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FOREWORD Philanthropy in higher education


“India now, more than ever needs high quality private higher education and industrial houses have to put in their bit”

he pre-independence period of 1892-1947 has been called the Golden Age of Indian Philanthropy and a majority of the big trusts set up during this time were in higher education. The first names that come to mind when we think of good private higher education are the Tatas and Birlas—we have even covered BITS Pilani in this issue’s cover story. Most of us have always known that LSR and SRCC were established during the Golden Age by the industrialist Sir Shri Ram DCM. A few other names quickly come to mind: Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Millia, and Aligarh Muslim University. A little more prodding gets us a list of trusts that were a part of this Age apart from Tatas and the Birlas: Annamalai Chettiar, Bajaj, Godrej, Lalbhai, Mafatlal, Mahindra, Modi, Murugappa group (AAM Foundation), Naidu, Ramco, Sarabhai and Singhania. That’s quite a bit. But what happened later? Were industrial houses not bothered about nation building anymore? Or did they think that now that the country had achieved Independence the government would take care of issues like education? When and how did private higher education become a bad word? The reasons are complex. Mushrooming of private higher education institutions over the last two decades merely with the intent of making money made things worse. India now, more than ever needs high quality private higher education and industrial houses have to put in their bit. How else can we hope to be ready for the 70 per cent of Indians in the working age group by 2025? Thankfully, industrial leanings towards education have of late been taking a new hue. The founding of Azim Premji University, NIIT University, Shiv Nadar University, ISB, Indian Institute of Human Settlements (which got a substantial donation from Nandan and Rohini Nilekani), talks of Mukesh Ambani setting up a new university, are all positive signs that history may yet repeat itself with the spotlight back on higher education. India is blessed with great brains, as Dean Glandt of SEAS UPenn will tell you in Dialogue. It is up to us to make sure that these great brains get the right education. An important step in this direction is to influence more industrial houses with the right intentions into higher education, and in the process, give good private higher education the respect that it deserves.

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha

April 2012  EduTech


Contents EDU April 2012

update 05 Accreditation RANKINGS 06 APPOINTED MOBILITY 07 GER Foray

Viewpoint 08 RS Grewal Collaborate for knowledge sharing, not immigration


campus 20 Unfettered learning Traditional classroom campuses are dissolving into open learning spaces By Teja Lele Desa

strategy 26 Forever engaged Institutions need to tap their alumni network. By Charu Bahri

Academics 32 A Winter of content A unique winter school that is whipping students’ research appetite By Shalini Gupta

Technology 36 Campus butterfly The new campus butterflies are technology savvy. Instead of banning them secure the campus By Tushar Kanwar


Everybody is a constituency that needs to be thoughtfully cultivated

edu tech 2012

Global perspective

56 EduTech  April 2012

42 constructive brainstorming Report on Distruptive Educational Research Conference

44 advancing higher education through technology A report on the Bangalore edition of the annual event held in February 2012

—Eduardo Glandt Dean, SEAS, UPenn

40 READY STEADY SHOOT DIY Video Lectures-Part II By Tushar Kanwar


Tech edgex 2012

Find out what’s currently happening in institutions around the world. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares its perspectives with EDU 48 A Science Institute in Okinawa Breaks Down Academic Barriers By David McNeill 50 Google Scales Back Book Scanning By Jennifer Howard


Managing Director: Pramath Raj Sinha PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Anuradha Das Mathur Group Editor: R Giridhar managing editor: Smita Polite

cover Story

10 industrious intentions

Copydesk Managing EDITOR: Sangita Thakur Varma SUB EDITORS: Radhika Haswani, Mitia Nath

The industry-academia merger in higher education is giving rich dividends and will be crucial for India to achieve its GER Vision 2020 By Charu Bahri

14 Research to Teach

Abhijit Mukherjee, Director, Thapar University, on developing a research culture

17 Commit to Knowledge

C Raj Kumar, VC of OP Jindal Global University, on why private higher education must have a commitment to quality education

18 Treat Private at Par

DEsign Sr Creative Director: Jayan K Narayanan Art Director: Anil VK Associate Art Director: Atul Deshmukh Visualisers: Prasanth TR, Anil T & Shokeen Saifi Sr Designers: Sristi Maurya & NV Baiju Designers: Suneesh K, Shigil N, Charu Dwivedi Raj Verma, Prince Antony, Binu MP, Peterson Prameesh Purushothaman C & Midhun Mohan Chief Photographer: Subhojit Paul SR 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

BN Jain, VC of BITS Pilani, on why private universities must get equal status as public universities

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52 American Colleges Missteps Raise Questions About Overseas Partnerships By Karin Fischer

Pearson IFC BFE India


Mindlogicx IBC Hitachi



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56 eduardo glandt By Smita Polite



Eduardo Glandt, Dean, SEAS, University of Pennsylvania P 56 TECHNOLOGY






Secure social networks rather than banning them P 36

INDUSTRIOUS INTENTIONS When good CSR leads to good education Pg 10


Bijendra Nath Jain VC, BITS Pilani

Abhijit Mukherjee Director, Thapar University


64 sir ashutosh mukherjee





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April 2012  EduTech


from the world of higher education

05 accreditation 05 rankings 06 appointed 06 Mobility 07 GER 07 foray & more

Proposal to set up minority Varsity in Assam The Assam Government is planning to set up a minority university in the state, on the lines of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia. A proposal regarding the same was put forward to Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal by State Education Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, when the latter visited New Delhi recently. The minister also stated that given the green signal, they’d try to emulate the high standards set by AMU and JMI.

