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FOREWORD The promise of technology


“Ironically, in India it is K-12 where computers are a way of life, while higher education is still undecided on IT”

n early 1990s, when computers dawned on schools, a friend’s father felt that the additional fee was uncalled for and introducing computers in Class IV was pointless. A physics professor, who subscribed to a leading personal technology magazine, thought technology was for students in higher education rather than school. He launched a signature campaign of parents to dissuade the school from computerisation. But the school management clung to its IT vision. Cut to 2011, the professor wants to buy an iPad for his 12-year-old granddaughter and laments that most of his friends are not on Facebook and his college does not have a decent interactive website. Ironically, in India it is K-12 where computers are a way of life, while higher education is still undecided on IT. Paucity of funds and the lack of staff interest may partly be at the root of the slow uptake of technology in the HEIs, but the core issue lies elsewhere. It is, in fact, a lack of understanding of the benefits that information technology brings among the leaders that has prevented IT from going disruptive in higher education space. In our 2nd anniversary issue, we decided to bring to you the benefits of putting in place an integrated technology strategy that joins the various links in the higher education value chain. With insights from 16 leaders, we explore the technology models, products and solutions that can bring about a wealth of difference in how education is imparted at your institution. Finding a great CIO to lead your strategy may be difficult, as Savita Mahajan, CEO, ISB Mohali, says, but the support of your stakeholders can fill that lacuna. IT need not be a cost centre if like Shankar Venkatagiri you opt for open source products. You will be inspired by S Sadagopan and Chandrashekhar Ramanathan’s piece on what they have achieved at IIIT Bangalore. But technology has not yet been able to replicate the bond between the teacher and the taught as Manipal University VC, K Ramnarayan’s piece will tell you. With the world moving on to more disruptive technology trends, this New Year take the technology challenge to drive your efficiency and RoI. As EDU enters into its 3rd year, we thank you for your support and hope to continue being a part of your reading list. Here’s wishing you an exciting 2012.

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha

January 2012  EduTech


Contents EDU january 2012


10 HUB campus 12 Diversification dissection 14 awarded institute

Global perspective

Find out what’s happening in institutions around the world. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares its perspectives with EDU 56 new digital tools to tailor cheaper textbooks By Alex Campbell 58 colleges mine data to benefit students By Marc Parry 62 facebook recruiter’s tool By Lacey Johnson 63 prof gives new outlook on science to blind student By Alexandra Rice

perspective 64 let’s trust our children By Ashish Rajpal

ADVERTISER INDEX Agilent Technologies..... ...27 Almoe Digital.... ..... ..... ..... ..5, 9 Blue Beacon Infosys.............13 Cybernetyx............24,25 & 16-B Epson..........................................19 HP – IPG......................................BC IBM ......................................insert Marksman.................................15 Merit Trac.................................39 Mimio..........................................IFC Mindlogicx.......................6,7, IBC NEC...............................................21 Pearson....................................37 Saviance Technologies....16-A Shi Shakti Engg College......11 Talisma .................................29, 31 This index is provided as an additional service. The publisher does not assume any liabilities for errors or omissions.


EduTech  January 2012

22 Use online tools to attract students

41 Be social and make learning collaborative

26 Make admissions digital to reduce paperwork

42 Try open collaborative tools to support instruction

30 Build a seamless and secure campus

43 IT must address the

32 Turn classrooms interactive 34 Use IT to know recruiters better

36 Keep the old boys network alive

40 Equip faculty with IT skills

need for individualised attention

44 Use Web 2.0 to improve

learning outcomes

45 Use IT to democratise


46 Get alumni to sow the way to IT


Cover Art: pc anoop

Managing Director: Pramath Raj Sinha PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Anuradha Das Mathur Group Editor: R Giridhar Associate editor: Smita Polite CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Aniha Brar Assistant Features Editor: Rohini Banerjee Copydesk Managing EDITOR: Sangita Thakur Varma SUB EDITORS: Radhika Haswani, Mitia Nath

cover Story

16 Campus of Tomorrow

The complete guide to getting your technology strategy right By Tushar Kanwar

47 Install an interactive intranet 48 Do not go for point solutions; adopt an

integrated approach

49 Tap into the promise of the cloud 50 Get technologies that are future ready 51 Consider a university management

system to improve efficiency

52 Adopt an integrated classroom system

to promote participation

53 Seek help from stakeholders 54 Try digital lessons to involve students

DEsign Sr Creative Director: Jayan K Narayanan Art Director: Anil VK Associate Art Director: PC Anoop Visualisers: Prasanth TR, Anil T & Shokeen Saifi Sr Designers: Sristi Maurya, NV Baiju & Chander Dange Designers: Suneesh K, Shigil N, Charu Dwivedi Raj Verma, Prince Antony, Binu MP & Peterson Chief Photographer: Subhojit Paul Photographer: Jiten Gandhi salEs & MarkEting Brand Manager: Deepak Garg National Manager-Events & Special Projects: Mahantesh Godi NORTH: Vipin Yadav ( 09911888276) SOUTH: Daphisha Khapiah ( 09986084742) Assistant Brand Manager: Maulshree Tewari Ad co-ordination/Scheduling: Kishan Singh Production & logistics Sr GM Operations: Shivshankar M. Hiremath Manager Operations: Rakesh Upadhyay Asst. Manager - Logistics: Vijay Menon Executive Logistics: Nilesh Shiravadekar Production Executive: Vilas Mhatre Logistics: MP Singh and Mohamed Ansari officE addrEss Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd , Kakson House, A & B Wing, 2nd Floor, 80 Sion Trombay Road, Chembur, Mumbai-400071 INDIA. Certain content in this publication is copyright of The Chronicle of Higher Education and has been reprinted with permission For any customer queries and assistance please contact Published, Printed and Owned by Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd. Published and printed on their behalf by Kanak Ghosh. Published at Bungalow No. 725, Sector-1 Shirvane, Nerul, Navi Mumbai - 400706 Printed at Tara Art Printers Pvt Ltd., A-46-47, Sector -5 NOIDA (U.P.) 201301 Editor: Anuradha Das Mathur

Copyright, All rights reserved: Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd is prohibited.

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts before recycling

January 2012  EduTech


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from the world of higher education

10 hub 10 campus 12 diversification 12 dissection 14 awarded 14 institute & more

Relief: Students aspiring to join MBA courses can breath easy now with common online entrance examinations replacing the multiple tests

Online Common Entrance for MBA Common Management Admission Test to be conducted online in 61 cities from February 20 to 28, 2012, for admissions to business schools CMAT: Entrance examinations for admissions to B-schools will now be conducted online through a common test, CMAT (Common Management Admission Test), under the supervision of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). This will facilitate institutions in selecting suitable candidates for admission to various management courses. Referring to a Supreme Court judgment in this respect, the Ministry for Human Resources Development (HRD) said, “The initiative has been taken to address the physical, mental and financial stress being imposed on the students through the number of entrance examinations being conducted by different institutions for admission into all management programmes in AICTE approved institutions.” CMAT-2012 will be conducted online in 61 cities from February 20 to 28, 2012, and admissions to both degree and diploma programmes will be granted based on the examination scores. The scores of CMAT, however, will not be valid for admissions into IIMs and 178 other B-schools.


EduTech  January 2012

‘Aakash’ to get space in Library shelves Dr D Purandeswari, Minister of State for HRD, said 50 per cent subsidy will be provided to colleges and universities for procuring computing device like Aakash. In this context, the Union Government has directed various universities and colleges to induct Aakash in their libraries and make it available to poor students. The aim is to popularise and spread the use of Aakash among students. If the plan goes well, individual subsidy to poor students like SC, ST and OBC, for buying Aakash tablet, may not be needed. Aakash is based on the Android 2.2 operating system, with a 7-inch touchscreen, three hours of battery life and the ability to download Youtube videos, PDFs and educational software like Virtual Labs. The government will also subsidise the wireless connection to make it affordable for poor students.

JNU starts online library The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is providing a unique password to its students to access the library on their computers and laptops. JNU is mainly a research-oriented postgraduate university with approximately 5,500 students and a faculty strength of around 550. The prestigious university has recently launched an online library facility for its students. In this initiative, the university has collaborated with MTNL to ensure easy access and download from the library. Students with their unique password can avail the benefits of the library on their personal devices. To avail the facility, the students need to pay Rs 199 each month for MTNL internet data card. Teachers of the varsity will have to shell out a little more for accessing the online library facility. Prof Sachidanand Sinha, Dean, Student Welfare Department, JNU, said, “The facility has commenced and data cards are being distributed to the students.”

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Innovation Hub at Presidency Varsity The National Innovation Council (NInC) is working towards the creation of 20 Cluster Innovation Centres across the nation Hub: The Union Government has declared the prestigious Presidency University as the first Cluster Innovation Centre in eastern India. The National Innovation Council (NInC) is behind the initiative to create 20 such Cluster Innovation Centre (CICs) across the nation. Under this initiative, the CICs are envisaged as the focal point for all efforts to promote innovations in and around the university system. Ideally, these innovation centres will function as independent bodies inside the university and facilitate collaborations between various stakeholders to create new knowledge, new products and processes to solve the challenges faced at the local, national and global level.

Vice Chancellor, Presidency University, Malabika Sarkar, said, “Presidency has been declared a Cluster Innovation Centre, the first in eastern India. This is a development to be proud of.” She said it would help the university in achieving a synergy between research, Innovative: Presidency University has been declared as the first Cluster Innovation Centre academics and industry. Presidency University has Vivekananda, Netaji Subhas Chandra its roots in Hindu College, Bose, Satyajit Ray, Marxist leader Jyoti established in 1817, the institution that Basu and scientist Satyendranath Bose. cradled the 19th century Bengal RenaisIndia’s first president Rajendra Prasad sance and was christened Presidency and former West Bengal chief minister College in 1855. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also studied in The college’s alumni include Nobel the college. laureate Rabindranath Tagore, Swami

Cornell Wins Bid to Build New York Science Campus Campus A US $2-bn graduate science and engineering school with the intention of inspiring New York City’s technology industry was finally signed off after a year-long competition that saw seven proposals from 17 leading institutions around the world. Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa were selected to build a new science campus on Roosevelt Island in New York’s East River. The first phase of building is scheduled for completion by 2017, with the campus due to open its doors to 75 full-time faculty members and 300 graduate students. Enrolments could begin next September, with the school slated to start its classes at a temporary off-site location. With $100 mn in city funding for infrastructure upgrades and a $350 mn donation to Cornell already approved, work on the campus should begin soon. The plan is to expand the school to include 280 faculty and 2,500 graduate students in the next three decades.

global update

$2 10

bn science campus to boost tech industry and inspire start-ups

EduTech  January 2012


full-time faculty members and 300 graduate students to kick-off the first batch


HDFC to Enter Education Sector Soon Aims to impact school systems positively in the country and address the challenges of employability and employment across various industry sectors Diversification: Leading housing finance company, Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC), plans to diversify into the education sector with the long-term objective of creating a visible impact on school s y s t e m s a c r o s s t h e c o u n t r y.   The company aims to provide school management and other allied services, to strengthen the education sector. Initially, HDFC will focus on entering the country’s vast education sector through active participation in the school education segment by setting up flagship schools. Chairman HDFC, Deepak Parekh, said, “We will start with some baby steps and envisage building an education organisation on the principles of efficiency, effectiveness, integrity

and transparency which have been so successfully applied and institutionalised within Baby steps into education sector with learnings from HDFC culture, is the strategy, says Chairman Deepak Parekh HDFC.” HDFC also plans talent from the education sector as well to enter the vocational education and as collaborate with groups of talented training sector by undertaking career people and institutions who share simienhancement programmes, which will lar values with a strong commitment to be initially offered to graduates across making a difference.” the country. The objective is to address The company has been providing eduthe twin challenges of employability and cational loans through its subsidiary deployability, being increasingly experiCredila Financial Services Private Ltd, enced across several industry sectors and under the new strategy plans to proincluding the financial sector. vide financial support for setting up Renu Sud Karnad, Managing Director, educational institutions or improving HDFC, said, “HDFC is a trusted brand existing institutions. name and will aim to attract the best of

EVENt Update

UGC for Ethical Treatment of Animals Dissection University Grant Commission (UGC) has recommended ending dissection and experimentation of animals in various universities and colleges. According to new guidelines, these dissections will be phased out gradually. The new recommendations would soon be sent to teaching institutions across the country for implementation. Undergraduate students will no longer be required to dissect animals and the process would be optional for postgraduate students. The recommendations also called for modern modes of learning like software to replace the use of animals for experiments. Taking a serious note of the issue, UGC had convened an expert committee that came up with specific recommendations in this regard. The panel recommended discontinuation of


EduTech  January 2012

dissection and animal experimentation in Zoology/Life Sciences in a phased manner. The recommendations were approved by the UGC and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), and the following guidelines were issued for implementation. These guidelines will apply to all departments in universities and colleges which deal with animals in teaching and learning. 1: Strictly adhere to the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 2: Constitute Dissection Monitoring Committees (DMC) to look into the use of animals. UGC to provide guidelines for the same 3: For both UG and PG programmes, there shall be reduction in the number of animals for dissection and experimentation as well as species with all ethical considerations. Preference shall be given to laboratory bred animal models 4: UG: One species to be adopted for ‘demonstration only’ 5: PG: Students shall have the option to perform dissection of selected species or a project related to biodiversity, etc


Infosys Prize 2011 for India’s Super Six The prize recognises six scientists for their outstanding contributions across five fields in scientific research Awarded: The Infosys Science Founrarajan, Professor of Mathematics and dation announced the winners of Infosys the Director of the Mathematics Research Prize 2011. The winners have been Centre, Stanford University, Palo Alto, selected for their outstanding contribuUSA, won the prize for Mathematical tion across five categories of scientific Sciences. Prof Sriram Ramaswamy, Proresearch: Engineering and Computer fessor, CCMT, Department of Physics, Science, Life Sciences, Mathematical SciIndian Institute of Science, Bangalore, ences, Physical Sciences and won the prize for Physical Sciences for Social Sciences. his research on various aspects of the colProf Kalyanmoy Deb, Gurmukh and lective behaviour of living systems. Prof Veena Mehta Endowed Chair Professor Raghuram G Rajan, Eric J Gleacher Disof Mechanical Engineering, IIT Kanpur, tinguished Service Professor of Finance and the Director of the Kanpur Genetic and the Charles M Harper Faculty Fellow Algorithms Laboratory, at the University of ChicaKanpur, India, won the go’s Booth School of Busiprize for Engineering and ness, Chicago, have won Computer Sciences. Social Sciences-Economics The prize for Life Sciencprize. President and Chief es has been awarded to Dr Executive, Centre for Policy lakh and 22-karat Imran Siddiqi, Scientist Research, New Delhi, Dr gold medallion to and Group Leader, Centre Pratap Bhanu Mehta won be awarded to for Cellular and Molecular the other prize for Social Scieach winner Biology (CCMB), Hyderences (Political Science and abad. Prof Kannan SoundaInternational Relations).

