent machines: 

The Backdrop: 

One of the most important questions that we face these days regarding education is—- what’s worth learning? What’s worth learning for the present times? What’s worth learning for the next decade? And the trouble is this very, very important question is really not asked nearly often enough. Discourse around education tends to be about the method. I think that we need to think in terms of educating for the unknown.

Up until now , most people were not confronted with this question because knowledge was accessible in very limited ways, according to social norms or legal requirements. Starting from the stories of Eklavya and Karna in the Indian tradition to Thomas Hardy’s  ‘Jude the Obscure’. Fast forward to present times when you can’t access an IIT education or a medical education unless you fulfil certain conditions, and some young people even commit suicide because they were not able to get admissions to the courses of their choice. 

Even nursery admissions are a very complex process with occasional judicial interventions and not simply a matter of choice. 

But there is another world taking shape that many persons including policy makers are not seeing. This is an example of the now famous ‘Gorilla in the room’ experiment carried out in 1999 by the Harvard psychologists Christopher Chablis and Daniel Simons. 

This is the world of MOOCs, educational Apps and chatbots that we fail to recognise as ways to learn almost anything. As Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University in his 2018 book “ The Fourth Education Revolution” says that today a person can learn almost anything that he or she really wants to learn. 

And the most visible proof is how this country learnt to use the mobile phone, and that too without a National Policy on how to use the mobile phone formulated by a committee of 10 over 4 years. And now that we have learnt how to use the mobile, the next step is to use the mobile to learn. 

This gives rise to a new and very important question : what is it that is worth learning? And as every person is unique, there cannot be the same answer for everyone. 

There is a delightful story of how Albert Einstein as a Professor at the Institute of Advance Study at Princeton University one day gave his students a final exam that was a year old. In fact, Einstein had given his students the exact same final exam the year before. His teaching assistant noticed the “error” and timidly made the famous physicist aware of his mistake. Einstein looked closer at the newly distributed sheet and answered: “You’re right, these are the same questions as last year – but the answers have changed.”

One question “ What is worth learning?”, now has a very different answer than it had in any of the earlier decades. This is the decade when according to IBM and other leaders, Quantum Computing would have moved out of research into the world of applications. 

The World Economic Forum has listed the top 10 most important Skills for 2020 and beyond. Jeanette Wing has drawn attention to learning Computational Thinking and Elon Musk has emphasised the criticality of First Principles. And there are lists of trending technologies. So the focus must shift to learning itself: mastery learning, self-learning and lifelong learning. This ne hour session has information about and links to various resources that will help you to be better prepared to prosper and flourish in the coming decade.

This one hour WhatsApp interaction responds to this fundamental question and  can be accessed through a mobile phone, independent of location, on an  evening of any 3rd Saturday of the month that suits you. The next batch for this course is on Saturday 20th  March 2021.

To register for this course :

First pay the fee of Rs 500/- by PayTM to MM Pant ( mobile number : 9810073724). 

Then send a Whatsapp message to MM Pant ( 9810073724) with the following information :

1: Name : First and Last

2: Mobile phone number linked to Whatsapp 

3: PayTM transaction number/ screenshot

4: Your brief profile ( optional)

If you would rather pay to a Bank through electronic transfer, then the required information is : 

Madan Mohan Pant, HDFC Bank, 

Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurgaon 

A/c 26451000000301



To know more, send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

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AInEd Supremacy:

AInEd Supremacy

Recently China announced that it had achieved Quantum Supremacy. Google had made the same claim in October2019. The phrase ‘ Quantum Supremacy’  was coined  in 2012 by the Caltech Professor John Preskill to describe the  situation when a Quantum Computer could solve a problem that no classical computer of the day could solve in a reasonable time. 

In a similar spirit I have coined  the phrase “ AInEd Supremacy” to describe the situation when the AI technology of the day in conjunction with a human educator will achieve learning outcomes that no traditional teacher with traditional technology could achieve. This may also be seen as the solution to the 2 sigma problem identified in 1984 by Benjamin Bloom.

