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 :

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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 :

2: Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne of INSEAD : link to Wikipedia article :

3: Clayton Christensen: Disrupting Class : link to Wikipedia article :

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:

Examples of educational innovation:

1: Duolingo, the free language learning App:

2: Learning 321: a free WhatsApp based learning community. Use this link to join:

3: Future readiness, fee-based courses delivered through WhatsApp:

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, ( 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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Choosing a personal Philosophy:

Choosing a personal Philosophy 

When a young person recently asked me for education and career advice, I asked the enquirer to first choose a Philosophy of life, and them align the  career choices to this philosophy. The reaction was of complete bewilderment  at the suggestion. 

A philosophy of life is an overall vision or attitude towards life and the purpose of it. We all need personal philosophy in life or we risk wandering, and responding to random stimuli and information with little or no impact on our long-term goals. In this age of information overload, misinformation and pseudo-science this becomes even more important than ever before. 

Sir Ken Robinson has very well articulated the importance of your ‘element’ and aligning your work life to your element:

Videos from Sir Ken Robinson on finding your element?

How finding your passion changes everything:

The Japanese have a word Ikigai to describe your raison d’etre for your life. How to find and do work that you love ( Ikigai) :

There is a famous quotation from Mark Twain : “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Some people may go through life without ever finding out the purpose of their lives.

Robert Bryne once observed, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

“The unexamined life” said Socrates “is not worth living”.

There is one practical benefit of examining a life, though – both for the individual and the society. It can be an extremely humbling experience. It exposes our insignificance and liberates us from all forms of ego. This realisation can make us better human beings – more considerate, less judgemental and therefore blissful.

It is perhaps for this reason alone and not necessarily for any other that we should devote ourselves to the task of examining our lives.

I find the following lines from Bertrand Russell very uplifting: The Prologue to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography: What I have lived for

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

 I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

 Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

 This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

Another summing up of a great life was by Isaac Newton. When he was asked how he saw himself, he responded “ I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself, I was like a child on the seashore, looking now for a smoother pebble or a prettier shell, while the whole ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me”. 

Another tribute to a life worth emulating is in Shakespeare’s play “ Julius Caesar” at Act5 Scene5, where Mark Antony says of Brutus “ This was the noblest Roman of them all. All the conspirators save only he did what they did in envy of great Caesar. He only in a general honest thought and common good to all, made one of them. His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world :This was a man”. 

For much of the past, one’s philosophy was guided by the religion into which one was born. God’s revealed guidance for living was to be followed. With the rise of rationalism, and decoupling of religious rituals from working in an economy, a closer look at the Philosophy one adopts becomes important. 

See for example Milton’s lament ( on his blindness)

When I consider how my light is spent,

   Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

   And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

   My true account, lest He returning chide;

   “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

   Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best

   Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state

Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,

   And post o’er land and ocean without rest;

   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

The last line itself is a great Philosophy!

A pragmatic philosophy of life is in the famous poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling: 

Here is the poem recited by Sir Michael Caine :

This Desiderata attributed to Max Ehrman   is also a wonderful philosophy that is very practical :

Polonius advice to son Laertes Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3  :


Resources for further exploration:


1: Will Durant : Story of Philosophy :

2: Will Durant : Fallen leaves: last words on life, love, world and God 

3: Clayton Christensen : How will you measure your life?

4: Richard Dawkins : The God Delusion :

5: The best Philosophy books :

Videos :

1: Clayton Christensen: How will you measure your life? ( TEDx talk) (20 minutes)  :

2: Clayton Christensen : How will you measure your life? LinkedIn speaker series( 1 hour 12 minutes)

3: Frederick Nietzsche : how to find yourself ? :

4: What great Philosophers can teach us about how to live?

Alain de Botton: Author of The consolations of Philosophy ( 1 hour 20 minutes) :

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Learning 321/2

Learning 321/2:

This is a learning community seeded by Prof.MM Pant to explore social and collaborative learning for the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. It is a unique group where members propose what they want to learn. And other members of the group work to create explanatory content of 10, 20 or 60 minutes,with links to curated additional resources. Building on the 2009 Nobel Prize(Economics)work of Elinor Ostrom, and forced by the Covid 19 pandemic it explores a community based model of  learning.

You may join the WhatsApp group by using this invite link:

This is the schedule for our events in February 2021: 

