Narendra Modi to Congress: For development’s sake, take vow to let Parliament function

PM Narendra Modi also mentioned the Golden Quadrilateral project of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, and also the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. (Source: PIB India)

Attacking Congress yet again over disruptions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked the party to take a New Year resolution to allow Parliament to function for the sake of development.

He said having “enjoyed power” for over six decades it has no right to destroy its functioning for “political reasons” and hold back the country’s development.

“Tomorrow is January 1. When you are going to celebrate New Year, you should take a vow to allow Parliament to run and do its work and not pose hurdles for the country’s development,” Modi said.

He was addressing a public rally after laying foundation stone of a 14-lane expressway connecting Delhi with Meerut.

Focusing his attack primarily on Congress, Modi said, “This is the misfortune of India, Parliament where laws are made is not being allowed to function. Those who have been rejected by people seized its functioning.

“They do not allow Parliament to run. I request all these political parties not to do so. Since I have not got an opportunity to speak in Lok Sabha, I am taking the opportunity to air my views in ‘Jan Sabha’. People have sent us to Parliament to debate, discuss and decide,” he said.

The Prime Minister said Congress has more responsibility to ensure functioning of Parliament as they had “enjoyed power” for over six decades.

“It is our responsibility to accomplish the work entrusted on us by people. This responsibility specially lies on those who have ruled the country for over 60 years. They know what is the responsibility of Parliament.

“It is specially their responsibility to ensure that country’s development is not stopped because of their political reasons. They have more responsibility as people had given them opportunity to run the country for over six decades.

“I understand the anger of those who have not got a chance to rule the country. But those who have enjoyed all kinds of power for 60 years have no right to halt Parliament and destroy its functioning,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s attack on Congress on the issue of Parliament disruptions come after key government bills including the GST were held up due to a stalemate with the opposition party.

Modi also chose the occasion to announce that the government has abolished interview process for class III and class IV employees and now appointments will happen strictly on basis of merit.

While noting that the Central government is implementing it from January 1 as a “New Year Gift”, the Prime Minister urged state governments to do the same.

Hailing the measure as an attempt to provide opportunity to the poor minus any corruption possibility, the Prime Minister said that as an MP from Uttar Pradesh, he also urges Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to abolish interviews in class III and class IV jobs so that youths of the state get jobs on the basis of merit.

Terming the expressway project as “highway to development”, the Prime Minister said that it will lead to promotion of weekend tourism in a number of areas adjoining the expressway and development of a number of satellite towns as well.

“We are not merely constructing a road, this is a highway to development,” he said as he recalled the vision of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee about road connectivity in the nation.

“Vajpayeeji worked to connect India through Golden Quadrilateral Project. To connect rural India, he launched PM Gram Sadak Yojana,” he said.

Addressing public, Modi stressed the need for better road connectivity and infrastructure development in sync with changing times as he hailed the proposed expressway that will bring down travel time between Delhi and Meerut to 45 minutes.

He said the highway project, costing over Rs 7,500 crore, will also “pave way for pollution-free future.”

Stating that when it is certain that in coming days speed will be fast, PM said infrastructure, too, should be developed on that pattern adding “My government believes in converting crisis into an opportunity.”

He said three decades ago people in villages were content with ordinary roads but now they have come to understand that if they want development their village should be linked to fast track expressway.

The highway project will pave for economic development in western UP with satellite townships developing along the Meerut Expressway.

The ‘Swarnim Chaturbhuj’ (Golden Quadrilateral) express highway that connects East-West-North-South of the country has brought India at par with developed nations, he said.

Dehradun will also get benefit from the expressway as it will provide fast connectivity without any bottlenecks at NH 24, he said, adding that the government is working on all-weather roads in Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath and Yamnotri in Uttarakhand.

Recalling the historical value attached to the western UP city, the Prime Minister said Meerut is especially remembered for its key role in the 1857 first war of independence.

