Global Classroom: How 65,000 Teachers Are Teaching Over Half A Million Chinese Students Online

Cindy Mi with Todd Rose and Melina UncapherTOM VANDER ARK

Who teaches as many students as the Los Angeles Unified School District and has on its platform as many teachers as New York City? A China-based global education technology startup valued at over $3 billion.

VIPKid is an online classroom where more than 500,000 mostly Chinese students learn English from 65,000 mostly American teachers. In 2015, the Beijing-based startup served just over 3,000 students. Teachers on the VIPKid platform teach over 180,000 classes daily.

The split screen video conferencing platform shares a lesson and picture of the student.

Founded in 2013, VIPKid (@TheVIPKIDLife) has raised $825 million in seven rounds. The $500 million round last summer was the largest financing round in the online education sector globally. With a valuation of over $3 billion, VIPKid is the world’s most valuable online education company.

The 200 times growth in the last four years makes it one of the fastest growing startups not just in education but in all of China.

Founder Cindy Mi struggled in school and dropped out in 11th grade. Ironically, she became a tutor and began teaching English. She co-founded a brick and mortar English training institute with her uncle when she was 17, before founding VIPKid in 2013. She learned that two 25 minute sessions per week are more engaging and more effective than long in-person sessions.

Mi, who went on to earn an M.B.A., was in New York last week advising a U.S. education startup, Whittle School & Studios, where she also serves as an Academic Advisory Board Member.

She said staying focused on teaching English and providing flexible hours and strong support for teachers has been key to success.

Teachers can work anywhere and any hours they choose. Most work 10 to 20 hours per week and earn $14 to $22 per hour.

VIPKid is rated as one of the top three remote working platforms and as one of Fast Company’s most innovative companies in the world in both 2018 and 2019. Glassdoor named VIPKid one of the  Best Places to Work in 2019.

More than 17 million babies are born in China each year and parents remain enthusiastic about English language acquisition but there are only 27,000 North American English teachers in the country–not even enough to service demand in Beijing alone, said Mi.

She explained that after-school tutoring accounts for about 15% of household income in China, making it a giant market with tremendous growth potential.

To prepare teachers, VIPKid has an extensive onboarding process that includes coaching from another VIPKid teacher on best practices for online teaching.

“About 50% of the communication is nonverbal,” explained Mi. “It takes about three classes to get used to teaching online.” A little practice results in great student interaction.

During every sixth class, there is an evaluation where a different teacher reviews the first five classes to monitor student progress. The company also analyzes the level of student engagement.

“I’m always wondering how to make our classes more efficacious,” said Mi.

Mi will be back in the U.S. for the VIPKid “Journey” regional teacher conference in Chicago on March 9.


Tech professor’s book on international online education published

In 2014, Dr. Kirk St.Amant, professor and Eunice C. Williamson Endowed Chair of Technical Communication at Louisiana Tech, and colleague Dr. Rich Rice of Texas Tech were talking about their experiences teaching students from around the world in their online classes, a conversation that morphed into the collaborative project of a book that would take a look at how to expand online education on a global scale.

Dr. Kirk St.AmantThe result is Thinking Globally, Composing Locally: Rethinking Online Writing in the Age of the Global Internet, a 15-chapter book published by Utah State University Press that discusses topics such as internationalizing online class design and developing strategies for preparing students to work successfully in the global marketplace.

“Based on our discussions, we began to wonder who else was also teaching a wide range of internationally located students in their online classes and what approaches they were using to offer instruction,” St.Amant said. “We also began researching how the online education market had grown globally in the past five years and realized such a text was needed to help teachers and program directors navigate this fast-growing and uncharted area in online education.”

The author of several books and the recipient this summer of the Alfred N. Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Communication from the IEEE Professional Communication Society (IEEE PCS), St.Amant is a research faculty member with Tech’s Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Science (CBERS) and is on the steering committee for Tech’s Visual Integration of Science Through Art (VISTA) program. His area of research expertise is international and intercultural communication with a focus on international health and medical communication, usability and the design of technology for global audiences, and internationalizing online education.

