All posts by Umesh

Creation Cricket League

We do love cricket. Just like Obama worries why US productivity goes down by 5% when Sachin bats, our productivity too goes down when some tournament is going on. We may be so-called nerds, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t having any coffee-break talks on cricket. But, if you are expecting this article to be some “pure cricket” article about Sachin’s paddle-sweep or Dhoni’s helicopter-shot or some cricket matches that are played by the RB Creation Team, then you will be disappointed.

This article is purely on how we leverage the sport to keep ourselves (Creation Team) creative, motivated and inspired. Above all, it keeps us in love with what we do.

As a Creation Team member, nothing is more exciting than:

  • Solving challenging problems with software programming (or)
  • Observing our customers consume our freshly brewed coffee … er,  code (or)
  • Getting into new challenges (projects).

Usually, by the general psychology of a developer, their motivation, interest or productivity reduces when a project duration increases. The project may become big or tasks may become monotonous.

All Project Managers, remember the formula: Productivity is inversely proportional to project duration or monolithicity of project.

Project vs Productivity

To avoid this we came up with three ideologies for approaching new projects.

“Test Match” Projects

These generally take 10-14 days for completion.

Any big project which we do – we logically separate it to smaller projects in such a way that the longest small project won’t exceed a duration which will make the developers lose interest. Instead of bombarding developers with the entire mission impossible target, we set smaller targets for the metaphorical morning session, post-lunch session and post-tea session. This keeps the developer’s mindset focused and clear. Generally, one to three Creation Team members are involved in these projects.

“The ODI” Projects

These generally take one to three days for completion.

These are usually small enhancements or feature requests from the customers or internal requirements. We sometimes take up these projects between Test Match projects so that the developers get an opportunity to refresh their minds for the next one. Generally, one to two Creation Team members are involved in these projects.

“The T20” Projects

We call these 111 Projects: One Day, One Team, One Challenge.

We sometimes stop all regular projects for a day. On that day, we take up one fresh project that would normally take around 14 days to one month for completion by a small team. The entire Creation Team sits together at the start of the day (we start really early on that day 🙂 ) and does everything.

  • Ideation.
  • Features brainstorming and freezing.
  • Wireframe.
  • Design.
  • Dev plan; smart task separation / delegation.
  • Front end architecture and development.
  • Back end architecture and development.

That is pretty much everything related to a project execution. It’s kind of a pure fun slogging where we might face unexpected turns and bounces in the wickets. We keep this project a secret from the other teams (Happiness and Growth). At the end of the day (a really looong day), we have something to surprise them and our customers with.

The “Practice Sessions”

Do we only play matches? No! Along with these projects, support tickets and small bugs are bound to come along. Usually, these won’t take more than one to two hours for completion. All developers are bound to work on such tickets along with their regular matches. They do these ticket/bug fixes either at the start or end of the day so that they can stay focused on their important match.

Till now, we are happy with this approach and the team is winning matches. All this can be brought down to one quote by God:

Any active sportsman has to be very focused; you’ve got to be in the right frame of mind. If your energy is diverted in various directions, you do not achieve the results. I need to know when to switch on and switch off: and the rest of the things happen around that.” – Sachin Tendulkar

Do you follow something different at your workplace? Do you have suggestions for us? Let us know below.

Ever Wondered How Bees Communicate? 

Bee Communication

At Report Bee, we believe that effective communication between our bees, i.e. schools, teachers, students and parents that use Report Bee, plays a big role in the ecosystem and has a huge influence on students’ learning. Relevant information to parents regarding what is happening in the school or class, what has been assigned to the students as homework, etc. keeps parents in the loop and pushes them to take the right actions at home. Would relevant information shared just anywhere serve the purpose? We are afraid, not. To be effective, such communications have to be instantaneous and easily accessible to the parent. The problem of access is solved by a device that is always in the hands of the parents (no points for guessing what that is!).

The problem really is that the current communication systems available to schools exist in isolation, totally disconnected from systems which store students’ and parents’ information. The disconnect makes sending information to parents a strenuous task as it requires transferring all contact details from one system to another. To top it, there is an additional exasperating process of selecting parents one by one, or uploading excel sheets of contact details of the recipients.

This is where Report Bee’s novel solution comes in to bridge the gap in the existing communication systems. With an aim of providing a seamless interface for communication between all the various school entities, Report Bee has created Waggle, a specialised SMS sending product for schools! While it is an independent product, it interacts closely with our primary product, Report Bee. The connectedness between Waggle and Report Bee allows for easy communication between the school administrators with all their teachers; and between teachers and parents. Teachers can use Waggle to send information like assessments, marks, homework, general notifications, etc. to the parents of their students in no time.

In keeping with the trademark of Report Bee, Waggle has a simple, elegant design and is particularly user-friendly. In just a matter of seconds and a few clicks, one can compose a message, choose multiple sets of recipients (even from a large number of people in the school), filter the recipients based on various categories, and track history of all messages previously sent. Along with the simplicity of usage, Waggle has also been customised for school usage, with features such as school related access controls, SMS approval before sending, etc.

 

waggle_sms

You can drop a mail at growth@reportbee.com to know more about this product and learn about implementing it in your school.

Did I digress from the subject? After all, what does Waggle have to do with how bees communicate?

Happy Waggle Dancing! (Oops, I might have revealed the answer 🙂 )

 

Bitter Truth of (Unfair) Moderation

It is a well-known fact that school education is a gradual progress of knowledge transfer over the years. Ideally, before students are promoted to the next grade, they must have a good understanding of the lessons taught in the previous grade. As of now, the main criteria for assessing this are the evaluation tests and marks scored in them; the higher the student scores, the better they know the concepts!

If that is the case, then why is there a failure/pass mark?

It is present to determine whether the student is eligible to learn the content of the next level with his current knowledge or not. If the student does not meet the minimum score needed to clear a level, they must be held back and repeat the curriculum until they understand the concepts well enough to be promoted.

However, most of the times, the teachers and mainly the parents associate failing with loss of a year for the student. Given the above rationale, is that really how it should be? What is more important? Is it more important that the students strengthen their conceptual understanding before moving on to ‘many years of learning’ or is it about just moving on to the next year to save a year?

What is Moderation?

Moderation is a process where evaluators reward or allow students to go to the next level by passing them in the courses despite underperformance. This is a tough process for the evaluators as they must be sure of the students’ ability to perform well in the next levels before rewarding them. Ensuring this ability to perform at a higher level is impractical due to high efforts needs; and this is what leads to unfair moderations. As a result, many non-eligible students progress to the next level; this leads to implications of ‘unfair’ moderation in the form of large number of ineligible students in higher grades.

The Shark Dorsal Data

Take a look at the mark distribution of famous subjects for 10th and 12th standards.

10th -12th Mark Distribution of popular Board
10th -12th Mark Distribution.

We can clearly see the high peaks near the pass scores (70 for 12th and 35 for 10th). This is indicative of how the evaluators move the students to the higher bucket. To the contrary, analysis experts have found that for a fair mark distribution, the graph has to be more like the following:

Fair mark distribution
Fair Mark Distribution

And when good mark moderation is applied, only a fraction of the graph should get marginally affected.

Fair mark distribution with Fair Moderation

Fair Mark Distribution with Fair Moderation

When schools and education boards are primarily focused on the pass percentages and on students’ performances to compete with each other, there is an inevitable pressure on the evaluators to move students to higher performance buckets ‘unfairly’ (which is found to be fair by most evaluators).

But is it actually fair for the student to get such moderations? – The question has to be answered at a higher level, indeed.