Many middle class and upper middle class families plan weekend outings nowadays. A good road network around Delhi will be beneficial for them and boost tourism and generate employment in the region, the PM said.

He added that his government was working on inter-linking of rivers, which will help farmers during drought situation and benefit sugar cane farmers in western UP as well.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said the proposed expressway would bring down the travel time between the two cities to 45 minutes.

Gadkari also said that the government was working on a highway project which will reduce travel time between Delhi and Dehradun to about three hours.

 

Alessandra Ambrosio’s Boho Street Style Is an Endless Source of Inspiration

Alessandra Ambrosio might strut down the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway in skimpy lingerie and attend red carpets in formfitting dresses by designers like Balmainand Michael Kors, but in real life, that’s not her style. The Brazilian supermodel reaches for comfy and loose pieces that fit her boho, relaxed style (and busy life as a mom of two) for everyday wear, putting together outfits worthy of the best street style Instagram stars.

Her favorite piece? Jeans (shorts, flared, skinny, boyfriend), cotton jumpsuits, and crop tops that show off her abs. And the one piece she very rarely leaves home without: sunglasses — from round mirrored ones to classic aviators to ombré lenses. Keep scrolling to see all the best looks Alessandra wore out and about in 2015 and feel inspired to up your fashion game, then check out her best moments with fiancé Jamie Mazur.

The Case For Social Gaming in the Classroom

If teachers and educators had few dollars for every new method of teaching that came along in the last 50 years, they’d easily be able to retire and not worry about the ‘latest and greatest’ way to inform the next generation of eager minds.

Every year, thousands of new methods, trends and fads in the classroom fall by the wayside;  disciplinary techniques, under-utilised computer software, flash based learning games and classroom grouping strategies are just a few examples of teaching methods that are summarily dismissed by some educators.  But who could blame them? ….there is afterall, a lot of noise in education….  and a lot of people shouting for your attention (case in point – the Education category on the iTunes App Store).

While there many new strategies are easily dismissed, a more recent phenomena – and one that can’t be ignored – is the that of social gaming.

One of the more recent engagement methods that has taken hold is social gaming in the classroom.  ‘Social Games’ are games played within social media applications and were made popular by Facebook.  Other platforms like Apple’s Game Center,  allows users to invite friends to play a game or start a multiplayer game – sharing virtual currency, rewards and points with friends, family or even classmates.

This is one trend that we think is too big to ignore;  there are a huge number of benefits social games can offer as a teaching aid (they are flexible, adaptive and can offer interactivity to help with learning). They also offer endless possibilities in terms of of boosting engagement and enthusiasm across subject areas where students might typically be less interested (think Maths, Physics, Engineering, etc).

Below are 5 ways that social games make the case of social gaming’s benefit to teachers and students, including ways to use social gaming apps for exciting students about Common Core States Standards.

Reach out to children on their level (and in a way that they understand)

While every student can learn in their own unique way, there is a need to meet the needs of as many students as possible in one go. In this regard, it makes sense to reach out to children on their level and in a way that they understand. Before children are entered into the educational environment, they have increasingly been exposed to computer games and software. Taking elements of games that children love and incorporating them into the educational process has immeasurable benefits.  As an example, providing badges and achievements for showing what one knows increases motivation, especially when students compete among their peers.

Create an environment where students are motivated to learn

No doubt there are many parents and educators that will throw their hands up at the thought of game playing taking a strong role in the education process.  Educational gaming does nothing to weaken or dilute the educational benefits that are being taught,  but creates an environment where students are more comfortable, relaxed and motivated to learn.

The end lesson and teaching is the exact same as it would be being taught in a more traditional style but with integration of social gaming, children are likely to be more engaged with the learning process.

In a fascinating study done by Marina Papastergiou, data analysis showed that using gaming in the classroom was both more effective in promoting students’ knowledge and more motivational than the non-gaming approach.

