As most of the engineering colleges are kicking off their new academic session after a delay of 4-5 months due the coronavirus pandemic, managing a curtailed session and mode of delivery of study material are top on their agenda. To address this, several engineering colleges have either redesigned their existing online platform or are planning to develop their own integrated system for conducting classes.
NV Ramana Rao, director at National Institute of Technology (NIT) Warangal, said the institute developed its own learner management system (LMS) in July. “The learning platform has many features – from attendance to test. Students will be asked to incorporate their feedback for the betterment of the platform,” he said.
One of the major challenges to hold online classes is poor network connections, especially in remote locations. To address this problem, Rao said, the institute has added a new feature of class notes and recorded tutorial videos. Also, NIT-Warangal has redesigned the paper pattern in open book exam (OBE) mode to curb cheating during online exams.
The Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar (SSN College of Engineering), for instance, is following both synchronous and asynchronous modes of conducting classes. According to Sunita Nair, advisor, SSN college, “In the synchronous mode, the online live classes will be conducted, while in asynchronous mode, the tutorial video, lab instructions, and class notes will be uploaded for the distant learners.”
Amity University, Gurugram says it follows a mentor-mentee system. The teachers upload recorded classes for students who could not attend live ones. Shivoham Dagar, a first year student of the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI and ML) programme said, “The online classes are being conducted smoothly through Microsoft (MS Teams), Amizone. Even the lab work is also conducted on a weekly basis through the virtual lab portal- vlab.co.in.”
At the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Delhi), first year classes were started on November 18. Shantanu Roy, Dean Academics, IIT-Delhi said, “The classes are being held through the available learners’ platforms- MS Team, Cisco Webex, Impartus. There are no technical challenges as such, fewer students faced problems due to server issues. For such students, recorded videos of classes are being uploaded in Impartus.” The practical/ lab classes will be conducted once institutes open.
At the Baruipur Engineering College in West Bengal, however, the online classes are being affected by poor server and network problems. “The network system is very poor in and around Amtala. After receiving complaints from students and teachers, the college has decided to segregate the class with students having proper server connections, and classes are now being held in small groups. For other students, the recorded classes are shared in the WhatsApp group,” said an official requesting anonymity.
Santanu Mondal, a BTech first-year student said as the online classes are not held properly due to poor connections, they have to depend on recorded classes. “The teachers also conducted doubt clearance classes over the phone but with so many students, it’s hardly of use,” he said.
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