Three NLU campuses on anvil in Maharashtra

Timely: Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh announcing the government’s plans to set up an aviation university to meet the industry demand

Govt to Set up Aviation Varsity Proposes to meet the rising demand for skilled personnel in the indigenous aviation industry PLanned Given the rising demand for skilled manpower in the aviation industry, the Union Government has announced plans of setting up a university dedicated entirely to training people for this sector. Speaking at the inaugural function of India Aviation 2012, Civil Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh said, “The government is keen to set up world-class training and education infrastructure for the aviation sector in the country.” He further added that launching of such a university will help bridge the demand-supply gap in the sector as it will ensure a steady supply of trained pilots and other skilled personnel required by the industry. As part of the project, several efforts are already underway, like the CAE Global Flying Training Institute at Gondia, Maharashtra and CAE Simulator Training Facilities at Bangalore, the minister said. The sector has been mired in controversy over unskilled personnel.


EduTech  April 2012

In a fresh attempt to promote law studies, the Government of Maharashtra has decided to set up three National Law University campuses in the state. The proposed sites for the campuses are Shendra, Vasai and Nagpur. DP Sawant, Minister of State for Higher and Technical Education also stated that all existing law colleges were to be affiliated to the main university.

Race on For Ignou VC From over a 100 candidates who were in the fray for the top job at India’s largest distance learning university, three have been shortlisted. They are: Prof DP Singh, former VC of Banaras Hindu University, Prof KK Agarwal, former VC of Indraprastha University and Prof Manoj K Mishra, Vice Chancellor, Lucknow University. The post fell vacant when Dr Rajasekharan Pillai completed his term in October 2011. A search-cum-selection committee chaired by eminent space scientist Dr K Kasturirangan, with UPSC Chairperson DP Agarwal and former Barkatullah University VC Prof IS Chauhan has submitted the names to the Union Ministry of HRD.


NAAC New Methodology Aimed at grading institutions’ internal quality Accreditation The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) will be launching a new methodology for assessing and grading educational institutions on April 1, 2012. NAAC Director Prof HA Ranganath announced this at the fourth NAAC Accreditation Awards ceremony held recently in Bengaluru. “NAAC’s new methodology has come after a gap of five years. Accreditation has become an important aspect in the growth of higher education in India. We, at NAAC have worked hard to improve the quality of education,” said Prof Ranganath. Elucidating the new methodology, Prof Goverdhan Mehta, Chairperson, Executive Committee of NAAC, said that the guiding principle is to pay attention to the feedback that NAAC r e c e i v e d i n t h e l a s t fi v e y e a r s . “NAAC has visited close to 2,000 institu-

tions in the last five years. The process of framing the new methodology began six months ago with a core group and an external expert group.” NAAC wants to identify intangible qualities in institutions and the new parameters have been set keeping this objective in mind. “The number of books in a library, students, faculty—these are measurQuality-bound: NAAC’s new methodology comes able. Now, we will look at after five years, says its Director, Prof HA Ranganath whether the programmes a commitment towards quality,” he said. are gender neutral and how environ“The main thrust will be on research. We mentally-friendly the campuses are,” he want to emphasise the importance of explained. “The new methodology is research and innovation in institutions. meant to inculcate internal quality. We While in colleges, we want a broader do not want institutions to impress us educational experience for students.” during our visits. We want them to make

Harvard is World’s No. 1 University in 2012 too Rankings Asian universities challenge US-UK domination of rankings; Harvard is No. 1 again; while UK’s leading universities have dropped several places since 2011. All the leading Asian universities have gained higher rankings than in 2011. China’s universities too show an improvement. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge held on to the second and third place in the list. Stanford University leapfrogged the University of California, Berkeley and is at the fourth position while the latter dropped to the fifth.  Oxford University has secured the sixth slot again. In its second year, the Times ranking gauged the world’s universities on academic reputation only, based on about 17,554 responses spanning 149 countries. Most of those surveyed were academics themselves. They were asked to rank the quality of teaching and the global impact of research. The list threw up a widening gap between the top six “global super elite” and all the others.

global update


Number of responses that determined the rankings


Number of countries that the World Reputation Ranking survey spanned

April 2012  EduTech



Gopalkrishna Gandhi is New Head of IIAS ‘Star’ chairman to head governing body for a period of three years

Appointed Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the former Governor of West Bengal has been appointed by the Central Government as the Chairman of the governing body of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS), Shimla. Gandhi will be holding this post for a period of three years, starting from 2012. Prior to this, he has served as an IAS officer, as secretary to the Vice President f ro m 1 9 8 5 - 87, a s j o i n t secretary to the President from 1987-92. In 1992, he became the minister of culture in High Commission of India, UK and the director of Nehru Centre, London. In 1996, he was appointed the

High Commissioner of India in South Africa and Lesotho. Since then he has been one


Gandhi joined the Indian Administrative Services (IAS)

Experienced Gopalkrishna Gandhi has held several administrative posts in his wide-ranging, illustrious career

of the best known f i g u re s o f t h e I n d i a n administration in India and abroad. Gandhi is the youngest grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. The other new members of the governing body of IIAS are DL Sheth, former

member of the Backward Class Commission; Madhavan Palat, Chief Editor of Nehru Memorial Trust; Lalji Singh, VC of Banaras Hindu University; David Symlieh, VC of Rajiv Gandhi University; and Peter Ronald De Souza, Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. IIAS functions under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.


IGNOU Introduces Science on Mobiles mobility Important news from the world of science will now be available as SMS updates to students of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). In keeping with its larger goal of making knowledge available and accessible to all, IGNOU has introduced a free SMS update service, which will update its subscribers about interesting scientific facts, latest news from the world of science, major science events, health tips, green tips, et al. The initiative is the result of a collaboration between the university’s National Centre for Innovations in Distance Education (NCIDE) and government body Vigyan Prasar. The objective of the project is to arouse the scientific spirit in individuals of all age groups, across classes, from


EduTech  April 2012

students, to housewives, to uneducated farmers. The content, howeve r, h a s b e e n divided into three categories and the users can choose the category and frequency of messages that suits them best. To ensure a wide audience, the SMS service is absolutely free of cost, allowing the cash-strapped student as much as the underprivileged farmer to draw equal benefit from it.