Gamification Allows For Patient Progress

In a standard classroom environment, pupils will often view every task as an individual one in its own right. This can lead to students looking to rush through their work as quickly as they can. This will often mean that they do not take the care, time and effort to pay attention to what they are learning.  A key finding of the above paper discovered by combining technology and gaming with teaching curriculum, children were more motivated to take time and care over their work because they were attempting to attain goals.

Game Creation & Socialization Are Made Easy By The Common Core

In a 2 for one of sorts the Common Core offers an ideal opportunity to create games and give students the opportunity to socialize.  Common Core State Standards provides scaffolding which teachers can utilize for incentive programs that engage students through achievements on leader boards, rewards, and badges built around clusters and standards within the standards.  The introduction of social gaming around Common Core Standards can build on the fact that what is learned and progressed in one stage will impact the following stages.  The skills and knowledge that students discover in each stage of gameplay encourages them to pay attention to what they are learning, because it will be relevant to them in the next task.

Gamification may not be the most thorough term to describe the process that unfolds as students play games.  The experience is a social one where young learners engage with one another.  Children discuss, compete and share information as a strategy to improve their standings.  Well-thought games based on Common Core Standards can provide catalyst for interactivity, collaboration, competition.

Two examples of how applications are utilizing the Common Core Curriculum to bring enjoyment to the learning process are Math Champ Challenge and Math Brownie Points.  Each of these apps span multiple grade levels and give students great practice at standardized testing which helps teachers in their task to “make students college ready”.  Math Champ Challenge by INKidsEducation.com – offers users the opportunity to compete on a global stage with their results being posted to the Game Center’s leaderboards, while success in Math Brownie Points gives out rewards of popular non-educational game apps that students are keen to play.

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The educational process is about more than just teaching English or Maths, it is about providing young people with the skills and tools they need for life. Developing confidence and personality is as much a part of school life as definitions or multiplication tables. The use of social gaming can provide numerous educational benefits by engaging with young people who might not be interested in the subject matter otherwise.

Gamification is the New Classroom Social Experience

The educational process has to cover so much these days it is no wonder that many teachers and educators struggle to fit everything in. Learning the basic curriculum elements of reading, writing and arithmetic are the foundation of the classroom experience but educators now understand that they have to provide pupils with more.

The educational process is now as much about providing youngsters a modern social experience as it is teaching them essential tools they need for life. Schools now have to play a role in how youngsters, think, act and engage with each other with information technology. This need for the educational process to assist youngsters to share and socialise with each other in the correct manner is a newly added burden on teachers, tech integration specialists and institutions as a whole.  Social gaming experience offers a way these aims and elements can be combined into one subject or activity.

The integration of game mechanics in classrooms has long been a teaching strategy  used by teachers to motivate and engage students.  The recent technology laden gamification process has both proponents and critics. Anything which helps children to feel more comfortable or more motivated to learn certainly is not without merits.  A technology based social gaming experience does even more.  Helping youngsters to become aware of making progress, receiving valuable real-time feedback of this progress and comparing their overall knowledge with their peers shows students directly where they stand and provides impetus for them to try harder by seeking out answers in order to advance.

Engaging and interacting socially is crucial in the classroom

From an early age, youngsters are ever more being exposed to computer games and software as a socially interactive activity. Gameplay, be it academic or not allows children the opportunity to engage with other youngsters with and creates a platform for discussion, competition and sharing of information.

Games based on Common Core Standards can provide interaction, competition and engagement amongst youngsters thereby aiding the learning process. An example of this would be Math Champ Challenge, where students in grades 4-7 can gain achievements locally using iPads and iPods or compete against pupils from all over the world via access to the Game Center.

While this educational app provides an immediate benefit in its social use, it also provides benefit to the individual. There is a genuine Personal Learning Environment aspect to this app which adapts to each user, based on their strengths and weaknesses dependent on their answers.  This adaptive learning engine keeps students engaged while at the same time giving students opportunity to earn achievement awards and win merit badges for particular curriculum standards.

