The Rainbow Club

The Rainbow Club:

A Chain of Youth Innovation Development Centres
………as a model for 21st Century extra-curriculur activities.
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The emphasis of our education system has been mainly on ‘academic’ subjects taught in the classroom and the learning is assessed by means of examinations which really demonstrate the ability of a student ‘ to be able to state what is in the book, without looking at the book’.
Even for admission to Professional Education Programs, such as Engineering, Medicine or Law there is no assessment of aptitude, passion or interest in the profession. An exception is Architect and Design programs, where an assessment of the relevant aptitude is made.
I have often said that all Board examination results should be required to have a statutory warning stating that ” The marks achieved by the candidate has no correlation with the real abilities of the candidate, and any correlation that exists is purely incidental and not intentional “.

When knowledge and physical resources were scarce and not easily accessible, this was perhaps an acceptable model. But in today’s information abundant society where information is literally at the fingertips with mobile access devices and sensors connected to the Internet, we are moving towards a situation of an Internet of things, perhaps an Internet of Everything.
Ordinarily extra-curriculur activities supplement this ‘ bookish’ knowledge, but the recent rapid developments and reasonable projections into the future suggest that the extra-curriculum component needs a fundamental transformation.
We are suggesting here a bouquet of 7 extra-curriculur programs that will help prepare our youth for success in the future. We propose to name it ” The Rainbow Club” and hope that the model will be adopted speedily by leading progressive Schools.
These ideas are triggered by the The Homebrew Computer Club which was an early computer hobbyist group from mid 1970s to mid 1980s in Silicon Valley and several computer entrepreneurs emerged from its ranks, including the founders of Apple Inc. The Homebrew Computer Club has been called “the crucible for an entire industry.”
I hope that it will not be a pipe dream to imagine that this chain of ” Rainbow Clubs” will trigger unprecedented innovation and creativity and unleash energies which would make India the centre of the Planet in the coming decades. Not merely ‘make in India’, but ‘tinker,innovate,create and design’ in India.
Why this is most critical?
India has a very large young population, which is seen by many as the ‘demographic dividend’. Researchers on IQ know that statistically about 2.2% of the population have an IQ of over 130 and about 0.1% have an IQ over 145, who are labelled as highly gifted. That means we have lakhs of extremely gifted and talented promising children whose genius is nipped in the bud by over emphasis of rote learning within the classroom, and meaningless and unreliable assessments at the end of the academic session.
Many thought leaders of the west are aware of this and long ago Lord McCauley in an open declaration to the British Parliament marshalled the intellectual genius of India against itself. About 55 years ago, the U.S. did it again by creating IIT Kanpur. A former director of IIT Kanpur used to say that ” the day a student joins IIT Kanpur, on that day his soul migrates to the U.S.A. And four years later his body follows. Thomas Friedman in his famous book ” The world is flat” referred to the same phenomenon by using the metaphor of a pipe of cognitive talent that filled at Delhi and emptied in the Silicon Valley.

More recently there is a joke doing the rounds on the Internet that the some concerned U.S. citizens raised the question as to why companies such as Microsoft were hiring Indians rather than local US citizens to lead them. And the answer they received was that if they didn’t do so, India would have created Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook.
That is why we need these Rainbow Clubs to act as crucibles of innovation for tomorrow.

The 7 arcs of the Rainbow Club are:

1. An SBC { Single Board Computer} products club
The most famous in this series is the credit card sized Raspberry Pi which was created to stimulate interest in computing amongst School children. Raspberry Pi is a dynamic microcontroller that is capable of just about anything a computer is. It runs with the Python programming language, and is a great way to learn about hardware hacking and coding. Information on many projects that can be done with it is available at Instructables. The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is the second generation Raspberry Pi, made available in February 2015. Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for anyone making interactive projects. Many similar products are available giving a large choice of hardware and accessories to build exciting computer projects.

2. A ‘Coding for All’ Club
In September 2014, UK became the first country in the world to accept and adopt the policy that all children including from key stage 1 to key stage 4 must learn coding a computer. It is accepted by progressive thought leaders that in future knowing computer coding would be an essential competence, much like English and Maths is today. In fact I have suggested a formula for success in future will be E+MC squared, similar to the Einstein’s famous equation E=MC squared.
For young children the Scratch from MIT is a very useful tool, and for the grown up, Python can be adopted. Also unlike the UK we are not suggesting compulsion, but an opportunity for all those who are keen and interested, to get an opportunity to learn coding. And once some children see the value and usefulness of this skill, more will want to join.

3. An Apps Development Club ( all major platforms)
The success of the Indian IT industry was based on services, and there were very few products. With the proliferation of mobile devices, development of mobile Apps has the potential to make India the hub of mobile computing.
Apps for the Android can be easily made with tools like AppInventor or a SDK such as Eclipse. For the iOS platform, Apple has just released the Swift programming language manual. Microsoft would of course liberally support any initiatives by Schools for developing Windows Apps.

