Melwin Joy
AUTHOR

Melwin Joy

All stories by: Melwin Joy
EDUBRISK – Learn to learn!

One-third of our life is spent learning. And in the modern scenario it could be more. It shouldn’t be a post dated cheque of happiness, that induce children to learn. This is not going to get us the desired result. There is also a potential danger of learning in a begrudging manner with a sense of sacrifice. And that leads to a sense of entitlement. As if the society owes him for the effort he has put in.”  -Cdr. Saiju Aravind

Teachers are duty bound to teach subjects according to a set curriculum and they strive to impart the knowledge to their pupils within the allotted time. It is a challenge to realize the full potential of each student in today’s heterogeneous classrooms. What tools are available, to a teacher, to facilitate the students’ journey of ‘learning’ beyond the teaching of contents? Currently, the calibre of the student is measured by how much he or she can retain and recall at the end of each academic year. But, how does one ‘teach’ a child to ‘learn’?

While most schools and teachers are well equipped to groom a good student into a better one, few can successfully coach a below average student to become good in academics. A student’s ability to learn is attributed to genetics, innate brain power, personality traits, ability to memorize and many such, often non-quantifiable, variables. There is a mystery surrounding brilliance and it is considered to be a monopoly of a few. What if, this mystery can be decoded and the brilliance demystified? What if, the child can be taught to learn?

Imagine the immense benefits, if a child is taught the techniques to learn; simple methods and processes that can be replicated and applied to any subject. What if, memory and logical thinking could be boosted, even in a so called ‘weak’ student? What if, learning can be accelerated and brilliance mimicked? What if, the joy of learning can be brought right into the classrooms?

EduBrisk has the solutions to all the above questions!

The brainchild of Cdr. Saiju Aravind, a former Naval Officer and DRDO scientist, EduBrisk is a remarkable endeavour that aims to transform the process of teaching/learning, at a fundamental level. Using easy, practical, and replicable processes and methodologies, it helps teachers to teach in an inclusive manner, pitching the lesson to a wide spectrum of students, from the Special Educational Needs (SEN) category to the gifted and talented (GT) in an engaging manner, using integrated and personalized teaching/learning techniques. Simultaneously, EduBrisk trains the student to learn in a brain-friendly manner. These tools can be applied across the range of subjects, from Maths to History and more. The skills imparted through the programme are applicable far beyond the classroom and should be deemed as an essential life skill.

EduBrisk learning process rests on a strong scientific foundation – that of the neurophysiology of learning. It encourages process-oriented, brain-friendly, brisk learning. It is, in fact, the result of a deep understanding of cognition, neurology, psychology and other numerous physiological aspects of learning. It is also the outcome of a profound understanding of the interconnectedness that permeates our lives and the inevitability of integrated learning.

How it all began

There is a deeply personal story behind EduBrisk. It would not be misleading to portray it as a coming of age story of a father-son duo. As a Class XII student, Krishnadas was doing very poorly in his studies and did not want to sit for his final exams. He was depressed and unnerved by his ‘inability’ to learn, and to measure up to the brilliance of his friends and peers.

Concerned by his son’s state, Cdr. Saiju Aravind stepped in. The two went away on an impromptu holiday! Their conversations, during their vacation in the hills of Kumaon, gave Cdr. Saiju Aravind a deep insight into what was troubling his son. After a fortnight, the two returned, as Krishnadas wanted to give the Boards a shot. The bond the two had forged, during their time away, prompted them to work together. With little time and vast portions to cover, it was imperative that Krishnadas learn, quickly, effectively, efficiently. Further, he had to overcome his limiting beliefs about his ability to learn, too.

Cdr. Saiju Aravind did not ‘teach’ his son in the conventional sense, but helped him to prepare for the exams. Relying on his scientific training and temperament, he researched the science behind learning, memorising, analytical thinking and other related topics. From his extensive research and analysis, he formulated methods that helped Krishndas to grasp concepts faster and retain & recall, efficiently. Much to the elation of the family, Krishnadas cleared his Board exams. Applying the process he learnt from his father, the young man prepared for the Kerala Law Entrance Exam and secured the 25th rank, and then went on to crack the CLAT examination to get in to the National Law university!

Demystifying Brilliance

Krishnadas’s success prompted the scientist in Cdr. Saiju Aravind to ponder whether he could replicate this astounding result in other students. To test his theories, he got together a group of brilliant students, mostly his son’s friends, and closely observed their methods and style of studying. From his observations, and knowledge gathered from his extensive reading, he formulated broad guidelines, forming the building blocks of EduBrisk.

The impetus to put this simple yet brilliant idea on to a software platform that can help other students came from likeminded friends and intellectuals who have a passion for education. Well respected personalities like Mr. Chandra Ambadipudi (CEO of Clairvoyant Inc. USA); Mr. Sam Santhosh, the ‘Genome Man of India’;
Dr. Sadasivan Vidyasagar of Florida University; Mr. Mahesh Pratapneni (Emerge Ventures, Singapore), and Karthik Kumaramangalam (Papillon Capital) enthusiastically supported the venture by providing valuable inputs and guidance.