Each pupil can learn at their own pace

Much like many games have characters with AI which react to the players tactics, Math Champ Challenge delivers a learning process which is about mastering the topic as opposed to racing through a topic. Students receive a detailed report at the end of their game that shows them where they need to practice more.  Observant eachers in the classroom environment can check the answers and results, it becomes easier for the teacher to see where the strengths and weaknesses of pupils are. This in turn will mean that those pupils requiring additional support can receive it, while those making good progress can continue.

In this way, apps such as Math Champ Challenge, help to create a more level playing field in the classroom. Pupils are always going to have different ability levels and some will understand some topics more than others. With the learning process aimed at reducing knowledge gaps, the classroom environment becomes more equal, and therefore more competitive.

Competitive environments where pupils feel as though they are at a similar standing or nature will help to improve the social integration of the class. If pupils feel inferior to their peers, there is every chance that they will become withdrawn or will shy away from becoming involved in anything which will highlight their deficiencies.

Social gamification, in addition to all of the other benefits it offers, can help to create a more level playing field with respect to knowledge, which will help to develop the confidence of youngsters. Teaching is often about delivering the core lessons to the entire class but then adapting to provide every pupil with the support that they need. Apps built with social-gaming dynamics such as Math Champ Challenge, can provide assistance in this difficult yet crucial area.

Introducing Transportation on Messenger

Messenger is your place to communicate seamlessly with everyone – from making plans with friends, sharing pictures and moments with your loved ones, sending money, and talking to your favorite businesses about a purchase or getting updates on your item’s delivery. Millions of people all over the world use Messenger every month to engage with businesses because it’s simple, secure, convenient and keeps everything in one place.

Technology can make all of our engagements with businesses better, and over the past year Messenger has added integrations with select retailers, household brands and hotels to make your most common and every day business interactions more productive.

Today, we’re expanding the services available to you with our launch of transportation on Messenger. With this new feature, you can request a ride from a car service without ever needing to download an extra app or leave a conversation. It’s super easy and doesn’t take you away from the plans that you’re making with your friends or family.

Whether you’re meeting friends for lunch, on your way to a concert, or running late for work, Messenger and our partners can get you to your destination faster.

To get started, download the latest version of Messenger. Then, from within a conversation, tap the more menu and choose Transportation. You can also search directly for Uber – our first partner – and tap the car icon to request a ride. From there, you’ll receive updates on your driver’s status and notify your friends that you’ve called a ride. With the ability to request, track and pay for a ride in Messenger, we’re making transportation as simple as sending a message.

messenger-uber-request-ride

Your first ride is free

For a limited time, you’ll get a free ride the first time you use this feature (up to $20 value) with Uber. All you have to do to claim your free ride is link your existing Uber account or set up a new account within Messenger and request a ride. Driver status updates and payment receipts will get delivered to a private conversation between you and Uber. With everything in one place, you can seamlessly keep track of your ride and payment history.

The fine print

This service is currently in testing and will be available to select users in the locations where Uber operates in the United States. More countries and other transportation partners will be available soon.

Messenger Adds New Features For Sharing During the Holidays

hero-safe-messenger-holiday-2015

In preparation for the coming weeks as many of us spend lots of time with friends and family, Messenger is rolling out some new features to make it easy for you to surprise and delight those you love.

Introducing Photo Magic

Today we are making Photo Magic, which has been in testing for the last month, available to more people. Feedback has been great, and we are looking forward to making it easier to share more photos, especially this time of year. Photo sharing in Messenger is growing at a fast rate. In fact, more than 9.5 billion photos are sent in Messenger each month alone. But there is still a lot of friction in sending the photos you take to your friends who are in them. Now in Messenger, after you take a picture of a friend or group of friends, if you want to, we’ll help you send it immediately. You won’t need to stop the fun to make sure everyone has a copy of the picture. Photo Magic will help you keep your promise to send the pictures you take without forgetting, or worse, leaving someone out. Also, we know there are times when you want to share photos privately, and Photo Magic makes it effortless to do so while still keeping you in complete control. So at a time of the year when more photos are taken than any other (last year Messenger saw hundreds of millions of photo sends on New Year’s Eve), we’re making it simple for you to share those happy moments.