4. Game Development Club ( including multi-media, animation, augmented ,virtual reality and motion sensors)
All young people and some older ones as well enjoy playing games. Some games like ‘angry birds’ have millions of followers, and many traditional games beginning from Chess to Solitaire have Apps to play them on mobiles and tablets.
But the young move very quickly from just players of games to designers, creators and developers of games. The availability of products and software development kits with augmented reality, virtual reality and motion sensors, means that entirely new games landscapes and scenarios can be created. On the horizon is Microsoft’s hololens
that combines holographic projection onto the field of vision. The potential is almost unimaginable.

5. Drones and Robotics Club

In fact the World Robotics Olympiad of 2016 will be held for the first time in India, and clubs such as these would have a great opportunity to encourage their members to participate in the WRO 2016. Of course their are national championships on way to preparing for the WRO. A prominent promoter of Robotics education in India is the RoboGenius Academy that deploys the Lego kit.
Drones are robots that fly, and can have a huge impact on the way we deliver products and services.

6. Digital Fabrication and 3D Printing Club
The old engineering method of assembling from components that were made separately is now gradually giving way to the new method of ‘additive manufacturing’. The price of the 3D printers that enable this are gradually moving to realm of affordability by the education system, and often is almost at the level of a hobbyist. Hence the idea of a club to encourage this. Websites like ‘thingiverse’ allow for ideas to be shared and actually support a ‘making’ community that can make amazingly new products. The pace of progress is so rapid that there is already talk of 4D printers.

7. A persuasive Communication and Public Speaking Club. The ability to effectively communicate, especially in a multi-cultural context becomes a sine qua non in an information abundant globally connected society. Visual communication, including preparing Infographics, non-verbal communication, and of course effective verbal communication can all be improved by systematic knowledge of the principles and constant practice. The weaving of a narrative in the raw data helps, as does a sense of humour.

These Clubs will help develop the following attributes in their members:
* Curiosity

* A questioning mind

* A Scientific temper ( this is a constitutional requirement)

* Mathematical thinking ( computer based maths of Conrad Wolfram and Mathematical modelling and simulation)

* A Learning Disposition: developing a self-directed autonomous learner

* A thinking and logical mind

* A tinkerer and maker mindset

* Appropriate values for living into the 22nd Century

Operationalising the ideas:
All of the above would be organised in the context of modern and emerging technologies.

So in the physical space available at the YID clubs, there would be lots of resources, both software and hardware.

Members will be provided drones, robots and 3D printers to explore. They will also be encouraged to create mobile Apps and explore the Internet of things. With these basic ideas, their natural combinations and evolution would follow.

To make this a crucible for the new innovative economy, we have to create a new entrepreneurial model for their creation and rapid expansion.

The clubs would be supported by a strong central unit headquartered at a suitable place, which will support the club and its members with the required knowledge base. It will have an ‘observatory’ where observers will keep track of latest developments in allied areas and share it with the community. It will run a 24×7 HelpDesk to support all the members as well as the entrepreneurs who are running the YIDCs.

This central unit will keep the fold together, draw up plans and schedules that can be supplemented by the other clubs and make a thriving and vibrant community of thinkers, tinkerers and makers. The Central group itself will have access to experts and mentors from all over the world who are interested in pitching in.

A pilot can begin with about say 25 centres, in the 4 metros and an additional 21 smaller cities. That would be a good size to seed the idea, and then every quarter more can be added.

In conclusion:
There was a time when only the classroom was important. So much so that the sixth education commission ( 1964-1966) headed by Dr DS Kothari had as its theme ” The destiny of India is being shaped in its classrooms”.
Fifty years from them, the classroom and rigid academic disciplines are seen as constraining, and there seems to be an agreement that we need to move upwards in the hierarchy of Bloom’s Taxonomy from mere remembering to understanding, applying,analysing, evaluating to creativity. A very recent initiative by Finland whose Schooling is considered perhaps the best in the world is moving from rigid subject based approach to a more integrated and comprehensive phenomenon based approach.
So maybe begin with questions like ” Why the sky is blue?” or ” Why is the rainbow like a bow?” and then bring together the knowledge from a variety of topics to understand the phenomenon.
In other words, the blending of traditional classroom learning and extra-curricular activities.
Over the past centuries, there have been several examples where opposing concepts or ideas have been reconciled or integrated.
For quite some time, electricity and magnetism were seen as different until Maxwell conceived electro-magnetism as the unifying phenomenon. Similarly for wave particle duality. And until Einstein gave his mass energy equivalence, we thought of conservation of mass and conservation of energy as two different principles, with matter taking several forms as could energy.
Another important element of extra-curriculum activities is it fosters co-operative, collaborative and social learning, which gets ignored in the traditional classroom model.

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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