Showing posts from 2017

Higher education must immediately stop obsolete blackboard teaching.

Higher education must immediately stop obsolete blackboard teaching. Higher ed requires mentor and collaboration.

What is obsolete blackboard teaching?
[Lecturing is the] best way to get information from teacher’s notebook (mouth)
to student’s notebook without touching the student’s mind.                                                                                         — George Leonard Patterns for bad practices of teaching, what is done in higher education, even best colleges.

So, how this can be solved?
This is how colleges must run when there is the shortage of skilled teachers:
1) Give students compilation of pedagogically right content (such as videos, MOOCs, books, magazines etc.)
What it means to be pedagogically right content?
How learning can be more personalized with a decentralized syllabus that takes accoun…

If all scientific discovery relies on peer review for validation, why not assessment be done through peer review?

All scientific discovery relies on peer review for validation,
Why not the assessment of schools and colleges be done through peer review?

Peer Review definition:
evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field.

In case of open peer review, the reviewer reports are published which can again go through auditing.

Benefits of open peer review:
1) Feedback to the students
After a test, feedback to the student becomes a crucial part of their learning. Feedback can be in many forms such as detailed corrections of the answers, making their misconceptions corrected for a particular concept, identifying their specific problems and asking them to take necessary steps to improve.
2) Time-saving of teachers
As this can be done in a collaborative manner, it will give freedom to any teacher from the respective subjects to annotate the assessments, the burden is no more to the individual teacher, it will be shared among the country or world. The burden of ev…

Importance of educational videos and solving its limitation by teachers assistance

Many technologies have promised to revolutionize education, but so far none has. With that in mind, what could revolutionize education?

Why educational videos don't work?
1) Procrastination: Educational videos give freedom of anytime learning, but this can lead to procrastination. According to Parkinson's Law: "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion". But in case of video lectures or MOOCs there is no limit of time, so usually, we procrastinate. Limiting time to complete the MOOCs is also a bad idea, as it takes away its advantage of any time and anywhere learning.
2) Lack of a social interaction: We share emotions, feelings, discuss with the teacher, friends that come to our mind just like a true social animal and classroom brings a social two-way interaction, but it doesn't happen in case of MOOCs.
3) Answerability: No one is there to keep you accountable for finishing the course, no outward push, everything lies with intrinsic motivation or …

Beating confusion: The power of association

1) With increase in frequency, energy of electromagnetic waves increases or decreases

2) Molarity is
Often students confuse between molarity and molality.

3) In positive deviation from Raoult's Law, Solute-Solvent Interaction is strong or weak

Students often confuse with these kinds of answers, when there is a dichotomy.
It's nothing to do with the understanding of the subject, it's about memory. Students confuse because they have not formed enough association with main concepts. Eliminating these confusion requires memory tricks.

Let's work with the first two example:

The third one I leave to students or teachers to design so that they can memorize it.  In positive deviation, there will be more vapor pressure, this is only possible when solute-solvent interaction is weak. Weak intermolecular force means more particles in the gas phase.

Common prevailing myths in education that needs to be busted

A student is not scoring well, the main reason given:
He/She has the less innateability.
He/She was not working hard.

Let's bust the second myth first.
My question to schools, teachers, and parents is after spending about 6-7 hours in schools, or 24 hrs in residential schools and colleges, how can you really blame children for not working hard.
Why do schools expect children to study all by themselves? Why they have to do homework?
The problem is not about working hard, it's about not following effective study strategies. Not providing them to do enough retrieval practice. The implementing of the effective study strategies is a very complicated process and often contextual, so much of attributes involved, from content, curriculum to test questions. But the good thing is so much of research already available that will guide teachers to help students in learning.

Now the first myth:
She lacks the innate ability.

All organisms at the individ…

Brainstorming ideas on Saturdays in schools

You can change and improve things if you are able to imagine it. You can't make it, if you can't imagine it. It's naive to think that everything will happen serendipitously or just knowing things is enough.
Our schools incentivise student just for knowing things in form of marks without giving considerations to creativity. Attitude toward inventiveness is almost negligible in our schools.

You can't make it, if you can't imagine it.