1-Feb-21Monday Dr Ramesh C SharmaIndia 5 G Technology
2-Feb-21TuesdayMatheus Batalha Moreira NeryBrazilWriting your own story: empowering students through the writing processhe
3-Feb-21WednesdayMeenakshi ChaudharyIndiaBullying : Let’s talk to stop
4-Feb-21ThursdayRamesh C SharmaIndiaWorld of Multi-Dimensional Media
5-Feb-21FridayDr. Belgin Boz YüksekdağTurkeyLifelong Learners Motivations in DL
6-Feb-21SaturdayIvan NiranjanSouth AfricaInformal Economy and Occupational Health and Safetyhe
7-Feb-21SundayDr. Gaye Topa ÇiftçiTurkeyNecessity of Chaining Trust Society in Distance Learningshe
8-Feb-21MondayRamesh C SharmaIndiaDark web
9-Feb-21TuesdayHakan YILDIRIMTurkeyBlockchain and Distance Educationhe
10-Feb-21WednesdayMeenakshi ChaudharyIndiaMUNs and International Youth conference : Training young voices to rise for rights
11-Feb-21ThursdaySeher KAŞIKARATurkeyEthics and Law in Distance Education
12-Feb-21FridayEmel Güler and Buket KaratopTurkeyStrategic Planing Powered by AI
13-Feb-21SaturdaySoner SözlerTurkeyDesign Thinking in Distance Learninghe
14-Feb-21SundayEmre DinçerTurkeyBuilding Risk Intelligence in the Pandemic Time
15-Feb-21MondayRamesh C SharmaIndiaSpaced Repetition
16-Feb-21TuesdayDr. Murat Ertan DoğanTurkey
17-Feb-21WednesdayMeenakshi ChaudharyIndiaWe and the world after pandemic
18-Feb-21ThursdaySimon-Peter Kafui AhetoGhanaWhy some Africans wear beads?he
19-Feb-21FridayDr. Okan AksuTurkeyDigital Activism in Pandemiche
20-Feb-21SaturdayHande Ozgencay & Gulsun KurubacakTurkeyGenerating Immersive VR Videos for Distance Learningshe
21-Feb-21SundayDr. Tülay Görü DoğanTurkey
22-Feb-21MondayG. KURUBACAK and S. SISMAN-UGURTurkeyAs The Walls Collapse: Thinking About The Future Of Learningshe
23-Feb-21TuesdayS. URGAN and G. KURUBACAKTurkeyReflections Of The Major Outbreaks Throughout History On Working Life, Economy And Distance Educationshe
24-Feb-21WednesdayMeenakshi ChaudharyIndia21st century skills : how much ready we are
25-Feb-21ThursdaySimon-Peter Kafui AhetoGhanaLanguage through Africa Symbols: What the Adinkra symbols holds for the modern worldhe
26-Feb-21FridayS. SISMAN-UGUR and G. KURUBACAKTurkeyE-Heutagogy For Smart Distance Learning And Beyondshe
27-Feb-21SaturdayDr. E. Pınar Uca GüneşTurkeyUtilizing Social Networks for Distance Learning in the Pandemic timesshe
28-Feb-21SundayAssoc. Dr. M. Recep OkurTurkeyThe management of distance learning systems in the pandemic time
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GPSC 2021

Some thoughts shared at the GPSC 2021: 

I am speaking this morning at an event, the Gurgaon Public Schools Virtual Annual Conference with the theme “Changing Landscapes – The Futuristic pathways for Education”. I have written this text ( about 5 minutes reading time) to supplement my oral remarks, as well as to reach out to those who are interested in the theme, but are not part of that event.

1: There is a delightful story about Albert Einstein. The story is that one year when he was teaching at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, it was time to set examinations. When Einstein handed over the exam papers to his teaching assistant, the assistant noted that it was the same paper that Einstein had set for that class the year before. The assistant queried the master, “Isn’t this the same exam you gave this class last year?”. “Yes, yes it is.” replied Einstein. Emboldened, the assistant asked, “But how can you give the same exam to this class two years in a row?” “Becuase,” Einstein replied, “the answers have changed”.

2: The answers to the key questions in education have changed. What do we teach, when, where and by whom? How do we assess learning? Many of you appreciate the nuanced difference between assessment of learning, and assessment for learning. The NEP 2020 has also drawn attention to “ learning how to learn”? We are at the intersection of two big revolutions: the 4th Industrial Revolution ( Klaus Schwab 2016) and the 4th education revolution ( Anthony Seldon 2018) and as if that was not enough ….the pandemic became yet another disruptive force. And we have to deal with them coherently and concurrently.

3: The mobile phones will become the primary  device to access learning, which may then include Augmented Reality  and Virtual Reality for more engaging content. UNESCO has been organising a mobile learning week event from the year 2011, with a focussed theme every year, and has adequately established its importance and usefulness. More information at:

Use of mobile apps and other mobile content will facilitate a shift from the erstwhile practice of limiting the subjects of study to a few to the exclusion of others to sampling a large number of subjects, as proposed in the NEP 2020 irrespective of the marks obtained in them. This helps in becoming a sui generis. And results in a well rounded education. 

4: Focus must shift from prescribed learning outcomes to the process of ‘learning’ itself with the goal of becoming a lifelong self-directed learner.

In 1970 Alvin Toffler had said that the illiterates of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot ‘ learn, unlearn and relearn’. Building learning power as suggested by Guy Claxton ( Transition from ‘Revealed knowledge’ to discovered knowledge. 

For example,the process of photosynthesis is commonly written as: 6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2. This means that the reactants, six carbon dioxide molecules and six water molecules, are converted by light energy into a sugar molecule and six oxygen molecules. To appreciate that there is more to 

photosynthesis than this equation, just try shining light on a carbonated soda drink and notice that it does not produce sugar and make it sweeter. 

5: AInEd Supremacy:  China achieved Quantum Supremacy recently, while Google had demonstrated it in October 2019. The phrase was coined by John Preskill of Caltech in 2012 to describe the moment in time, when a Quantum Computer would perform a calculation that no classical computer could do in a reasonable time. As AI applications are harnessed by both the teacher and the learner to enable personalised as well as mastery learning, the two elements, which Benjamin Bloom identified in 1984 as a solution to the 2 sigma problem. This is the point I label as AInEd Supremacy, where an AI fluent SmartEducator will outperform the best of traditional teachers. The AInEd supremacy will be achieved during this decade with the use of Chatbots, Face and emotion recognition, recommender systems, text to speech, speech to text and machine translation. 

6: The trinity of competence, comprehension and cognitive flexibility must be nurtured as opposed to learning in silos. The sequence of competence and comprehension could be interchanged, depending upon the subject and competence. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to transfer knowledge and skills learnt in one context to another. We have seen in the past motivated typists becoming data entry operators and then with lifelong learning, evolve into a software professional. This has now become critical because of enhanced longevity and an increased working life, but with the half-lives of usefulness of skills continuously decreasing, the emergence of the Gig economy and working from home ( which is really a special case of working from anywhere) becoming the new norm. 