About a decade earlier, while teaching at IIT Kanpur, I had explored Mastery Learning with Personalised Instruction, for which I had published a paper : M.M. Pant, “Experiment with self–paced instruction in undergraduate Physics”, J. of Phys. Education, 3, 1 (1975).

The AInEd supremacy will be achieved during this decade, perhaps much earlier with the use of Chatbots, Face and emotion recognition, recommender systems, text to speech, speech to text and machine translation. And of course technologies like GPT3 which were explained in this group earlier by Dr. RC Sharma. 

The 2018 book by Anthony Seldon “ The fourth Education revolution” explains how AI will fundamentally transform education. He says that so far education has been the Cinderella of the AI story. 

Terrence Sejnowski, Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Director of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, says that “ Education is going to be the killer app for deep learning”. 

Sir Anthony Seldon illustrates how each of five traditional factors in teaching will be transformed by AI over the coming decades: 

  1. Preparation of material will be done by ‘Curation specialists . . whose job it is to work with AI machines to author and identify the most appropriate material for particular student profiles.’ 
  2. Organisation of the learning space: ‘Separate classrooms will disappear in time and replaced by pods and wide open, flexible spaces which can be configured for individual and flexible collective learning. Sensors will monitor individual students, measuring their physiological and psychological state, picking up on changes faster and more accurately than any teacher could.’ 
  3. Presentation of material to optimise learning/deeper understanding: ‘The flexibility of visual representation with AI allows material to be presented to students which renders much teacher exposition redundant.’ 
  4. Setting assignments and assessing/self-assessing progress: ‘Advances in real-time assessment enabled by AI will virtually eliminate this waiting period [the time lag between students being assessed and them receiving feedback on their performance} and ensure feedback comes when most useful for learning.’ 
  5. Preparation for terminal examinations and writing summative reports: ‘All this will be swept away by AI. . . . In its place will be attention to continuous data reporting, and real time feedback that will help students discover how to learn autonomously and how to address any deficiencies on their own.’ 

Will we need teachers in the future? Seldon is clear ‘We do not believe that it is either possible or desirable for AI to eliminate teachers from education’ but he goes on to point out that ‘the application of AI places more responsibility for learning in the hands of the student, for how their time is spent and on what, even from a young age.’ AI will change however the job of the teacher forever. By supporting teaching in all their five traditional tasks, AI will usher in the biggest change the profession has ever seen.’ We will see the emergence of the AI fluent SmartEducator. 

Interestingly Seldon recognises that remote teaching is a distinct possibility: ‘Imminent advances in virtual technologies will mean too that teachers no longer have to be physically present to offer their services.’ 

The technology to deploy ‘holograms’ for professor’s presence anywhere ( watch this 4 minute video) already exists. With time it will become more readilyavailsble: https://youtu.be/auJJrHgG9Mc

Technology powered by AI could even hel on resurrecting dead professors : https://theconversation.com/chatbots-that-resurrect-the-dead-legal-experts-weigh-in-on-disturbing-technology-155436

In addition to the help that AI will provide to facilitate the tasks of a teacher, there are a few more results that learning analytics will provide that enhance the teaching quality and the learning effectiveness. For example when the learner is transacting the content, data will automatically be recorded for the time spent at various sections. With permission granted to record facial expressions, there will be very useful data that indicates the level and nature of engagement with the content. The qualities of grit, perseverance etc. referred to by Paul Tough in his seminal work “ How children succeed” can now be observed and analysed quantitatively. Drawing on groundbreaking research in neuroscience, economics, and psychology, Tough shows that the qualities that matter most have less to do with IQ and more to do with character: skills like grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism.

To help with his class the spring of 2016, a Georgia Tech professor Ashok Goel, hired Jill Watson, a teaching assistant unlike any other in the world. Throughout the semester, she answered questions online for students, relieving the professor’s overworked teaching staff.