Here’s How It Works

By recognizing your Facebook friends in the photos you take (just like when tagging or sharing photos on Facebook), Messenger can create a group thread for you to share the photos with those friends in just two taps. It’s fast, easy, and simple. And you can turn this feature on or off at anytime as well as control if you are recognized in your friends’ photos in the timeline and tagging section of your Facebook settings. Check it out here:

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  • Make sure the feature is enabled (you can do this by going into your “Settings” menu in Messenger, but you’ll also be prompted to try Photo Magic – you can say “Try It” or choose to “X” it out)
  • Once you take a photo with your friends, you’ll get a reminder to send the photo to them (the photo will not be sent unless you tap Send)
  • If you choose not to share the photo, hit “Cancel”

Messenger Just Got Way More Customized

In addition to making it easier to send photos, we are rolling out new fun ways to customize your conversations with different people and groups. With various color choices, emoji and nicknames, now you can really make Messenger your own space. For iOS, tap on the people’s names at the top of a conversation to change your family group thread to a festive red, update your mom’s formal first and last name to just “Mom,” or change the emoji response in your holiday meet up group from the thumbs up to something more timely, like a party hat. For Android, tap the info button in the top right. Anyone in the conversation can change the colors, nicknames and emojis as many times as they want, and when you make a change, the people you’re talking to will see what updates you selected.

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Let It Snow…

We’re constantly thinking about ways to surprise and delight you and your friends. And now for the holidays, we’re bringing the prettiest snowflakes to your messages. Whether you are in Alaska or Australia, you can share some winter fun, even if your current weather status isn’t set to North Pole. Send a Santa, Christmas tree or snow-related sticker or emoji to a friend and watch the magic happen; it’s just like being inside your own snow globe.
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We’re also bringing back the beloved snow globe effect for chat heads on Android. For a limited time this season, your friends’ chat heads will appear as winter wonderlands (if you’re north of the Equator, of course). Similarly, to celebrate the new year later on, your friends’ chat heads will become confetti-filled.

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And speaking of snow – check out our Frozen sticker pack if you’re feeling frosty. But if Frozen isn’t for you, we didn’t want to forget our new Star Wars pack that just went live last week! May the Frozen Force Be With You.

We hope you enjoy using these new features this holiday season and into the new year. From everyone on the Messenger team, happy holidays.

Union Cabinet clears BRICS Network University

Union Cabinet clears BRICS Network University
NEW DELHI: The union cabinet on Wednesday gave its ex-post facto approval for signing of an MoU among BRICS countries on BRICS Network University.

The negotiations were held on this during the 3rd BRICS education ministers meeting and senior officials meeting in November 2015 at Moscow.

“The MoU will help in developing pro-active cooperation among the BRICS nations for the purpose of enhancement of scientific research, higher education, information exchange, analysis and implementation of best practices, joint research programmes, and mobility of students, researchers and educators,” said a cabinet communique after the meeting.

The BRICS Network University is a joint educational project aimed at creating a common educational space, developing academic mobility and providing the BRICS economies with highly professional personnel in energy, economy, informatics, ecology and other areas.

Last date for JEE applications extended till Jan 11

Last date for JEE applications extended till Jan 11
MUMBAI: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has extended the last date of filling the online forms of Joint Entrance Exam JEE-Main-2016 to January 11. Even the attempts for taking the JEE have been increased; candidates can now take a shot at this entrance test thrice, instead of twice.