UGC Aims to Increase Gross Enrolment Ratio The Commission has prepared a document on inclusive and quality expansion of education in the 12th Five Year Plan and has asked for Rs 1,84,470-crore grant GER The University Grants Commisthe country reaches its target. More colsion (UGC) has prepared several plans leges would also have to be opened in aimed at increasing gross enrolment low GER districts. The UGC has sought ratio (GER) of students in higher educaa Rs 1,84,470-crore grant for its various tion from the present 20 per cent to 30 programmes during the 12th Plan per cent during the 12th Five Year Plan against Rs 85,0000 crore in the 11th Five (2012-17). UGC Acting Chairman Ved Year Plan. It has developed various Prakash said that the country’s GER is schemes under the three heads—access, low compared to advanced countries equity and quality with interlaced comand the commission’s document on ponents of relevance, value-education inclusive and quality expanand creativity, said its sion of higher education chairman. aims to reduce this It also plans to increase difference. He is very optithe number of colleges mistic of reaching the under universities, and GER is the targeted figure. wants to grant autonomy target set by The student enrolment to colleges with potential (between 17-23 age group) for excellence and with a UGC in the would have to be increased student strength of more 12th Five from the present 14 million than 3,000, converting Year Plan to 22 million in colleges and them into universities or universities to ensure that deemed universities.


Harvard Business School Opens Classroom in Mumbai With a plush, 82-seater ‘classroom’, Big Daddy of universities enters Indian higher education foray Mumbai, India’s business capital, became host to Harvard Business School’s first classroom here. Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata, who had donated $50 million to the university in October 2011 for the purpose, inaugurated the classroom. The swank amphitheatre style classroom, replete with multimedia facilities is designed closely on the lines of its Boston counterpart. This facility will currently offer courses on business, governance, and other related areas like corporate social responsibility, global enterprise, etc. The initiative is touted to be one of mutual benefit. “So many things in India are evolving at bewildering speed, there is much to learn by bringing models from the outside to India, and equally much to learn from India’s development trajectory,” said Tarun Khanna, Faculty Chair and Director, Harvard South Asia initiative.

voices “To realise the dream of India, we need to have a tie-up with industries, and there is a provision that each industry has to divert two per cent profit towards educational research and development” —Dr N Prabhu Dev, Vice Chancellor, Bangalore University

“We are killing higher education by fragmentation. Disciplines like law and agriculture have already moved out of the university system. However, our reaction to this is setting up exclusive universities... due to lack of policy research”

— Prof Ved Prakash, Chairperson, UGC

“These young people who have been in this country—often since they were infants— they’ve played by all the rules... when they graduate from high school, to see the door of opportunity slam shut on them, just makes no sense to me whatsoever”

— Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education

April 2012  EduTech



RS Grewal

Collaborate for Knowledge Sharing, Not Immigration


he past decade has seen a flurry of MoUs between Indian and foreign universities. A development triggered by mutual needs wherein foreign universities wanting to boost their financial resources are looking towards India; while India, unable to fulfil the demand for high-quality education casts its nets wide. For foreign universities looking for fertile student recruiting grounds, India is a preferred destinations with its young demographic profile. However, these collaborations are still very limited in scope and much needs to be explored by both sides for benefits to flow in.

The Indian Scenario Indian students in foreign universities are recognised for their diligence. The aspiring Indian middle class parents are prepared to pay a high price for educating their children and are known to have a penchant for foreign education. With its emphasis on English, our education system produces well educated, English speaking workers of better quality than many other developing countries. Indian students are already contributing to the economies of the countries where they choose to work and with better academic input this workforce will multiply. Almost 30 per cent of the workforce in NASA and 38


EduTech  April 2012

per cent of doctors in the USA are of Indian origin. India’s past colonial linkages with Britain help in easy assimilation of students in the Western culture. Indian higher education system is teacher-centric with tremendous emphasis on rote learning. It inhibits critical thinking and creativity. Till the recent past, the Indian industry, especially the manufacturing sector, was driven by imports and relied on low-end technology. Therefore, the academia, instead of nurturing problem solvers and knowledge creators produced process managers. Both application-oriented and fundamental research, have been neglected in the universities. Though the USA and India have almost similar numbers of engineers per million of population, the former produces about 3,500 PhDs in engineering per year while the corresponding number in India is close to 1,000 and that too of questionable quality. The reasons are not far to seek. The quality assurance benchmarks in India are based on inputs where ‘brick and mortar’ score over intellectual capital and student outcomes. Both Central and State governments spend phenomenal amounts on public universities without tangible outcomes. The lack of a culture of accountability ensures that the numerous centres of

RS Grewal

excellence, have no worthwhile achievements to their credit. Professional bodies like the Institution of Engineers and others have failed to set benchmarks and nurture industry-academia linkages. Their journals are no match for those of their counterparts in developed countries. Our universities are still biased towards manufacturing and services sectors and have, by and large, ignored the life sciences that would, in all probability, be the areas in which cutting-edge research is likely to be focussed in the 21st century. Moreover, liberal arts have been neglected, and no society can hope to progress by ignoring these.

Developed Countries Western countries need young, English speaking, skilled manpower. They have developed their higher education sector with considerable emphasis on hands-on and practical training. The culture of research that has taken roots in their universities, fosters creative and critical thinking. Professional bodies like the IEEE and ASME in the USA, wield considerable clout both in the academia and industry and have high-quality journals. Application-oriented research, focussed on needs of the society is given due importance. Life sciences and liberal arts are encouraged and students pursue these depending upon their passion and not with an eye on the job market.