His endowed chair sponsors different projects focusing on how people share technical and scientific information with different audiences. The Williamson endowment funds an invited speaker series in which national experts in a particular communication area come to the Tech campus and both give a public talk on cutting-edge research (open to both the Tech and the greater Ruston community) and visit a class at Tech to give a guest lecture on a specialized topic in technology and communication, such as using images to share information about disease outbreaks.

The endowment also funds a national research conference on usability and design (held at Tech’s Academic Success Center in Bossier City) and sponsors scholarships that allow Tech students to work on real-world projects for a range of clients across the nation and around the world.

“The overall idea,” St.Amant said, “is to provide Tech students and faculty — as well as members of the local and regional community — with access to educational resources and both national and international opportunities that supplement other resources available at Tech and in the local area.”

His most recent book grew out of his discussions with Rice, who he has known for more than 10 years and has collaborated with on online education projects, “but only on U.S.-based teaching activities,” St.Amant said. “We both knew that the other had started doing more work in the area of international online education, and over the years, we’d started comparing our international online teaching experiences and discussing how to effectively teach in these kinds of settings.

“Because we had experience with different cultures in online educational contexts — most of my work had been with Western and Eastern Europe and much of Dr. Rice’s work was in Asia, particularly India and China — we had developed different international networks of authors we could draw on to contribute to this project.  Also, due to our varying experiences, we had different perspectives on the range of topics that needed to be covered in a book like this one, and that helped greatly when it came to planning out the structure and content of the book.”

The book is exceptionally timely because international access to the Internet has grown by almost 900 percent since the start of the millennium and by almost 2.5 billion persons in the most recent decade.

“That growth has allowed individuals in different nations and regions to access education not readily available in either their region or their nation,” St.Amant said. “As a result, the international online student population is exploding.  This situation allows universities both to provide students with unique educational opportunities — such as learning how to work in or manage international projects — and to forge new educational and research partnerships based on distance education.

“Realizing these opportunities, however, requires an understanding of the dynamics at work in these kinds of settings,” he said. “Since the book provides educators with strategies for teaching effectively in these contexts, it is well timed to address an important — and growing — area in education.”


Reporter’s Take | MHRD softens stand on foreign institutes’ India entry

Image result for Reporter's Take | MHRD softens stand on foreign institutes’ India entryTen years after a bill to the effect was turned down, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is trying to revive proposals allowing the entry of foreign educational institutes in India.

The Foreign Educational (Regulations of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010 had proposed to allow international institutes to set-up campuses in India, but it could not be passed as lack of consensus on the process of granting approvals led to the bill being sent to the cold storage.

Vaibhavi Khanwalkar is in conversation with Moneycontrol’s M Saraswathy to discuss the possible entry of foreign educational institutions in India.


Various institutes in Pune host a series of events to mark National Science Day

Pune,National Science Day,Raman effect

The scientific exhibition at Science park department of SPPU drew a huge crowd.(Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)

Govt plans to expand rural job scheme, gets poor response from institutes

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Data from Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission shows the government has linked 110 institutes since 2016 which have trained 26,521 youth and provided employment to 20,554.

While the Maharashtra government has ambitious plans to expand the scope of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), that provides skill training and generates employment for socio-economically backward youth, only a handful of institutes have shown interest this year to join the programme. The government has extended its deadline from February 28 to March 15 after only nine institutes applied to join the programme when invitations were sent out in February this year.

Initially named Swarna Jayanti Gramin Swarozgar Yojana, the DDU-GKY was repackaged and launched in 2014 by the BJP-led government. It aims to provide employment to rural youth aged between 18 and 35 years by training them for three months in residential hostels and providing employment opportunity in hospitality, retail, e-commerce and healthcare.

Data from Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission shows the government has linked 110 institutes since 2016 which have trained 26,521 youth and provided employment to 20,554. In all, 36,500 youth have been enrolled for skill training. The state government has, however, fallen short of reaching the target of training 58,000 rural youth between 2016 and 2019. Officials claim several rural candidates are unwilling to migrate from the deep interiors for skill training.

This year, with a target of training 1.25 lakh people in the next three years, the government is keen to enroll more institutes. “This scheme is seeing 70 per cent job placements. But we need more institutes and organisations to expand the reach,” said R Vimala, CEO of Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission. Each institute is paid Rs 90,000 for skill-training one rural youth for three months. The scheme mandates they have to target minimum 33 per cent women, enroll 31 per cent from Scheduled Tribe and 20 per cent from minority communities to ensure overall growth.

