What I Learn’t About Biz of Education from Cheese Dosa & A Game Of Shuffle!


By Maj Sunil Shetty (SM Retd)

During my childhood, Dosa – the South Indian traditional breakfast, had multiple options – but it never came with cheese.

Though my personal preference was Uttapam – my millennial kids now enjoy the new age dosa – The Cheese Dosa.

It is a weekly ritual – when I am not traveling, for kids to munch on Cheese Dosa in a local South India Vegetarian restaurant.

The Cheese Dosa is a representation of how the new age kids, particularly children in India, are adapting to new-age food.

Adaptation among kids isn’t limited to just food; even the method of learning too is changing. Take Byjus for instance – an education unicorn startup in India, that has revolutionized the age-old high school learning.

Whenever we are at the restaurant to binge on Cheese Dosa – my kids play an old game in a new setting, we call it – shuffle. The game engages the whole family – it is simple, fun, and infectious.

Every time we start playing the game – kids on other tables start playing it too- that brings me to the point; children have a natural affinity to games and gaming.

For the benefit of many parents and or adults, let me explain how we play the game.

Next time, when you are in a restaurant with friends and or family and while waiting for your order to arrive – do try this game; you will not miss your phone!

The game requires three to four empty & opaque water glasses and a salt or pepper holder – which, you find on every restaurant table. Players get a number, that decides their turn to shuffle.

Each player takes turns to hide, a holder, under one of the water glasses, and shuffles the glasses.

While number one shuffles – player number two gets to call, and if she/he misses, then the player three gets a ‘pass to call.’

On a successful call – ‘the first caller’ earns two-points. While on ‘pass to call’ player gets one points.  This goes on till the food we ordered arrives.

The player with maximum points wins.  (Soon I will be publishing game rules and variants in the game)

Professor Laxmi Narasimhan from New York University, USA, has been in the hospitality industry for over 26 years.

He was in Hyderabad for the launch, My Hotel School, a skill development hospitality startup.

According to Professor, new-age learning is different from the old method of learning- teaching through gamification is shaking up the hotel industry.

Professors’ insights, in the latest learning trendsetters, offers education-based startups a guide to build learning tools that can assist parents and teachers in imparting education through new-age learning.

1. Build e-Learning tools to develop competency: 

A lot of people have knowledge and skills but find it challenging to execute a task on hand. Competency brings the ability to complete a task, says Professor Narasimhan.

The new-age teaching can not be limited to imparting knowledge – it has to use “technology to simulate real-life situations.”

Such learning methods will require students to “use knowledge & skill to respond to an evolving situation,” according to Professor Narasimhan.

He further adds that e-learning is helping in building the competency.  Thus, the next frontier for knowledge-based startups is to develop e-learning tools that can help in building competencies.

2. Micro-based learning helps in retention: 

“Attention span among people is dropping,” and this trend is seen across all ages.

Due to this long duration course no longer finds favour with students. This has given birth to micro-based learning. It is a method wherein a “modern-day young leaner” undergoes a small course of three to four minutes, usually accompanied by a video,  says, the Professor.

Such short courses are “easily digestible, and its biggest USP is retention,” according to Narasimhan.

3. Learning through Gamification: According to the Professor, gamification is “shaking up the learning industry” by brining in game-like elements into teaching.

4. Adaptive learning is the buzz:  The Professor says, a new method of teaching called adaptive learning is catching up fast in the hotel industry because education has to fit the learning pattern, skill, and speed of a student.

It is no more the case of one-type fits all. It is helping students in finding the right fit for their learning.

5. Students don’t want a cookie-cutter: The Professor strongly recommends that educational institutions should move beyond classroom learning.

The “learner are a demanding lot” – they expect more out of their learning. They no more “want a cookie cutter.” They don’t want a “standardized mold.” They want to know how their learning can make them “efficient and competent” manger or leaders.

Narasimhan adds, “the millennials are ready” for the new-age learning, but “are we providing” them.

Coming back to my kids; I know, they like many millennials, switch with ease between new-age learning like the robotics workshop and traditional school – but they have more fun and retain the knowledge when their learning is through gamification.

The conditions now are ideal for gaming and education startups to work together and build the next generation learning platform or apps.

Entrepreneurs should explore new industries, such as hospitality, to find ideas for the next big thing.

About Author: 

The author is an Indian army veteran, entrepreneur and a war journalist. He now runs Askmentor, a platform to facilitate networking between mentors and mentees. It is a professional social network that matches entrepreneurs to advisors and resources thereby increasing their odds of success. Wantrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs, irrespective of the stage of their idea, can connect with the author at Sunil@askmentor.com.