Earlier, students had to fill the forms by December 31. The CBSE had asked the candidates to visit the official website www.jeemain.nic.in to submit their application forms. The JEE (Main) paper I and paper II offline exam will be conducted on Sunday, April 3, 2016 and paper I online exam will be held on Saturday, April 9, 2016 and Sunday, April 10, 2016.

Also, earlier only two attempts were allowed to clear the exam, but now candidates can attempt it three times. Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) is an all India common engineering entrance examination which is conducted for admission in various engineering colleges including IITs, NITs, IIITs, other centrally funded technical institutions and institutions funded by several participating state governments.

Free community college and King’s challenges: The 10 most-read Education Dive stories of 2015

With plans for free community college to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s decision to step down and the “Christmas miracle” signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act, 2015 saw no shortage of headline-grabbing education stories. In addition to breaking down the industry’s top news and trends, this year saw Education Dive examine the challenges facing incoming education secretary John King, discuss the MOOC revolution with Coursera’s head of business development, and detail changes in the College Board’s approach to standardized testing.

With 2016 fast approaching, take a look back at the year’s 10 most-read Education Dive stories. And be sure to keep an eye on the site: We’ve got plenty more in store for the new year!

  • 5 pros and cons of Obama’s free community college plan:Those on both sides of the aisle have found plenty to debate in ‘America’s College Promise.’
  • These 10 trends are shaping the future of education: Innovation in the space likely won’t create an all-new landscape, but it will be markedly different.
  • Sixth-grader’s 70-day suspension lands mandatory training for Ohio educators: A Columbus middle school’s entire staff has been ordered to receive special training to help them recognize behavioral disabilities.
  • 8 major challenges acting ed secretary John King will face in 2016: The stakes will be high for K-12 and higher ed in the wake of Arne Duncan’s exit.
  • Special ed changes likely in final months of Obama admin: The site offers the public a variety of resources, including testing information, related to the state’s districts and schools in a convenient, one-stop online shop.
  • 9 ed tech developments to note from SXSWedu 2015: If you couldn’t be in Austin or just didn’t have time to see everything on display, here are nine innovations that caught our attention.
  • 8 K-12 tech tools to watch in 2015: From digital textbook innovations to platforms that simplify STEM teaching and learning, here are some of the classroom tools we have our eyes on this year.
  • How the College Board changed its standardized testing approach: David Coleman detailed the company’s four rules at the NYT Schools For Tomorrow Conference.
  • UIUC, Coursera partner to offer iMBA, a $20,000 graduate degree: The first all-MOOC graduate degree is expected to launch in 2016.
  • Coursera’s Stiglitz: MOOC revolution is just beginning [SXSWedu 2015]: We caught up with the massive open online course provider’s head of business development to talk credentialing, JetBlue, and the format’s continuing potential for disruption.

Tennessee schools find STEM success with Learning Blade

Dive Brief:

  • In Tennessee, students using a new online tool called Learning Blade are reportedly 37% more likely to consider a STEM career after engaging with the program.
  • The software is designed to address the STEM “skills gap,” eSchoolNews reports, and to better equip students to enter professions that require advanced knowledge of science and engineering.
  • Middle school students are targeted in particular because if they start to become interested in STEM fields early, they’re likely to sustain that interest throughout high school.

Dive Insight:

This isn’t the first time STEM learning has targeted middle schoolers. In California, the Los Alisos School District partnered with Project Lead the Way, an initiative that offers cookie-cutter STEM curriculum and intensive teacher training. Today, five out of the district’s six middle schools are reportedly STEM-focused.

Recently, the growth of STEM learning in the classroom has been helped along by Congressional and public support. A recent survey from Horizon Media’s WHY Group showed 75% of Americans think “science is [now] cool in a way that it wasn’t 10 years ago” and that 65% believed learning to code was more important than learning a foreign language.

The STEM Education Act of 2015, which passed in February 2015, made computer science eligible for federal grants and dollars intended to support STEM education. It also mandated heightened availability of training for STEM educators.