With only nine new institutes interested this time, officials suspect several may have refrained from enrolling due to the end of the financial year. The rural department has started holding workshops with industry to encourage them to apply. “We held one workshop last month for institutes. This month too we will be meeting industry partners to encourage them to apply,” an official said.

Mayur Pillewar, from Quess Corporation Ltd, one of the project implementation institutes that has trained 900 people in Nagpur, Aurangabad, Washim, Parbhani, Wardha, Beed and Gadchiroli, said, “In Beed, parents are unwilling to send their daughters to residential hostels for training. The challenge is to change the mindset.” He added that while rural youth complete their training, they drop out during job placements due to unease with corporate culture.

Data from the central government shows 6.95 lakh youth have been trained in India, of which 3.48 lakh were placed until January end since the scheme was launched.According to the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, in India only an estimated 4.69 per cent of the total workforce has undergone formal skill training as compared to 68 per cent in the UK, 80 per cent in Japan and 52 per cent in the US.


Sharad Pawar to PM Modi: 63 out of 103 ICAR institutes without regular directors

Sharad Pawar, ICAR vacancies, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, india farmers, farmers cisis, farmers protests, Narendra Modi, indian express

Former Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has expressed concern over the large number of vacancies in top leadership positions at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the 100-plus institutes under the country’s premier farm research organisation having an annual budget of nearly Rs 8,000 crore.

Currently, out of ICAR’s 103 research institutes, “nearly 63 are without a regular director for the last 2-4 years,” the Nationalist Congress Party chief has written in a recent letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

These include the over 100-year old Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) at New Delhi, “famously known as Pusa Institute” and a “pioneer in making this country self-sufficient in food”. Unfortunately, “there is no regular director appointed in this institute for the last 4 years,” Pawar, who was agriculture minister during the previous Congress-led UPA regime during 2004-14, has said.

A similar situation exists in another “premier” institution, the National Dairy Research Institution at Karnal, Haryana. Even at the ICAR headquarters, the posts of full-time deputy director-generals in charge of the crop science, animal science and agricultural engineering divisions “have been vacant for the last 3 years”. Besides, there are some 350 research manager positions, of which “55 per cent…are vacant”.

According to Pawar, all this has been happening because of the “dismantling” of the “very organisation which recruits scientists and science managers”. The Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) is itself without a full-time chairman now. Moreover, “the ASRB rules have been tweaked to allow a senior IAS (Indian Administrative Services) officer to be also considered for post of chairman”. This is the first time in 45 years of ASRB’s existence that “the top job has been opened for bureaucrats in spite of serious resentment from the scientific community, students and elite retired scientists of the country,” he has alleged.

Pawar has questioned the tweaking of the ASRB rules, when the ICAR’s own governing board had “rejected this kind of reform in the name of reorganisation”. Besides, putting the recruitment body under the agriculture ministry gives a “wrong signal that it would be easy for politicians to handle a career bureaucrat than a scientist-bureaucrat”, he has said. The process of selecting scientists should be “purely on merit” and the ASRB must be made an “independent body” like the UPSC, he has added.

While welcoming the government’s move to sanction new IARIs in Assam and Jharkhand, Pawar has, however, urged that “let us not neglect the established ones”. Institutions such as Pusa Institute are “like Cambridge and Oxford for us”, the letter, requesting the Prime Minister’s “personal attention to the current apathy towards agricultural research in the country”, has added.


Govt to ease norms for technical institutes from coming session

Over-regulation has been a constant problem for the Indian education system, say analysts. (Mint)

NEW DELHI: The Union government will reduce inspection, curb over-regulation and allow a degree of autonomy to technical institutions, including business and IT schools.

The new rules will come into force from the coming academic year and once in place, will allow better performing schools to hire teaching staff from abroad without government approval. It will also allow these schools to increase their class size and offer new courses in keeping with market demands, said Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairman of the All India Council of Technical Education or AICTE, the technical education regulator of the country.

“We have debated the issue for several months and have decided to go ahead. We want to play a facilitator’s role for all those institutions who are established and doing well,” Sahasrabudhe said.