Scope for Collaborations The collaborative arrangements between Indian and foreign universities have mostly resulted in one-way traffic with Indians going abroad to study either under the ambit of twinning arrangements or securing admissions based on GMAT, GRE, USMLE or PLABE, and mostly in the fields of engineering and technology, medicine or management. Recently, a concept of Semester Abroad has taken shape but the number of students going under such arrangements is miniscule. Collaborative endeavours have been dominated by Twinning Programmes. Faculty exchange and research activities have been neglected. Collaborative arrangements have found favour with students to secure a legal route for immigration. Knowledge sharing has taken a back seat. It would not be an exaggeration to say that foreign education providers have not exploited the deep and wider higher education market in India to build longterm relationships. The guiding concept for collaborations must be based on mutual needs keeping both short-term and long-term aspects in mind. The short-term aspect should focus on revenue generation—after


“Collaborations are still very limited in scope and much needs to be explored by both sides for benefits to flow in” all no one is in this business for charity. The longterm view should focus on building lifelong relations, with revenue generation not being the main criterion. An honest collaboration should ensure that financial considerations do not predominate. Moreover, developed countries would do well by encouraging a two-way exchange process among students if they want to take advantage of India’s rapidly growing economy. Measures to boost short-term revenue generation could include twinning programmes, articulation arrangements, advanced standing agreements, faculty exchange programmes, semester abroad options, etc. Distance learning programmes could also play an important part. Foreign universities could engage in joint programmes in life sciences as well. In addition, foreign universities could leverage the relationships of the large Indian diaspora. IUCEE (Indo US Collaboration for Engineering Education) is a good model to emulate. Long-term relationships could be based on training of Indian faculty to carry out research and also by engaging in joint research programmes. Intellectual property so developed could be jointly shared by the two collaborating universities. Similarly, study of liberal arts could form part of long-term ventures to build bonds between communities. Foreign Education Providers Bill is likely to be passed by the Indian Parliament soon. Foreign universities could set up Branch Campuses in India, either independently or based upon a more financially viable model involving collaboration with Indian partners. All such collaborative arrangements would need proactive support of the government agencies and regulatory bodies. Indian diaspora could form an important link in the chain and could be motivated to sponsor scholarships for Indian students studying abroad or to finance joint research projects. It must be remembered that participation of all stake holders is crucial for a collaboration to succeed.

Author’s BIO Brig (Dr) RS Grewal, is the VC of Chitkara University. After retiring from the Army in 2002, he joined the Manipal Group, where he was the director of Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology. Later he was the pro-vice chancellor of Sikkim Manipal University and also the first director of ICICI Manipal Academy.

April 2012  EduTech



Private Higher-Ed

Inside 13 Formula for Success 14

Commit to Knowledge C Raj Kumar, VC, OP Jindal Global University



Abhijit Mukherjee, Director, Thapar University


Treat Private at Par BN Jain, VC, BITS Pilani

BY Subhojit Paul

FROM LEFT: Abhijit Mukherjee Director, Thapar University Bijendra Nath Jain Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani C Raj Kumar Vice Chancellor, OP Jindal Global University

Research to Teach

Maurya & Peterson

by charu bahri

By raj verma, Sristi

Most of our ace private universities are islands of excellence where the philanthropic vision of the founding fathers meets the driven excellence of the corporate credo. The industry-academia merger in higher education is giving rich dividends and will be crucial for India to achieve its GER Vision 2020

April 2012  EduTech


cover story

Private Higher-Ed

The league of industry-founded universities that is privately

doing a lot of public good is expanding on the back of an intricate formula for success patterned on the experience of early movers. A wider understanding of this blueprint, assuring winning outcomes could encourage more corporate philanthropy in the Indian higher education system, a must if India is to achieve the ambitious gross enrolment target of 30 per cent. At the turn of the 20th century, Seth Shiv Narain Birla, a businessman, established a paathshala in sleepy, dusty Pilani, then, a village. It was but a one teacher affair established for the sake of Birla’s two young grandsons, so that they would not miss out on education. As things turned out, it wasn’t quite as simple as that. Education is the cornerstone of personal growth from the seed of which vision is born. Shiv Narain Birla ensured that futuristic vision in the education of his grandsons. One of the first graduates of the paathshala, Ghanshyam Das Birla, expanded the high school into an intermediate college close to three decades later.

Industry Linkages In recent decades many a private university has taken off from where the Birlas started—rooted in philanthropic activity of business houses or what is called corporate social responsibility in business parlance. These institutions serve a deeper purpose though: fill the gap of professionally qualified workforce for the industry. To do this they are reaching out for assistance in myriad ways to their parents, the industry, by forging industry-academia collaborations in different ways.


EduTech  April 2012

“Manipal University has industry representation on the Board of Studies responsible for framing the curriculum. Industry members are also invited as visiting faculty. That reduces the industry-academia gap and in turn helps in placements,” shares Dr HS Ballal, Pro Chancellor, Manipal University and Former Chairman of Higher Education, FICCI. Bridging the academia-industry gap helps private universities gather inputs to reinvent their offerings and stay relevant. According to Dr Rajan Saxena, Vice Chancellor, NMIMS University, “This is what makes private universities the great innovators they are, bringing out contemporary programmes and curricula adapted to industry needs. Which public university has integrated management and technology to offer an MBA Tech or an MBA Pharma Tech on the lines of NMIMS?”

Finance to the Fore It is true that private universities’ predilection for staying abreast of industry trends and offering professional courses designed to meet these requirements

is also an outcome of their need to be financially self-sustaining. This compulsion drives them to understand the evolving market and align their offerings accordingly. Commercially viable courses present a better value proposition to students than ordinary graduate and postgraduate degrees. “Why would a student join a private university to pursue a graduate programme in English, which could be done at any public university at a fraction of the fee? Students are queuing up outside private universities to avail professional courses that often come with a placement commitment,” says Bharat Gulia, Senior Manager, Business Advisory Services, Ernst & Young. Industry linkages go a long way in enabling private universities to produce notable outcomes. But the blueprint for success is constituted of much more. For instance, while private universities find it easier to break even by offering higher priced professional courses, some of the pioneers have adopted equitable self-financing models and this has made a major contribution to their success.

