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Guest AuthorPavan Soni

Education for Creation: A different approach

By | Dr Pavan Soni | IIM-B Innovation Evangelist

Education, across levels, has emerged as one of the most salient impetus of our society and polity. There are enterprises galore offering some panache for the perennially declining state of education in India. For the higher education, there are MOOCs which have caught up pace, including the one at IIMB, and then are for the primary education. Little doubt, there is a massive adoption of pervasive and affordable technology, especially information technology, towards developing and rendering courses.
The adoption of technology hasn’t resulted in a commensurate uptake or performance of students, as suggested by the traditional, or even modern measures. As per research, the completion rates of most online courses in typically at around 20 to 30 percent. This number is not totally surprising given that education often requires a certain physical setting, temporal engagement, and peer motivation, virtues missing in an online setting. While ever greater technology, in the form of cloud-based rendering, and analytics-based assessment, is at the play, the real impact is yet to be witnessed. 

:: BrainSTARS :: - Innovation in EducationI, for one, think that it’s not more technology, but instead, less technology, to a level of minimalism, is where the solution lies. Last month, I came across this very interesting team- BRAINSTARS. Not exactly a startup by the traditional measures, the team, nevertheless, has slowly but surely adopted a new paradigm towards educating the school goers. Over a decade now into operations, the setup excels in delivering contemporary education on science and mathematics in the most tactile fashion possible. Their primary thrust remains multiple-intelligence, and hands-on means of training and educating students and teachers. For instance, one of its flagship products- NumberNagar, offers a whole host of highly interactive games, concept models, puzzles, formations, and other methods to drive down some of the most complex, yet integral concepts in mathematics. 

I am impressed by two things in particular about the team. Firstly, the clarity of vision and coherence of approach the small team has taken. Led by Ravi ShankarSriraghavan and Soumya, all passionate educators, the outfit looks like one on a mission to create path-breaking learning experiences in maths, science and skills education in India. The team has also garnered some serious members on its advisory council, including the famous educationalist Dr. Shayama Chona, and contemporary thinkers, such as NK Narasimhan. Getting these sincere people along is one sure way of going the distance on your vision!

The second standout feature, for me, is the minimal use of technology. Brainstars doesn’t look like yet another startup offering an online module or means for students education, teachers capability building, or assessment.
Instead, the physical labs, now in over 20 schools across most of South India, and thought-through solutions to teaching complex mathematical and scientific concepts, through its Research Cell. These are two of the standout features, so far. 
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Since inception in 2004, the team has touched over 10,000 students and 3000 teachers through its various offline courses and interventions. (underscore offline!)
It is heartening to see that in India’s Silicon Valley, there are people sincerely devoting their time and attention to some contemporary and highly effective means of crafting our future. 
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