The move looks to be an extension of the human resource development ministry’s initiative to relax regulation in higher education. The government gave significant autonomy to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to run almost independently through their board. It has also allowed a certain amount of autonomy in academic and administrative matters to universities.

“…AICTE recognizes that autonomy is pivotal to promoting and institutionalizing excellence in higher education and that the regulatory framework needs to facilitate better performing institutions towards excellence in higher education,” the regulator said in the rules it has shared with institutions.

Over-regulation has been a constant problem for the Indian education system. It has been long argued by educators that education regulators in India should be facilitators of quality education rather than inspectors.

However, to be eligible to enjoy the benefit, courses offered by such technical institutions need to be accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA). They need to have a score of 700 and above in a scale of 1000. Institutions falling in the top 500 ranks globally too will have an added advantage as per the rules.

Harivansh Chaturvedi, director of the Birla Institute of Management and Technology in Greater Noida, welcomed the step and said it was long overdue. “There has long been a demand for reduction of unwanted paperwork, yearly approvals and run-around to the offices of AICTE. We have met the authority several times… The AICTE move will encourage institutions to perform better and encourage standalone institutions to go for NBA accreditation,”said Chaturvedi.

Institutions having a score of over 750 in the NBA accreditation scale can hire—without AICTE permission—20% foreign faculty from top 500 universities in the world on a contract or tenure basis.

“Stand-alone institutions shall be free to admit foreign students on merit, subject to a maximum of twenty percent, over and above of the strength of their approved domestic students. Stand-alone institutions would be free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without any restriction,” the rules said, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.

Such institutions will be allowed to build in an incentive structure to attract talented faculty, with the condition that the “incentive structure shall have to be paid from their own revenue sources and not from AICTE or government funds”.

Though the institutions will be free to design their incentive structures, they will need to inform the regulator within 30 days of their management board approving the structures. Institutions with a score of less than 700 in the NBA accreditation process will be offered two windows every year to prove that they have improved their quality standing.


JEE Main April 2019 exam preparation guide

NEW DELHI: The National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct the second attempt of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main 2019 in the month of April 2019. The registration process for the same already started on the official website. The JEE Main 2019 ranks will be released after April exam.

The candidates who wish to appear for the JEE Main April 2019 examination are advised to visit the official website of the exam – – to register and submit their application online.

Every year lakhs of students appear for the engineering entrance exams for JEE Main. The number of students appearing for engineering entrance exams is exponentially high as compared to the total number of seats available. Hence, it is important to prepare sincerely to score better in the exam.

Follow the tips provided below to prepare for the JEE Main entrance exam:


This you might have heard a hundred times! There is no alternative to practice, so keep practicing questions from previous JEE Main exams. You should also try to solve JEE Main January 2019 papers. Download the JEE Main January 2019 answer keys and questions from NTA website. Practicing old question papers will improve your speed and accuracy. You can check your strength and weaknesses.


With practice, you need to also analyze your answers and mock test results. Analyse each and every question you answered and try to understand where and why did you made mistakes. Once you have identified your weak points, consider revising the topic.

Ask questions

While practicing and analyzing your answers, you will get to know what are the topics where you need clarification. Note down all the points and discuss it with your tutors and peers to understand it better. You can also take help from e-learning tools available online or take a reference book.

Stay focused

Never lose your focus from the study. If you are sincere in your efforts and quality of the study, the result will show. Be confident with continuous practice and don’t take stress over the exams. Keep a positive attitude and success will be yours.


#CareerBytes: Interesting facts about UPSC IAS exam and preparation

Facts to know about UPSC Civil Services Examination

Every year, the Union Public Service Commission(UPSC) conducts the Civil Services Examination (CSE) for recruitment to various civil services posts.

The Indian Civil Services are a dream for many; lakhs of candidates appear for CSE every year but only a few hundred get selected. It’s tough, but one can crack CSE with right preparation.

Here are some interesting facts about UPSC IAS exam.Syllabus encompasses various subjects, aspirants can appear for several exams

Syllabus encompasses various subjects, aspirants can appear for several exams

Firstly, the UPSC CSE syllabus is quite vast and diverse, encompassing a variety of subjects like history, geography, economics, polity, public administration, science and technology, languages, current affairs, etc.

