Anything Under the Sun
Friday, April 25, 2008
SLS Karaoke with a Difference - India's Solution to mass literacy
Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is the simple idea of subtitling song-based programmes on TV in the same language as the audio. Thus, you will be watching Bollywood style Hindi film songs with the lyrics subtitled in Hindi, every word highlighted as it is sung. Ditto in 22 official Indian languages ... or any of the world's languages.
SLS is a deceptively simple idea for the enormous contribution it can make for mass reading development in countries where TV viewers already watch song-based programmes with a passion and reading skills are low.
SLS is Karaoke with a difference! Karaoke is entertainment for the literate. SLS is designed for mass karaoke on popular song-based TV programming, targeting the early literates, ie, those who may be able to write their name, but are not really literate.
SLS accelerate skill acquisition by creating practice opportunities at home. A strong impact on motivation for literacy is expected among non-literates and early-literates. One of the biggest challenges in literacy is learner motivation. With SLS, learner motivation to read along with the songs is inherent in people's passion for Bollywood. It is a well-researched point that if SLS is there, it will invite reading engagement in anyone with some alphabetic familiarity, like being able to recognise a few letters. Learner frustration does not build up among the early - literate, while reading along with songs. The "answer" to what they are not able to read fast enough is always there, instantly in the audio or, in their mind if they know the song. SLS on songs naturally infuses plenty of successful moments in a struggling reader's reading experience.
SLS has found national acceptance in India, but it is yet to become national policy, which would mandate SLS on every song in every language on TV. Finding roughly $20 000 per TV programme annually is a major challenge.
While the SLS project has always enjoyed short term funding from institutions like the World Bank and Google Foundation and a fellowship from Ashoka.org, this has not easily translated into steady funding.
This in not only an interesting way to increase literacy level especially for a country where TV and songs is an essential entertainment and one that can reach the masses readily. Good Luck to India to obtain more funding for this very worthwile project.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Is History repeating itself? - Different nations but same attitude
Oh I know that country, you're thinking to yourself. Its China, of-course! Well, you're wrong. It is the US - not the present day Super power nation, but during its the humble beginning of the late 19th and early 20th century one.
According to a recent article in the Boston Globe by Stephen Mihm, an associate professor of American History at the University of Georgia, Americans had gotten on the nerves of Britain and other European countries by publishing books by their authors - Charles Dickens among others - without paying royalties. Its butter exported to Europe was made of beef fat, cattle stomach and ewe udders. Its pork was contaminated with cholera, its pickles with sulphates and its milk with chalk. America, in other words behaved very much like China today.
Things have slowly changed as America moved up the value ladder and started selling its products on quality rather than quantity. Then it started pointing accusing fingers on other nations as the tables had turned. During the second half of the twentieth century, Japan got the brunt of trade sanctions for perpetuating the sort of practices it (the US) had abandoned.
China is now repeating history with abundant pirating of western movies and products, importing foodstuff that are poisonous etc.
It seems every "Growing" nations has its lot of mistakes, although the people who are affected are more often from other nations. Let us hope China grows up soon and realise "Quality is always better than Quantity". Unless it imposes rules and quality checks on its products and foodstuff, other nations will stop trading with it or impose trade sanctions too.
I personally would prefer to pay a bit more on quality products. An example would be a can opener that I had bought for $1. It lasted a week. Rather than paying $1 for a product that is useful to me for merely a week, it would be better to pay for good quality product even ten times the price, that is $10, if it lasted a year or more.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Kindness pays big dividends.
Of course, the exact opposite would be the one who frowns at me and is reluctant to do a little extra to please the customer. Every Saturday, we like to buy lunch. We had frequented a particular "Bryani" stall for many months. We prefer to have the rice, the chicken, the salad and the gravy to be packed separately. Otherwise, by the time we return home the food would turn soggy.
Well, one day, the staff in this stall complained loudly to his colleague that this customer, ie, me, was being unreasonable and soooo troublesome. Well, that the last time I bought from that stall.
It's simple and very true - The customer is Always Right. So if you don't want to loose your customer be polite and kind. Furthermore, there are many ways to attract and keep customers by being friendly and kind.
Lance Winslow of www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs mentioned some simple ways to attract and keep customers. Here is his article.
Most small business people do not take advantage of human relationship issues. They do not understand that being nice and friendly, out going and enthusiastic pays high dividends. When you are out and about in public you should always wear a smile, wave, honk and have a positive displacement. Such a public image makes people wish to do business with you, it is a good thing.
When you're driving around town, remember to wave to your regular customers, your corporate customers and even non-customers. Soon you'll notice everyone is waving in your direction, honking their horn and some may follow you to your next stop for service just to get a business card. When you are driving a company vehicle with a magnetic sign on it, you are advertising, if you follow that up with a high-energy attitude you will attract new customers and enhance referrals from your previous golden customers. Sometimes you'll need two hands to wave to everyone and won't be able to shift the standard transmission in your car or truck. Encourage your crews to show the same friendliness and enthusiasm when driving any of your company vehicles.
If you drive by a business where you know a lot of people and customers, announce yourself by honking. Catering trucks do it all the time. Honk and wave when you go by a gas station even if you don't know anyone there, because someone will think your friendliness was directed at them and will wave back. Others will assume you were waving at someone else and that you must have lots of friends around town.
Give the thumbs up sign to police and fire vehicles. Give a thumbs up especially to the police. Due to the nature of their job, they believe that no one likes them and the fact is that many people don't. After all, no one likes to get a ticket. A lot of people do like police officers and if you let them know you're on their team and appreciate their efforts to keep crime under control, you create instant good will with the police department. If the police wave back to you at a crowded intersection, this increases the public's recognition of your role as a positive, contributing member of the community and makes people feel safe and happy about your service as well.
When you're in a grocery store and you are wearing your company logo on your shirt it helps to smile at people and make positive eye contact. Be friendly at all times, especially in line where you are most able to make personal contact with others. It makes people happy even though you both have to wait in line. Make sure you always carry business cards with you.
Be proactive when you are not a work too and any time you are in public, it is best way to win friends and influence people. It is a good idea and it adds positive vibes for the entire community. Think about it.