Friday, 22 May 2020

11 Tips for Writing Technical Blogs for i4C Blogathon

As you’re aware, together Inter Institutional Inclusive Innovations Center (i4C) & Smart India Hackathon (SIH) have presented you with an amazing platform to showcase your technical writing talents – i4C Blogathon. Make the most of this opportunity and win exciting prizes by writing a technical blog on any one of the following three topics:

1. How Smart India Hackathon (SIH) participation has helped me to strengthen my competency and enhance my skillsets.
2. Innovative Cyber security and Data Protection Practices for the Digitally Driven World.
3. a. & b. Student Innovation - Any topic on the themes of Renewable Energy OR Healthcare Automation. 

Click here, for more details about the contest!! Hurry last day for sending entries is Monday 25th May, 2020. 

Writing technical blogs and sharing them through social media handles can not only help you establish yourself as a tech expert or influencer but it is also a great way to earn by monetizing your blogs. However, to achieve this and be a good technical blogger you must know small tips and tricks for writing that will make your technical blog interesting for your reader. For example, did you know that it is advisable that you convert a lengthy topic in to a series of short readable blogs for the ease of the readers? This will also encourage them to revisit your blog for more information, thus, giving you better digitally driven blog promotion opportunities and more clicks to your website. If you are participating in the i4C Blogathon or planning to start a blog on your own, here are few tips for writing excellent technical blogs and winning the judges’ votes! 

#1 Know your reader!
While writing technical blogs, understand who you’re going to cater to. For example, is the blog going to be read by technical students or experts, you will have to change the language of the blog accordingly. If writing for students, merely using technical terms may not help, you may have to describe it a bit in detail for their better understanding. On the other hand, when you are writing for technical experts, you have to be sure that you use the industry terms accurately and wherever necessary. For i4C Blogathon, write for both technical students as well as experts, as the winning entries will be posted on i4C website. 

#2 Spruce it up with Visuals
Sometimes, technical blogs can get a bit content heavy. However, if you can just utilize the right visual aids like tables, images, infographics, icons,  graphs, charts, diagrams, etc. to explain the content, it makes things extremely easy and fathomable for the reader. It also gives a seamless structure to the blog where there is a pattern of content and visuals that make the reader stay hooked to the blog post. Even for the contest, it is advised that you use free images, icons, tables, etc. as it will add a little extra to your blog entry. 

#3 Language skills
Let the language and tone of the blog be easy to decipher and lucid. While using of jargons is discouraged, it is advisable that you use the correct technical terms wherever possible. If you’re giving an acronym for a term, make sure that you mention it with the full form once at the starting of the blog. For i4C Blogathon also, we discourage the use of heavy words but technical terms need to be addressed in your blog entry. 

#4 Make it Easy to Read  
While, it is said that slightly longer technical blogs get a better read, we also have to understand that your reader is a busy person who may not be able to browse through the entire blog. So use small tricks like sub-heads, sub-sections, bullets, numbering, highlighting key words, etc. that will help your reader to absorb and decipher the content of the blog in an easier way. Also, breaking 
large sections of paras into small palatable ones with right spacings and line breaks, will visually give a structure to the blog. Ensue you use this tip in your blog entry for i4C Blogathon! 

#5 Research well
Accuracy of content is extremely crucial as technical blogs are majorly data intensive in nature. It is recommended that you refer to different sources to corroborate if the data is accurate. Most of the technical content is extremely fact based and your readers will be quick to point out any disparity or ambiguity in it.  This is true in case of Topics 2 and 3a & 3b of i4C Blogathon, for the 1st topic sharing your own personal experience is expected. 

#6 Structure the Blog
Structure the blog well by dividing the content into different sections. Giving a natural flow to the blog like establishing the challenges, what is the technology/product/service all about and its benefits and disadvantages, this can help you get a lot of likes and shares.  The i4C Blogathon judges will also observe how well the blog has been structured and all points are addressed. 

#7 Interesting Titles 
Ensure you have interesting titles for your blogs that encourage your readers to click and read further. You can add an interesting statistic or fact that will draw attention to the blog and the content it offers. One trick is to add an odd number to your title, just like our blog here, 11 Tips for Writing Technical Blogs for i4C Blogathon. 😊 All this will result in getting better clicks. You can give well-thought and creative titles for blogs 3a & 3b for your i4C Blogathon entries, for topics 1 & 2, a title is not required. 

#8 Use References
To lend credibility to your blogs it is extremely crucial that you add the sources and references for the ideas expressed (that have been inspired from someone else’s blog). Please refrain from using any copyrighted images and content, it can land you in legal trouble. It is an important rule for i4C Blogathon that you mention the right sources wherever required. 

#9 Be creative
Just because it is a technical blog doesn’t mean it has to be written in a formal essay style. You can add your creativity and ensure that you engage the reader in your own unique way.  Adding a humorous creative touch to the blog can also make the content informative as well as entertaining. For i4C Blogathon, try some ‘infotainment’ twist to make your blog stand out from the other entries. 