Private Higher-Ed

How They Did It The Birla Education Trust was founded during the Second World War and the Government of India decided to use the college premises to train technicians for the defence services and industry. This paved the way for the intermediate college to be upgraded and it was rechristened as the Birla Engineering College after the end of the war. Post-Independence, GD Birla took the fledgling regional engineering college to higher levels in step with the newlyfounded Indian Institutes of Technology. In 1963, on a visit to his grandson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the States, GD Birla approached the president of MIT, asking for technical assistance to establish a leading technological university responsive to India’s goals. He also knocked on the doors of the Ford Foundation for funding. A year later, under the direction of MIT advisory board, Birla Colleges of Arts, Commerce, Pharmacy and Science were merged under the umbrella of the Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS). Recognition as a deemed university followed a few months later. Since then, BITS Pilani has grown in stature to be counted among India’s finest private varsities. In 1956, a far-reaching collaboration pact was entered into by the State of Patiala and East Punjab States Union, the Central Government and the late industrialist Lala Karam Chand Thapar’s Patiala Technical Education Trust. This coming together bore the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in Patiala. Thapar’s driving ideology was the recognition that “India can truly enjoy the fruits of Independence when it seeks to become economically strong. It can reach its full potential only if its youth are educated to be among world’s most respected, motivated and highly trained technical workforce.” In 1985, the engineering college, which had expanded to offer postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in engineering, science, management and social sciences, was granted the status of a deemed university.

The foundation stone of yet another private sector institution, the Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work, was laid in 1936 at the initiation of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust on the recommendations of Dr Clifford Manshardt, an American missionary who had gained hands-on experience of Mumbai’s urban community through the 1920s and foresaw the need for a postgraduate school of social work of national stature. In 1964, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, as the school had been renamed, was recognised as a deemed university. The institute has since grown from strength to strength.

Common Denominators All these institutions are private and owe their origin to trusts established by industrial houses. They have gone on to achieve impeccable standards of

cover story

academic excellence and are making remarkable contributions to Indian higher education. In many ways, the industry connection has helped private universities carve a niche for themselves. Take the example of BITS Pilani. It has prioritised the creation of industry linkages from day one through its Practice School programme providing for faculty members and students alike to work with companies across India for one semester. But would the institution be able to place 2,500 students and 65-odd faculty members annually, if it were not for the support of 250 companies cutting across verticals? More pertinently, would a private institution sans industry backing be able to rope in so many business establishments to support its students, year after year after year…

Formula for Success Rajesh Gopal, Associate Vice President, Education Sector, Technopak Advisors, elucidates some of the leading reasons for the success of a private university: Leadership: The quality of leadership manifests in the team that is put in place, which in turn impacts the quality of advisory inputs that are made available and the outcome of education. Finances: Financial strength is a must for a private university. Education infrastructure is expensive and education is a long gestation business. Universities need financial muscle to stay engaged in the long term. Finance also determines the quality of infrastructure that a university can establish. Faculty: The quality of faculty makes a huge impact on the eventual outcome of the university, both academic and research. Student selection mechanism: The mechanism that is set in place to select students eventually bears upon the outcome as well. Partnerships: Partnerships with other places of learning, especially foreign universities, take a private university far by allowing it to tap advanced resources. Industry relations: Close ties between a private university and industry is a plus point. This helps set in place a realistic curriculum tailored to prospective employers’ needs and offers students better placements. Alumni networks: The ability to establish an alumni network and tap into it goes in favour of a university. Private universities are usually more adept at doing so, even if the aim is to encourage alumni to give back to their alma mater. Overseas, students place considerable weightage on the strength of the university’s alumni network when making a decision about a place to study.

April 2012  EduTech


cover story

Private Higher-Ed

Equitable Fee Ensures Accessibility BITS Pilani Vice Chancellor, Dr Bijendra Nath Jain, explains the institutions’ best practices associated with its fee structure: “Since BITS Pilani needs to be self-sustaining, the fees it charges are higher than say, the fees of the gov-

ernment-funded IITs. But the institution pegs the fees at a reasonable level to what could be expected from a private university. Until 2010, BITS was charging double of IIT tuition fees of Rs 50,000 per annum. In contrast, private engineering colleges were customarily charging five times more than IIT fees. A fee hike has been necessitated in the last couple of years, in keeping with the changing realities—inflationary trends, improvements made to the teaching infrastructure, and the steep rise in starting salaries of engineering graduates. The reasonable fee structure has raised BITS’ reputation no end.” Another financial best practice is etched into the design of BITS’ Work Integrated Learning Programmes (WILP), off-campus education exten-

sion courses for working professionals offered collaboratively with the industry. The financial model of the WILP stands out for charging both employers and employees for the course. Thapar University does not recover its expenses from students’ fees, which isn’t surprising considering that the university offers scholarships to one out of every four students in keeping with Thapar’s pledge to turn away no seeker of knowledge. The university has also committed to limiting fees while continuing to offer the best compensations to faculty in a quest to measure up to the highest global standards. According to Dr Abhijit Mukherjee, Director, Thapar University, “The world’s top universities have huge endowments and recoup only a fraction of their budget

Director of Thapar University, Dr Abhijit Mukherjee on how the university has worked research into its financial equation and carved a niche for itself


e firmly believe that a university must integrate knowledge creation and dissemination. Unless you research well, you cannot teach well. Research supports teaching. Thapar University has committed itself to supporting individuals, fostering integrity and furthering the torch of imagination to spawn more research and entrepreneurship. A common notion prevailing in private universities is that research does not pay. In contrast, government-funded technological institutions like the IITs can afford to go all out —Abhijit Mukherjee to further research. Thapar Director, Thapar University University has successfully shown that research overheads can be made productive and thus, R&D a viable option. The skills of doctoral students can be put

“A common notion prevailing in private universities is that research does not pay”

Private Higher-Ed

from students. We are miles away. Yes, our budget has increased by six times in the past six years but our philanthropic mission precludes us from raising fees in the same proportion.” Research grants and contributions from the Thapar Education Trust help plug the shortfalls.