7: While the State has implemented, the right to compulsory education, we as citizens may be inspired by The Fundamental Duties that were incorporated in 1976 through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. Article 51 (a)(h) states that: It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.

In the absence of a scientific temper we are driven by intuitively strongly held but incorrect assumptions. The Scientic approach aligns the framework to the evidence. All science is tentative and must align theory to experimentally observed data. For example father Sir JJ Thompson got a Nobel Prize in Physics for proving that the electron is a particle , his son Sir GP Thompson got a Nobel prize for showing that the electron is a wave and Louis de Broglie got a Nobel Prize for showing it is neither particle nor wave or both particle and wave; wave-particle duality. And today’s Quantum Technologies that are transforming the world today, are based on this fundamental feature of matter.

We must strive to achieve a situation where most if not all learning is not thrust upon the learner but is ‘consensual’ in nature, driven by the learner’s curiosity and desire to learn. 

They say ‘ it is better to light a candle, than just curse the darkness’. In my attempt at future readiness in an age of Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Technologies, I have created a pool of several short courses and programmes that can be easily accessed with a mobile phone using WhatsApp. 

There are several tracks to be ready for the 4th Industrial Age:

1: All need to be equipped with the success skills needed for the 21st Century. The World Economic Forum has listed the top 10 skills that would be in demand. I have also included ‘ First Principles’ and ‘Computational Thinking’ to form a pool of 12 weekend courses that can be readily pursued through WhatsApp. More information at:

2: For educators, there are 2 sets of 4 weeklong courses. Every educator needs to be updated with the emerging challenges and opportunities to become a SmartEducator. More information at:

Many educators, especially those who are from a Physics, Mathematics or Computer Science/IT background may aspire to progress to becoming an “ AI fluent SmartEducator”. More information at :

3: Those who are at School, College or in higher education would benefit by keeping themselves abreast of recent developments. More information at :

4: The famous Psychologist, Karl Jung had drawn attention to the need for a “ School for the 2nd half of life”. I have created a set of 4 weeklong courses as an initial step in that direction. More information at :

5: Recent announcements are pointing out to Quantum Technologies being the next big thing. The Indian Government is also active in this field:

Towards this, a track on Quantum Readiness is available. More information at :

6: For the occasional learner, who is not ready for a more concerted learning effort, there are a set of 8 one hour learning sessions that can be accessed through WhatsApp during evening, before, during or after dinner. More information at :

7: The future of learning is personalisation. There is a personal mentoring program for those who would like to be mentored/coached by Prof MM Pant. More information at :

If you would want to know more about any of these, or wish to discuss any other matter regarding education and learning, especially with the future in mind, please feel free to send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

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The Science of Learning:

“ The Science of Learning”


1: The Backdrop

2: Development of the Sciences

3: Educational practice ignores research

4: Bloom’s 2 sigma problem

5: What machine learning informs us about human learning?

6: The current state of assessment

7:  AInEd Supremacy 

1: The Backdrop

I have just been hearing all the noise about the notifications and preparations for the CBSE and other Board examinations. Students aged 16 to 18 years, would be wasting their next 6 months in a completely detrimental activity. Some will also be spending substantial time and money with coaching Institutes doing more of the same.

In a recent (2018) book “ The fourth Education Revolution”, its author Sir Anthony Seldon lists (pages 165 and 197) the negative attributes of these monolithic examinations and celebrates their imminent death. This is not the only example of the divergence of educational practice from what research says.

To begin with, the learning pyramid ( suggests that most students only remember about 5% of what they hear in lectures, 10% of what they read from textbooks, 50% of what they discuss but retain nearly 90% of what they learn through teaching others. Yet our dominant form of teaching is lectures. The CBSE prescribes the mandatory  number of these mostly ineffective lectures, which must be attended before being allowed to take examinations. Shouldn’t we be appreciating more those who can learn without attending lectures. 

It shouldn’t surprise us that most School leavers are not ready either for the world or for further education, and are ready to be “the useless class” of the 21st Century described by Yuval Noah Harari ( 

The practice of medicine progresses because the outcome of medical research is applied to medical practice. We saw last year that medical science made a big jump in understanding and then making products with RNA vaccines for the first time in record time while dealing with the Coronavirus vaccine. But in the corresponding urgent matter of making our youth future ready and relevant, the policy making is driven in a leisurely mode, with no reference to the Science of learning, sometimes in complete opposition to what learning science tells us. 

Stanford University Professor Savas Dimopolous says  “ What differentiates scientists is an intrinsic ability to discern a good idea, a beautiful idea, worth spending time on and most importantly what is a problem that is sufficiently interesting and difficult that it hasn’t been solved yet and now is  the time for solving it “. The Science of Learning is such an emerging field. 

The Science of Learning is building on the advances in neurosciences and the availability of large amounts of data, which drove learning analytics and educational data mining. Now with Machine learning and deep learning helping us understand how machines learn, there can be new research and applications in the science of learning. Just as advances in Physiology/ medicine as well in Physics and Chemistry spurred the development of the Pharmaceutical Industry, we will see the development of a whole new educational ecosystem in the coming decades. An educational diagnostics industry will replace the erstwhile School leaving Board and end of year University examinations. This has been very well articulated in Anthony Seldon’s book “ The fourth Industrial Revolution” at p.165 and 197 referred to earlier in this piece. 