Rs 50

Nanotechnology Research Institute at Bangalore A similar research centre will be operational in Chandigarh from next month Institute: The Union Government has announced the decision to set up a nanotechnology research institute in Bangalore. The ministry of Science and Technology has also given its nod for a new institute. A similar research institute will be operational in Chandigarh from next month. Dr CNR Rao, Chairman of the Karnataka Vision Group, Nanotechnology, said, “We have already got the land for the new institute, for which the Union Science and Technology Department has given its approval. There are a number of colleges that offer degree courses in nanotechnology and biotechnology, but not many are ‘equipped’ to teach.


EduTech  January 2012

voices “The total outstanding amount of educational loans of public sector banks has more than tripled during the period from March 2007 to March 2011” —Pranab Mukherjee, Union Finance Minister

“Concerted action by educationists, planners, principals, teachers, parents and students will definitely enable India to move towards knowledge economy goals within the next decade”

— APJ Abdul Kalam, Former President

“In the past 11 years, the total FDI in education has stood at Rs 2,051 crore; the annual average of Rs 186 crore is one-tenth of one per cent of the Centre and state governments’ spend in this sector “

— Anand Sudarshan, MD & CEO, Manipal Universal Learning Pvt Ltd



EduTech  January 2012

Technology Strategy

Technology Strategy

cover story

Campus of

Tomorrow The complete guide to getting your technology strategy right by TUSHAR KANWAR

January 2012  EduTech


W cover story

Technology Strategy

e truly live in transformational times. Many of us have gone from listening to the radio to the occasional TV programme to the non-stop informational juggernaut that is the internet, all within the span of our adult lives. Contrast that with the incoming class of 2012, a “digital native” who is at ease with online collaboration and an information-everywhere lifestyle, one that forgoes the pen and notebook for a dazzling array of gadgetry. Isn’t it about time your Campus 1.0 got a 2.0 upgrade as well?  It isn’t easy, as is evinced by the scores of half-baked greatmerely-on-paper technology initiatives we’ve seen in institutes of all shapes and sizes across the country. Beyond the mere installation and acquisition of technology, institutes need to today look closer at integrating its use throughout the entire fabric of the institution, while at the same time balancing the twin challenges of rising information technology (IT) costs and the need to avoid technological obsolescence. Most campuses approach the problem on a piecemeal basis, bringing some

domains upto par with the best of the industry, while forgoing modernisation in others. What’s sorely needed are individuals at the helm, typically a CTO/CIO, who understand the dynamics of each of the technology domains we’ve discussed over the course of this story, and how their interplay affects each stage of the education lifecycle. For most institutions looking to leverage technology, especially young institutions started over the past few years, the challenge will be to attract and retain such talent — a skill made rarer so, by the lure the core IT sector has for exceptionally talented technologists. Over the course of this special issue, we’ve tried to delve deeper into each of the elements of a higher education institute — right from marketing, admissions and college administration to teaching, placements and alumni relations — to bring to you the key considerations that keep CIOs at top institutes awake at night. Add to that the insights of several leading academicians and technologists about the impact of technology across the higher education landscape, and you have in your hands a primer for your own technology roadmap for 2012 and beyond.

INSIDE Use online tools to attract students Make admissions digital to reduce paperwork Build a seamless and secure campus Turn classrooms interactive Use IT to know recruiters better Keep the old boys network alive

Pg 22 Pg 32

Pg 26

Pg 36 Pg 34


EduTech  January 2012

Pg 30

cover story

Technology Strategy

“The need for timely information for decisionmaking is becoming very critical for administrators — IT can help” —S Sadagopan, Director, IIIT Bangalore

—Shankar Venkatagiri, Associate Professor IIM-B

“IT’s biggest boon is that it brings educators and students from all over the world together on a single platform to promote a direct and demonstrable interaction”

“Technology should address the issue of providing individualised attention to students”

—C Raj Kumar, VC, OP Jindal Global University

—K Ramnarayan, VC, Manipal University

to n o i s i c de “ The innovative adopt ologies was techn with a taken to vision ate all automrsity unive ons with functi arency and transp iveness” inclus C, LPU war, V n a K —RS


“By closing the avenues to IT-enablement, an institution misses the boat to modernity”

EduTech  January 2012

“Technology is an enabler and can drive the quality of education forward” —KJ Singh, VC, Amity University

“ A strategic IT plan ensures that investments are aligned with the operational priorities of the university and provides a fundamental context for growth and intelligent use of technology” —Ashish Gupta, Director, Government and Education, Applications, Oracle India

cover story

Technology Strategy

Technology Strategy Marketing

Use online tools Numerous online platforms can help you spread the word


here used to be a time, not so long ago, when information came to our target audiences via a handful of newspapers/magazines and a solitary TV and radio network. Today, the very same people you wish to reach out could be SMSing, emailing, chatting online, playing online games, reading up from an aggregated news feed, and to make matters worse, all of these could be happening at once! At EDU, we have highlighted in the recent past the importance of getting the marketing communications right by way of social media and your web presence. A recent study by Noel Levitz and National Research Center for College and University Admissions titled the “2011 e-Expectations Report: Students and Parents” (available at reveals some telling facts, many of which are highly applicable in the Indian context. For instance, many students removed a university from consideration because of a bad experience on the college’s web site. Or that a high percentage of prospects will provide their email addresses, but more critically, it helps to ask them directly for it in your communications/website. Or that students zero in on the academic courses section of your website, often ignoring the other sections altogether. Or even that parents play a key role in research and final decision-making. What impact do these insights have for your outbound communications and web presence? To begin with, strive to design with your target groups in mind — parents, families and students. If that means putting your academic programme front-and-centre on your website or at least via a simplified navigation, so be it. Ensure that your website shows up high on the Google rankings for your specialty subject areas and areas of research. Pepper your web initiatives with videos of alumni and the campus experience, and don’t forget to collect contact information from your web visitors when they arrive. From there on, start a gradual lead generation process — construct automatic emails that


EduTech  January 2012

“As the global network of people becomes instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, dramatic shifts are taking place in interactions, business and learning” —Himanshu Goyal

Country Manager, Academic & Developer Relations, Career Education & Localisation Read inputs from him on how to be social and enable learning on pg 41

Technology Strategy

go out with the intent of informing rather than pure ‘admission conversion’. Guide the student, be generous with information,without immediately focusing on the RoI. And beware of being ‘spammy’ in nature — it is too easy to mass-blast email using modern mass email software, but it is equally easy to be marked as a sender of spam. Curate the lists based on expressed interests, and segment the communications accordingly. Of course, your website is for all practical purposes an island unless you integrate ‘social’ into your marketing DNA, and drive traffic to your website from the popular social networks. But social media presence goes way beyond just setting up a Facebook page or a dormant twitter account. To be relevant in information-overloaded times such as these, here are some ideas worth exploring. You could, to begin with, create a Facebook fanpage based around an education theme and owned by your brand e.g. a page dedicated to helping students understand the challenges of undertaking a degree, with the wall and discussion groups used to ask and answer questions and share concerns/advice. Taking it further, twitter can be positioned effectively as a customer service tool — that allows prospects to direct questions about your establishment and courses. The key is to staff this twitter account with someone knowledgeable enough to provide advice and respond ‘socially’ to comments about the brand. Use a social media-monitoring tool to monitor conversations related to your brand and products, and join in the conversations, not to push your story but to help people. Allow prospects to peek into the way of life via multiple channels — be it a Flickr photo album of your buildings, classes and management team or YouTube videos of lectures, seminars — anything that will give future students a flavour of the culture of your institute.

cover story

“Web 2.0 tools present an opportunity to reach out beyond our known network” —C Rajagopalan

CEO, Pragmatic Learning Read inputs from him on how to use Web 2.0 tools effectively on pg 44

January 2012  EduTech


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cover story

Technology Strategy

Technology Strategy Admissions

Make admissions digital to reduce paperwork Online admission applications can reduce stress for you and provide instant information for prospective students


s the first step in what will hopefully culminate in a lifelong relationship with a prospective student, the value of the admission process cannot be overstated. From the moment a student reaches out to you via your electronic or offline points of presence, it is imperative that the process be made as smooth and transparent as possible. And with the rapid proliferation of internet connectivity across the country, the onus on maximising the use of technology to reach out to hitherto inaccessible applicants lies in your hands. A good place to start is within your own admissions office. Does it depend on archaic paper based systems for the bulk of its transactions? If so, it is critical to consider the implications of taking this department online via a dedicated section on your website. Will you be switching over completely to digital applications, or maintain a more complex hybrid model to allow for a more inclusive approach towards traditional applicants coming from Tier-B and Tier-C cities? Timing is critical too — a rollout immediately after the conclusion of an admissions process is recommended, which gives you sufficient time to test the system in the real world before the first student even attempts to register and submit an application, several months later. As far as choosing a system that manages application submissions goes, while there exist some ready-made solutions in the software market, a bespoke system that meets your specific


EduTech  January 2012

“Applications are available that enable colleges to maximise the effectiveness of their recruitment campaign and increase enrolment” —Raj Mruthyunjayappa Managing Director, APAC & EMEA Talisma

Read his inputs on how to tap into the available technologies to maximise your IT requirements on pg 50

cover story

Technology Strategy

“With proliferation of computers, emergence of tech-savvy Gen-Y and technology advancements, student preferences have changed. They prefer accessing university information on the go” —Ashish Gupta

Director, Government and Education, Applications, Oracle India Read inputs from him on how to make your institution’s IT strategy more aligned to this new generations needs on pg 48

needs and scale and integrates well with your existing infrastructure (document management systems, current workflow etc) is what you should target. Tufts University has put together a great list of questions you should ask the software development vendor ( to plan effectively for a new software system. Now, while the question of which technology to use and how to deploy is fundamental, even more so is having a strong Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system at the core of your admissions department’s technology strategy. CRM systems incorporate robust data management features with communication tools that can reach students in multiple ways: via email, text messaging, and social media integration. Often replacing paper-based strategies such as letters and direct mailing, CRM systems improve institutional efficiency and centralise efforts in one place allowing you to send out timely yet


EduTech  January 2012

cost-saving electronic communications to targeted groups of prospects at different times of your admissions calendar. Instead of costly snail mail communications, students can be directed instead to personalised Web pages that track and assist them at various stages in the application-to-enrollment cycle. Take a look at and for a comprehensive case study and tips on the measured benefits and impact of a CRM system in the admissions process. One thing that bears mention is the delivery model of these systems. With strong ERP/CRM systems in place, more and more institutions are coming to resemble conventional enterprises. However, unlike traditional businesses which are strongly investing in software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery models, experts we have spoken to, caution against a pure SaaS model, suggesting institutions gun for complete integration with their workflow and internal systems rather than be enamoured by the low-cost per-user, per-month story alone. And finally, the age of push-based admissions is nearly over, and admissions officers must think like a sales team. Instead of starting at the wrong end of the sales funnel — the application — they should start at the stage where the prospective student is just starting out his/her university selection process. When the admissions team catches more students at the top of the funnel, more students will ultimately end up applying for the course. What does this translate into? Increasing inbound marketing strategies to provide prospective students with the information they want and need, early in their decision making process, gaining their contact information and nurturing leads through email, and effectively using social media including Facebook, twitter and mobile-ready websites. Bear in mind, this is not the Admissions Officer’s responsibility alone — all of these require a strong alignment with the Marketing/Communication/Web Office to pull off successfully. The shift to digital admissions systems can today make the difference from confusion and easy access to information, from staffassisted decisions to self-service decisions, from 9 am to 5 pm to 24-hour availability, from postal-mail-time to real-time and from cheque/DD to electronic credits. Which one will you choose?


Welcome to Agile Campus Universities are changing and evolving thanks to globalization, change management, scenario planning and demographics. This evolution rests on empowering technology that acts as an enabler and intervenes at suitable junctures to further varied objectives.

Legacy of siloes Hitherto, every aspect of student’s interaction with an academic institution – prospect campaigns, enrolment, onboarding, academics and alumni relationship was handled by different departments and systems. This leads to build-up of extensive paperwork and lack of a unified view of a student’s relationship with the university.

Turning agile The agile campus concept lays emphasis on technology driven transformation wherein strong IT infrastructure is created to manage university constituent ecosystem with smooth workflows.

A few areas where technology can help universities achieve more: • Managing constituent interaction Talisma helps you engage all constituents viz., applicant, students, faculty and employers through customized portals.

• Reporting For making decisions based on real-time data with comprehensive dashboards, and predefined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

• Student lifecycle management Helping recruitment and retention, help desk, offer e-advise, raise funds and manage alumni relations. Student lifecycle can be integrated into a single dashboard to offer a unified view of the student.

• Multi-channel communication Helps institutions communicate over phone, email, chat, SMS texting messaging, Web portals with students and prospects offering an integrated view of all communication initiatives. Speak to us to learn how your institution can transform into an agile campus.

About Talisma Talisma Corporation offers comprehensive enterprise applications for higher education institutions covering the full gamut of administrative, enrolment, student information system, finance, HR, analytics, and academic software products and services. Our solutions are helping over 1700 campuses worldwide. Talisma Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Campus Management Corporation, the leading provider of enterprise solutions. Phone: +91- 80 - 4039 4400, Email:

©2011 Campus Management Corp. All rights reserved. Campus Management Corp., CampusVue, Talisma-CampusCRM, CampusLearning, CampusPortal, CampusAnalytics, CampusLink, CampusCare, Donor2, One Campus Ecosystem are trademarks of Campus Management Corp., and may be registered in the U.S., other countries, or both. All other trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.