Economic growth matters. Wealth brings us flush toilets, antibiotics, higher education, the ability to choose the career we want, fun vacations, and of course, a greater ability to protect our families against catastrophes.
If wealth is so important, what makes a country rich?
The most proximate cause is that wealthy countries have lots of physical and human capital per worker and they produce things in a relatively efficient manner, using latest technological knowledge. But why do so some countries have more physical and human capital and…

Comparative analysis of openstax biology and ncert biology

The sequence of chapters:
Openstax biology:

In openstax biology, chapters are arranged based on increasing biological complexity. The second chapter is about atoms, molecules, water, and carbons. It gives applied techniques about how biology is being done, for example, carbon dating, molecular interactions that take place in lifeforms and why, how it takes place, its describes all the basics at the atomic and molecular level, and also talks about environmental conditions of life forms such as pH. At the end of the chapter, it says about Carbon, and why it's important for life. Next chapter is about Biological Macromolecules (increasing complexity from atoms to long polymers), then cell structure and other chapters about functioning.

Evolution is taught before the five kingdom classification. Why? Because classification is completely phylogenetically linked. You have to understand evolution, in order to understand classification. Classification is also written with linking evolution…

Why are our books filled with unnecessary short cut formulas?

A short cut formula like these add nothing to the understanding of concepts, also overloads children with pointless burden as they have to memorize by parroting.

How its need to be solved?

P°Solvent = 0.850 bar
Mass of solute = 0.5g
Mass of solvent = 39g
Molar mass of benzene = 78g/mol
PSolution = 0.845 bar
Molar mass of solute (g/mol) = ?
PSolution = χSolvent P°Solvent
χSolvent = nSolvent/ (nSolvent + nSolute)

g -----> mol
Conversion factor = 1 mol/ 78 g
39g * 1 mol/78 g = 39/78 mol
No. of moles of solvent = 39/78 mol
g -----> mole
Conversion factor = 1 mol/x g
0.5g * 1 mol/x g = 0.5/x mol
No. of moles of solute = 0.5/x mol
Putting these values in the equation PSolution = χSolvent P°Solvent we get following equation
(((39/78)/(39/78 + 0.5/x))*0.850) -0.845 = 0

Solving it through python programming:

Ans: [169.000000000000]
Also why overload students with so much of large calculations (in higher education), when we have calculator or programming tools?

When student…

In the age of the internet, what to memorize and what not?

There is a heated discussion about why remember facts when all information is at fingertips (through the internet)?.
So first look at dictionary what a fact is?
The first definition that comes up is this:
A thing that is known or proved to be true.

Ok, but most things we study in our education are facts.
Earth revolves around the sun is a fact.
New Delhi is the capital of India is a fact.
Hitler born on dated 20 April 1889 is a fact.
Independence day of India is 15th August is a fact.

Out of these, first two and last one, I needn't have to search the internet,  because these facts are very important to me as I live in India, and I am from Earth (Lol). I searched the internet to find out when Hilter was born because his date of birth was irrelevant for me till now. Maybe I will forget his date of birth after one day because it will not come to any use to me later.

So, some facts are very important to memorize while others are not.  Then what to memorize and what not? In the age of t…

Suggestions for changes in lessons of NCERT Chemistry book

Chemistry Book:

NCERT Chemistry book requires a complete reinvention, with eliminating most units that are unrequired at the higher secondary level and making it more systematic with the flow of information and building new connections by using prior information.
e.g. How quantum mechanical model is linked with explaining the properties of elements and molecules? And before explaining the quantum mechanical model, it's needed to explain what are model and theories.
From Britannica:
Scientific modeling, the generation of a physical, conceptual, or mathematical representation of a real phenomenon that is difficult to observe directly. Scientific models are used to explain and predict the behavior of real objects or systems and are used in a variety of scientific disciplines.

The Higher secondary level is meant to know the basics first with the foundational understanding of the mechanism of concepts in detail. It should be relevant to students day to day life to know their surrounding…

Experimental manipulation after tests using eSALT feedback from students

Personalized pre and post test need to be conducted in the following manner with experimental manipulation:

While giving questions, each student needs to be asked for how easy or difficult the questions are.

Student Feedback for Questions Ease (eSALT):
1) Easy (E)
2) Safe (S)
3) Average (A)
4) Low (L)
5) Trouble (T)

Also, some specific feedback that students want to comment on the question while answering. (e.g. Mistakes in questions, concept not taught in the class, or not understood, unable to recall or don't know the answers or specific part of answers like formula or for example atomic number of element, unable to understand the question)

Teachers curation
1) Students making mistakes with Questions tagged Easy, Safe, Average comes under misconceptions which need to be dealt with. It can also be due to silly mistakes, if the mistakes are repetitive, it must be addressed.
2) Concepts of questions that are tagged with Low and Trouble (it doesn't matter whether student solved it corr…

NCERT books nothing more than short notes with giving too shallow knowledge

Comparative analysis of Openstax chemistry book and our NCERT chemistry book read by largest populated country

Review of chapter Atoms, Molecules and Ions of Openstax and Structure of Atom in NCERT

Openstax starts the chapter with a picture mass spectral analysis. Mass spectrometry is a very important technique to study atomic properties. To make you more curious it talks about the diagnosis of diseases through analysis of molecules in an exhaled breath.