Plugging Capacity Mismatches Industry leanings, the standout attribute of private universities, pave the way for them to add value to the higher education sector by focussing on specific areas where there is a capacity mismatch. Consequently, while most of the capacity creation in the higher education sector had been in the arts and

to good use to take tutorials, write proposals, work in labs, and so on. Making it all work is an uphill task sometimes, especially when we compete with public universities for research grants. My experience suggests that the mindset of government authorities is still skewed towards public institutions. Private universities aren’t seen in the same light and hence struggle to prove their mettle. But I believe that Indian private universities will establish themselves as the best. A few private universities lead the higher education sector in the USA, followed by public universities and then by the majority of private universities. Indian higher education is slowly moving towards a similar pyramid.

humanities streams, over the last decade, there has been significant increase in the number of institutions offering management and engineering courses. In the future, Rajesh Gopal, Associate Vice President, Education Sector, Technopak Advisors, expects more private universities to also enter into less populated areas such as design, law and architecture with curricula that are in complete alignment with industry needs. There is likely to be an increase in the number of multidisciplinary universities and the strong connect between private universities and the industry will also ensure that emergent areas are covered as they come by. Creating seats in newer disciplines is a better value proposition for an institution as well as for the increasingly discerning students entering the market for higher education. Students are more aware of job prospects of the course they opt for. So, this makes it easier for private universities to fully utilise their capacity (seats), which means a lot, since private engineering and management universities are struggling because of underutilisation of capacity. OP Jindal Global University (JGU) exemplifies a recently established private university that has ventured into new disciplines that are traditionally associated with public service and hence, public universities. It promotes an interdisciplinary teaching pedagogy through its four schools—Jindal Global Law School; Jindal Global Business School; Jindal School of International Affairs; and Jindal School of Government and Public Policy. Vice Chancellor of OP Jindal Global University and Dean of Jindal Global Law School, Prof C Raj Kumar explains how this came about: “The torch of light and knowledge of public service has been held aloft by public universities. They display a strong sense of commitment to public interest and social justice. In recognition of the role education plays in nation building, JGU set its mission as ‘the promotion of public service’ and ‘a private university promoting public service’ became its byline.”

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“Private universities will have to play a major role if India is to achieve its GER target” —HS Ballal Pro Chancellor Manipal University

Sourcing Resourcefully A new university in the private sector, JGU faces all the challenges that plague the older private endeavours. Faculty shortage is by far the biggest issue, with both private and public universities competing for the same small pool. JGU is looking global to overcome this restraint, in line with its vision to have the best research-oriented faculty from around the world. “Outstanding qualified individuals who are good teachers as well as sound researchers are vital for institution-building and for a university to achieve excellence in teaching, research and capacity building,” says Prof Kumar. Kumar spends much of his overseas travel time interacting with potential faculty members, interviewing and engaging with talented fresh postgraduates and doctorates with the aim April 2012  EduTech


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Private Higher-Ed

of attracting them to JGU. Call it headhunting if you will. “The idea is to catch outstanding young academics early, and encourage them to consider academia as a career option. We attract more faculty members this way and fewer through the regular newspaper advertisement channel.” JGU faculty get an attractive remuneration package including special financial and non-financial rewards for excellence in teaching and research, such as

performance. NMIMS does not encourage any faculty (and student) trade unionism of the kind found in public institutions. It amply makes up for this by being an equitable employer.

It’s Research All the Way According to Dr Jain, “Faculty members today expect to spend more than half of their time in research.” This makes it imperative for an institution to place research and scholarship high on its

“Creating seats in newer disciplines is a better value proposition for an institution” —Rajesh Gopal Associate Vice President, Education Sector, Technopak Advisors

career development opportunities within the university. Potential hires are also assured of ample opportunities and resources to pursue research, since each faculty member at JGU is appointed a member of one of the four schools as well as of a research centre attached to the school. The university also pledges its commitment to academic freedom, the right to challenge prevailing educational methods, policies and opinions and to become founts of knowledge and new thought streams. According to Dr Saxena, “Good academicians are attracted to the idea of building medium to long term associations with leading places of learning.” In addition to assuring faculty of their tenure subject to delivering as expected, NMIMS is increasingly moving towards faculty-led governance. It has also introduced indices to measure faculty productivity and associated appraisal systems that reward outstanding


EduTech  April 2012

agenda and promote a vibrant environment for it. Leading private universities are focussing big time on research, and those that start from day one are all the better for it. “Research was integral to the vision of Thapar University as envisaged by its founder. So much so that the R&D activities of the Thapar Group were conducted from the on campus Thapar Centre for Industrial Research & Development for over two decades. Conducting India-specific research was a driving force behind the establishment of the university and research continues to be emphasised decades later,” shares Dr Mukherjee. JGU prioritises research. In Prof Raj Kumar’s view: “Research ought to inform teaching just as teaching must impact research. This can only happen if universities become breeding grounds for new thinking, knowledge and innovative solutions for the many

challenges of society.” JGU also emphasises research outcomes by encouraging faculty members to author publications and articles for internal and external peer reviewed journals and reports. Manipal University has started a technology-based business incubator to motivate faculty and students alike to leverage interdisciplinary research and innovation. “It’s been a positive move. This drive has resulted in multiple products, technology transfer and patents. It is also helping to nurture entrepreneurship skills of students, faculty and the people of the region,” says Dr Ballal. Private universities’ emphasis on research bodes well for India. Not a single university from the country made it to last year’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings of the world’s top 200 universities. In contrast, universities in China and East Asia have made great achievements in the last few decades. Teaching, research, and citations (research outcomes) are the three leading criteria for these rankings with each accounting for 30 per cent of the weightage awarded. International outlook accounts for another 7.5 per cent and industry income for the remaining 2.5 per cent marks. “Research and the impact of research alone constitute 60 per cent of the weightage for determining the rankings,” points out Prof Raj Kumar.