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Technology Strategy

Technology Strategy Administration

Build a seamless and secure campus Getting a good ERP, a wireless network and IT security are no more just “nice to have”


s administrators and CIOs of your institutes, one of the largest and most mission critical technology decisions you make is that of deploying largescale technology across your campus. Be it decisions on connectivity or enterprise software, or preferring local storage over the cloud, each of these decisions needs to be considered with sufficient internal expertise, or failing that, external consultants, before even inviting the first tender. Take the internal wireless networking for example. The benefits to faculty and students is immense — increased flexibility of working and learning across your campus — and come with the

“LPU developed a University Management System which helped in streamlining various functions, reducing time required on various activities and improving employee performance ” —RS Kanwar

VC, Lovely Professional University Read more about how UMS is helping LPU to make university processes more efficient on pg 51


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Technology Strategy

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“In one of the first initiatives of its kind in India our students can also access our intranet Amizone and all its features on their mobile phones” —KJ Singh

VC, Amity University Read more about how Amity’s intranet Amizone has helped them on pg 47 bonus of a solution that comes without the hefty price tag and administrative overheard of traditional wired networks. But it isn’t without its own set of challenges. Once students and faculty start relying on the wireless facilities not as a “nice-to-have” capability but as one critical to their everyday existence, the growing pains start. Particularly affected are the dense user environments like classrooms, libraries and common areas which see a drop in accessibility, plus the issues around bandwidth hogging applications like video streaming sites and web conferencing (not to forget illegal peer-to-peer downloads in hostels). Strong IT policies, which allow genuine users to take advantage of the flexibility while limiting the casual surfer, are the order of the day. With ubiquitous wireless internet, can the cloud be far behind? In these days of budget cuts for IT spend, hiring an exclusive IT team to maintain hardware and software services is a tough ask, and many colleges are turning to internet based services for their infrastructure needs. Many administrators we’ve spoken to who were looking at setting up student and faculty email systems have been wary of the infrastructure and 24-hour manpower required for email services. For such folks, Google’s email, contact and calendar apps, commonly bundled into the Google Apps suite is a great way to get the email program

up and running, plus it benefits from the familiar user interface and easy access over mobile and portable devices. As your campus matures and increases in scale, it could perhaps signal the need for you to undertake the most demanding and complex technology project ever undertaken on campus — an internal ERP implementation. Consider the benefits — not only does an ERP system bring a number of disparate systems, such as admissions, registration, accounts, employee management and class scheduling under one application suite, but it also adds a layer of transparency to the entire set-up. Students can, for example, file-in leave applications or document/proof requests on the system and the system automatically seeks appropriate predefined approvals in a streamlined, time-bound fashion. Yet, all it takes is one compromised system to bring your systems and networks down to their knees, which is why security has to be on every campus CIOs radar from day one. More so with students being early adopters of technology, the IT staff manning the network have to build in support from these new devices. Add to that the increase of worms and viruses through social media like Facebook and twitter, and it becomes even more critical to build in infrastructure that can quickly identify which devices are infected and revoke access to them until deemed safe.

January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

Technology Strategy Classroom and Teaching

Turn classrooms interactive Use technology tools effectively to ensure lively discussions


top the presses: college and graduate students are increasingly using technology in the classroom. But then again, you didn’t need us to tell you this — walk into classrooms of today, and you’d be hard pressed to find one without a multitude of laptops, e-book readers and smartphones, all riding the way of data on the information superhighway. Today the question is not whether to use technology in the classrooms or not, but rather how to channelise the information overload into productive classroom discussions and learning. Bear in mind, the tools are copious — we can but hope to scratch the surface of the many ways technology can benefit the classroom of today into shaping the students of tomorrow. Rather than prescribe specific technologies — each classroom

“Some instructors have begun to experiment with slides, play videos off the internet, and run applets and animations” —Shankar Venkatagiri

Associate Prof, IIM Bangalore

Read inputs from Prof Venkatagiri on how institutions can can get their faculty skills to improve classrooms and teaching on pg 40


EduTech  January 2012

pus is “The Jindal cam edia im WiFi and mult ws us llo enabled. That a to engage with y od practically anyb ” across the world ar —C Raj KaluGmlobal University VC, OP Jind

on how m Prof Kumar Read inputs fro mocratise n be used to de technology ca pg 45 knowledge on

and teacher is unique and will adopt differently — here’s our take on the trends that will define the classroom of 2012. First, expect an explosion of interactivity in the classroom — no longer is the lecture a one-sided monologue to a class of blank, unresponsive faces. Today, teachers are tapping into twitter to ensure more meaningful discussions mid-class, and are regularly calling up multimedia content and videos to better illustrate the subject at hand. For example, Professor Monica Rankin at the University of Texas at Dallas regularly uses twitter tags to encourage a more upgraded form of ‘note passing’ in class, allowing for far richer class discussions than she had previously seen. Elsewhere, teachers are pulling in content from sources as basic as Youtube and Wikipedia to as rich as MIT’s OpenCourseWare project and other Open Educational Resources (OER) to add layers of interactivity to the experiential learning in-class. Given how web-aware students are as they are entering higher

“Active collaboration vis-à-vis content sharing and live annotation across multiple locations using interactive boards is taking teaching to a whole new level” —DS Krishnamurthy

Chief Operations Manager, Almoe Digital Read his inputs on how to make classrooms iinteractive with the help of integrated classroom systems on pg 52

education these days, Web 2.0 technologies will drive heavy collaboration in classroom assignments and learning in the coming years. Podcasts of lectures that render taking notes in class passé, blogs that encourage commentary alongside learning, wikis that allow student groups to construct small ‘pools of knowledge’ on a subject area, and gaming simulations that allow students to try simulating stock-market conditions will continue to revolutionise the classrooms of today. Yet, traditional courseware is anything but outdated, finding new life in the electronic avatars. While e-books have steadily grown in popularity among consumers, adoption by the academic community was slowed by issues such as a limited number of available titles, restrictive publishing models, and rights issues. As more and more portable form factors like tablets find their way onto campuses and the classrooms, expect them to drive e-book publishers to ramping up their efforts. As teacher-student interactions evolve, expect the classroom to transform as well, with tools such as touch-enabled whiteboards allowing the students to get up and out of their seats and interacting with educators and their peers in a meaningful collaborative manner. As we walk out of the classroom, expect to see a more connected campus, with mobile phones allowing real-time alerts for class schedule changes, emergency information and campus news wherever the student is. And finally, we foresee that in the classroom of tomorrow, with students coming armed to class with the wealth that the web can provide (and the textbook can never replicate), teachers themselves will increasingly assume the role of the co-learner and turn this into a classroom advantage — engrossing class discussions guaranteed! There are, of course, proponents of the alternative approach — that of “teaching naked” or without the use of the machines, a return to a pedagogy which eliminates computer slides in favour of lively classroom discussions. January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

Technology Strategy Placements

Use IT to know recruiters better Use closed door forums to get to know what employers want. Streamline placements with help from CRMs and scheduling softwares


ampus Placements. Get them right and they take pride of place in your brochures and marketing collateral, trumpeting the collective achievement of your industry associations and student talent to prospective students and the larger community. Get them wrong, and the prevailing economy can ensure students struggle to land jobs in companies of choice. That said, technology has definitely caused significant changes in the job search process for students and their career services officers. With the knowledge of job sites and recruitment portals, students have the ability to research companies 24/7 and are better aware of the market than ever before. How can you as administrators leverage technology to assist students in their campus placement effort? A good place to start is your alumni base, and starting closeddoor forums on LinkedIn (or via live webinars) which allow select alumni to interact with your student populace is a great idea. Coach your students, possibly via sessions with experienced recruiters, on how to craft the perfect online profile — one that meets the needs and expectations of prospective employers. In addition, focussed career content can be useful in getting students into the correct frame of mind while recruitment season is underway. Career-themed blogs (on your intranet) with experiences of recently hired students (among other similar user generated content) can get students geared up and avoid com-


EduTech  January 2012

“It is impossible to manually coordinate placements for around 600 students and 300 odd recruiters” —Savita Mahajan CEO, ISB Mohali

Also read her inputs on how to tackle technology when setting up an institution on pg 53

Technology Strategy

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“Administrators want to look beyond the traditional spreadsheets to help them” —Chandrashekhar Ramanathan Associate Professor, IIIT Bangalore

Read an account from him and the IIIT Director S. Sadagopan on how IIIT Bangalore is using IT to make their campus processes more efficient on pg 49

mon pitfalls in the recruiting process. If Facebook is the de facto standard for groups for your students, consider a closed-door group to allow positing of job announcements and company visits as events. At the same time, reaching out to prospective employers is critical, and the placement in-charge should be savvy regarding the latest social networking trends, so as to track hiring news from prospective employers closely. Many companies advertise their plans on their respective websites and social media pages, which becomes a key input for institutes vying to get these companies on campus. In today’s day and age, it almost goes without saying that your institute’s website should be employer-friendly, possibly with a separate section for prospective employers. Such a section should clearly outline information such as the batch profile, past placement data and list of recruiters. Above all, an easily identifiable mechanism to contact the placement office and to post job openings should be made available. For instance, the BIT Mesra campus placement page at makes it easy for potential employers to view this information and reach out to the placement office. Much like alumni relations, placement relations is a delicate balancing act, and requires much of the same organisation skills in terms of a contact management/CRM system that manages the needs of the institutes to stay on the ball with corporate contacts while being sensitive to their hiring needs/strategies.

Read inputs from Vishal Bisht, CEO, Marksman Technologies on using open collaborative tools in higher education on pg 42

January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

Technology Strategy Alumni

Keep the old boys network alive Develop an online community and use CRM effectively to keep the network alive


“Some companies have come up with specific technology solutions which cater to alumni, help institutions retain and keep in touch with them via social networking sites” —Lokesh Mehra

Director, Education Advocacy, Microsoft Read inputs from him on how to tap into your alumni network with the aid of technology on pg 46


EduTech  January 2012

e that they may have passed through the doors of your institution years ago, alumni or the ‘old boys network’ continues to remain one of the most critical faces of your institution in society. Right from a foot in the door for placements to mentoring current students to be ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow, from advocating to potential students to in some cases, giving back by way of grants and scholarships, the relevance of staying in touch with, and connecting with alumni on multiple levels cannot be overstated. Yet, the balance is a delicate one—how does an institution use technology effectively to keep in touch with their alumni and allow them to give back to their alma mater, yet not overwhelm their already hectic lifestyles? Savvy administrators could start with tasking their alumni officers with setting up an online alumni community. Now, while the temptation of doing so on your college web site is high (more so due to the richness of content you can serve up on your own platforms), bear in mind that doing so will only add an additional layer of complexity — it becomes one more site that alumni have to log in to connect with a part of their life. Ensure you have a strong presence on the networks where your alumni are already present — such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — and set up base there first. Use these to connect and aggregate alumni, and more importantly, use these to listen to alumni and their needs. Self-publishing platforms such these are vital to gain insight as to what the alumni now think of your institution and what specific needs they have (career advancement, alumni connections) that your school may be able to provide. Next, invite vocal and interested alumni you have developed a strong relationship with to participate in internal and external

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Technology Strategy

facing communications. It needn’t be fancy — even something as basic as a blog is an inexpensive way to create ongoing content and serve value to your current students. Take at look at how Stanford has channelised their alumni to blog at http://bit. ly/tLSU89 for the kind of content and interaction systems you can expect. Bear in mind, traditional excel sheet databases usually start showing problems of scale especially if your institution has multiple courses and has been in operation for a considerable period of time. To drive scalable and measurable alumni involvement, basic investment needs to be made in contact management or CRM software, which can track alumni contact details and other custom fields like year of passing, current company, further education etc. Alternatively, you could look at sites like ( for a comprehensive alumni membership management software solution that can deliver dynamic membership websites to hundreds of alumni spread around the globe. If you’re raring to get started, we’d recommend stopping by first at a matrix devised by Alumni Futures’ Andy Shaindlin on every possible use case for social technology in alumni outreach. You can use the the matrix, available at as either a management checklist to evaluate your current alumni activities, or to identify a roadmap of how to engage more effectively with your alumni. Whichever path of engagement you choose, if there is one ‘don’t’ you should keep in mind, it is “don’t spam alumni”. Plan your email interactions before you flood thousands of inboxes with email — much as your alumni cherish the time spent at the institute, the ‘mark as spam’ is only a button click away!


EduTech  January 2012

“Our alumni portal helps alumni get information about the university, fellow students, juniors, conferences, alumni meets, featured alumni, success stories of alumni using this portal” —K Ramnarayan VC, Manipal University

Read inputs from him on future challenges for technology, besides insights on how Manipal is leveraging ITon pg 43


n what way does the infrastructure at an IIT or an IIM differ from that of a degree college? Is it the quality of the furnishings? Not really: the chairs and desks at our hallowed institutions may even have antique value. Is it the general ambience? No. Many colleges have better lit rooms and wellequipped labs. Is it the level of technology-enablement? Many of you would overwhelmingly agree. The government is steadily paving the way for such ‘national’ level institutions to take shape in various parts of our country. Thousands more are enrolling in them each year. However, it is wishful to think that someday there will be enough institutions of this stature to cater to the 15 million students, who are currently enrolled in higher education. In stark contrast to the 20th century, college-goers today have many more options for the programmes they wish to pursue. Thousands of engineering and medicine seats are left unfilled each year, mostly due to perceptions of poor quality. In their stead, law, biotechnology, commerce and media streams are finding enthusiastic takers, as the 21st century opens up rich avenues for graduates of these programmes. Although the chalk-and-talk lecture method is the dominant form of pedagogy in our classrooms, some instructors have begun to experiment with slides, play videos off the internet, and run applets and animations. Students tend to assimilate knowledge better when the instruction is accompanied by dynamic demos, which they can try out on their own. Technology, it can be argued, holds the key to bringing about a revolutionary change in our colleges. The perception that IT-enablement is complicated and expensive is flawed. Any college with an open-minded management and committed faculty can be transformed into a dynamic learning environment. The enablement can take place at several levels:


EduTech  January 2012

ith “Any college w d an open-minde nd management a lty committed facu ed can be transform into a dynamic learning environment” –Shankar Venkatagiri Shankar Venkatagiri Associate Professor, IIM Bangalore