There are connections between, learning, computing and brain science which are well illustrated in this TED talk by Jeff Hawkins: 

Another closely connected idea to human learning is consciousness. Roger Penrose on Quantum Physics of Consciousness :

About a hundred years ago, Quantum Mechanics developed with a number of persons attempting to overcome the limitations of classical Physics, and now we are witnessing the 2nd Quantum Revolution. Similarly developments in the Sciencr of Learning will drive the 4th Education Revolution.

2: Development of the Sciences

In  prehistoric times, knowledge and technique were passed from generation to generation in an oral tradition. For instance, the domestication of maize for agriculture has been dated to about 9,000 years ago in southern Mexico, before the development of writing systems. Similarly, archaeological evidence indicates the development of astronomical knowledge in preliterate societies.. The development of writing enabled humans to store and communicate knowledge across generations with much greater accuracy.

If we fast forward to the early 19th century, this was a period that shaped science. Major breakthroughs came in biology, especially in Darwin’s theory of evolution as well as physics (electromagnetism), mathematics (non-Euclidean geometry, group theory) and chemistry (organic chemistry).

paradigm shift, a concept identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn,  is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline. Even though Kuhn restricted the use of the term to the natural sciences, the concept of a paradigm shift has also been used in numerous non-scientific contexts to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events.

Kuhn presented his notion of a paradigm shift in his influential book “ The structure of Scientific revolutions” published in 1962. 

Kuhn contrasts paradigm shifts, which characterize a scientific revolution to the activity of normal science,which he describes as scientific work done within a prevailing framework or paradigm. Paradigm shifts arise when the dominant paradigm under which normal science operates is rendered incompatible with new phenomena, facilitating the adoption of a new theory or paradigm. This is what happened in the first 3 decades of the 20th Century with the development of Quantum Mechanics. A hundred years later we are witnessing the arrival of Quantum Technologies. 

In my view “ the science of learning” is right now in the pre-paradigm shift stage, and the coming 3rd decade of the 21st Century will see a new phase of “the science of learning”, much like the Copernican revolution. Or like Quantum Mechanics and Classical Physics. The current practice of education is driven by intuitively obvious but incorrect widely held beliefs, and it is now time to upgrade it by adopting research findings and evidence driven practices. 

3: Educational  practice  ignores research

I have made this comparison often. Till about a hundred years back, medical practice was like the present education system, disconnected from the science of Physiology. In his book, “ The Youngest Science” Thomas Lewis shares how he first learned about medicine by watching his father practice in an era when doctors comforted rather than healed. Looking back upon his experiences as a medical student, young doctor, and senior researcher, Thomas notes that medicine is now rich in possibility and promise. The medical fraternity adopted both science and technology, and integrated it so well that when the Cornavirus pandemic came, most people were surprised that the medical establishment had no treatment for it. This amazing progress in medicine has been achieved because the outcomes of research in medicine and Physiology are applied to medical practice.

In the practice of education, on the other hand, the knowledge from research and experiments is not only ignored, educational practices and policies including the NEP 2020, do just the opposite. 

The “learning pyramid”, sometimes referred to as the “cone of learning”, developed by the National Training Laboratory, suggests that most students only remember about 10% of what they read from textbooks, but retain nearly 90% of what they learn through teaching others. The Learning Pyramid model suggests that some methods of study are more effective than others and that varying study methods will lead to deeper learning and longer-term retention.

The Learning Pyramid suggests that “Lecture” is one of the most ineffective methods for learning and retaining information. Lecture is a passive form of learning where you simply sit back and listen to information being spoon fed to you by your teacher or professor. Attempting to acquire information and gain understanding only through lectures is not the most effective way of learning. Its effectiveness is only 5%. Audio-visuals have an effectiveness of 20%, demonstrations30%, discussions 50% and practice at doing is 70% effective. 

But teaching others is 90% effective. This is what the Physics Nobel 

Laureate Richard Feynman also advised. He recommended  the following  steps:

1: Write the name of the concept at the top of a blank piece of paper.

2: Write down an explanation of the concept on the page. Use plain English. Pretend you are teaching it to someone else (e.g a new student). This should highlight what you understand, but more importantly pinpoint what you don’t quite know.

3: Review what you have pinpointed you don’t know. Go back to the source material, re-read, and re-learn it. Repeat Step 2.

4: If you are using overly wordy or confusing language (or simply paraphrasing the source material) try again so you filter the content. Simplify your language, and where possible use simple analogy.

But the present education systems emphasises attending lectures, to the extent that at both School and at higher education levels there is a mandatory requirement to attend 75% of these rather ineffective lectures, before they can take the terminal examinations. The other more effective ways of learning are seldom used. Even the duration of the lectures, is several multiples of the attention spans of the learners, as indicated by research. There is sufficient educational research to suggest that ’chunking’ of learning is more effective than long duration lectures. 

Content should therefore be in the form of ‘learning objects’ that are re-usable and available as a repository of re-usable learning objects. Preference should be to nano-learning objects that can be transacted or perused in 1,2,5 or 10 minutes, and any learning episode may be built by putting together these learning objects according to the pedagogical requirements. Each learning object will have meta-data to allow automation in their search, retrieval and combination. 

4: Bloom’s 2 sigma problem:

In the early 1980s, renowned educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom made a breakthrough discovery. Examining teaching and learning techniques, he found a way to drastically improve student performance, helping average students perform better than 98 per cent of their “traditional classroom” contemporaries.

Having discovered a way to improve education efficiency by several orders of magnitude, he could deliver results for students that far outstripped the standards expected of them. However, Bloom also faced a significant challenge – his technique wasn’t scalable.