But, in fact, Jill Watson was an artificial intelligence bot.

Ashok Goel, a computer science professor, did not reveal Watson’s true identity to students until after they’d turned in their final exams.

With more human-like interaction, Goel expects online learning could become more appealing to students and lead to better educational outcomes.

Just as professors may use AI as teaching assistants, students could use a chatbot to facilitate individual mastery learning, the technology that Bloom suggested in his 1984 research….the two sigma  problem. It would have taken about 40 years to realise Bloom’s vision. 

AI and related technologies can help bring the Oxford/ Cambridge tutorial system to any University that chooses to adopt it. While a good deal of the teaching in Oxford is provided in just the same way as elsewhere – through lectures, seminars, fieldwork and practicals – the tutorial system is what sets Oxford (and Cambridge!) apart.

Universities in future will have a physical campus as well as a campus “in the cloud”. Former faculty and graduated students can continue to take part in the “cloud events” when they have left the Campus. 

Universities will continue to support their students with lifelong learning even after they have received their degrees so that they continue to ( in the words of Alvin Toffler) learn, unlearn and re-learn. In addition to the traditional degrees, such micro-credentials may be given as ‘digital badges’, which in due course may be managed as ‘ Blockchains’. 

In about a decade from now, the impact of the science of learning empowered with Artificial Intelligence will be seen on many features of the present educational landscape that we take for granted. Every student would have access to the best education in the field of choice, in a time schedule that is optimised for the learner. It is extremely tough to determine as to which teaching method resonates with most of the students. A well designed tutoring programme, with the help of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, can overcome this roadblock in the swiftest possible manner. As a matter of fact, a few tutoring programmes based on AI are already in place and they cater to students across different levels and subjects, such as science, mathematics, writing etc. Though such systems and programmes are not that effective when it comes to high-order creativity, they are extremely efficient for clarity on fundamentals and concepts.

The various School leaving Board examining bodies will become irrelevant, as will the entrance examinations such as the various incarnations of the JEE-IIT, NEET, CAT, LSAT etc. Just like the technologies of CAT-scan, MRI or PET did not replace doctors, but made them more effective, the science of learning with technologies of the 4th Industrial Age will help educators to be a very important element of the success of the country and its people in the emerging knowledge economy. 

The current state of assessment:

Of the various formats of questions that are used for assessments, multiple choice questions, fill in the blank or match entries from 2 columns are easily capable of being automated and evaluated with computers. Not only can a large number of students be graded automatically, the items can be evaluated on features such as facility, reliability and discrimination index. With good quality items for the bank of questions, it is relatively straightforward to implement an adaptive testing system.

The essay type questions are a formidable challenge to automated machine testing. But recent developments in machine learning, have made grading and assessments of essay type questions possible. 

This is also a time that shows up the irrelevance of the monolithic terminal examinations. Sir Anthony Seldon in his 2018 book “ The fourth education revolution” has analysed why such examinations will no longer be relevant. Sir Anthony, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, added that continuous assessment would sound the death-knell for exams: “The all-conquering cumulative exam is going to die and we should celebrate its death…The monolithic exam is drawing to a spluttering end.”

Micro-credentials are one of the hot rising idea in the education space. To understand the basics, go look at your child’s Xbox or PlayStation.

For most of the major games, there is an accompanying set of achievements, or badges. Every time a player achieves a particular task (kill 50 zombies without reloading, drive over every tree in the enchanted forest, smash every Lego fire hydrant, etc.) they get a small digital badge on their big page of achievements.

Micro-credentials take a similar approach to education. The root of the idea is simple–you demonstrate a very specific skill, and a badge certifying that micro-credential becomes part of your personal digital file. Some of the earliest micro-credentialing involved computer programming skills, but it has grown far beyond that. To see just how many types of micro-credentials are out there, take a look at Digital Promise. 