Equip faculty with IT skills Classroom: install projector, computer console, sound system with cordless mic Campus: install network over fibre or wireless, arrange for internet connectivity Students: mandate laptops with software for productivity, scientific computations, etc Faculty: earmark funds for instructors to procure laptops, and train them in technologies Cloud: provide essential services such as email and document sharing over the internet Cloud computing is not just a fad: it is here to stay, in business as well as in academia due to the low set-up costs. A college need not have everything ‘on premises’ to benefit from IT; its resources (hardware) and services (email, file storage) can be made provisioned over the internet, by signing up with a cloud provider like Google. Students with broadband connections can access the services from outside the walls of the campus i.e. extramurally, using a choice of devices including mobile phones and tablets. What becomes of the college’s IT personnel in the cloud model? It is natural to worry that their responsibilities may be reduced to maintaining status quo: attending to any computer and network problems that arise, ensuring constant internet linkage, and so on. On the contrary, IT personnel must be encouraged to play a more strategic role, with a mission to modernise the college’s IT setup, and adequately prepare it for the challenges of

scale. Institution-wide platforms such as learning management systems enable instructors to publish their course materials in a structured manner, and to mediate their courses extramurally, over the internet. Lecture capture systems allow instructors to record their classroom activities via the console. These streams are assembled into a searchable video, which can be accessed by learners over a network. Ours is a country blessed with an unquenchable thirst for education. All colleges have a staple of good instructors, albeit a small number, who can teach well and inspire their students. These teachers must be empowered to perform more effectively. Merely increasing remuneration does not suffice. Equipping them with the skills to exploit the benefits of IT and reach out to wider audiences is critical. IT-enabled colleges that have mastered IT can make the leap into distance learning, which is fast becoming a credible option for learners who are unable to receive their education in brick-and-mortar settings, either due to the paucity of funds, or because they are working professionals. This is one feasible approach to double India’s Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) by 2020, and to satisfy the insatiable demand for trained manpower. (This is an extract from a forthcoming three part series on “Building Bridges to Distance Education” in EDU)

Technology Strategy


decade has passed since the well known American writer and speaker on learning and education, Marc Prensky famously said “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach ,” in his essay Digital Immigrants, Digital Natives. This statement rings true even today. As the global network of people becomes instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, dramatic shifts are taking place in interactions, business and learning. The ways students interact, form relationships, make decisions and accomplish work is changing, and with it comes the need for education tools that cater to the workforce of tomorrow — tools that allow collaborative learning and encourage students to explore, engage, and interact in a manner that they are used to in their regular lives. Informal learning, has always been social, but thanks to technology and collaborative tools in our daily lives, collaborative learning is now making its way into formal education as well — a trend that is here to stay, and in fact evolve further over time. Students today are ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games, instantaneous communication, the internet, and now the ubiquitous mobile phone. Effective collaborative learning embodies a culture characterised by sharing, transparency, innovation and improved learning. Such a culture enables deeper relationships with all stakeholders in the academic ecosystem, and builds a better participatory environment. Students become content producers and not just receivers. Through access to tools such as blogs, wikis, podcast, profiles, for both students and teachers, the institute can help various stakeholders, document and share their knowledge and ideas, and others to recognise, refine and promote the value of those ideas and content, thus all o w i n g b e t t e r r e a l - t i m e u s e o f current knowledge. Businesses faced the same conundrum a little more than a decade ago, when the internet went through its first maturation

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Himanshu Goyal Country Manager, Academic & Developer Relations, IBM

Be social and make learning collaborative phase. It changed from being a digital novelty for educationists and technologists to being a platform for doing business. From e-commerce and peer-to-peer file sharing to the emergence of IP-based solutions for financial, accounting and supply chain systems, the Web became a serious business tool. Just as the dawn of e-business changed business forever, 10 years later, educational institutions find themselves at another junction in the evolution of business and learning: the coming of age for Social Business as social computing and social media are integrated into the change in learning patterns and courseware design. A successful and effective collaborative platform would include: Networks: Globally integrated networks of students, teachers and administrators are the backbone of a social transformational learning in an institute. Rich online profiles of trusted experts enable collaboration and agility and allow for exploration of expertise, publications and networks of colleagues to quickly initiate action or fulfill a business need.

Social and real-time collaboration: Connecting remote teams to improve decision-making and discover relevant expertise empowers people. Mobility: Speed and relevancy of information exchange are increasingly essential as social business benefits from enabling individuals to use the device best suited to their needs and keeping them connected. Integration: Bringing social collaboration capabilities into the applications people use without overwhelming them, allows for information sharing within the context of learning and eventually business processes. Singapore Polytechnic for instance, uses IBM Lotus Quickr and WebSphere Portal to create a social networking hub that not only encourages student interaction, collaboration and feedback, but also helps drive student involvement. These tools help cultivate community development and participation to extend knowledge sharing between students, teachers and alumina. The results of these efforts can be seen in all the key areas of activity in the educational ecosystem.

“Informal learning, has always been social, but thanks to technology, collaborative learning is now making its way into formal education as well” –Himanshu Goyal January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

Vishal Bisht CEO, Marksman Technologies

Try open collaborative tools to support instruction


n today’s rapidly changing technology, institutions of higher learning must consider the following: •Is it possible to implement a flexible, affordable, and sustainable learning system that will grow with our organisation’s evolving needs? •How can we create a unified framework through which communities of interest can access information, experts, and resources? •How can we move content between systems, share learning objects, and create new, lightweight learning applications that empower learners to make sense of concepts, data, and the knowledge generated in our institution? It is in this context that I would like to talk about one of the most innovative projects in open source and open learning — the Sakai Project. In 2004, Indiana University, University of Michigan, MIT, and Stanford received a $2.4 mn grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to form Sakai, a community of educationists, organisations and institutions to develop a Common Colaboration and Learning Environment (CLE). The Sakai CLE is today used in higher education research institutions around the world to support instruction, research, and outreach. Predicated on collaboration, the system is open-source and has open standards Sakai aims to turn students into active learners and contributors and the instructor into a facilitator. The instructor activates tools and gives students, or groups of students, permission to use them as they like. The instructor does not have to be an expert in the tools. This is just the start of the difference between Sakai and LMSs. In the traditional models of learning, Learning Management Systems (LMSs)


EduTech  January 2012

support and use the tools associated with traditional teaching methods, in which the instructor controls the learning environment. The instructor decides what to teach and how to teach it. On the other hand a collaborative learning model like Sakai by definition, asks students to cooperate to reach consensus in open-ended activities. The collaborative learning environment (CLE) is best suited to group work, where students can freely interact with each other and construct their ideas together. Finally, because the CLE is student-centred, students are in control of their own learning and ultimately, the outcome of their learning. With Sakai, students are active learners and contributors, and the instructor is a facilitator. Specifically, the instructor activates tools and gives students, or groups of students, permission to use as few or as many tools (and some or all of the functionality of the tools) as they like; the instructor does not have to know the tools inside and out. Students can selforganise and make their learning visible, and instructors build a community of learners where responsibility is shared among the group rather than owned by the instructor. Its ability to offer group collaboration sites is one of Sakai’s most powerful features, and the sites are easy to set up, so users can serve themselves. On many campuses, collaboration sites have become so popular with faculty and students that Sakai adoption rates are increasing, with less resistance to the change of course management system than might have been expected. Collaboration sites can be used by researchers who need to work with their colleagues around the world, by faculty engaged in governance committee

“Collaborative learning environment is best suited to group work, where students can freely interact and form ideas together” –Vishal Bisht

work, and by students working with research committees, study groups, or activity clubs. Sakai contains a rich variety of group and individual communication tools, as well as standard LMS capabilities. Tools are either ‘core’ or ‘provisional’. Core tools have been through a rigorous quality assurance process and are part of the Sakai download; provisional tools have been proposed and/or are in a state of development.

Technology Strategy

K Ramnarayan VC, Manipal University

IT must address the need for individualised attention


eaching is the central mission of institutions of higher learning. Today’s classrooms have transformed with cell phones, computers, internet, and interactive boards. Yet in developing countries, important gaps remain in the current knowledge base about what works and what doesn’t. Administrators are questioning the economic wisdom of employing faculty. Why not, they ask, simply use videos to record and stream the best lectures from around the world to all students? Can teachers be replaced by a video of the lecture? As a teacher I know that teaching is not about me, it is all about students. And secondly, teaching is not the same thing as telling. It is and will always be a vital, enriching human interaction. How we teach is more important than what we teach. A true teacher inspires first, influences second, third and only third informs. I have come to see my interaction with students as one of deep complexity. Sometimes I relate to them as a friend who encourages and advises, sometimes as an expert who can explain complicated information, sometimes as just a team member who is working together to master a body of knowledge. I am still discovering how to do these things better, still evolving, still excited and enjoying every minute of teaching. The impact of our teaching will extend long beyond our lifetime because a small part of every living, lov-

ing teacher is in the students we touch, the students we teach, the students we reach! It is this challenge that technology should address — enabling teachers to interact individually with students and helping them go beyond pedagogy and evaluation to infuse an interest in life long learning. However, technology today does enable and improve quality in education, and Manipal University realised the benefits of IT as an enabler in the effective delivery of higher education and healthcare functions early. Our innovative usage of technology led to IBM awarding Dr HS Ballal, Pro Chancellor of Manipal University, the “IBM Achiever Award” for being a leader in using IT in higher education space. Our interactive and informative website representing all institutions under Manipal University functions as a gateway to prospective students, parents as well as our alumni. The intranet portal for on-campus students, faculty and administrators provides a platform for various self service functions. This has automated workflow, and increased the overall productivity. Our admissions office is also automated. Prospective students can pay the application fee through credit card or net

“In the first of its kind initiative in India, Manipal University provides laptops for free to all its 2,100 faculty members” –K Ramnarayan (Go to for the full article)

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banking. The applications are scanned using OCR technology and the data along with the photograph and signature images are captured. The application status can also be tracked online by students. Online Test Booking System, a web based scheduling software enables candidates to appear for the online entrance test at their convenience. The results also appear instantaneously The Student Information System Software integrates various departments like the admissions, student finance, hostels, evaluation as well as all the college offices of Manipal University. This helps administration and sharing of the data and also avoids replication of work. The university has wired and wireless infrastructure in the campus. We provide a laptop, packaged with all campus services to each student in Engineering, Medicine and Dentistry. There are about 8000 notebooks on campus connecting students In the first of its kind initiative in India, we also provide laptops to our entire faculty (nearly 2100), free of cost, to promote innovative teaching methods and research activities. The professional notebooks from HP, Lenovo and Apple have created a huge impact on the teaching-learning process in the university. We have an online attendance system in some institutions and departments. Our classrooms have the latest state-of-the-art audio visual facilities and some also have video conferencing facilities. All central libraries are connected through EPAC the web-enabled Library Search Engine, that can be used to search any item in a library and even online journals subscribed by the library. The health sciences library through its micro site provides electronic access to various full text and bibliographical databases. Our alumni affairs office has been set up with the core principles of service, teaching, training, administration and research. The alumni portal helps alumni get information about the university, fellow students, juniors, conferences, alumni meets, featured alumni, success stories of alumni using this portal. January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

K Ramnarayan VC, Manipal University

Use Web 2.0 to improve learning outcomes


eb 2.0 is all around us — Google Apps, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the list goes on. The younger generation across the globe, comprising students mostly, have taken onto them as second-skin. India is no different and therein is the opportunity to address some of the structural challenges faced by Indian higher education — expansion, excellence and equity. Characteristics of Web 2.0: In spite of the plethora of Web 2.0 tools on the internet, a broad classification of their characteristics can be based on their usage. Communication: Email still exists and would continue to. Owing to many tools now like Skype, go-to meetings and webinars, communication mediums have become sophisticated involving text, voice, video, screen-sharing and combination of these. Publishing: Easy availability of numerous blogging platforms and wikis coupled with their ergonomic usage has made it easy for everyone to create and publish with relative ease. Bookmarking: Information on the internet is overwhelming and organising favourite content is a problem. Social bookmarking services like Diigo help. For educators, such tools hold immense potential for knowledge sharing, collaborative research and even reaching out to experts and their bookmarks. Syndication and aggregation: Feed readers can keep one updated with changing content on favourite websites, blogs, bookmarking pages using the RSS protocols. Using aggregators like iGoogle and netvibes an engine can be built that flashes all content on a single page. Real-time collaboration: The availability of collaboration tools like Google Apps


EduTech  January 2012

has transformed collaboration. Google Apps also provides a free suite for educational institutions. Social networking: Tools like Facebook, Twitter and Google present the opportunity to reach out beyond our known network. Social networking is a powerful tool that aids informal learning. Learning is truly social. Application for Class and Non-class Activities: Planning the application of tools according to their potential is important. A jump into implementation without proper lesson planning could be detrimental. Defined training with Web 2.0 implementation strategies would ensure success. Since the very nature of Web 2.0 is evolving one should adopt a phased approach to implementation starting from the simple to the sophisticated. Impact on Learning Outcomes: Web 2.0 has the power to impact positively the learning outcomes of students. Pre-existing Web 2.0 Skills: A recent COMSCORE survey dated June 2011, pointed out that in India, of the 73 million internet users over 75 per cent were in the age group of 15-34. Students are using these tools increasingly, primarily for entertainment. Proper challenge in the educational context can nudge the students to begin using these tools for teaching learning activities. Faculty and institutions can build on these pre-existing skills to deliver lessons. Social learning: Social learning using Web 2.0 is all about doing, unlike traditional learning that focusses on knowing and reproducing. Therefore, Web 2.0 pedagogy translates into increased student engagement, continuous faculty support and peer-based learning, all in an informal context.

“Pedagogic frameworks that enable learning through student engagement should be built to keep pace with the constantly evolving Web 2.0 tools” –C Rajagopalan Work life and career simulation: Most of the college graduates pass-out into a corporate career. Corporate jobs are dynamic and changing all the time. Business situations require students to work across multi-location teams, across functions in a collaborative manner in a synchronous and asynchronous set up, under demanding timelines. Web 2.0 tools simulate this environment right there at the college level, thereby facilitating the transition for the student. Life skills acquisition: It is an irony of the education system that conventional higher education programmes are far removed from reality. Therefore, students when they step into a professional career after passing out, experience this shocking reality check. Web 2.0 tools, because of their universal nature can play an important role in sensitising students in these areas. ePortfolio: Learning records created through Web 2.0 can be retained and retrieved through a lifetime. This inculcates continuous learning habits and learning can be passed from generation to generation. Web 2.0 is evolving continuously and it is expected that educational instruction would rise to the challenge and build pedagogic frameworks that enable attainment of learning outcomes through increased student engagement.