In 1984 Benjamin Bloom discovered a method for drastically improving educational efficiency, delivering results that are improved by a factor of two standard deviations (two sigma). His method would mean that the “average” student within a given class could now perform better than 49 out of every 50 students within a traditional classroom setting.

Bloom’s secret sauce? The combination of two education approaches: mastery learning and one-to-one tutoring.

  • Mastery learning: Each student must achieve true mastery of a topic before moving on to the next, more advanced subject. The student is given the time to study the topic until they succeed in achieving this mastery, even if that takes longer than other students. Time is the one constant in a traditional classroom setting, with lessons squeezed into set periods, leaving no room for different learning rates or individual student needs. With a focus on mastery learning, achievement becomes the constant.
  • One-on-one tutoring: Each student is provided with a personal tutor who guides them through their learning, suggesting specific exercises and unlocking the individual student’s potential on an ongoing basis and ensuring they truly “get” the subject.

Given the impact of Bloom’s discovery, one might have expected these techniques to be applied everywhere by now, but this just isn’t the case. Why?

One underlying reason is the resistance to change that can be seen throughout the academic world. Bloom’s new approach to teaching was significantly different to the system in place, meaning that it was naturally met with scepticism and reluctance.

But more important is the time and resource-intensive nature of Bloom’s method. As an approach that’s new to the majority of teachers, substantial time would be needed to set up a mastery-oriented teaching framework, and the move away from hour-long teaching blocks would be hugely disruptive to the traditional learning environment.

Plus, the requirement for one-to-one tutoring would be time and cost-intensive, and incredibly difficult to implement for large groups of students.

To circumvent this, Bloom tried to find other ways to produce his Two Sigma effect, but to no avail. Nothing was as effective as a combination of mastery learning and one-on-one tutoring. The challenge of scalability explains why Bloom’s approach to learning development has not been widely adopted, but that is set to change.

5: What machine learning informs us about human learning?

There are 3 main approaches to training machine learning models: supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning. The recent success of AlphaGo zero that learnt to play the game of Go, and defeated the human world champion, without ever being taught how to play the game, shows a lot of promise for self-learning, and developing the skill of learning how to learn. This is also a matter, emphasised in the NEP 2020. 

All human learning is — observing something, identifying a pattern, building a theory (model) to explain this pattern and testing this theory to check if its fits in most or all observations.

Overfitting refers to the scenario where a machine learning model can’t generalize or fit well on unseen dataset. Overfitting happens when a model learns the detail and noise in the training dataset to the extent that it negatively impacts the performance of the model on a new dataset.

The opposite of overfitting is underfitting. In human learning overfitting is demonstrated when a learner can do well only on certain types of questions for which s(he) has been very well trained but can’t respond to questions that elicit a broad understanding of the subject. 

6: 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.

7: AInEd Supremacy: Recently China announced that it had achieved Quantum Supremacy. Google had made the same claim in October2019. The phrase ‘ Quantum Supremacy’  was used 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 made a phrase “ AInEd  Supremacy” to denote 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. We may achieve AInEd Supremacy in about 5 years. 

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.’ 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.’ 

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. 

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. 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. 

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Developing a learning culture:

Developing a learning culture :

A culture of learning, or learning culture, is one in which members of the group continuously seek, share, and apply new knowledge and skills to improve their individual and collective performance. The importance of the pursuit and application of learning is expressed in organizational values and permeates all aspects of organizational life.

Peter Senge, who popularized the concept of learning organizations in his book ‘The Fifth Discipline’, described them as places “where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together.” To achieve these ends, Senge suggested the use of five “component technologies”: systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, and team learning. In a similar spirit, Ikujiro Nonaka characterized knowledge-creating companies as places where “inventing new knowledge is not a specialized activity…it is a way of behaving, indeed, a way of being, in which everyone is a knowledge worker.” Nonaka suggested that companies use metaphors and organizational redundancy to focus thinking, encourage dialogue, and make tacit, instinctively understood ideas explicit.

A learning organization is an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.

This definition begins with a simple truth: new ideas are essential if learning is to take place. Sometimes they are created de novo, through flashes of insight or creativity; at other times they arrive from outside the organization or are communicated by knowledgeable insiders. Whatever their source, these ideas are the trigger for organizational improvement. But they cannot by themselves create a learning organization. Without accompanying changes in the way that work gets done, only the potential for improvement exists.

This is a surprisingly stringent test for it rules out a number of obvious candidates for learning organizations. For instance, most universities and higher education Institutions fail to qualify.

In Schools that Learn, Peter Senge argues that teachers, administrators, and other members of school communities must learn how to build their own capacity; that is, they must develop the capacity to learn. From Senge’s perspective, real improvement will only occur if the people responsible for implementation design the change itself: “It is becoming clear that schools can be re-created, made vital, and sustainably renewed not by fiat or command, and not by regulation, but by taking the learning orientation” . Senge, author of the best-selling The Fifth Discipline, has written a highly readable companion book directly focused on education. Individuals familiar with his earlier work will immediately recognize the five skills or disciplines at the heart of the learning orientation he proposes: developing personal mastery, creating shared mental models, establishing a shared vision, engaging in team learning, and thinking systemically. Collectively, these five disciplines represent the component skills underlying the learning process. According to Senge, if an individual, group, or organization develops the capacity to do each of the disciplines well, they will have become proficient in learning itself.