It offers micro-credentials of its own, but it also provides a platform for other entities to offer their own sets of micro-credentials.

To answer the question of what is worth learning, we need to balance between ‘pure’ learning and ‘applied learning’. The Usefulness of useless knowledge by Abraham Flexner, founding Director of Institute of Advanced Study Princeton: https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/07/27/the-usefulness-of-useless-knowledge/. There are many reports that refer to the decreasing half-lives of useful knowledge. 

To have an experience of what AI can already do for language learning, please explore Duolingo.com. Similar AI powered learning apps are available for some other subjects also. To appreciate how Duolingo uses AI in its design and delivery see : https://venturebeat.com/2020/08/18/how-duolingo-uses-ai-in-every-part-of-its-app/

These are a few educational applications that harness the power of AI to improve learning in students of all ages – from primary school through to college – and empower both learner and teacher with more avenues for reaching their educational goals.

  1. Thinkster Math:20 Thinkster Math is a tutoring app that blends real math curriculum with a personalised teaching style. They use artificial intelligence and machine learning in their math tutor app to visualise how a student is thinking as they work on a problem. This allows the tutor to quickly spot areas in a student’s thinking and logic that have caused them to become stuck, and assist them through immediate, personalised feedback.
  2. Brainly:21 Brainly is a platform where students can ask homework questions and receive automatic, verified answers from fellow students. The site even allows students to collaborate and find solutions on their own. Brainly uses machine learning algorithms to filter out spam.
  3. Content Technologies, Inc.:22 Content Technologies, Inc (CTI) is an AI company that uses Deep Learning to create customised learning tools for students, such as JustTheFacts101, where teachers import syllabi into a CTI engine. The CTI machine then uses algorithms to create personalised textbooks and coursework based on core concepts. Cram101 is another example of their AI-enhanced offering, where any textbook can be turned into a smart study guide, providing bite-sized content that is easy to learn in a short amount of time. It even produces multiple choice questions, saving students time and helping them learn more effectively.
  4. MATHiaU:23 Similar to Thinkster Math, Carnegie Learning’s MATHiaU offers AI-based tutoring tools for higher ed students who feel lost in lecturer-sized classrooms. The app is guided by each student’s unique learning process, keeps them aware of their daily progress, and helps teachers tailor lessons to meet each student’s specific struggle.
  5. Netex Learning:24 Netex Learning allows teachers to design and integrate curriculum across a variety of digital platforms and devices. The easy-to-use platform allows teachers to create customised student content that can be published on any digital platform. Teachers also get tools for video conferences, digital discussions, personalised assignments, and learning analytics that show visual representations of each student’s personal growth.

These should be seen not as the best that AI can do, but as illustrations of the enormous activity in the field, and to form the view that this is not far away. A co-operative symbiotic pursuit by educators and technology developers may achieve AI Supremacy in a short time, by July 2022, when we will be celebrating India@75.


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The 100 year life:

The Hundred year life:

A long life can be a blessing or a burden ( even a curse).

Death is a universal truth, and even a long life will eventually culminate in death. Most people are inadequately prepared for it. For helpful information on enjoying a long and fulfilling life delivered as a weeklong course n WhatsApp from Monday 22nd March to Friday 26th March 2021 : https://mmpant.com/thyl/

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Innovations in Teaching :

Innovations in Teaching:

Later in the day today, I am speaking at an FDP for Central University Jammu on the above theme. 

In order to share those ideas more widely, I am sharing here the main points, I will be making in my talk at the event. 

The driver of educational innovations in India is mainly to address the following challenges:

  • The challenge of numbers 
  • The challenge of access 
  • The challenge of relevance 
  • The challenge of costs 

The specific innovation that I have cited, at the end of this piece, helps in meeting all the above 4 challenges. 

Newton had once remarked “ If I have seen further, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants”.