#10 Originality is Power
Though you will draw inspiration from other blogs for reference, ensure that you also add value to your blog by expressing original ideas. Take up an angle that has not been explored earlier but will definitely benefit your target readers. This will make your blog an interesting read. Originality and innovation is one of the key judging criteria for i4C Blogathon, so please display that through your blog. 

#11 Proof check & Plagiarism check
Ensure you proof check for any fact-based, grammatical and spelling errors. Also, run a plagiarism check online just to be sure that your blog does not have elements taken directly from other blogs. I4C Blogathon judges are very serious about plagiarism and will disqualify entries that show any signs of it.
Judging Criteria for i4C Blogathon

Your contest entry for i4C Blogathon will be judged on the following criteria, so make sure that your blog has the following elements:
Relevance to topic
Utilization of visual aids
Originality and innovation
Quality of analysis
Understanding and research
Applicability of solutions
Structure of blog and technical concepts
Credit to sources

Now that you know how to get started with your technical blogs, we hope you will be able write prize winning blog entries for i4C Blogathon  or even start your own blog that you always wanted to! We wish you all the best! 

Do keep visiting this space for more insights!

Thursday, 20 February 2020

5 Ways to Prepare Today's Students for Tomorrow's World

5 Ways to Prepare Today's Students for Tomorrow's World

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X

Given the way rapid digitalization and technological advancement is changing our world, today’s students who will be tomorrow’s professionals, need to be better equipped with a wide range of life skills to cater to the ever-evolving needs of the future. Only limiting the learning to books will be rendered redundant and thriving in their jobs, vocations and businesses will call for stronger skill sets that will not only help shape their personality but also enable them to achieve & maintain a successful career. Hence, it is critical that student activities teach skills like technological literacy, critical thinking, cognitive flexibility, teamwork, networking and socializing, innovation, leadership skills, etc. right from their school days to ensure that they are holistically groomed to face tomorrow’s world.

Here are 5 Ways to prepare today's students for tomorrow's world and help them realize their complete potential:

#1 Innovation & Continuous Learning

·         STEM: While focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), encourage students to question not just ‘why’, but also ‘why not’.
·         Technological Literacy: Include basic/advanced information about new age technologies like coding and programing, cyber security, data protection, data analytics, etc. at school level to enhance their technical awareness.
·         Healthy Competition: Make them participate regularly in competitions like hackathons, pitch fests, etc. to provide a platform to students to display their innovations.
·         Appreciation: Reward the innovative ideas and try to implement them, so that students get to experience their ‘real world’ application.  
·         Collaborative Learning: Teachers should ask open-ended questions in class that will lead to teamwork, leadership skill development, out-of-box thinking, etc.
·         Critical Thinking: Focus on student activities that not only encourage ‘problem solving’ but also focus on ‘problem finding’.
·         Unstructured Playing/Activities: Give them time and conducive conditions for unstructured playing/activities, this will help cultivate innovative thinking.

#2 Entrepreneurship & Leadership

·         Pitch Ideas & Concepts: Introduce ‘Shark Tank’ like concept where students can pitch their innovative ideas on various issues.
·         Personal Brand: Educate them about creating a positive personal brand online and offline.
·         Set Goals & Chase: Help them set goals for themselves, guide them wherever necessary to help them achieve these targets.
·         Rewards & Appreciation:  Reward them when these goals are achieved to boost their morale.
·         Role Models: Children learn more by observing than by following instructions, so make sure as a teacher/parent you are a good role model for them.
·         Mentors: Find accomplished mentors for the students who can provide technical, financial and strategic guidance. 
·         Decision Making: Strengthen their decision-making abilities by involving them in smallest discussions of family/class.
·         Listen: Let them articulate their beliefs & decisions and patiently hear their viewpoints before adding your opinions.
·         Foresight: Encourage children to foresee and grab opportunities around them.
·         Interaction with Experts: Student activities in schools and colleges should include interactions of  Entrepreneurs and Innovators with students, through a one-on-one interaction or other technology channels to inspire them.  

#3 Adaptability

·         Changing Dynamics:  Explain to the students that change is inevitable and adjusting your sails according to the wind is crucial.
·         Comfort Zones: Student activities in schools and colleges should challenge them by moving them out of their comfort zones as this is an important life skill.
·         Resilience: Teach them resilience through various activities to encourage their adaptability.
·         Risk Taking: Help them to eliminate the fear of failure and allow them to take calculative risks.
·         Independent Thinking: Support them but let them face and come out of difficult situations on their own.
·         Work: Make the students do different tasks on a rotation basis, this will help them understand and learn all kinds of work.
·         Corrective Actions: When things go wrong, don’t hesitate to teach them to accept their decisions and take appropriate corrective actions.
·         Cultural Differences: Allow them to participate in student exchange programs to sensitize them to different cultures and understand inclusivity.
·         New Ideas: Encourage them to be more open to new ideas, concepts & thought leaders.