While there can be no ‘algorithm’ for creating a culture of learning, the following is a good guide : Six steps to create a culture of learning:

They are:

1: Show that learning is valued (and start at onboarding)

2: Create active engagement in learning

3: Build leadership buy-in

4: Deliver consumer-like experiences

5: Drive deeper engagement over time

6: Create a ‘consumer to contributor’ cycle

I end this post with sharing of a list of 10 TED talks about learning : The talks are:

1: The Life-long Learner – Bernie Dunlap

2: Learning How To Learn – Rodrigo Arboleda

3: Learning Styles And The Importance Of Critical Self-Reflection – Dr. Tesia Marshik

4: The Nerd’s Guide To Learning Everything Online – John Green

5: Let’s Use Video To Help Reinvent Education  – Salman Khan

6: Let’s Teach For Mastery, Not Test Scores – Salman Khan

7: Bring On The Learning Revolution – Sir Ken Robinson

8: How Games Make Kids Smarter – Gabe Zichermann

9: Smash Fear, Learn Anything – Tim Ferriss

10: The Call To Learn – Clifford Stoll

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Learning 321:

Learning 321: a community where the members learn something new everyday:

Learning 321 is a learning community seeded by Prof.MM Pant to explore social and collaborative learning for the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. It is a unique group where members propose what they want to learn. And other members of the group work to create explanatory content of 10, 20 or 60 minutes,with links to curated additional resources. Building on the 2009 Nobel Prize (Economics) work of Elinor Ostrom, and forced by the Covid 19 pandemic it explores a community based model of learning.

This is the link to join the WhatsApp group:

If this doesn’t work for any reason, you may send a WhatsApp message ( this is a WhatsApp group) to Prof. MM Pant at+919810073724.

The schedule for January 2021 is as follows: 

Everyday the post(s) are made at about 4pm. 

Friday 1st January: Arunjee: Humour in the classroom 

Saturday 2nd January: Manish Kumar: Quantum/Classical hybrid approach to AI/ML/1

Sunday January 3rd: Dr Chinu Agarwal: Mindful Livng

Monday January 4th: Dr Ramesh C Sharma: Fake News

Tuesday January 5th: Dolly Bhasin: Fashiontech/ Sustainable Fashion

Wednesday January 6th: Dr Jyoti Vora:Narrative of the nutraceutical… let food be thy medicine…..a Vedic dictum 

Thursday January 7th: Kapil Murdia: Creating awesome tech products/1

Friday January 8th: Bhavna Chibber: Positive aspects of social media 

Saturday January 9th: Dr Prakash Moghe : Beyond Abacus

Sunday January 10th: MM Pant: Developing a culture of learning

Monday January 11th: Dr Ramesh C Sharma: Virtual Worlds in education 

Tuesday January 12th: Sandeep Khanna: Cyber Safety

Wednesday January 13th: Dr Jyoti Vora: The wondrous realms of rock salt ( sendhaa namak)

Thursday January 14th: Kapil Murdia: Creating awesome tech products/2

Friday January 15th : Bhavna Chibber: Ambidextrous- blessing or skill

Saturday January 16th: Dr Prakash Moghe: The Mathematics of life

Sunday January 17th: MM Pant: Towards a Science of Learning

Monday January 18th: Dr Ramesh C Sharma : Gamification in education 

Tuesday January 19th: Archana Gaba: Cognitive Flexibility

Wednesday January 20th: Dr Jyoti Vora: Heavenly honey… a haven of wellness 

Thursday January 21st: Kapil Murdia: Self-improvement 101/1

Friday January 22nd : Bhavna Chibber: Principle behind vaccination

Saturday January 23rd: Dr Prakash Moghe:Constants and variables

Sunday January 24th: Manish Kumar: Quantum/Classical hybrid approach to AI/ML/2

Monday January 25th: Dr Ramesh C Sharma: Learning Analytics in education 

Tuesday January 26th: Vinod Dumblekar : Experiential, vicarious and fun learning

Wednesday January 27th: Dr Jyoti Vora: The jewel of good health…. jaswandaa (hibiscus)

Thursday January 28th: Kapil Murdia: Ideation to execution

Friday January 29th: Bhavna Chibber: How to become a better self-learner?

Saturday January 30th: Dr Prakash Moghe: The concept of Limits

Sunday January 31st: MM Pant: A personal Philosophy

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Paradigm shifts in education:

“ Paradigm shifts in education”

The phrase ‘paradigm shift’ gained traction from the well known book (1962)  by Thomas Kuhn “ The structure of Scientific Revolutions” which challenged the earlier view that Science progressed almost linearly as “development-by-accumulation” of accepted facts and theories. Kuhn argued for an episodic model in which periods of conceptual continuity, which Kuhn referred to as periods of ” normal science”, were interrupted by periods of revolutionary science. 

Kuhn’s view was  that a ‘paradigm shift’ was not a logically determinate procedure. He took the example of the Copernican revolution to make his point. The Darwinian theory of evolution of species and Alfred Wegener’s theory of tectonic plates are similar paradigm shifts as are Quantum principles. 

Clayton Christensen went beyond the focus on Scientific Research and referred to similar trends in innovation as ‘incremental’ or ‘disruptive’. 

In the field of education and learning we are witnessing two major revolutions, the 4th Industrial Revolution which was heralded by Prof Klaus Schwab at the World Economic Forum in January 2016 and the 4th education revolution, which is the title of a 2018 book by Sir Anthony Seldon. I strongly urge all educators to read this book, where two important assertions by him are that there have been only 3 education revolutions so far, and that education is the Cinderella of the AI story. Fundamental paradigm shifts in the education and learning domain are therefore inevitable. And like the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back, we had this unexpected Covid 19 pandemic. 