There are a few thought leaders on innovation… and their ideas can be applied to education:

1: Everett Rogers on the diffusion of innovation. Link to Wikipedia article : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

2: Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne of INSEAD : link to Wikipedia article : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean_Strategy

3: Clayton Christensen: Disrupting Class : link to Wikipedia article : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovation

4: UKOU annual reports on Innovations in education. This series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. This ninth

report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a widespread influence on education. Innovative pedagogy 2021: https://iet.open.ac.uk/file/innovating-pedagogy-2021.pdf

Examples of educational innovation:

1: Duolingo, the free language learning App: http://www.duolingo.com

2: Learning 321: a free WhatsApp based learning community. Use this link to join: https://chat.whatsapp.com/DPcJtBi0JNs9NEnKBCKUN5

3: Future readiness, fee-based courses delivered through WhatsApp: http://www.mmpant.com

Riding on the shoulders of these, I am pursuing the following innovation in education: 

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AI and higher education:

Artificial Intelligence and its implications for Higher Education: 

There is a delightful story of how Albert Einstein as a Professor at the Institute of Advance Study at Princeton University one day gave his students a final exam that was a year old. In fact, Einstein had given his students the exact same final exam the year before. His teaching assistant noticed the “error” and timidly made the famous physicist aware of his mistake. Einstein looked closer at the newly distributed sheet and answered: “You’re right, these are the same questions as last year – but the answers have changed.”

To appreciate this anecdote we must know that the year in this story is the year 1905, annus memorabilis for Albert Einstein in which he published 4 path breaking papers in Annalen der Physik. 

The first paper explained the  photoelectric effect which was the only specific discovery mentioned in the citation awarding Einstein the Nobel Prixe in Physics. The second paper explained Brownian movement , which led reluctant physicists to accept the existence of atoms. The third paper introduced Einstein’s theory of special relativity. The fourth, a consequence of the theory of special relativity, developed the principle of mass-energy equivalence  expressed in the famous equation E = mass x c squared. 

These four papers, together with Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics, are the foundation of modern physics.

And this year 2021 marks the centenary of Einstein being awarded the Nobel Prize for one of those 4 papers, that on the photoelectric effect. 

In education, especially higher education we are in a similar situation today.

The questions are still the same – what do we teach, how do we teach, who does the teaching, where do we teach, how do we assess what has been learnt and how relevant is what we teach to help solve the problems of our times……but the answers are not the same as they were in the past. 

There are two main drivers of this change. One is the fourth Industrial revolution to which attention was drawn by Professor Klaus Schwab in January 2016 at the meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos. The other is the fourth education revolution which is the title of a 2018 book by Anthony Seldon. And to top it we had the Covid pandemic in 2020 whose impact is expected to last for a decade. The World Economic Forum in its meeting in January 2020 estimated that about a billion people have to be re-skilled and has launched a Reskilling Revolution, a multistakeholder initiative aiming to provide better education, new skills and better work to a billion people around the world by 2030.  

The drivers of change are emerging technologies of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, 3D printing, robots, drones, Blockchains. 5 G, self-driving cars…SAV Shared Autonomous vehicles, Augmented Reality, Virtual reality and Quantum Computing.

But the big challenge is that the time lag between the speed of change and the time it takes to produce a workforce with the desired educational qualifications and skills is becoming unacceptable. We therefore have to deploy these very technologies to achieve our goals. 

The usefulness of useless knowledge : 

In his classic essay The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge, ( https://www.ias.edu/sites/default/files/library/UsefulnessHarpers.pdf) Abraham Flexner, the founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the man who helped bring Albert Einstein to the United States, describes a great paradox of scientific research. The search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs. For example, no quantum mechanics, no computer chips.

