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With interactive online courses, IIT-B to reach out to ‘learners’ across country

Courses, which are being officially launched on 66th Republic Day, can be accessed on www.iitbombayx.in

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
January 23, 2015 2:14:58 am

In a first, IIT Bombay (IIT-B) will offer interactive and bi-lingual online courses for learners, which includes students from institutes across the country, and training workshops for teachers. The initiative will see training from an indigenous MOOCs or ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ platform, which has been developed on the open-edX, a non-profit initiative. The initiative is being termed ‘IITBombayX’ or extended online educational services from IIT Bombay.

The courses, which are being officially launched on the 66th Republic Day on Monday, can be accessed on http://www.iitbombayx.in and the first three programmes that are being offered include ‘Introduction to Computer Programming’, by Prof Deepak B Phatak and Prof Supratik Chakraborty from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, ‘Thermodynamics’ by Prof U N Gaitonde, Prof U V Bhandarkar and Prof M D Atrey from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and ‘Signals and Systems’ by Prof Vikram Gadre from the Department of Electrical Engineering.This will include modifications to make it suitable for blended MOOCs and Indian language interfaces. According to IIT Bombay, this will be extended in future to cover special needs of school education and vocational training.

MOOCs have emerged as one of the most inexpensive mechanisms for offering quality education online to a large number of students, from 15 to 75-year-olds, via the Internet and enable students to solve assignments and quizzed at their own pace, besides incorporating discussion forums and chat rooms. Currently, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, IIT-B, UC Berkeley, and Stanford, among others offer MOOCs. In June last year, IIT-B had joined the massive open online courses (MOOCs) platform started by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to experts, the web-based technology and infrastructure of edX allow lakhs to log in to a course simultaneously.

“This initiative is meant primarily for Indian students and we will initially launch the three courses and provide material in them in two languages, English and Hindi. Students should be able to ask questions in their native language. IIT Bombay will initially give an honours course certificate and give grade to the students. There will also be interaction with the students, besides live interaction and question-answer session and interaction with teachers. Students will get a certificate of achievement, certifying successful completion of the course after they have qualified in the tests. Further, if students miss registering for a course, we will release them and the courses will be available on the open platform for eight-nine months,” said Prof Phatak on Thursday.

“Students normally learn similar subjects and topics as part of their degree course. Our online courses will give them an exposure to the teaching and learning style of the IIT system, with its emphasis on solving hard problems, interactive discussions, explanation of difficult concepts, and continuous assessment with feedback. We believe that this will help them to further extend their knowledge of the subjects, and their skills in solving associated practical problems,” he added.

Four-five lakh students will be able to register for each course. IIT Bombay will follow a blended MOOCs model, where In addition to traditional course materials likes videos, readings, and problem, “IITBombayX” will provide interactive user forums like discussions, quizzes and instant feedback, which will help build a community of students, professors, and teaching assistants. The MOOCs stipulate an important role for local teachers, who will use a ‘flipped class-room’ model of teaching, where they will conduct discussions and problem solving sessions rather than mere lecturing.

Under this blended model, IITBombayX will simultaneously conduct training workshops for teachers on ‘effective teaching and mentoring students in online courses’, for each of these three subjects, under it’s ongoing initiative for training 10,000 teachers. “College teachers will be trained on ways to effectively enhance the learning of students, by mentoring students of online courses. They will be trained to do this through discussion forums, face-to-face interaction with students of their colleges who register for MOOCs. Faculty from IIT Bombay will conduct live interactive sessions every fortnight for such students and teachers,” said Phatak.

While the course on introduction to computer programming will be of eight-week duration, the programme on thermodynamics will run for 12 weeks, and is designed for students of mechanical engineering. Similarly, the programme on signals and systems course will be for eight weeks.

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) currently have their own initiative, the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), which was started in 2008 and facilitates access to its courses online, free of charge.

mumbai.newsline@expressindia.com

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