C Raj Kumar VC, OP Jindal Global University

Use IT to democratise knowledge


hen we talk of education and technology in the same breath, we cannot just refer to emails and whiteboards. As educators it’s important for us to understand that we need to look at the larger picture: how technology helps in the larger effort to constantly examine the improvement in teaching pedagogy. Technology’s biggest boon is that it can bring educators and students from all over the world on a single platform to promote a direct and demonstrable interaction. At OP Jindal Global University we use technical tools to facilitate learning every day in classrooms — the campus is WiFi and multimedia enabled which allows us to engage with practically anybody across the world. So, we have used this tool to conduct classes between us and all those universities that we collaborate with. Take University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for instance. With the help of technology we have conducted classes with both Indian and Ann Arbor professors. We are not talking of stand alone, sporadic seminars. We have completed a full semester, 15-week course with Ann Arbor and Jindal professors teaching both our students and theirs. These classes involve 25 Indian and 25 US students and begin from 6.30 am (Indian time). Our teachers regularly engage with Ann Arbor

professors to collectively plan out schedules and curriculum. Technology has also helped us to conduct common examinations at the end of the course. The examiner may be in the US. Or here. From January, we plan to expand further and conduct similar classes with Cornell University. Previously, we collaborated on a much smaller scale with several other universities taking the help of the multimedia enabling technology. We intend to significantly expand the use of technology as a tool for education. At the university we do concentrate on ‘live interaction’. Otherwise there would be no difference between distance learning and real-time classes. Technology makes it possible for students and faculty to work across research projects, together, using technical settings. It’s becoming an increasingly common platform for researchers across countries to collaborate. There are other concerns which make me resort to technology and security is one of those issues. We have installed security cameras and swipe cards on campus. In this case, technological tools should be balanced with physical security. But more than that, what technology has helped us as a university to do, is to keep a check on ‘identity theft’. In an increasingly cloud-driven world, where most research is on the virtual world

“Unless we use technology to engage with the other side of the spectrum, we will not be using it to its fullest capability”

–C Raj Kumar

making sure that you keep your research safe, is cardinal. A space where we use a lot of technology is at the library. Some of the technologies that we use are Atlas, Stella Systems, SAS Educational Analytical Suite Package, IBM SPSS Statistics Base and Turnitin. The last one prevents instances of plagiarism and engages students through originality check, grade marks. So, when a student swipes his or her security card we not only log his or her demand for a book, but we also log in the books they are referring to. As far as promotion of the institution and strategising is concerned we do have a clear website and accept online forms. However, we wouldn’t say that we are doing anything different from other universities here. Where we are consciously trying to put systems in place is how we will eventually manage alumni. For now, each university graduate is being given an online ID which will be with them for ever. We also have domain addresses for every school. This way we hope that as Jindal grows, we will be able to keep track of our students and stay in touch with them–and help them grow with us. The unfortunate part of technology is that it can be used as a tool for exclusion. High-end educational institutions such as Indian School of Business and OP Jindal Global University are some of the names that are increasingly using technology in their classrooms. The institutions on the other side of the spectrum cannot resort to tech tools that often due to resource crunch. But we can relate the same lectures across the country’s classrooms, across universities, schools and campuses, so that they also have an opportunity to participate. If used wisely technology can be used as a tool for the democratisation of knowledge. Unless and until we use technology to engage with the other side of the spectrum I would believe that we are not using it to its fullest capability. January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

Lokesh Mehra Director, Education Advocacy, Microsoft

Get alumni to sow the way to IT


T strategy for an institution depends on its profile, age and technology maturity. The influence of alumni is extremely huge in terms of the overall running of the institution, getting funding, technology layout and blueprints for an institution. It is also an important consideration as to how many of these alumni actually recruit from their alma mater. The alumni are the extended arms of an institution to companies from a recruitment perspective as well as provide the one-on-one interaction, personal attention and encouragement, that can make the difference between a student choosing their school versus another school. First of all institutions need to ensure that alumni stay in touch and institutes could do so via an updated alumni electronic database. Schools should ideally explore if they can get endowment for funding from alumni, for technology. Most of the institutions abroad have been able to get grants and donations on the technology front on account of alumni funding and have set up dedicated cells, managed by Donor Relationship Managers. Some companies have come up with specific technology solutions which cater to alumni, help institutions retain and keep in touch with them via social networking sites. Technology would probably be the last rung of the cost ladder for most institutions, but its importance cannot be undermined. To leverage technology here are a few things that one can explore In the admission process the entire counselling part should ideally be technology led, right from the admissions to the selection of branches. Any clarification pertaining to these should be done through a contact centre or a tele-calling centre, followed by an instant chat for clarifications by students who are already studying there. The second should be a virtual demo of the uni-


EduTech  January 2012

versity and probably some kind of endorsement by the professors and ex-students. Third, from an admission perspective, ideally the result should be announced within minimum time frames. These should be online and validated.

“Most of the institutions abroad have been able to surge ahead on the technology front on account of substantial alumni funding”

–Lokesh Mehra

With regard to technology for administration, unfortunately most ERP systems are restricted only to the financial aspects or timetable scheduling or a transportation perspective. They do not take into account regulatory mechanisms. Technology is not even linked to parents, who are a critical element in the entire ecosystem of higher education. Unfortunately not many institutions are proactively thinking of a technology strategy. The first step for most is putting up just the preliminary infrastructure required to meet the norms of the regulatory mechanism. Then when they want to start the differentiation, come the indus-

try alliances and a bit of additions to the technology sector. Industry alliances do require the institute to invest in technology. The third element is research. Research is incidental as of now. For research, universities need to invest heavily into cutting edge technologies There are few of the new breed who in a bid to be entirely different maybe pumping in heavy investment into technology which unfortunately resides more in the infrastructure side and more to do with basic computing and connectivity comprising desktops, laptops, local area connection, WiFi connection, etc. The next level of technology is on the application side where we look at the ERP systems and learning management. Phase two comprises administrative processes, rescheduling and some aspects of security. The last mainly because students have by now started accessing WiFi, and the institute wants to be sure that there is no plagiarism from the net or that they are not abusing their net freedom. Learning management would come under classroom teaching and would actually be under the third layer of technology. The third phase will start when institutions actually start looking at the teaching — learning methodology with file sharing, data repository, knowledge management systems, connecting the faculty through internet telephony or aspects which would minimise the cost of extension to different campuses, etc. This field would also have access to students within their host institution of net connectivity. In the final phase of technology there will be advanced elements like downloadable lectures, SMS alerts to parents about wards attendance, facility to upload projects for the faculty to see, etc. These are the different phases of technology diffusion that any institution would go through, when adopting a technology strategy.

Technology Strategy

KJ Singh

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VC, Amity University

Install an interactive intranet


echnology has become the sine qua non in education owing to the youth’s fascination for it. It is an enabler and can drive the quality of education forward. Right from its inception Amity has believed in implementing the latest and the best technology to enhance quality of education. Students are issued free laptops to facilitate learning round-the-clock. We are currently mulling over the option of replacing these laptops with tablets. We are in the process of implementing N-Computing technology in over 45 computer labs which will replace the CPUs with N-computing devices. Whiteboards, projectors, conferencing (web-based and video) and LCD screens, etc., are regular features of our classrooms. Our IT Network AKC Datasystems is one of the best in India. All our campuses are inter-connected through

“Our students can also access our intranetAmizone and all its features on their mobile phones. We are the first in India to be using mobile applications”

–KJ Singh

MPLS, enabling transmission of live lectures to all locations through eLearning solution and IP cameras. High throughput Wi-Fi access points with omni and sectoral antenna helps students browse the internet from any part of the campus, with 300 Mbps internet bandwidth from multiple ISPs giving high speed connectivity. Video-conferencing helps us to beam guest lectures from eminent personalities at one campus, to students at all the other campuses. Video-conferencing is also used extensively during admission, interviews and discussions. Amity Group has a university in each of the following states: Uttar Pradesh; Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland and Haryana. Its local campuses are across India and global campuses are in London, Singapore and San Francisco. With the use of a simple IP camera, mic and a speaker communication with other campuses is done within minutes. Amity Centre of e-Learning (ACeL), offers a wide range of online programmes ranging from MBA to postgraduate diplomas various streams by using internet/satellite/VSAT networks. Study material of such courses is digitised and downloadable from the web. ACeL also offers tele-education in 53 pan-African nations through a Government of India project using a dedicated satellite network. All processes related to admission, examination, biometric attendance, placements, fee payment, etc., are automated. Regular performance checks and finetuning is done to achieve 100 per cent uptime on our website. The Online Certificate Verifying System on the website, facilitates the validation of degrees of Amity students. Our interactive Intranet Amizone, is acknowledged to be among the best university intranets in the world. Powered on Enterprise Class servers and high-end

storage devices, it offers a single point access to information, services and resources, for students and faculty. It is regularly upgraded with new features to provide study materials, recorded lectures and a seamless learning experience to the students. Amity Library has over 17,000 online journals such as Ebsco Host, UGC-Infonet, INDEST-AICTE and Delnet. Amizone also allows easy access to these journals and papers. Now students can also access Amizone and all its features on their mobile phones. We are the first in India to be using mobile applications for our students. Parents can also use this mobile application to view their ward’s attendance and exam grades, while faculty can use it to mark attendance. This application is available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPod Blackberry, Nokia and Android phones ( The students of Amity are given free Synergy Cards to avail attractive discounts in over 500 outlets across Delhi/NCR. Amity University is well-equipped with the latest security and vigilance gadgets. Access in Amity is only through smart cards. Boom barriers and detection devices including door frame, metal detectors and handheld metal detectors are installed at the gates. We also have close circuit cameras at strategic locations. Many institutions of Amity have their own placement cells, whose websites act as an interactive interface between the institute, students and the recruiters. The websites are updated regularly with details of impending company visits, list of recruiters and students placed. Our 30,000 strong alumni base stay connected, informed and involved through the website, Facebook, Twitter and even Youtube. Our website, online alumni presence and even Amizone serve as a strong marketing tool updating the audience about our activities. January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

Ashish Gupta Director, Government and Education, Applications, Oracle India

Do not go for point solutions; adopt an integrated approach


oday every individual in the university education ecosystem is under pressure to measure, analyse and report on the many aspects of their student populations. Many education business managers are being increasingly scrutinised for their ability to demonstrate consistent returns on operational costs like recruiting, course offerings and student administration. Fragmented data, rising education costs, increasing global competition for students, paucity of quality faculty, staff, and heightened regulatory requirements are driving the need for insight and analysis of the core business of education. For a university to be world class, its technology policy and infrastructure must, at the very least, align with that status and, where possible, confer a competitive advantage. A strategic IT plan ensures that investments are aligned with the operational priorities of the university and provides a fundamental context for growth and intelligent use of technology. The plan should cover all departments, faculties, support services and all other organisational structures and groupings. With proliferation of computers, emergence of tech-savvy Gen-Y and technology advancements, students now prefer accessing university information (these

nd “Single end-to-e cation integrated appli will simplify the and support process reduce costs”

–Ashish Gupta

could be application forms, attendance and mark sheets, etc.,) on the go. While enrolments and expectations on accountability and transparency are increasing, budgets remain flat or are declining, forcing institutions to make difficult choices on how to leverage existing resources. The network, infrastructure and applications that form the backbone of educational enterprises have become missioncritical. Getting the most out of their IT investments has, therefore, become an institutional imperative, and no longer a nice-to-have. IT must know how to map its services and solutions to key strategies of the institution so that leadership views them as drivers of success instead of budgets to be managed or reduced. Technologies that can deliver critical institutional insights in a timely and cost-effective manner can lead the way. Today, machine data represents a largely untapped opportunity for delivering just these types of results. Campus networks, infrastructure, applications, servers, learning management systems and end-user devices generate large volumes of logs, messages, traps and metrics — machine data that can provide tremendous value for IT by mitigating risk, detecting system abuses and improving operations.

The most common oversight observed in universities is the failure of integrating IT with the university’s processes. Universities must adopt complete end-to-end integrated software applications for complete student life cycle management starting from admissions to alumni relations. This will simplify the support process and reduce costs. In addition, software applications should be incorporated into back office processes to provide immediate access to real-time information. This will: •Increase efficiencies to improve effectiveness •Obtain insight to better manage the institution •Secure information access and reduce risk •Enhance the constituent experience Single end-to-end integrated application has the ability to manage financials, human resource, performance, assets, etc., all in one. Its biggest benefit is offering a single view to faculty about students, whether it is about their academic performance or co-curricular activities or their administrative inputs like attendance or fees submission, etc. With an increase in higher education institutes in India applying for international accreditations, possessing a defined business process for each business function is a prerequisite. Another challenge faced by education institutes is the lack of efficient IT resources to manage applications and the entire IT infrastructure. Private education institutes are wary of making huge capital expenditure to procure such applications and IT Infrastructure. To address this challenge institutes should consider taking their applications on the cloud. Automation in higher education is a global trend. It is time to act now!

Technology Strategy

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S Sadagopan, C Ramanathan

Director, IIIT Bangalore, Associate Prof, IIIT Bangalore

Tap into the promise of the cloud


he needs of the education sector are now more complex than ever. Teachers and students are looking to extend the learning process much beyond the classroom. The need for timely information for decisionmaking is becoming critical for administrators, who want to look beyond traditional spreadsheets to help them. Even from an infrastructure perspective, there is a demand to move beyond traditional labs and computer centres (“lab-in-a-bag”). Born in Bangalore in the year 1999, IIIT-Bangalore has been a pioneer in the use of technology. Use of individual laptops, subscription to e-journals, net-based distribution of course materials, digital library, email as the primary form of internal communication and WiFi access (within Library) were some among them. Over the years, we have helped many sister institutes benefit from extensive IT usage and created an India-based International conference T4E (Technology in Education) that is in its fourth year. Here, we discuss three areas that IIIT-B is currently focussing on. These are the three key pillars that today’s academic infrastructure rests on. Learning management systems (LMS) help transition education from a teachercentric-model to a student-centric-model. Teacher is no longer the preacher on a pedestal in the front, but a facilitator on the side. LMS provides online, anytimeanywhere access to course materials, discussion forums for intense interaction among students and faculty, online submissions of assignments, online distribution of grades, online examinations and many more features that transforms the entire learning process for the students. We used a simple HTML-based “course pages” in the early years, moved on to

simple LMS systems and in the past five years zeroed on to a widely used opensource LMS tool “Moodle”. Practically all the courses use “Moodle” to derive all the benefits of LMS and it has become the nerve centre of course activities. Academic ERP systems are becoming indispensible to academic infrastructure because of large sizes, diverse programmes and tough compliance requirements. These systems are tuned to the needs of educational institutions. They include modules for managing student lifecycle, outreach (placement, alumni, etc.,) and infrastructure (hostels, classrooms, etc.,). Specifically tuned HR and Finance modules are also included. IIITBangalore has started using a custom-built ERP in the past three years to address student/ course management, course registration, add/drop of courses, personal information management, hostel allotment, fee collection, project groups management, examination scheduling, classroom scheduling, special talks, event management, outreach management, placement and alumni engagement. Cloud services for academia is an emerging trend that is yet to mature. Institutions are moving towards cloud services as they find it increasingly diffi-

cult to manage their IT. Sevices like email and website management are moving to the cloud. With every student now carrying a laptop, traditional computer centers are also getting replaced and complete labs are being run in the cloud. Cloud computing enables expensive resources like high-end servers, expensive equipment and other resources to be shared in a manner that provides enhanced standardisation, flexibility, scalability and reliability of the services that are unmatched by traditional computer centres. At IIIT-Bangalore, student email services were moved to the cloud four years back. At that time cloud computing was new, and we are perhaps one of the first institutions to bet on the cloud. It was done in a manner that most users would not even know that their email accounts have moved to the cloud (by carefully mapping the domain names that were still IIIT-Bangalore specific). Attempts are on to leverage the global experiences of Net-based Labs (iLab of MIT, for example). Owing to the positive experience, we are now moving other critical services to the cloud. It will be interesting to grow into a situation where an IT institute has no IT infrastructure inside the institute for today’s needs (though there will be local resources for tomorrow’s needs!) Our journey in leveraging IT for academic infrastructure to address all the “Four L’s of Learning” (Lectures, Library, Labs and Life) has been rewarding. It had its due challenges, but being an IT institute, enough expertise was always available locally to overcome those challenges.