So, people preparing for CSE gain knowledge about a lot of subjects and can appear for various other state/national level government exams, including State PSC, SSC, banking and insurance sector, and CAPF exams among others.


CSE conducted for recruitment to 24 civil services and posts

Though the UPSC CSE is popular for recruitment to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the exam is conducted for recruitment to as many as 24 civil services and posts, including Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, and Indian Revenue Service among others.

Also, candidates appearing for the Civil Services Examination will have only six attempts at the examination, unless they are eligible otherwise.

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Aspirants from any educational background can appear


Aspirants from any educational background can appear

For the UPSC CSE, aspirants from any academic and social background can appear. However, the candidate must be an Indian citizen for Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, and Indian Police Service.

One must be at least a graduate (or awaiting graduation final results) to be eligible for CSE. Candidates should be between 21 and 32 years of age (relaxation provided for reserved categories).


Candidates can choose Optional for Mains from number of options

Choosing the right Optional subject for Mains is a crucial step in the CSE preparation.

Candidates have a lot of options when it comes to the Optional subject; there are as many as 25 optional subjects apart from the literature of any of the 23 languages given by UPSC.

Also, it’s not necessary to choose an optional based on one’s educational background or stream.



With new changes in the exam that are 2 attempts a year, online mode of the exam and a whole new conducting body, the preparation for the candidates have modified a bit too. Not in terms of syllabus or exam pattern, but in terms of attempts and preparing keeping in mind the computer-based exam mode.

NTA has conducted the first JEE Main 2019 attempt on from January 08-12, 2019. The result that had the percentile score of the candidates were also declared for both paper 1 and paper 2. Since this time the exam is being held in multiple days and shifts, the candidates have been given percentile scores or the NTA scores and not the raw scores.

Now to be able to achieve a good percentile score in the exam by utilising this last 1 month, what steps and strategy you must follow? Read all about it below:

#1 Know the difficulty level of the subjects in JEE Main 2019 and prepare accordingly: In JEE Main 2019 for the last few years, it has been seen that Physics is always the most difficult section. Maths and Chemistry always have mixed reactions from both experts and students. In the January exam too, the same case was seen. Therefore, in the last leg of your preparation, you need to make sure that you have a strong revision strategy for physics.

#2 Make a week wise revision schedule: It is better that you set week wise goals for each subject. You can aim to complete at least 5 topics in each subject in a week.Figure out what topics you need to give maximum efforts to and what topics carry most weightage and divide the time for them accordingly.

#3 Practice time management: The edge to your performance in the exam comes from this. the candidates who are good at managing time on the exam day, are the ones who make it to the top of the merit list. This is an added advantage that they have. Therefore in the last one month, practice how you are going to tackle time in the exam.

This will come from practising a lot of mock tests. Mock tests help you understand where you need more time, which section is needing most of your time, where you need to work on, how to divide your time between the sections and many such things. On analysing these, you can formulate your time management strategy that you can follow on the exam day.

There are 5 most important things here. To be able to achieve a score of 95 percentile one needs to put in an extra effort and come out of the comfort zone.

The first is to keep calm and do not panic until the end to be able to concentrate on the preparation. Panicking will lead to negative and useless thoughts that, in turn, disturbs the mind and you lose concentration.

Second is to focus on the topics that are your strength, do not forget to revise the topics that you have a strong hold on. You can not forget your strong areas while preparing for the weaker ones. In addition to that, focus on the priority topics.

The third important thing is to practice mock tests and previous years question papers regularly to know the trends and the difficulty level of each topic. You can analyse your performance and go ahead. Tests are an integral part of your preparation. Toppers take at least 20 tests per month to analyse the preparations.

Prepare your body to sit for 3 hours in the exam. Prepare yourself for this. This can be done by concentrating on your studies without leaving your desk for 3 hours. For 3 hours do not take any breaks, avoid mobile phone and small breaks. This will help you get used to seating at the exam centre and concentrate on tour test.

The bonus tip is to give 1 hour daily to revise inorganic and organic chemistry from the NCERT books. This can be done when you get up in the morning. Read the important points and solve every question. Revise the formulas and the important points in the chapters that you come across.