Since then, the processes and methodologies that EduBrisk propounds have been tested and refined countless times. Inputs were sought from teachers, parents, industry leaders, educators, intellectuals, students and everyone who has a stake in education. The result is a nimble software platform that is scalable and student-friendly. In fact, EduBrisk can help anyone improve their learning and memory skills, irrespective of their age or scholastic background.

Learn to learn

EduBrisk is a virtual platform that equips students and teachers with effective processes to learn or teach in a stress-free manner, the way our brain is wired to grasp and retain information. It also provides parents with valuable tools to inculcate the art of learning and a love for knowledge in young children. EduBrisk cannot be compared with other e-learning portals that provide content and courses. It is a process oriented platform. Using latest technology and software, it helps to bring about a conceptual shift in the teaching/learning practices.

Debunking the myth that intelligence is fixed or innate, the platform aims to train one’s memory and enhance the individual’s potential, while improving the quality and depth of knowledge. Addressing an observation made by the Yash Pal Committee that students are ‘burdened with disintegrated knowledge’, EduBrisk makes an exceptional effort to integrate knowledge into an interlinked, cohesive whole.

Rooted in the belief that the amount of data is immaterial and that the ‘links’ in the brain are responsible for retaining it for later use, Cdr. Saiju Aravind elucidates with a simple example, “A person can easily recall the storyline of a three hour long movie. But, if the movie is cut into a 100 bits and shown at random, it would be nearly impossible anyone to remember much of it!” EduBrisk weaves a strong fabric of knowledge, using ageless methods and wisdom, integrating bits of data using various modern tools, to create useful and applicable skills.

Over the past years, EduBrisk has been associating with schools in Kerala and Dubai without much fanfare. Their online platform has helped close to 6000 students enhance their potential and given them the much needed confidence to reach for higher goals.

The deep seated understanding of the psychology of learning is evident in the emphasis the programme lays on redefining success. Cdr. Saiju Aravind frequently touches upon the dopamine effect theory while talking of motivating and involving the students. “The idea is to break down the big picture, into small steps and celebrate each milestone. The sense of achievement and success will spur the student to learn and stay engaged in the long run.”

EduBrisk presents a zealous effort to change the system from within. Cdr. Saiju Aravind describes the programme as a ‘robot suit’. The person, be it a teacher, parent or student, in the ‘robot suit’ is empowered by the tools and processes, to break away from real or imagined limitations, achieving what was once beyond their wildest dreams.

Cdr. Saiju Aravind puts forth an interesting theory. An alumnus of IIT, Delhi himself, he nonchalantly asks, “Why do you think those who pass out from the IITs and IIMs go on to make big bucks and head multibillion dollar companies?” He goes on to explain that at these premier institutions, “The students become adept at grasping and assimilating new concepts, and recognizing patterns. It is what they learn at these schools, not just in terms of syllabi. They learn to learn, and that is the most important thing!”

EduBrisk for schools

EduBrisk does not require any infrastructure or capital investment beyond a computer and internet access. Schools will benefit immensely by signing up with the programme. The software currently supports CBSE, ICSE and IGCSE syllabi, providing an immense wealth of resources per chapter in each subject. Being specialists in imparting the process of learning, it can aid the school to raise the overall performance of each student.

The software essentially trains the teachers, parents and students in the process of brain-friendly teaching/learning, by interweaving aural, visual and other aids to make the lesson interesting and memorable. Fully aligned with the guidelines set down by a number of regulatory bodies, including the KHDA, UAE, EduBrisk is guaranteed to augment the teaching potential of the institution.

A broad and thorough understanding of the total syllabi enables EduBrisk to perceive the interconnectedness of the various subjects and topics. This fabric of overlapping similarities and complimentary aspects of various subjects makes learning fun and exciting. By abstaining from spoon feeding, the programme encourages proactive learning.

Further, the students of these schools can avail a number of other packages like competitive exams, Civil Services foundation and Career Development modules. EduBrisk can assure parent-teacher-student connect, enhance competency level of students, and standardize teaching methodology in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Government and policy makers.

EduBrisk for teachers

EduBrisk has benefitted immensely from Cdr. Saiju Aravind’s stint as a teacher of Naval Architecture to B.Tech and M. Tech students. He has taken to heart his experiences in the classroom. He states emphatically,

“It is crucial that a teacher can explain a concept or subject, in terminology and at the level where a student can fully grasp and assimilate it.” EduBrisk is a complete package that allows teachers to undertake differential teaching, in accordance with the needs of the students.

By providing ‘step down’ modules for each topic, EduBrisk eases the teacher’s task of bringing students up to par with the prescribed standards. This is indeed a boon for those teaching in non-homogenous classrooms.

The easy interface helps to create lesson plans, personal notes and additional teaching aids. The extensive and exhaustive inputs and supportive material available per chapter is mindboggling. By providing supplemental visual and interactive content, EduBrisk makes the teachers’ tasks easier. By embracing new generation technologies and methods, teachers remain connected with the student, actually and virtually.