“IIIT Bangalore was perhaps one of the first institutions in India to bet on the cloud four years ago”

–S Sadagopan

January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

Raj Mruthyunjayappa Managing Director, APAC & EMEA Talisma Corporation

Get technologies that are future ready


oday’s campuses are operating in a very demanding environment. The segment is rapidly changing driven by globalisation of education and evolution of mobile students criss-crossing geographies and courses with equal ease. Higher education is today at a crossroads with digital, virtual and traditional classrooms vying for attention of prospective students. Technology has also kept pace with these changes and is enabling campuses to meet such requirements. Let’s look at how technology is shaping the higher education landscape today and how things will change tomorrow. Easy Admissions: Campuses across the world are turning more proactive when it comes to recruitment. Applications are available that enable colleges to maximise the effectiveness of their recruitment campaigns and increase enrolment. Such software help universities run parallel campaigns across channels such as letters\fax, electronic and even social media at any given time to target prospective students. Admission managers can segments target groups based on parameters and launch specialised campaigns to meet the desired targets. Admission teams can then follow up with leads, establish contact and initiate a conversation and sustain it till such a time that the admission process is over.

Smart Classrooms: Once the student is on board, all interactions are managed through a portal that allows the student to view all relevant information including attendance, faculty information, share course material, view grades, download webinars and e-classroom sessions through a single real-time source. This allows campuses to stay connected with the student at all times; even when the student is part of a distance education programme and minimises the need for faculty to be physically present in a classroom. Institutions can also deliver and receive feedback and manage the relationship effectively online without worrying about the geographical diversity or mobility of their student base. This level of technology enablement has helped organisations reduce student attrition and increase average performance levels in classrooms. Forceful Feedback: Analytical software can delve deeper into various aspects of student-campuses interaction to highlight grey areas. This means that if a student is not satisfied by course material, she can offer realtime feedback and campuses can collate feedback and analyse it through various dashboards to identify the issue early on. Depending on parameterisation, campuses can even prepare daily reports to monitor critical processes. Career on Track: Career and placements is another area where technology is help-

“By connecting all student ecosystem constituents campuses gain a 360° view of their operations” –Raj Mruthyunjayappa 50

EduTech  January 2012

ing higher educational institutions. Specialised career services software helps easy tracking of eligible students and management of student portfolios, and automates the flow of required documentation among student prospects, institutions, and employers. The software also helps campuses maintain an ongoing communication with recruiters and review the health of the relationship as frequently as needed. Alumni to aid: Alumni management solutions help campuses keep track of their former students by maintaining a database. Alumni members can receive periodic personalised updates on campus activities and other information as required. This ensures that alumni members are always connected with their Alma mater and universities can leverage their services as brand ambassadors to increase enrolments. Globally several universities have also been able to raise funds from alumni for research related activities and other campus development activities. There are solutions which can track and assist in fundraising activities. Mobile Future: Campuses of the future will evolve applications running on smartphone platforms that help deliver personalised services to students. Such applications will offer the same benefits that the web portal is offering today on desktops and laptops to students on the move on their handheld devices. This means distance education programmes will become more personalised, interactive and real-time in the near future. By connecting all student ecosystem constituents, viz., administration, management, students, placement cells and alumni, campuses gain a 360° view of their operations. This can aid campuses in building a mutually beneficial relationship with students and deliver a rich academic experience to them on campus and off it.

Technology Strategy

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RS Kanwar VC, LPU

Consider a University Management System to improve efficiency


ovely Professional University (LPU) made a bold decision to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its academic and administrative functions for its 3,000 faculty and staff and 25,000 plus students, by using state-of-the-art available technology. The decision to adopt innovative technologies was taken with a vision to automate all functions with transparency and inclusiveness. One of the key initiatives was the development of its own unique software University Management System (UMS). Any one sitting in any part of the world can login into the UMS using internet or web browser. The UMS has helped in streamlining of various university functions. It has reduced time required on various activities and has also helped in improving employee performance. Following is the list of some of modules with key accomplishments: E-Governance supports better control and monitoring of all the processes. This module also helps in tracking the work performance of every employee and employees can also see their own performance online as well as the tasks assigned to them. This proves to be invaluable for appraisals. Relationship Management System helps users in sharing feedback, filing complaints or building repair, requests etc., and runs across all departments. The complaints automatically move to the next level if they are not addressed and can be tracked. It helps in improving performance by getting the real time feedback from students, staff, and parents. Payment Tracking System is designed to track the progress of payments to any vendor/staff or any outside agency. This system brings transparency by tracking

the payment process and reasons for delay in payment. Learning Management System gives a platform to students and faculty to interact. Teachers can post announcements, assignment(s), and term papers. Students can upload assignments and term papers. Marks and grade for assignments, term papers, projects etc., can also be uploaded. Timetables for classes, along with the room and lab details can also be viewed. The uploading of CAPSTONE/Industrial Training projects is also managed through this system. Teachers use it to mark attendance of students and it can also be viewed at the same time by students and their parents.

“The decision to adopt innovative technologies was taken with a vision to automate all university functions with transparency and inclusiveness” –RS Kanwar

Read an extended version of this piece on

Online Degree/DMC validation: Any organisation can validate the academic credentials of a student through this interface. This is helpful to the students for the purposes of VISA application, immigration, and employment. Online Question Bank Software: This is one of the most innovative modules. It generates various types of question from a set of large number of questions stored in the question bank to evaluate the learning level of students for each course. This scores over the manual mode of making question papers, which is time consuming and complicated. Placement Module: The data on student transcripts and test scores can be filtered according to company needs in one go and can be sent to the company by an email. It can register students for placements, assist students using SMS and emails on placement announcements, helps companies shortlist students and assist university authorities in the analysis of school and department wise placement performance. Student Card System can be used like debit cards by students to purchase any item from designated vendors on the campus without carrying cash. Hostel Allocation System helps the 10,000 plus students every year to select hostel rooms in real time. University has made a huge investment on this interactive UMS system using number of routers, servers, WiFi Zone directors and access points, and in setting up the data storage and processing center. It has cost the university close to Rs 15 crores but returns on this investment is huge. The UMS is a wonderful product which is robust and has the potential to expand to meet the increasing demand of staff, faculty, students, and stakeholders in the future. January 2012  EduTech


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Technology Strategy

DS Krishnamurthy Chief Operations Manager, Almoe Digital Solutions

Adopt an integrated classroom system to promote participation


oday’s students have grown up in a world in living colour, fast moving, fast talking, fading in and out, and remote controlled. Technology is moving rapidly and it is crucial for schools and companies to keep up in order to offer the highest standard of learning and training to their pupils or employees. The easily available access to internet and incorporation of multimedia into lessons has made learning easy. Learning today is all about seeing, hearing and touch. In the future, integration of boards with interactive 3D software would make learning very exciting and enjoyable. Today active collaboration vis-à-vis content sharing and live annotation across multiple locations using interactive boards is taking teaching to a whole new level. A 21st century interactive learning environment allows many different types of interactions between students and teachers. It encourages students to be active rather than passive learners. When institutions embark on devising a technology strategy for their institution, they have to keep in mind that the classroom and teaching function has to integrate technologies that make learning and teaching a pleasure. Today there are several integrated classroom systems that help teachers to engage, motivate and assess their students and learners. Here are some basic components that you could start with: An interactive whiteboard or touch-sensitive screen: This will enable anything that can be seen or done on a computer screen to be projected on to the whiteboard. An input device: A pen can be used on a board and this type of input device can replicate the functions of a computer mouse.


EduTech  January 2012

“Active collaboration vis-à-vis content sharing and live annotation across multiple locations using interactive boards is taking teaching to a whole new level” –DS Krishnamurthy A computer PC and Mac Laptop: A machine is a must these days for students and faculty and a very important and basic component to make your classroom interactive. A digital projector : You could settle for LCD or DLP screens. Both have their advantages. Choose your technology based on the purpose of the model. Sound system: Most projectors include speakers. However in classrooms a separate amplifier and speakers will provide better results. Interactive software: You need to get hold of the right softwares suited to various courses. Formative assessment ‘voting’ device: This is designed to work with an interactive whiteboard to give instant feedback, record opinions’ or gather data from the entire class. A fully integrated ‘wireless slate’: This allows students and teachers to use the interactive whiteboard from anywhere in the room. This offers even greater interactivity in the classroom. Cameras and videoconferencing facility: These may be regarded as peripherals, but can prove to be invaluable for your class if you are planning to harness the expertise of teachers around the globe.

Getting students to interact with their counterparts from a partner institute through these tools could also add to their experience. To get the most from your interactive environment, you also need reliable, robust equipment that is supported by good service. To ensure that you tie-up with a good service provider lookout for the following: Ensure that the distributor provides pedagogically ‘best-in-class’ components and use the most innovative technology that provide ease-of-use for the classroom environment and are proven to increase student engagement, participation and achievement. Find out if their offering has components that support different teaching and learning styles with customisable software, a wealth of multimedia tools and resources to capture the attention of all learners. Ask if they offer educators an extensive range of online and face-to-face training courses with the unique approach of creating tailored classroom lessons and professional development programmes. Insist that the integrated classroom system you get must work with any curriculum, textbook, or digital resource, providing flexibility.

Technology Strategy

cover story

Savita Mahajan Deputy Dean, ISB Hyderabad

Seek help from stakeholders to understand IT better


o start with an IT strategy when setting up a new institution you have to first identify the pain points and see how technology can help. Then get a specialist to decipher what you could adopt at least cost to match your need and scale. It’s a challenge to find a full-time expert in technology as the best talents do not want to join an educational institution. So, this specialist could be supported from outside. For ISB’s Mohali campus, we sought help from CIOs of the Bharti Group and the Munjals, our supporters at Mohali, to finalise service contracts with IBM, Wipro and others. We

Exciting technologies may be risky if you are an early adopter. If the benefit is not huge, you will have to step back and say, “It is a nice to have technology but I will wait for it to mature and also become less expensive.” Buying a standard application and then asking the solution provider to keep customising it for your processes is inefficient and expensive. It is better to modify your processes to suit the standard solutions. Customising works for small applications. ISB was the first in the country to introduce the concept of bidding for courses and there was no application

“It’s a challenge to find a f ull-time expert in technology as the best talents do not want to join an educational institution” –Savita Mahajan needed them as we neither had the expertise to negotiate on price, nor to understand what was required. If you are putting in the capital yourself, technology cost would be 15-20 per cent of your project cost. At Mohali, we took the opex route, which is to find a service provider who invest in equipment, manage the service, upgrade it regularly and charge an annual fee.

available here at that time. The ones in the US cost half a million dollars, so we got a vendor to design it. Data integrity is technology’s most remarkable benefit. Maintaining common database for all information is vital and one should plan for it from day one. A basic CRM integrated along the life cycle of a student is a must. It is useful to keep a central database,

and not recapture the data from the point an applicant submits the data, to getting admitted, going through the cycle, graduating and then becoming an alumni. If your departments maintain independent databases their answers for the same information could be different. For instance if you ask : “How many students graduated in ‘X’ year? The admission folks will give you the number of admitted students expecting all of them to have graduated. They don’t account for students who left in between, or did not complete some requirement for graduation. If you ask the programme or the career folks, this number would have changed. It also becomes easier to track faculty’s work in terms of working papers published in a research, or participation in conferences etc. This is handy at the time of appraisals. Large universities in the US use solutions where a single net access works for both internal and external stakeholders. For their size the price of these solutions is justified, but for ISB’s size we have found it prohibitive. We settled for home grown solutions, in spite of their challenges. Even for a function like placements you have to rely on a solution which permits recruiters to post jobs online, students to view and apply for these jobs online and lets the recruiters shortlist on line. A scheduling software helps in ensuring that a student who is shortlisted for multiple companies does not land up getting all the interviews at the same time. It is impossible to manually coordinate placements for around 600 students and 300 odd recruiters. We now track attendance and also provide access to reading materials online. Faculty uploads the reading material and students can view and download it. Most of the faculty also insist on online assignment submission and also grade it online. Marketing is simpler now and we are adopting online outreach more than ever, but it’s sensible to use existing platforms like Facebook or Google plus. To develop our own technology would be foolish, but you must have an online presence. January 2012  EduTech


cover story

Technology Strategy

Sanjiv Pande

MD, India, South Asia, SMART Technologies

Try digital lessons to involve students


ver the past 15 years numerous studies have been conducted in the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, Mexico, Asia and the Middle East, resulting in documented evidence confirming that the use of interactive whiteboards, combined with appropriate pedagogy, can increase student engagement, motivation and participation. Technology is playing a significant role in education. Today’s students will face dramatically different opportunities and challenges in work, life and citizenship than previous generations and


EduTech  January 2012

technology will help them develop the necessary skills to compete in a global economy. Interactive technology implementation in education enhances learning, improves student outcomes and encourages collaboration. It can make learning more exciting and make difficult concepts easier to understand. Interactive technology is also helpful for teaching differentlyabled and students with special needs. Technology has also made study material from across the world easily accessible to teachers, which allows them the ability to make lessons more enriching

“ By integrating sounds and visuals, digital lessons bring the course content alive for students” –Sanjiv Pande for their students. By integrating sounds and visuals, these digital lessons bring the course content alive for students — making it easier for them to grasp concepts and retain the information for a longer time. Cognisant of the positive impact of the usage of interactive tools in classrooms on learners, many premier schools like DPS and higher education institutions such as IIT Kharagpur, Delhi and IIM-A are turning to educational technology service providers for world-class content support.