But ncert book image is this:


Let's come down to the introduction:

NCERT Chemistry:
The existence of atoms has been proposed since the time of early Indian and Greek philosophers (400 B.C.) who were of the view that atoms are the fundamental building blocks of matter. According to them, the continued subdivisions of matter would ultimately yield atoms which would not be further divisible. The word ‘atom’ has been derived from the Greek word ‘a-tomio’ which means ‘uncut-able’ or ‘non-divisible’. These earlier ideas were mere …

Probability distribution of marks should not be normal.

What type of variable is the mark, discrete or continuous?
Marks is a discrete random variable that has a finite number of values or a countable number of values.

A continuous random variable has infinitely many values, and those values can be associated with measurements on a continuous scale in such a way that there are no gaps or interruptions.

Requirements for a Probability Distribution
1. ΣP(x) = 1 where x assumes all possible values of marks
2. 0 ≤ P(x) ≤ 1 for every individual value of x

For example, 2000 students gave exams with full marks of 10, the probability distribution of marks to have a normal like curve will have following frequency distribution given in the table.

Marks xFrequency fProbability P(X=x)040.0021230.01152990.049532270.113543990.199554970.248563900.19572510.12558840.0429220.0111040.002

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt import random import numpy as np from collections import Counter, OrderedDict fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 1) od = OrderedDict([(0.0, 4), (1.0, 23…

Producing a better secure electoral voting system

Here is the complete procedure to make a secure voting system.

We require a unique key for every voter.

The unique key is generated by using:
1) Public Key: Voter Id or Adhaar Number
2) Private key: A random key (6-8 character alphanumeric key) from mind, at the time of voting
3) Vote symbol

A read-only machine generates a unique key using the cryptographic function on the public key, private key and vote symbol.

Then ballot paper is printed from the machine that has the unique key.

The voter casts its vote in the ballot paper.

The votes in ballot paper are counted using a machine and also the scan of the ballot paper is uploaded on the website after results are declared.
Machine learning has become so powerful that it can count the vote without any error.

When the result is declared the public can check whether that ballot paper (that has the unique key) exists on the website with the correct voting symbol. The voter can authenticate that his/her vote has been counted.

1) Com…

Why we face difficulty to remember non-concrete information?

What are the functions of a brain?
Pattern recognition, interpretation and storing of information that we get from our sense organs
I would go with following steps to show that non-concrete information is the type of information that our brain is not trained for. The most requirement to remember abstract information is more recent when mathematics and different languages were invented.
The invention of writing that allowed storing information that we can't remember.
The human being invented abstract information like more than one language or mathematics which we are evolutionarily unfit to remember.
Are we evolutionary unfit to memorize abstract information? To prove it lets look the following experiment.
The brain is good at recognizing things in a span of seconds. For example, we change our path if there is a hindrance in front. But if you close your eyes, we will miss details of the hindrance.

Let's try to memorize this map in a span of seconds or minutes. Can you do it?

Country needs an independent news analysis institution to provide feedback to media

How to analyze news and what shall be the criteria?

Are the information provided backed by the evidence?

Do they site down the evidence in the news?
Do evidence are from reliable sources with rigorous testing?
Does the news show one-sided or biased views without looking at all angles?
Is the information provided is an opinion/belief/viewpoint or hypothesis or scientific theory?

Opinion: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
Does the hypothesis/claim is well tested and is statistically significant to draw the conclusion?

Is media promoting pseudoscience?

Does the discussion done come under any of the logical fallacy or cognitive biases?

For more detailed explanation of logical fallacy with examples is given in
Important details for Evaluating a News Article:

Line by line scripts of news taking context into consideration must be analyzed along with bulk analysis by data scientists.

The independent institu…

Personalized learning goals: New information is built over reusing of previous information

Some students perform better, while others not. What are the main reasons?

1) Study material provided and learning strategies used by teachers.It simply doesn't meet the learning criteria.
Students are feed with so much of abstract stuff as a result only those students excel who have a better memory retention capacity of abstract information and those who work too hard for it. But such a hard work is meaningless, as you will forget such information after exams are over.

2) Not teaching kids from where they are. 
I will explain it with a concrete example.

While teaching chemistry, one of my students was so fast in holding information and doing the problems, while other was slow. The reason for her/his slowness is not that he/she is less intelligent, it's because (s)he is taking more time for processing due to lack of previous foundational information. 

When (s)he does the processing, (s)he has to take the account of many kinds of st…