Monday, May 16, 2011

Soon, virtual varsity for tech education

Here is good news for the students wishing to take up distance learning but apprehensive of the lesser value attached to the technical degrees obtained from these courses as compared to those from regular streams. The Centre is planning to establish a virtual university that will impart training on diverse technical areas to the undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as the newly recruited teachers through flexible, credit-based correspondence courses.

The proposed Virtual Technical University (VTU) will offer programmes in the fields of science, technology, management, architecture, pharmacy and other areas of applied knowledge. It would come up as part of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

“There is no question on the feasibility of the virtual university because the world is moving in that direction. We only need to implement it and though the idea has not come before the board as yet, we expect the varsity to be there in the current Plan period (2007-12),” said M. Anandakrishnan, Chairman, Board of Governors, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur.

The Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) has a virtual university that enables off-campus students to avail of the facilities offered to a normal on-campus student registered under the same programme and get a degree from BITS. “The piecemeal approach to distance learning is leading to its misuse and a quality check is needed. The education system is large enough to accept another type of distance learning model besides IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University),” added Anandakrishnan.

The university will use video courses, web-based learning material and live lectures using satellite and internet-based technologies. The VTU will have a repository of video courses created by experts in the field, a website that will host learning material while live lectures will be delivered using satellite and Internet technologies. The virtual university may also have five different schools — one each on developing teaching methodology, engineering sciences, natural sciences, management sciences and human sciences.

The school of education will look at developing inner and outer strength of the individuals and their emotional intelligence while that of engineering would focus on different disciplines of engineering. The school of management sciences will look at industrial and management engineering. Human sciences like economics and humanities would be catered to by the school of human sciences. A high-powered panel set up by the ministry for faculty development in technical institutes had recommended that each school float a suitable number of courses in order to cater to the need of various disciplines associated with the school.

It was envisaged that VTU shall have at least 300 courses for the school of engineering sciences and engage a large pool of talented faculty from Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and other institutions and retired faculty.

Source: The Financial Express, May 16, 2011

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