May 9, 2014

Picture of the day

I took this picture today. It is a view of Manhattan from outside my building. There are a bunch of old broken boardwalks along the New Jersey side of the Hudson river across from midtown Manhattan. The water level was unusually low today, so you could see most of the truncated wooden pillars on the river bed. It's a cool idea of an art installation.

April 28, 2014

In 2014, E-Learning will Overtake Online Advertising in Dollars Spent Worldwide

Below is a great one-page overview on the global E-learning industry. In 2012, the size of the education industry worldwide was $4.4 trillion dollars, supported by 1.4 billion students and 62.5 million educators.

e-Learning, the fastest growing segment within the education industry, was worth $91 billion dollars worldwide, growing at 23% CAGR over the next five years until 2017. Global online advertising spend in 2012 was $100.2 billion, growing at a CAGR of 13% over the following five years (Source: PwC). That means, in 2014, the size of the global e-Learning industry, at $137.7 billion dollars, will surpass the money spent worldwide on online advertising ($127.9 billion).

It is quite remarkable how fast this tipping point has occurred. Transition to e-Learning within the education industry is just getting started, while in advertising, transition to the Internet started almost twenty years back. Clearly, e-Learning is poised for massive growth which will significantly disrupt education, one of the largest industries in the world.

Source: IBIS Capital, a London-based specialist media investment and advisory group. IBIS hosts the annual EdTech Europe conference.    

April 16, 2014

Personalized Learning is the Future of Education - Case Study

It is now widely acknowledged that personalized learning will be an essential part of any new model that is adopted to significantly improve the current education system, from K-12 to higher education. This approach acknowledges that every student is unique in terms of his/her capabilities (strengths and weaknesses), likings and dis-likings, and pace at which he/she grasps different concepts. However, our current education system uses the same cookie-cutter approach for the entire class. Students are classified as "weak" in a subject, many times incorrectly, if they fail to finish a subject material within stipulated time and pass all tests. The reason a student may be learning slow may have nothing to do with his/her capability for that particular subject. He/she may not like the teaching style of the teacher. He/she may lack a necessary skill which students need to master from an earlier class, which he/she did not fully grasped for some reason (fallen sick, etc).  

Limitations in the current education system however restricts teachers and schools from tailoring subjects for each student. Finally, technology and Internet is coming to the rescue.  Progressive schools need to not just adopt online education tools but also train teachers and demonstrate required flexibility in teaching approaches.

I recently came across a fantastic case study. The Taylor County School District in Campbellsville, Kentucky has managed to bring their student dropout rate to zero for five years in running by using personalized learning.  They work with students one-on-one and prepare for each student an Individualized Learning Plan tailored to that student's interests and desired career path.  They offer real-world experience to students though partnerships with local businesses. This allows students to establish whether their initial interest in a field is strong enough for them to purse that field for college after high-school. Finally, teachers are using technology to more efficiently teach and evaluate students. Teachers are challenged to constantly find best practices to meet the needs of all learning styles.

The full case study by Roger Cook, the Superintendent of the Taylor County School District, is here

April 2, 2014

Wealth Inequality in America

This video info-graphic does a fantastic job of articulating the growing inequality in America over the past three plus decades. It also demonstrates how misinformed Americans are about this fundamental shift in the country's wealth distribution. The actual wealth disparity is much higher than what over 90% of Americans think it is, which they admit is already worse than what it should be.

The video was submitted by Working America

March 2, 2014


During my recent New Year's meditation retreat, I learned the spiritual definition of the word, equanimity.

Sharon Salzberg, one of our teachers at the retreat, and now a good friend, provides this beautiful spiritual explanation of equanimity in her book, Love Your Enemies:

Equanimity is the spacious stillness of mind that provides the ground for the boundless nature of the other three mind states of enlightenment: loving kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy. 
This radiant calm enables us to ride the waves of our experience without getting lost in our reactions. Equanimity, or balance of mind, is in many ways the foundation of the other three boundless states. It is the unspoken wisdom that allows us to broaden our caring beyond our own inner circle, making the practices of loving kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy true expressions of a generous spirit. 
Without equanimity, we might offer friendship only when our offering was acknowledged and appreciated, or only when the person responded in kind. 
We might offer compassion to ourselves only when we weren’t overcome by pain, and offer compassion to others only when we weren’t overcome by their suffering. And we might offer sympathetic joy only when we did not feel threatened or envious. 
When we cultivate equanimity, our tremendous capacity to connect with others can blossom, for we don’t feel the need to reject or cling to anything that happens in life. 
The foundation of equanimity is reflecting on what are called, in Buddhist teachings, the eight vicissitudes, or eight worldly conditions: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, and fame and disrepute- the inevitable ups and downs of life. The eight vicissitudes make up the very fabric of life, true for us all, not just for some. 
Recognizing and accepting this reality provide the largest possible context for developing loving kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy. 
In equanimity practice we begin by repeating the phrases with a neutral person in mind, then a benefactor, and so on through the sequence, finally ending with ourselves. 
Possible phrases would be: 
Things are as they are.
I care about you, yet I can’t control how your life will evolve.
All beings are the owners of their actions; their happiness and unhappiness depend upon their actions, not upon my wishes for them.

February 8, 2014

The Mindful Revolution

I just returned from an exciting meditation and yoga retreat over the Christmas/New Year's holidays - one of my best and most impactful vacations ever. And here it is, the TIME magazine's cover story this week talks about The Mindful Revolution.