EduBrisk for students

Learning is no longer confined to the classroom. With the proliferation of technology, most of the information is at one’s fingertips. What to learn and how much to learn solely depends on the students’ curiosity and diligence.

EduBrisk platform is designed to help students keep up with the school syllabus, CBSE, ICSE and IGCSE. The ‘step down’ modules attached to each chapter helps students catch up with or brush up on the basics and fundamentals of each subject.

Being an online platform, it is accessible to students, teachers and parents, 24/7. It brings forth a flipped classroom, encourages personalisation and collaboration with teachers and peers, provides interesting memory techniques, self-learning modes, and cross curricular links, along with diagnostic and assessment tests.

EduBrisk for parents

Parents are the first teachers in a child’s life. EduBrisk understands the key role they play in the intellectual development of the child. From personal experience, Cdr. Saiju Aravind states, “No one wants the child to excel, more than the parent. But, good intentions are not good enough.”

Acknowledging and leveraging the parents’ significant and influential role in the child’s development, EduBrisk has designed programmes to train parents. In fact, the platform offers training for parents of children below nine years, instead of working with the students directly.

PALM or ‘Parent’s as Life Mentors’ is another laudable initiative by EduBrisk. The workshops aim to train parents to break away from repressive, repetitive patterns and facilitate better parenting practices.

The Directors

Titans of various industries, the august directors of EduBrisk, are keen to facilitate a paradigm shift in the field of education.

Mahesh Pratapneni, the Managing Director of Singapore-based Emerge Out Ventures, specializes in incubating product companies in the education, healthcare, and data analytics sectors. A graduate from IIT Madras and an alumnus of IIM Kolkata, he serves as the Executive Director of MedGenome, advisor to Oversite Data Services, and Board Member of Impelsys.

He is focused on helping launch, re-engineer and support small and mid-sized technology driven businesses. He is known for building outstanding global teams and for his expertise in building global delivery models.

Sam Santhosh, a product of IIM, Kolkata, is an entrepreneur with an intense passion for the learning process. Moving from software to molecular biology, he set up the SciGenom & Medgenome Labs.

He is currently a board member at Impelsys Inc, New York, ePay Healthcare, San Francisco, Emerge Ventures, Singapore and the Centre for Commercialization of Antibodies Toronto, Canada.

Chandra Ambadipudi – CEO and co-founder of Clairvoyant and a highly motivated senior leader in software engineering with a proven track record in building large scale software platforms. He also co-founded BlueCanary Data, a predictive analytics product company focused on higher education.

Future of EduBrisk

The robust and exponentially scalable software programme is exploring and expanding its horizons continuously. So far, it covers school syllabi set by the CBSE, ICSE and IGCSE. Being a content agnostic platform, plans are afoot to include professional college curriculums in the near future. The tab-friendly version is ready for launch and team at EduBrisk is gearing up for a presentation to the MHRD, New Delhi.

The big picture

While talking of the broader picture, Cdr. Saiju Aravind explains that there are three sets of skills every human being needs – life skills, hard skills and soft skills. Life skills can be simplistically explained as the ability to adapt and remain happy or positive irrespective of one’s circumstances; soft skills are social skills necessary for everyday living and hard skills are often a means to learn a livelihood. But, there is an underlying talent that connects or links all three. It is probably the most crucial requirement of them all – the learning skill!

Just a few decades ago, academics were overwhelmingly teacher-centric. Changing times then brought in a 180 degree shift in the academic paradigm, redefining teaching it in terms of how well the learner understood and applied the knowledge. The advent of internet based technology catalyzes this shift by providing more opportunities for visual-based learning.

However, even this paradigm is soon to be obsolete. Technology is changing at a never-before-seen pace; skills and knowledge are becoming redundant in a matter of 5-7 years. Only those who can keep abreast by updating their skills and knowledge will survive. ‘Updating’ implies learning and mastering new developments. Given this scenario, teachers can at best function as facilitators. Success will depend on the ability to learn “on the job”. Given such a scenario, the necessity of the ‘learning skill’ cannot be emphasized enough. The need of the hour is to ‘learn to learn’!

The catalyst and the import

The ability to learn, recall and retain information has implications far beyond the classrooms and rank lists. It instills in the child the confidence to face life and meet challenges head on. The learning skill is, in fact, the ability to adapt, adjust, or change according to circumstances and surroundings.

The man behind the venture, is connecting the dots, and reflecting that it was indeed destiny that led him here. Meanwhile, Krishnadas continues to thrive. Today, the young man speaks about his deeply personal journey that spawned EduBrisk, at various workshops and seminars. Sharing his experience with other students uninhibitedly, he exudes a confidence and maturity far beyond his age. Working alongside his father, he continues to contribute to the growth and success of EduBrisk.

Melwin Joy
AUTHOR

Melwin Joy

All stories by: Melwin Joy