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Education Companies & Operators: Private & State Operators, Consultants and Service Providers, Management Services • Technology & ICT: Hardware, Software, e-learning, network infrastructure, peripherals, Digital Solutions, Teaching Aids, Audio Visuals • Educational Institutes • Financial Services and Banking • Educational Equipment & Supplies: Furniture, Supplies, Play Equipment, Laboratory & Science Supplies, Catering Equipment, Extracurricular Supplies • Architects, Contractors, Interior Designers & Developers • Edutainment • Special Education needs suppliers and consultants • Sustainability construction companies • Associations & Organizations: Governmental; & Non Governmental • Others include legal, security, transport, health, assessment services

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Education policy makers, ministers, secretaries • Chancellors,Vice Chancellors, Trustees, Directors, Deans, Registrars and International Higher Education Institutes • Education Regulatory bodies and professional association representatives • School Principals, Key Management, Trustees, Senior Functionaries and Global K12, Pre-School and Higher Education representatives • Edupreneuers, Entrepreneurs, Private Equity Investors, Venture Capitalists, Banks and Financial Institutes • Construction Consultants, Architects, Engineers and Contractors • Retailers, Wholesalers, Distributors, Resellers, Buying Agents • Media • Corporate Houses and NGO’s

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Mr. Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India

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INSIDE 58 | Colleges Mine Data to Benefit Students 62 | Facebook: Recruiters’ Tool 63 | Open-access online tutorial in physics for visually impaired student

New Digital Tools to Tailor Cheaper Textbooks And that’s just one option, along with mix-and-match websites from big publishers and libraries of open-source content By Alex Campbell



Customising Content: Build-your-own-book services can go far to make courses relevant and affordable


EduTech  January 2012

or his marketing course at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Daniel Flint wanted his students to read a white paper on public relations, a couple of case studies, an industry report, and a chapter of a forthcoming book. So he created a textbook with just that — more than 100 pages of material in one customised package for his students. Mr Flint, a professor of marketing at the university, used a new build-your-own-textbook service called AcademicPub, which arranged payment of royalties and compiled the material for publication. His students were given three options for buying the book: Download a digital edition for $14.95, get it in paperback for $27, or go for the hardcover for $45. The idea of customised textbooks has been around for years, but until recently use of the option was rare. But these days more professors appear to be taking a Frankensteinian approach to their textbooks — making something new from spare parts, thanks to new digital tools, rather than simply assigning an existing tome. And professors have more options to do so, with upstarts like AcademicPub, mix-and-match websites from major publishers, and a growing libraries of open-source content that they can edit on their own. “It’s sort of like a perfect storm for making real, substantive change” in the publishing industry, said Richard Baraniuk, a co-founder of Connexions, one of the first web collections of free educational material. There are more and more cheaper options, with more and more credibility, as fewer and fewer

Global.Chronicle.Com demicPub textbooks choose to order the printed version of their professors’ textbooks. About 600 instructors have signed up for the service so far, but Ms Vanderlip said that the company will be making its first big push for customers this fall, as professors plan their Sign up for a free weekly spring courses. electronic newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education at But professors are often reluctant to move Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter away from their favourite textbooks, said The Chronicle of Higher Education is Albert Greco, a publishing expert and a profesa US-based company with a weekly sor of marketing at Fordham University’s newspaper and a website updated Gabelli School of Business. Price and daily, at, that cover all aspects of university life. convenience matter, but so do the DVD With over 90 writers, editors, and and web extras that often come with correspondents stationed around traditional textbooks. the globe, The Chronicle provides And AcademicPub does not have licensing timely news and analysis of academwith any of the textbook publishers that Mr ic ideas, developments and trends. Greco says make up the ‘Big Five’ — Prentice Hall, Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, and Macmillan. Those companies control the majority of the textbook market. Mr Greco said AcademicPub was a “very important opportunity for instructors,” but “you need the Big Five.” Otherwise, he A Publishing Upstart said, many professors will look elsewhere. AcademicPub started this April, and its leaders have expanded Ms Vanderlip acknowledges that the industry’s giants “have its library to two million pieces of content from 75 publishers, their own custom-pub solutions,” but she said the market is big including Cambridge University Press, Prince­ton University enough that she doesn’t need to aim for every professor. “It’s Press, and Harvard and MIT’s business publishers. And not my goal to have every piece of content ever written,” instructors can pull in any kind of free content from the web, she said. said Caroline Vanderlip, Chief Executive of SharedBook, which runs AcademicPub. As professors mix and match book chapters, case studies, and Slow but Steady Growth journal articles, the site keeps track of how much royalties are Professors have long been able to tailor copyrighted textbooks, going to cost. Once the book is made, students have the option but in the past it had been a clunky process. Eric Frank, Foundof buying it digitally or paying an extra $10 (with an additional er of Flat World Knowledge, should know. three cents per page if the book is more than 100 pages) for When he worked at Pearson, the company’s custom-textbook the textbook. option often involved taking books apart and putting them back The printed books are professionally bound in hardcover or together at the production facility. “It’s kind of like surgery with paperback, and they can be mailed to students. Or, if professors a butcher knife,” he said. want, students can buy them at campus bookstores. Mr Frank became interested in the growing amount of openSo far, Ms Vanderlip said, 80 per cent of students using Acasource online content, but he thought it was often lacking the quality of professional textbooks. So he created Flat World to bring curation to free materials. The company finds scholars willing to build peer-reviewed textbooks published under a Creative Commons licence, which lets others edit and customise the books and allows students free online access to them. Since publishing its first book in 2009, the company has seen its customer base grow to 3,000 instructors, who pick from 55 different textbooks. About 20 per cent of Flat World’s customers end up customising the books they use, Mr Frank says, though he expects that proportion soon to grow to more like 35 or 40 per cent now that the company has released new tools that make it easier to do so. Mr Frank sees his company as a disruptive force. “We’re going to go hard at the big guys,” he said. Its books are meant

students say they can afford traditional text books. Custom-built textbooks from AcademicPub come in both print and electronic versions. Professors put them together on a website by selecting from among two million articles and monographs from 75 different academic publishers. They can also pull other material from the internet, like newspaper articles, and the site’s software will check for copyright clearances. It then formats the sources into a book with a table of contents. Indeed, price seems to be driving the move towards customisation. Creating a textbook with only what a professor plans to use, or skipping textbook publishers altogether, can greatly reduce materials’ costs for students. Some forces may limit the adoption, though, such as the limited libraries of some buildyour-own-textbook services and a general reluctance by professors to try a new model.

“Price seems to be

driving the move towards customisation. This can greatly reduce materials’ cost for students”

January 2012  EduTech


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE to be used for the classes that have the most enrolment nationwide. Flat World has focussed on business and economics books so far.

Open-Source Libraries

The ‘Big Five’ The companies that make traditional textbooks have been increasing their custom-publishing offerings as well. Just last year, McGraw-Hill Higher Education unveiled Create, a web service that lets professors pick passages from thousands of the company’s textbooks, as well as law and business case studies, to make a customised edition. “We think the more all this becomes digital, the more people will want to customise,” Ed Stanford, president of McGrawHill Higher Education, told The Chronicle at the time. “And we want to be able to do that.” Macmillan Publishers has its own build-a-textbook service, too, called DynamicBooks, which offers instructors the chance to add their own material to the company’s titles. DynamicBooks also gives professors $1 for each student who uses a customised copy. Traditional publishers still customise printed books, too. Melonie D Rasmussen, a professor of mathematics at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, in Washington, recently used a copyrighted statistics textbook for which she didn’t need all the chapters. So she contacted the publisher and asked for a shorter, cheaper book. “And they’ve been willing to do that,” she said. Ms Rasmussen is also part of the state’s Open Course Library project, and she has been using open content for years, but so far she is part of a small minority. The question now is whether customisation could move into the mainstream, ending the one-size-fits-all model of textbook publishing.

$750,000 grant to build the open course library

Connexions has been working to expand the use of customised textbooks as well. The site began in 1999 as one of the first places for academics to share educational material for free online. It has accumulated thousands of users from countries all over the world. But a major difficulty for professors has always been trying to sort high-quality materials from lessreputable items. So Connexions is pushing for work to meet higher and higher standards. It now coordinates with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to vet open-source engineering materials, for instance. Mr Baraniuk, the site’s co-founder, sees this as a big moment in part because he keeps hearing about students going further and further into debt, and traditional textbook prices becoming harder and harder for students to afford. He says he has heard from some community-college instructors who have complained that half or more of their students are unable to afford the assigned textbooks. The cost crunch is why Washington State is adding its own open-source repository to the fray. Thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the state is gathering community-college professors to build the Open Course Library, which will feature online course materials for the state’s 81 most-enrolled classes, with a price cap of $30 per course. Staying within that cost constraint has been a challenge, however, particularly with math courses, where free high-quality content can be hard to find online, organisers say.

Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at

Colleges Mine Data to Benefit Students Professors are using information about students to improve their performance By Marc Parry


ducators have long held that the interactions between students and professors defy simple reduction. Yet in several areas of campus life, colleges are converting the student


EduTech  January 2012

experience into numbers to crunch in the name of improving education. Think of it as higher education meets Moneyball. In the movie, Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane reinvents his struggling baseball team by

analysing statistics in new ways to predict player success. In education, college managers are doing something similar to forecast student success — in admissions, advising, teaching, and more.

In one Harvard calculus class, even who you pair up with for group discussion is determined by a computer, one that tracks how well students are doing on the material. The software records Ben Falloon’s location in the back row and how he answers each practice problem. Come discussion time, it tries to stir up debate by matching students who gave different responses to the most recent question. For Mr Falloon, the system, called Learning Catalytics, spits out this prompt: Please discuss your response with Alexis Smith (in front of you) and Emily Kraemer (to your left). Getting data down to frontline students and instructors like this marks a shift for an industry that often focusses on pushing numbers up to accreditors and trustees, says Mark Milliron, formerly of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which backs college data-mining. “I know more about my 11-year-old son’s sixth-grade basketball team than the average college faculty member knows about their incoming class, in terms of key variables that are going to make them successful or not successful,” he adds. “It is a sin that that is the case.” Today, half of students quit college before earning a credential. Proponents feel that making better use of data to inform decisions, known as ‘analytics’, can help solve that problem while also improving teaching. But sceptics worry that data-mining fosters a factory-line approach to education, one that wrings efficiency out of the existing system rather than reinventing it in a digital era. One analytics tactic — monitoring student clicks in course-management systems — especially worries critics like Gardner Campbell, Director of Professional Development and Innovative Initiatives at Virginia Tech. He sees these systems as sterile environments where students respond to instructor prompts rather than express creativity. Analytics projects that focus on such systems threaten to damage colleges much like high-stakes standardised testing harmed elementary and secondary



Mine of Information: Data-mining helps colleges match students’ profiles to their career choices and actual capabilities among other things

schools, he argues. “Counting clicks within a learningmanagement system runs the risk of bringing that kind of deadly standardisation into higher education,” Mr Campbell says. Educational data-mining also presents ethical questions. How much should students be told about the behindthe-scenes computer analysis that manipulates their educational experiences? And how far should colleges go in shaping those experiences based on data patterns?

Better Choices When you buy a book on Amazon, you get a shopping experience tailored to your personal tastes. One piece of the college data puzzle is figuring out how to bring that customisation to important educational decisions. Decisions like which courses to take, which major to pursue, and which college to enrol in. Think of the problem in terms of a supermarket cereal aisle, says Tristan Denley, provost of Austin Peay State University, in Clarksville, Tenn. You find

every choice known to man. But unless you’ve opened the box, you have very little information to judge what’s inside. How do you pick one? Part of the answer, he says, is technology that can look at people like you who have made such decisions in the past, and see whether those decisions worked out. In April, Austin Peay debuted software that recommends courses based on a student’s major, academic record, and how similar students fared in that class. Some professors fretted about students misinterpreting the Netflix-like tips as commands, but the Gates Foundation quickly ponied up $1 mn to refine the software so other colleges can adopt it. Now Austin Peay plans to expand on its work with a new tool that offers tips for making a more important decision: picking a major. The feature, to be rolled out this spring, focusses on two problems: students who don’t know which major to pick, and students who thought they knew, but ended up with a bad fit. A human adviser might be at a loss to January 2012  EduTech


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE suggest an alternate path, Mr Denley says. But data could offer concrete possibilities. For example, students often start climbing the ladder to become a nurse or a doctor, perhaps because they have relatives in those professions. Yet early on it’s clear their grades won’t carry them up to those goals. The data robot might suggest another health field. It might also suggest something totally different, like graphic design, because a student displays a pattern of grades similar to others who flourished in that direction, Mr Denley says. Similar ideas are flourishing in the world of admissions. One company getting buzz is ConnectEDU, sometimes described as an eHarmony for college matchmaking. Its founder, Craig Powell, dreams that students won’t even have to apply to college “because an algorithm will have already told them and the schools where they would fit best,” as The Atlantic reported recently. Mr Powell hopes to make that happen by plugging high schools and colleges in to an online platform that feels a lot like Facebook. And like Facebook, its news feed and customised recommendations hinge on vast amounts of information: over 250 data points for each student, including high-school academic records, standardised test scores, financial circumstances, career ambitions, and geographic locations. So far, 2.5 million high-school students have ConnectEDU profiles. Say one of those students enjoys working with his or her hands and aspires to live a middle-American lifestyle. But the student has marginal grades and no college plans. The software might suggest a

programme at a local community college that qualifies the student for laying ground wire. For colleges seeking prospective students, meanwhile, the algorithms get flipped. Privacy laws prevent Mr Powell from giving kids’ names and addresses to college admissions officers. But what he can offer is anonymous demographic information on potential applicants that might interest them, such as a first-generation African-American male who lives in Miami and makes straight A’s in a rigorous math curriculum. When a college wants to single out a kid, it pings the student in the ConnectEDU system with a message that resembles a friend request. If the student accepts, his or her profile gets exposed, and the college can cultivate that student, Mr Powell says. “The colleges can be informing instead of direct-mailing and mass marketing,” he says. “And you actually build relationships at the end of this, as opposed to working leads.”