There are several manifestations of this paradigm shift, but in this post, I will confine myself to a few important elements, where I have created some approaches to align education to the future needs and expectations.

Referring to the need for new skills in the 4th Industrial Age, the WEF has listed 10 top skills for 2020 and beyond. For these 10 skills and  two more skills of Computational Thinking and First Principles, I have created a suite of 12 WhatsApp weekend courses whose details are available at:

Students and teachers are the primary stakeholders in any educational system. The parents of young learners also have an important role, and they are learners too as lifelong learners. Everything else is overheads. 

The first aspect of paradigm shift is the transformation of the disinterested and passive learner ( who has to be compulsorily educated to acquire minimum levels of learning) to an active self- motivated and self-directed learner with an immense curiosity and a virtually insatiable appetite for learning that lasts a lifetime. For such a learner, learning has changed from a spectator sport to a participative one. Such a learner has many more opportunities for learning, going beyond the confines of the classroom. I have created a set of 4 weeklong WhatsApp courses to facilitate this transition. They are: 

WLL01: Learning with WhatsApp, other Mobile Apps and MOOCs

WLL02: Dispositions for success

WLL03: Learning Agility

WLL04: Getting a world class education in your hands

To know more about these, please visit :

This transition will not be an instantaneous binary on/off type, but somewhat graded and gradual over time during which the learner progresses over several levels. 

In 1997 David Nunan had proposed a scheme of five levels for encouraging learner autonomy in relationship to use of learning materials. He labelled these 5 levels as : awareness, involvement, intervention, creation and transcendence. 

In the year 2020, I have created my own framework for 5 levels of autonomous learners, and also listed the set of 10 skills expected at each level. I am sharing that set of skills towards the end of this post.

I have included in this list of skills, the abilities to deploy artificial Intelligence tools and Apps  to engage in self-directed learning. I am proposing the following levels of an autonomous learner. This structure is analogous to the levels of self-driving cars approved by the Society of Automobile Engineers ( SAE). 

Level 0: No self-learning disposition or ability

Level 1: Some inclination towards self-learning and core abilities of self-learning

Level 2: An autonomous learning system that supports the learner but can be superseded by the human educator ( an AI fluent SmartEducator) 

Level 3: The Autonomous learning enabling system requests to be superseded by the human educator ( an AI fluent SmartEducator)

Level 4: A fully autonomous learner that can function well in limited domains ( cognitive geo-fencing) 

Level 5: Fully autonomous learner with the right dispositions and skills

The second element is the educator.

The most important quality desirable in  a modern 21st Century educator is one of being a lifelong learner. Educators are lifelong learners that develop other lifelong learners. They appreciate  that transferring  the knowledge of subjects ( and preparing for terminal Board exams or entrance tests for further education) is far less important than fostering a desire to learn, the ability of learning to learn fast , and building of learning power. 

Sir Anthony Seldon called on educators everywhere to open their eyes to the fast approaching revolution in Artificial Intelligence, and asked if we are ready to embrace this revolution and shape AI to the best advantage of education and humanity as a whole. The impact of AI is acknowledged in the NEP2020. “23.8. This policy has been formulated at a time when an unquestionably disruptive technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged. As the cost of AI-based prediction falls, AI will be able to match or outperform – and therefore be a valuable aid to – even skilled professionals such as doctors in certain predictive tasks. “

But adopting  the Ostrich policy, it ignores readying educators to use it in educational applications. However like the Giraffe, we wish to stick out our neck to see what’s coming, and prepare ourselves for that. Inspired by Newton who said that “ If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, we are building on the foundations already laid down by others. 

Anthony Seldon in his book referred above has said that Artificial Intelligence will significantly transform education, and that educators should take a lead in the deployment of AI in education. In analogy to the 5 levels of the learner, I have proposed 5 levels of the future ready educators. 

These are : 

Level 1: Progressive Educators

Level 2: SmartEducators

Level 3: AI-familiar SmartEducators

Level 4: AI-fluent SmartEducators

Level 5: AInEd Evangelist 

Descriptors have been created for each of these 5 levels, and programs have been developed to reach each of these levels. 

To be at Level 1, the educator seeks knowledge and information on Educational innovation including pedagogies, good practices and uses digital resources to keep up with the changing paradigms of education. 

To reach Level 2, of SmartEducator I have created a suite of 4 one weeklong programs that can be comfortably pursued using WhatsApp with mobile phones in  one month. For details visit :

These are : 

WLL09: Becoming an Independent Educator

WLL10: WhatsApp for Educators

WLLL11: Artificial Intelligence based Teaching-Learning 

WLL12: Educational Leadership in the age of Artificial Intelligence 

At this stage, most educators, especially those who do not have an irrational fear of computers would want to learn about AI in some depth and try their hands working with AI applications in education, and even developing some new AI based educational solutions themselves. 

To be at Level 3, there is a one month program with the following 4 weeklong courses: 

AIFSE01: The Landscape of AI in education 

AIFSE02: From Data to Learning algorithms

AIFSE03: Learning to learn AI/ML

AIFSE04: Deep Learning for educators 

Further information about these courses can be seen at :

At the end of the term, having done these 4 courses they are ready to become “AI-familiar SmartEducator”. 

Those who are now motivated and excited to learn more and at depth, will pursue the following two weekend courses:

AIFSE05: Emerging Technologies in education

AIFSE06: Hands on AI experience

Having done all the 6 courses as well as a project of AI application in education, they will qualify for “ AI-fluent SmartEducator”. 