Prioritising Partnerships To promote research, JGU is setting up strong international collaborations. “Such interactions are central to developing a research agenda including both India-specific and global issues. These tie-ups shelp establish the thematic framework for research and aid understanding of global best practices,” adds Professor Raj Kumar. Academic collaborations play a huge role in knowledge transfer and foster joint research. Top private universities in India boast of the best partnerships in the academic world. BITS at the outset engaged with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, the best in class among technology insti-

tutes, to design its educational model. Global inputs enabled it to adopt best practices, such as the Practice School that takes the classroom to a professional set-up for one semester, where the faculty and students engage with industry experts to solve real-life problems. Dr Jain believes that making practical experience a part of the curriculum from day one was a bold step forward. Since it was recommended by the MIT advisory board, the suggestion was implemented without delay even though the Practice School was more ambitious than anything that mentor MIT had set in place. In fact, private universities have a way of learning from the industry and collaborative institutions and swiftly imbibing it in curricula and programmes. New and unique ideas are quickly embraced by them because they are more flexible than public universities. Dr Ballal observes, “Private universities are more innovative and quick to adopt changes. Their implementation process is also much better than their public counterparts.”

Enhancing Access Private universities are playing a major role in overcoming huge challenges facing the higher education sector—access to education, price barriers, and quality issues. “A few niche players such as Banasthali Vidyapeeth and the Mody Institute of Technology and Science, both in Rajasthan, have enhanced access to graduate level programmes for young women and are thus serving the society,” notes Dr Saxena. NMIMS has developed an exclusive diploma programme in textile functions, exclusively for tribal and rural youth at its rural campus in Shirpur (district Dhule, Maharashtra). The graduates are handpicked by textile firms. Employment has helped raise standard of living of the graduates= and their families. Thus, various private universities are making a difference to the lives of the underprivileged.

VC, OP Jindal Global University, Prof C Raj Kumar on how creating genuinely multidisciplinary formats can help address credibility challenges facing private universities


rivate higher education initiatives lag behind institutions created by the state or central governments. With the exception of a handful, private universities are perceived as mediocre commercial ventures whereas they should be seen as initiatives to promote knowledge. This ordinariness in turn has led to gross deterioration in standards. The credibility and legitimacy challenge facing private universities in India can only be addressed if they demonstrate a commitment to further education, not as a commercial activity but as an activity that has profound implications for the future of the country. This entails establishing multidisciplinary universities, but not the kind that demonstrate either no or limited interaction between faculty members, research scholars and students studying in different faculties and schools. Some of the best private institutions foster research that is germane to only a single discipline. This poses a threshold challenge to the Indian higher education system. Universities must reflect the truth that some of the critical challenges relating to science, engineering, management, international relations, law and public policy have a strong multidisciplinary orientation.

“With the exception of a handful, private universities are perceived as mediocre commercial ventures” —C Raj Kumar VC of OP Jindal Global University and Dean, Jindal Global Law School

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Private Higher-Ed

In future, Gulia expects the number of enrolments in private universities to shoot up. Slowly, cost-effective technology-enabled distance learning may also grow more popular. “Distance education courses presently account for about one-fourth of student enrolments. This mode is a big thing with private universities, with select players like Manipal University taking the lead in bringing technology (VSAT) into the equation.” Alongside private universities catering to the masses through real as well as virtual classrooms, Narayanan Ramaswamy, Partner and Head, Education Sector, KPMG India, says those bringing in quality education for a select group of students will grow too. “There’s room for universities offering

higher priced global education in conjunction with foreign varsities as well as players catering to the masses. This is already happening and is evident from the success of institutions such as Lovely University, Amity University, VIT, Shashtra, etc. Going forward, the latter might even emerge as a good alternative for quality education, particularly in the area of professional education.”

The Road Ahead The contribution made by industrial houses such as Birlas, Thapars, Tatas and Jindals to higher education in India is indisputable. Industry has undoubtedly played the biggest role in promoting higher education in the private sector in India. But the scope to further corporate

philanthropic initiatives in education is overwhelming, especially in the light of the government’s ambitious target of achieving 30 per cent gross enrolment ratio (GER) by 2020. The GER is the percentage of students eligible for enrolment, which is usually interpreted as the number of students passing through the 10+2 school education system. Taking this as the number of students that private universities will accommodate, Ramaswamy sees huge scope for private initiatives in India. The country has more than 500 universities at present with the private sector growing faster than the public. Over 100 new private universities have come up in the last five years alone. No wonder Sam Pitroda, Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission

Treat Private at Par Dr BN Jain, VC of BITS Pilani tells EDU that the best private universities should be compared with the best public institutions


ood private universities display a commitment to academic excellence just the same as good public universities. Its not all smooth sailing for private universities. They scale a learning curve and strive for excellence, often learning things the hard way. For instance, BITS Pilani focussed intensely on teaching during its first few decades of operations. This served the university in good stead in building an impeccable reputation as a place of excellence in teaching. But BITS did not become equally renowned for its strength in research. About a decade ago, the governors of BITS Pilani decided to take corrective measures to change the image of the university. The change of course became necessary because research has become a major determinant of the quality of faculty an institution can attract and the quality of education that is imparted there. Today, BITS Pilani is firmly committed to research despite the challenges, such as devising a funding model to support research students. Students engaging with research expect decent salaries that


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add to the burden of a private university. If you think of it, the research output is placed in the public domain and the PhD students become a national advantage. So, some form of government assistance is in order. I believe that funding for research should be commensurate with the quality and quantity of outcome. Why should any public university be a recipient of funding simply by virtue of being ‘public’? It is time that a good private university should be talked about in the same breath as a good public university. A good private university shouldn’t be equated with a bad public university. Good private universities should be encouraged to further the good work they are doing.

“A good private university should not be equated with a bad public university” —Bijendra Nath Jain Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani

Private Higher-Ed

(NKC) has recommended a 300 per cent increase in private university numbers to help meet the GER target. “There are no two ways about it. Private universities will have to play a major role if India is to achieve its GER target. The government is in no posi-

tion to enhance capacity to cater to the needs of nearly 50 per cent of our 1.21 billon population in the higher education bracket. The public universities cannot, at best, accommodate even half of these students,” observes Dr Ballal.

