Indian concept, global appeal
Recently Microsoft India has experienced two very welcome “returns”. The first returnee was Amit Mital, an Indian working at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond as global head of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Group. The second was MultiPoint, a technology which, while conceived and designed in India and now very popular in other parts of the world (much like Yoga in that respect), had yet to be launched in India. It was great to welcome both back to India and launch MultiPoint here.
Having watched MultiPoint develop and grow in other parts of the world, it was a very proud moment to “officially” launch it in India. We held a roundtable event with Amit to announce the winner of a contest that had been sponsored by Microsoft and VIIT, a technology school. Thirty senior students from VIIT participated in the contest. Each team conducted extensive research with students and teachers in rural schools in and around Baramati and as a result the applications developed were based on actual needs and requirements of students and teachers. For me, every application was a winner but one that truly stood out was ‘Fun with Geometry’ (see it here).
One thing that struck me about MultiPoint while seeing the student demos (see a video about the students) was the fact that there is such a strong concept of choice and flexibility – for example whether one wants to teach collaboration or competition. Some applications required students to compete whereas others required them to collaborate. This is such an important lesson in life. We also had representatives from Edurite and EDC at the event. Both these education-focused organizations are actively developing MultiPoint applications.
EDC, a global non-profit organization has developed Physics applications, for grades six to eight, as well as an English mentoring application for teachers and students across different age groups. Archana Nambiar, Program Manager of EDC India was excited to be part of this initiative as she felt that Multipoint enables the modeling of innovative teaching/learning practices at the classroom level in India. Edurite is also working on applications for Maths and Science for class 5 students. Srikanth B Iyer, Edurite’s Chief Operating Officer, believes that technology and education go hand in hand - and MultiPoint is the perfect example of IT being used as a tool to enhance the learning process. Edurite wants to get the development done soon so that they are ready to pilot in schools when the academic year begins in June (this also speaks to the ease of use of the SDK in being able to build applications in such a short time).
I visited a “smart school’ in Delhi on Friday with Amit. These schools are equipped with a plasma screen (behind the chalk board) and a PC in the class. The teacher was doing a good job of incorporating technology in the class curriculum, but every now and then she would call a student to the front of the class and try their hand on the mouse to identify a body part or have fun changing angles. Amit and I exchanged glances sharing the same thought…another candidate for Multipoint!!!
-- Latif Nathani
General Manager, Unlimited Potential Group, India