Classroom ‘Clickstreams’ Another set of data-driven experiments involves how to teach those students once they start taking college classes, such as the one here at Harvard where the computer picks study partners. That Learning Catalytics system grew out of technology developed in Eric Mazur’s physics class. It marks the latest effort in the Harvard professor’s long campaign to perfect the art of interactive teaching. Science instructors around the world have adopted his Peer Instruction method, and the technique helped popularise the classroom-response devices known as “clickers.” Mr Mazur argues that his new soft-

“But sceptics worry that data-mining fosters a factory-line approach to education...that wrings efficiency out of system” 60

EduTech  January 2012

ware solves at least three problems. One, it selects student discussion groups. Two, it helps instructors manage the pace of classes by automatically figuring out how long to leave questions open so the vast majority of students will have enough time. And three, it pushes beyond the multiple-choice problems typically used with clickers, inviting students to submit open-ended responses, like sketching a function with a mouse or with their finger on the screen of an iPad. “This is grounded on pedagogy; it’s not just the technology,” says Mr Mazur, a gadget sceptic who feels technology has done “incredibly little to improve education.” The pedagogy that informs Learning Catalytics dates to 1991, when Mr Mazur arrived at a painful revelation: his method of instruction, the lecture, was ineffective. The trigger came part of the way through a course at Harvard, Mr Mazur recalled in a 2009 Science article headlined “Farewell, Lecture?” The professor decided to test students’ comprehension of one of the first topics they had covered, the Laws of Newton. But he didn’t give traditional problems. Instead, he asked the students basic conceptual questions, like comparing “forces that a heavy truck and a light car exert on one another when they collide.” They struggled. The reason: They memorised the information, rather than assimilating it. So Mr Mazur began teaching through questioning. In class, his students now work on conceptual problems. Then they pair off with peers who have different answers and try to convince each other that they’re correct. Those on the right track should prevail by force of reason, Mr Mazur says. And they should be more likely to persuade classmates than the professor. That’s because they still understand the obstacles in their peers’ heads, whereas the material is so clear to Mr Mazur, and has been for so long, that he doesn’t get why somebody would have no clue. But how do you group students? Ask

Global.Chronicle.Com them to turn to their neighbours, and chances are they’re sitting next to a friend who won’t be too helpful. Dysfunctional groups form. Instructing students to find classmates with a different answer doesn’t always improve things; some just ignore the order. So Mr Mazur and his team set to work on their high-tech matchmaking venture. They asked students to fill out a 20-question survey about their study habits, attitudes toward science, and confidence in their abilities. The research group is now crunching these data to understand which questions are good indicators for pairing students. Already, though, they’ve found substantial improvement just by matching people with right and wrong answers, says Brian Lukoff, a Learning Catalytics co-founder and postdoctoral fellow who teaches calculus at Harvard. On a recent Tuesday morning, Mr Lukoff demonstrates the system in his math class. As students file in, they log on to the software from whatever device they carry, be it a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Then they check in to their seats; the site helps out with a map similar to what you’d see buying an airplane ticket. Today’s lesson focusses on finding the area under a curve. Mr Lukoff cues up a problem, which appears on students’ screens, and gives them a few minutes to solve it. Mr Falloon, a sweatpants-wearing freshman from Chicago, chews on the eraser of his mechanical pencil. He scribbles in his notebook. “If you don’t know, just guess,” says Mr Lukoff, 29, who looks like a student, with jeans and sideburns. Mr Falloon, uncertain, selects an answer on his laptop: ‘C’. “OK, so now what I want you to do is talk to the person who your screen says to talk to, and try to convince them that you’re right.” Mr Falloon’s laptop flashes the name of Emily Kraemer, a freshman from Florida. She thinks the answer is “A,” which gets them arguing — exactly what the matchmaking algorithm intended. Meanwhile, Mr Lukoff’s screen displays

Number crunching in classroom for better result

Student 1 Student 2 Student 3 Student 4 Student 5 Student 6 Student 7 Student 8 Student 9 Student 10

Eric Mazur, a physics professor at Havard University, helped design a system called Learning Catalytics that manages group discussions in classes by playing matchmaker, grouping students according to their performance in class

Student 1 Student 2 Student 3 Student 4 Student 5 Student 6 Student 7 Student 8 Student 9 Student 10

RIGHT answer WRONG answer

QUESTION Answer A Answer B Answer C

HELLO STUDENT B! work with student 2



Students log in to the classroom system from a laptop, smartphone, or any device they carry


The proffessor cues up a problem which appears on students’ screens for them to answer


The computer system analyses all the answers and decides which students should be study partners, pairing students who had different answers


Messages appear on the students’ screens telling them whom to work with


The professor’s screen shows a map of the classroom nothing how each student responds, so he can decide which groups to assist

Match-making: Computer can now aid professors in finding the weak link in the classroom and matching him/her to the stronger student

a map of how everyone answered the question, data he can use to eavesdrop on specific conversations. But, at least in this problem, the robot’s pairing fails to spark calculus harmony. Their chat over, she still seems to believe the answer is ‘A’, and he sticks with ‘C’. He’s right. “Oh man,” Ms Kraemer sighs. Still, students express enthusiasm for Learning Catalytics’ matchmaking, even if they appear a bit oblivious as to how the software selects partners. “It’s not someone you actually always interact with,” says Alexis Smith, 18, a freshman from Alabama. “So it mixes it up.” “And then you know their name, too,” says Mr Falloon. “So if you forgot, it’s less awkward.”

Signals for Success Classroom data-mining isn’t just taking off at rich universities like Harvard. In a community-college sector racked by budget cuts, one Arizona institution sifts through data on student behaviour in online courses to figure out who is at risk of underperforming or dropping out — and how to help. By the eighth day of class, Rio Salado College predicts with 70-per cent accuracy whether a student will score a C or better in a course.

That’s possible because a web course can be like a classroom with a camera rigged over every desk. The learning software logs students’ moves, leaving a rich ‘clickstream’ for data sleuths to manipulate. Running the algorithms, officials found clusters of behaviours that helped predict success. Did a student log in to the course homepage? View the syllabus? Open an assessment? When did she turn in an assignment? How does his behaviour compare with that of previous students? The college translated that analysis into a warning system that places colourcoded icons beside students’ names in the course-management system. Shannon F Corona, a seven-year online teaching veteran who is faculty chair of the physical-science department at Rio Salado, says the alerts improved her outreach. Before, she knew which students were doing great. She also knew which had tuned out. But she had a harder time pinpointing those in between, struggling yet still trying. Now, when Ms Corona logs in to her Chemistry 130 course, she takes students’ temperature with a glance. The software flags them as green (likely to complete the course with a C or better), yellow (at risk of not earning a C), and red (highly unlikely to earn a C). If she hovers her mouse over the colour, she gets more details. For one student January 2012  EduTech


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE flagged as yellow, for example, the system reports that he is doing an excellent job logging in to the class and a good job engaging with lessons, but falling behind when it comes to the pace of assignment submissions. That might be the online equivalent of a student who shows up to class but struggles with the content, she says. Ms Corona emails yellow-tagged students asking if they’d like her help or a tutor’s. “Especially for online students, they sometimes feel isolated,” she says. “And a lot of instructors, just because of how the system is set up, you might miss it. You don’t really know where they are, how they’re doing, because they haven’t asked you any questions.” But can you change a student’s trajectory? The college has experimented with various intervention strategies, so far with mixed results. For example, early data showed students in general-education courses who log in on day one of class succeed 21 per cent more often

than those who don’t. So Rio Salado blasted welcome emails to students the night before courses began, encouraging them to log in. The next step is a widespread roll-out of the colour-coded alerts, one that will put the technology in the hands of many more professors and students. The hope, Ms Corona says, is that a yellow signal might prompt students to say to themselves: “Gosh, I’m only spending five hours a week in this course. Obviously students who have taken this course before me and were successful were spending more time. So maybe I need to adjust my schedule.” No one quite knows where education’s analytics revolution will lead, but it’s a safe bet that today’s experiments will seem crude compared with what’s coming. Fast-forward a few years, and datasharing choices could be part of starting college, like roommate assignments. Students may have a ‘buffet-like dash-

board’ that allows them to select which data to expose to their university, says George Siemens, an analytics expert at Canada’s Athabasca University. That might include high-school courses, social-media profiles, library usage, demographic details. Colleges will push for more and more info, Mr Siemens speculates. “It’ll be like, ‘Oh, if you give us your socio-economic data, we can target the best learning materials for you, or the best help resources,’” he says. The result may be that if 100 students take introductory calculus, the computer will do much more than just predict those at risk of failing. It will customise a different learning experience for every student.

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Facebook: Recruiters’ Tool More colleges are using Facebook to recruit students, according to the results of a recent survey By Lacey Johnson


ore colleges are using Facebook to recruit students, according to the results of a recent survey of college admissions and marketing staff that was released recently. Nearly 80 per cent of the institutions reported using the social-networking site for admissions purposes, a 13-percentage-point increase from last year.  This is the second survey of Facebook use in admissions conducted by Varsity Outreach, a company that helps colleges with online promotion and networking. More than half of the respondents said they considered Facebook to be a ‘very important’ admissions tool, rating it above YouTube, blogs, Twitter, and other social-media networks. Sixty-three per cent of the colleges described Facebook as an integral part of their marketing strategy, and more than half


EduTech  January 2012

said it had had a significant impact on recruiting students. The effectiveness of colleges’ Facebook pages were primarily measured by counting ‘likes’, ‘followers’, group members, and comments, according to a report on the survey results. The number of admissions and marketing professionals who said they were comfortable with Facebook has also grown, with more than a third considering themselves ‘experts’, and only six per cent saying they are ‘not too familiar’ or ‘novices’. Nearly three-quarters of them reported using a combination of pages, groups, applications, and personal profiles to promote their colleges to prospective students. According to Varsity Outreach, 150 colleges completed and returned the online survey out of roughly 2,000 colleges solicited. The company did not calculate a margin of error for its findings in the survey.


Professor Gives New Outlook on Science to Blind Student Amanda Lacy was frustrated with her physics class and ready to drop it By Alexandra Rice

By raj verma


ong Ms Lacy, a blind s t u d e n t a t Au s t i n Community College, is a computer-science major who loves her classes but often struggles in them, not because she doesn’t understand the material, but because she doesn’t have access to adequate textbooks. And when she started taking the introduction-tophysics class, things got even worse, until a professor stepped in with a solution. The college provides blind students with digital copies of textbooks so they can listen to them on the computer or read them using an electronic Braille display. But the figures and graphs in Ms Lacy’s physics book don’t easily translate the same way that text does. “There are many symbols that the computer doesn’t recognise,” Ms Lacy said, “so it just comes out as gibberish.” For example, Ms Lacy said in an interview, the computer will read ‘X squared’ simply as ‘X2’. When Ms Lacy showed her digital textbook to her computer-science professor, Richard Baldwin, he was shocked, she said. He told her if someone didn’t take her problem seriously there was no way she would make it through the course. So Mr Baldwin started working with Ms Lacy for a few hours each week, slowly going through the textbook and trying to explain the graphics to her in a way that she understood. “He’d do whatever he could to get these concepts across,” Ms Lacy said. “He’d scratch them out on

Enlightening: Professor takes up the cudgels for visually impaired student, creates open-access online tutorial in physics

paper, draw them on my hand, things like that.” While they were working together, Mr Baldwin began creating an open-access online tutorial for blind students learning physics. In Mr Baldwin’s tutorials, equations are written using only symbols found on keyboards so that everything is onedimensional and presented in a format that blind people can read. Using the tutorials, Ms Lacy excelled in her physics class and received an A in the course. Working with Ms Lacy taught Mr Baldwin many things, too, such as that blind people can’t draw with much accuracy. So he came up with a new software for that as well. “I sent this thing to her at home, and the next time I saw her she

was pretty elated,” Mr Baldwin said. “She told me, ‘Finally, I can doodle.’” Before that, her physics professor would just allow her to skip the problems that required sketches for answers. Now, Ms Lacy says, she is working with the software so that when she takes Physics II she can turn in her completed homework with the rest of the students. Sometimes people ask her why she doesn’t just study something easier for blind students, like English or history, Ms Lacy says. What does she tell them? “Because I’ll get bored.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at January 2012  EduTech


Perspective Ashish Rajpal

Founder and MD,iDisocoveri

Let’s Trust Our Children Our classrooms need to become more about learning


ver the past decade, two of my core interests have been learning (children and adult) and leadership from a social standpoint. India has 300 million school children and 1.2 million schools and the quality of education is poor in most classrooms. I wanted to focus on how to make classrooms more about learning. I thought that the answer lay in teachers’ training. So, I began training and built up a successful practice in no time. However, I kept asking – “are classrooms becoming more about learning?” The school principals, after some prodding admitted that their teachers had fallen back to the old ways. Our idea was not working. It was then that I met John Hutchison, a retired school principal from Marilyn, US. He told me that I may have great ideas, but unless I entered the classroom myself, I wouldn’t find solutions. In 2004, I started teaching science to Class IV students. That’s when all my ideas crumbled. Another instance, when a teacher in southern Karnataka handed me the chalk and asked me to teach her class “differently and better”, stumped me. It became clear to me that unless I could do the job better, I didn’t have the right to train others. Did I have the method to do it better? So, we did two things — stopped the training module and took every learning outcome in the national syllabus of India (CBSE) to create the optimal way to teach


EduTech  January 2012

a concept. We planned it for English, maths, science and social science for kindergarten to Class VIII. Our mission was to reach out to all teachers and children. So our method had to be taped down to a mantra. We called it the fivestep method: 1) Both learner and teacher should be clear about the purpose of a lesson 2) Every lesson ideally should include an activity or experience 3) Activities should be followed by reflective conversation 4) One should not abort teaching processes and analysis 5) One should assess whether the original learning outcome was met We have taken these five steps to 700 schools, quarter-of-a-million students and 25,000 teachers. Here’s what teachers can do — keep quiet for starters, plan before class, observe and look for differences in children (what they need),

Higher education over the next two decades will be about self learning. Children have a natural drive to learn on their own

develop a facilitative style of questioning as opposed to an interrogative style. Both learner and teacher need to be reflective. Creating reflective spaces is not easy and unless there is quality leadership in the institution which believes in some of these ideas at a very fundamental level, there is not much that can be done. The bankruptcy in education is because instructional leadership lies neglected. Educational leaders don’t take pride or don’t have confidence to go to the classroom themselves. There are two wishes that I have for higher education which will directly impact school education and vice versa: Higher education over the next two decades will be about self-learning. Children have a natural drive to learn on their own. We will see self-learning centres coming up. For them to become successful three things need to come together. The first is the interest of the learner, second is the right role model expertise available: not just Google or Wikipedia but genuine expertise and the third leg of the stool is technology. The second wish I have from higher education schools is: Can we broaden our selection criteria? Can we make assessment at entry point more about winning and less about losing? Can’t we assess more about what those young people are good at? This is an extract from Rajpal’s keynote address at EDU’s VC’s retreat

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