#4 Networking

·         Group Activities: Initiate group activities and project-based learning so that students will interact with each other.
·         Knowledge Enhancement: Keep them abreast about current affairs and enhance their general knowledge.
·         Socialize: Help them join curricular and academic groups where there are children with common interests.
·         Observe & Learn: Allow them to observe someone closely whom they admire for strong networking skills.
·         Lunch Time: Make them sit with different groups for lunch to get to know the other kids better.
·         Expand Exposure: Encourage them to establish strong connections and lasting bonds by expanding their exposure.

#5 Communication Skills

·         Interaction: Student activities in schools and colleges can be designed to foster interaction with other students, teachers, peers, alumni, industry experts, etc. to strengthen their communication skills.
·         Audio/Visual Content:  Motivate them to watch documentaries, TEDx talks, ‘how to?’ videos, etc. to enhance their communication skills.
·         Public Speaking: Make them take interest in student activities like recitals, drama, elocution competitions, debates, etc. to help them master the art of public speaking.
·         Read: Encourage the habit to read on a wide variety of topics, this is one life skill that will help them in the long run.
·      Body Language: Help them learn about the right body language, gestures and voice modulation to complement their verbal communication, in order to emote better.

Whether at home or at school, these are small initiatives which can help equip the students with the right life skills to get ready for the future. And while you work on inculcating these life skills, don’t forget to teach them important human values like friendship, kindness, compassion, charity and empathy that will also enable them to be better human beings and not just successful ones!

Monday, 27 January 2020

Coding for Kids 

5 Reasons Why Kids Should Learn to Code

As the world moves towards digitalization, coding or programming will be one of the most important and in demand job skills in the near future. Coding today is not restricted to just the technology domain. Whether it is finance, manufacturing, aviation, healthcare, retail, telecom, pharma, real estate, entertainment, media and social media, there are job openings for programming in all these domains. To prepare your children for this highly valued and lucrative career option and for their holistic development, it is highly recommended that we plan t  Here are 5 reasons why kids should learn to code:
o teach programming for children, right from the school level.

1.       Strengthen their trouble-shooting skills

One of the most important life skills that coding teaches is problem-solving. Sometimes the programming works and at other times it requires corrections to serve the intended purpose. This helps them imbibe the important skill of first understanding and then trouble-shooting issues without getting deterred by challenges. Finding a viable solution to a problem adds a ‘feel good factor’ and helps strengthen their confidence and computational thinking skills.

Tip for Parents: Appreciate and encourage your child’s coding effort and help her/him explore online reference resources about coding for kids (Coding literature/blogs by experts/podcasts/articles/videos) to educate them further.
2.       Enhance creativity
When children write programs, it enhances their ability to think out-of-box and gives a much-needed boost to their creativity. They must think about the end result to be achieved through their coding and reverse engineer the steps accordingly. It helps them to imagine how the entire process will unfold and offer creative solutions to address the problem at hand.

Tip for Parents: Explain the problem to them and guide them in a step-wise manner about solving it through coding.
3.       Encourage logical & algorithmic thinking

Coding encourages your kid’s structural and algorithmic thinking in terms of important concepts like repetition, sequencing and conditional logic. This helps to improve their performance in maths by getting them hooked to the subject, by engaging them in an interesting manner and developing their algorithmic thinking.  This kind of heuristic and structured approach will evolve their perspective of looking at things in a logical way.

Tip for Parents: Use online websites like Code Combat, Tynker, Khan Academy, Code Monster, Thimble, for valuable resources about programming for children, to help your child learn and practice coding in an easy manner.

4.       Inculcate grit and resilience

While coding, your children experiment with the coding. They try, they fail, and continue to try again till they are successful. They learn the valuable life skill of being persistent and resilient at what they do. De-bugging the developed code is one such challenging and exciting task, which often tests their resilience and trains them to continue their efforts even after repeated failed attempts.  

Tip for Parents: Try to encourage and guide the kids to continue their coding efforts even if they face road blocks.  Help them or ask them to take help of their teachers, mentors and friends – anyone with some experience of coding for kids. This will teach them about ‘FINISHING’ the things that they start without ‘GIVING UP’.
5.       Continuous improvement

Coding helps children to learn a valuable life lesson of continuous improvement, which will add value to both their personal and professional lives. For example, if the children are making an app for recycling of paper in their class.  Before they start the coding, a lot of research and background work related to data collation, existing solutions and why they are redundant, the problems that the teacher is facing with the current processes is to be undertaken.  This will help them improve the current processes or design new ones through real-world application of coding, math and logic to provide viable solutions.

Tip for Parents: A key aspect of encouraging programming for kids is to answer all their queries – however insignificant or otherwise - about the subject. Such type of structural thinking will help them to boost their ability to challenge the current ‘solutions’ and come up with better ‘thought provoking’ ideas.

Today’s kids will be facing highly competitive working environments tomorrow. They have to be well prepared and equipped with essential life and job skills to not just survive but thrive amongst tough competition. Coding helps to shape up your kid’s critical personal and professional skills like effective communication, accurate decision making, problem solving, team work, initiative taking, etc. Apart from this, we strongly recommend that taking your children to witness live hackathons and watching others solve coding problems can help in expanding their knowledge about programming.