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Showing posts from January, 2013

Saving Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are all the rage, and rightfully so: There is possibly no better way to learn some of the trades without actually doing it alongside a skilled master. While this is universally understood and accepted, what's not so clear is that government funding this and colleges and training companies running it really works. Despite the talk around apprenticeships, many really end up with dead-end positions, with little prospect or pay, loads of work and little learning. The training often tends to be motivational fluff, just the kind one hoped to escape when choosing to go down the apprentice route, and instead of the 'master', one usually gets a failed practitioner as the Guru.
Call it modern apprenticeships, this has to nothing to do with what it was in its traditional form. The communities are all gone: They have been stripped away by our organized dislike of unionized labour. The pride of work has also been taken away: It is about the money one earns and often, t…

Going to India

I shall be travelling to India in a week's time. This will be my first visit in over a year and few months, which is somewhat strange. I used to go to India every few weeks, and though that was almost three years ago, I am still quite used to the idea, mainly thanks to the tools and technologies of constant touch, such as Linkedin, Facebook, Skype and the like. It indeed seems I never left, or stopped travelling.
However, in the intervening three years, India has indeed changed significantly. Outside in, the enthusiasm about India in the media and investment community has dissipated: The bad news kept coming and the promises, if always looked a bit rosy, failed to materialise completely. It is not just about pushing a reset button on the India story - it was about losing hope and feeling lost, which is worse than just going back in time. The debt-fuelled middle class prosperity, which a number of India watchers wanted to pass off for development, reversed awkwardly, not just wrec…

Coursera's Lessons

There are lots of people who think MOOCs are game-changer, and others who think it is just a passing fad: I just like the classes I am doing on Coursera and Udacity, and believe this is a good thing. But, lately, I have discovered that there is more than just access to great learning through these platforms: They represent a way to meet great people. And, more than ever, this community is global: I am doing a course on Small Business Growth, and the community has over 60,000 people from all over the world, including a handful in London and the Home counties. And, I would like to believe that this is indeed something unique, and need to be celebrated.
If there is one defining thing about our generation, that is our faith in human progress. Everyone, right or left of the political spectrum, seem to have accepted that human history will move forward, and we would find our way out of even the most intractable problems, such as global warming and worldwide recession, through human ingenui…

U-Aspire: What Technology Does?

The conversations about U-Aspire are teaching me something: How people actually see learning technologies and why E-Learning so far failed to deliver on its promise. 
Education is one of the hardest things to disrupt, because the mindset is so conservative and education experiments considered an oxymoron. The 'commandments' of accreditation are usually set in stone, and the accreditation bodies are mostly there to keep away any new thinking. So, what was possible in e-commerce, to employ the power of a new technology of connection and transaction to transform the marketplace and with it, the art of marketing, is harder to come by in learning technology.
So, the greatest mistake I tend to make when taking about U-Aspire is that I try to fit this into what people understand. People understand 'Distance Learning' though they treat this as the poor cousin of learning. Some people also know about 'online learning', which is usually limited to their own experience o…

U-Aspire: Challenging the Education Mindset

My new year has been busy so far, as the silence on this blog testifies. I am living through the most exciting times in my life: Step by step, the business we wanted to create is coming into being - with the first round of investment from friends and family - and the elements, accreditation, technology and content falling in place. Indeed, it has all the elements of an adventure: That scary feeling that this may still all come apart, the disappointments of being turned down all too often, and the very frequent realization that the big boys are also in the same game, do knock us down at times. But, one of the reasons we get the rejection is because what we are talking about do not conform to people's expectations about an education business. Hence, this post intended as a clarification - three areas where our proposition is different from existing models, therefore, counter-intuitive perhaps:
1. Reverse Legitimacy: Frequently, we face this objection - global operations are for the …

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