The 5th level of AInEd Evangelist is achieved by being a Practioner in the field for a few years, and having written books, delivered training programs, workshops etc. to help spread AI awareness amongst other educators. Both educators who have become adept in AI technologies and AI professionals who are interested in education and have applied themselves towards learning interventions will comprise membership of this category. 

Having described in detail, the levels of the educator, it is now time to share the full list of dispositions and skills at each level of learner autonomy. Here is a framework that is ” Made in India, but made for the world”. 

Level 5: (10 skills) Fully autonomous learner with the right dispositions and skills

  • Developing foresight
  • Identify Self-learning needs 
  • Set self learning goals
  • Effective Decision making
  • Research competence 
  • Ability to teach others 
  • Developing dispositions for success
  • Avoiding stupidity
  • Ideas: their creation and dissemination 
  • Computational Thinking

Level 4: (10 skills) A fully autonomous learner that can function well in limited domains ( cognitive geo-fencing) 

  • Identify your own learning needs
  • Set learning goals to address those needs
  • Identify experts and mavens in your domain to follow and get inspiration from
  • Curate appropriate resources to achieve your learning goal. 
  • Process the knowledge resources to achieve your learning goal
  • Apply appropriate learning strategies
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Finding your Ikigai
  • Evaluate the outcomes of your learning

Level 3: (10 skills) The Autonomous learning enabling system requests to be superseded by the human educator ( an AI fluent SmartEducator)

  • Cognitive Flexibility
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Complex problem solving
  • First principles
  • Social Learning/ Peer Learning 
  • Multitasking
  • Information Management
  • Team orientation 
  • Attention to detail
  • Digital presence and communication 

Level 2: ( 10 skills) An autonomous learning system that supports the learner but can be superseded by the human educator ( an AI fluent SmartEducator) 

  • Using mind maps
  • Learning agility: learning, unlearning and re-learning
  • Ultralearning
  • Google search skills
  • Using AI apps for better learning: text to speech, speech to text, machine translation
  • Learning from YouTube
  • Using an app to get the text of an audio or video narration
  • Grit : determination to overcome one’s barriers to learning 
  • Open mindedness
  • Knowing your element

Level 1: (10 skills) Some inclination towards self-learning and core abilities of self-learning 

  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Fact checking
  • Effective learning techniques
  • Time Management 
  • Avoiding/ overcoming procrastination 
  • Learning from WhatsApp 
  • Learning from other mobile Apps
  • Learning from MOOCs
  • Enhancing the span of attention (focus) 

Level 0: No self-learning disposition or ability.

The 50 listed above  can be acquired by joining a self-learning for future readiness  program given at :

Finally the third important element of this paradigm shift is the role of parents. 

This is acknowledged in the initial part of the NEP2020 document. 

“1.1. Over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance of appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in a child’s early years for healthy brain development and growth.”

That is why I have often said that the home is the first school, the mother’s lap the first classroom and the mother is the most important and effective teacher. 

An educated and informed mother is therefore the best assurance of a child’s holistic development in the foundational years. As universal secondary education  is achieved, almost all parents ( with appropriate  online remote training modules) will be able to fulfil the learning needs of their own children at the school stage. And when the GER of 50% is achieved, all parents will be able to build self-learning capabilities and life-long learning dispositions in their children. A desire to learn, and the mindset and capabilities to learn very well. 

The paradigm of the Kothari education commission (1964) that ‘ the destiny of India is now being shaped in her classrooms’ would have changed to the new paradigm of ‘ the destiny of India is in the hands of its children, their teachers and parents’.

In the coming years, learning will not be only at the formal School, College and University, but continue throughout life. Karl Jung had pointed to the need for the ‘School for the 2nd half of life’. We have created a set of 4 WhatsApp delivered weeklong courses towards this goal. Details are given at:

To get such lifelong learners to start their learning journeys, we have created a suite of Weekend Evening one hour talks that facilitate good learning techniques and thinking skills that are detailed at:

For those who have a sudden urge to learn, we have a set of 3 one hour courses that can be joined anytime. More information at:

Quantum Technologies including Quantum Computing are progressing very fast, and this is the right time to prepare a Quantum Ready workforce. We have accordingly developed a suite of 5 courses towards this. They are QR1: Quantum Readiness, QR2: Quantum Concepts, QR3: Quantum Computing, QR4: Quantum Botany and QR5: Quantum Technologies. More details at :

When the British started ruling India, they enquired as to how education was organised in the country, and were told that it is organised by the community. And they took a decision that such community based learning must be replaced by state delivered education and the community delivered education must be declared illegal. Mahatma Gandhi had criticised this, but to date we are continuing with the British model, with a few occasional cheers for Finland.

Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to win the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics for her work demonstrating the effectiveness of the community than either the Government or the private corporate sector. In pursuance of her work, and forced by the Covid 19 pandemic, I have seeded a learning community to explore social and collaborative learning for the 3rd decade of the 21st Century.  It is a unique group where members propose what they want to learAnd other members of the group work to create explanatory content of 10, 20 or 60 minutes,with links to curated additional resources. It functions primarily as a WhatsApp group.  To join the group, please send a WhatsApp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724

In the realm of Physics, the earlier paradigm is called ‘ Classical Physics’ and the first decades of the 20th Century saw the development of Quantum Mechanics. In the field of learning, we may refer to education models till the 20th Century as ‘traditional education’. Since the new Science of Learning is to develop now building upon the advances in Machine Learning and Neurosciences, I refer to the innovations that we will see during the coming decade as ‘Learning 321’ for Education in the 3rd decade of the  21st Century. 


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