There has however been a clamour in the last decades for education that is immediately useful and relevant, and Universities are often accused of not doing so. But just like the time gap between the frontiers of knowledge and their applications is reducing, so is the rapid obsolescence of present day knowledge. The skills of a lifetime become obsolete in an instant, and this is even more true as AI and Machine Learning automate more human skills. This leads to a rapid  uselessness of useful knowledge. Several studies and reports suggest that professionals in software engineering, marketing, sales, manufacturing, law, finance and accounting must update their skills every 12 to 18 months.

When faced with the question of how to teach, we must consider the API

API: active pedagogical ingredient : Heutagogy . Alvin Toffler had emphasised  learning, unlearning and re-learning. There has to be a shift to personalisation of learning instead of the present homogenisation. While implementing the pedagogical model, we must align it to the Directive Principles in our Constitution stated at Article 51A(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. 

We need to develop a course on introduction to Artificial Intelligence and related technologies that all University graduates should pursue. A course that we could describe as MSAI: making sense of Artificial Intelligence: an awareness course for all students…. like the first dose of the vaccination strategy, for the 4th Industrial Age.

The APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University led by Professors Vinay Pathak and Vineet Kansal have implemented this idea for all their students enrolled in Bachelor of Engineering across all branches / domain from Batch 2020. The course comprises Artificial Intelligence fundamentals with Natural Language Processing, Artificial neural Network, Robots, Speech recognition, and, exposure of Emerging technology including iot, virtual reality, 3D Printing & Drones, Cloud Computing. BlockChain.

The AKTU has also taken a lead by deploying a Chatbot to help students to get information on matters regarding the University. Arjun is the name of the Chatbot that is based on application of Artificial intelligence and  gives basic information about university activities, persons, grievance, result etc.

With more experience, we may in future see dedicated Chatbots for VCs, Registrars, Deans and all faculty. This is both doable and desirable. 

The attributes of an educated person has been changing over time. In the pre-computer age, it was largely about memorisation, and moving upwards in the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation. The intermediate levels are : comprehension, application, analysis and synthesis. In the age of computers, an educated person was expected to automate tasks that could be automated with the right algorithm and programming language. In this age of learning algorithms and machine learning, it is about being able to perform tasks using appropriately trained machine learning models. There was a big leap from the techniques used in IBM Deep Blue to defeat the chess champion Gary Kasparov in chess to that used in AlphaGo zero to defeat Lee See-dol. 

The most recent breakthrough in artificial intelligence, Generative Pre-trained Transformer could prove just as disruptive and revolutionary to the education sector. So far-reaching are GPT-3’s implications for education, and educators ought to make themselves aware of this development. GPT-3 has 175 billion parameters. It was ‘trained’ on an unfathomable quantity of text data from the internet – to illustrate, all of Wikipedia’s six million English articles comprise just 0.6% of GPT-3’s 45TB training data.

A GPT-3-driven app called “ Learn from anyone” prompts the learner to enter the name of any well-known figure to be the ‘teacher’, and to answer queries. Students can thus ‘learn philosophy from Aristotle’ or ‘learn about rockets from Elon Musk’: the system churns out detailed, clear, accurate answers to questions in the style of the chosen teacher, and the student can ask follow-up questions or request alternatives if they’re unsatisfied with the first answer.

In January 2021, Google’s new trillion-parameter AI language model is almost 6 times bigger than GPT-3. It is a massive one trillion-parameter transformer system.

Because GPT-3 can “generate content which human evaluators have difficulty distinguishing from content created  by humans,”GPT-3 has the “potential to advance both the beneficial and harmful applications of language models.” which include “misinformation,spam, phishing, abuse of legal processes, academic dishonesty and because of these dangers, there is need to do research and develop methodologies for risk mitigation, guide the development of ethical solutions that are free from bias arising from both the data and the training models. 

The challenge for higher education today is to prepare graduates who can do more useful and valuable tasks than AI alone, a rather challenging task to say the least. It is the synergy of well educated humans and the best machine learning models that will address the really wicked challenges the world faces today, such as climate change, health, education, greater equity and better governance. 


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