The Private Edge Last year, a 24 per cent increase in the budgetary allocation on education took the proposed spend to Rs 5,2057 crore. But the outlay is skewed toward primary education. Rs 5,254 crore was the paltry sum allocated to the University Grants Commission and Rs 5,660 crore for technical education. Considering that central and state funds fall short of what is needed, it isn’t surprising that the NKC made note of the potential of

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enhancing philanthropic endeavours by industrialists in its first annual report, “It is clear that we have not exploited this potential. In fact the proportion of such contributions in total expenditure on higher education has declined from more than 12 per cent in the 1950s to less than three per cent in [the] 1990s…” Still, Prof Raj Kumar cautions that industry engagement with higher education must be committed to promoting excellence. “Privatisation must eventually raise overall academic standards. The private sector can achieve a lot by combining the best traditions of public educational institutions with the flexibility, freedom, and autonomy associated with private initiatives—all within the public good framework of a nonprofit endeavour.” Gopal observes that the private sector can definitely take the lead in enhancing employability, one of the key outcomes of education. “The low student employability we see today is often not because of lack of domain knowledge. Rather, it is more because of inadequate skills and abilities such as analytical, process orientation and verbal and written communication, etc. Private universities are more likely to stitch it all together.” Rising expectations from private universities demand that they press ahead with introducing positive innovations into the higher education sector. Unlike institutions established in the last century, however, new private universities do not have the privilege of time. Whereas a BITS Pilani had decades to learn and unlearn and refine its education model, newer entrants to the league like JGU must scale the ladder to success fast. Judging from the lead that the best among them are taking, private universities are diligently working for the greater public good.

Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at content/newsletters April 2012  EduTech




Learning has moved out into open spaces as structures dissolve with evolving paradigms of classroom by Teja Lele Desai


EduTech  April 2012

Informal Spaces


Courtesy: Abin Chaudhari DESIGN STUDIO


n traditional campuses, learning spaces translate into structured areas such as classrooms, laboratories, conference rooms and studios. But a paradigm shift on the learning landscape has rendered traditional categorisation redundant. Boundaries between disciplines and departments have blurred, activities have blended, information is available 24x7 and multitasking is the need of the hour, signalling a shift to learning settings outside the classroom. The traditional classroom, with seating at one end and a lectern at the other, is no longer the end-all of learning. A rising emphasis on collaboration, teamwork and group projects ensure that more learning is taking place outside the classroom these days. A lot of learning that happens in informal places—a bench in a corridor, a library carrel or in the cafeteria. Educators and designers have taken note and are reconceptualising the campus as a series of diverse learning spaces. Larry MacPhee, Associate Director of e-learning at Northern Arizona University, says, “A large number of students do well in traditional classroom set-ups with minimal engagement. But there are others who, despite potential, cannot learn in this manner. An informal set-up makes learning more interactive, engaging and fun—factors that may help such students fare better.” Informal learning spaces, be it designed ones such as cafes, food courts and group study areas or inadvertent ones such as corridors, gathering spots, points of dispersal and pathways, foster communication, interaction and collaboration. They support chance encounters, a variety of conversations, and allow reflection and contemplation. Students who’re meeting up at a café or having a discussion outside a class need not be planning a party; they could be debating the last lecture. MacPhee, who has been consulting on the design of learning spaces for five years, says, “Students today expect a dynamic learning environment. But most classrooms are designed for traditional instrucApril 2012  EduTech



Informal Spaces

tion. They need to be redesigned for more innovative, interactive and collaborative non-traditional methods.” Learning research shows that competencies develop in active, exploratory and social settings. Andrew J Milne, in his essay Entering the Interaction Age: Imple-

menting a Future Vision for Campus Learning Spaces, writes, “The fundamental need is to promote and support interaction. At a basic level, all learning results from interactions, whether they be with aspects of the environment, with information, with other people, or

through some combination of these.” Interactions with peers and faculty, play a huge role in improving student engagement. Knowledge transfer happens through observation, peer activities, group interactions and informal discussions. So campuses are junking

‘Informal Settings Enable Different of their drop-in computer labs, shifting investment from desktop-based applications and equipment to cloud-based enterprise-wide licensing for commonly used software. This will allow students to work wherever they choose. As the physical and virtual worlds overlap, we need to think in terms of planning the learner’s experience.

Please tell us about your ‘learning landscape’ approach to planning.

Shirley Dugdale, Director, DEGW Learning Environments, is a space planning consultant specialising in learning environments. She has worked for more than 20 years on academic facilities. Her recent projects include programming of facilities for Stanford, MIT and John Hopkins. She speaks to EDU on why campus planning needs new perspectives and how an informal learning environment can alter the way students learn.

How should an institute respond as learning in an informal setting becomes the norm? Institutions need to recognise the value of informal learning spaces and how they can enrich a learner’s experience. The early stages of the planning process can acknowledge this by making provisions for informal learning spaces across the campus. Mobility enabled by technology is a huge driver for such spaces. Institutes need to provide better support for the use of personal devices for learning, in and outside of the classroom, and this will require new services and staff training. Some institutes are now considering closing some


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The ‘learning landscape’ perspective for planning considers the total context for learners’ experiences, the diverse landscape of learning settings available today— from formal to informal, from specialised to multipurpose, and from physical to virtual. The learning landscape approach maximises encounters among people, places and ideas, just as a vibrant urban environment does, by considering campuses as ‘networks’ of hubs for learning, discovery and discourse between students, faculty, staff, and the wider community. It defines a future campus by envisioning overlapping networks of compelling places and hubs, which can offer richer choices to users and generate synergies through adjacencies and the clustering of facilities.

Does an active, informal space translate into a collaborative style of learning? If a space is designed to provide a wide variety of settings, ideally with furnishings that the users themselves can move around to suit their needs, it will enable different kinds of learning activities—some not anticipated by the planning team. If a space is not designed to change, it may function adequately, but inhibit activities that a more flexible space would support. Convenience, comfort and choice are factors that attract students, encouraging interaction. Settings for group work enabled with tools such as whiteboards and wireless access may have the right ingredients, but their location and relationship to other activities can make a big difference. Successful collaborative learning spaces are usually very active social places, often near coffee and food, where students come to

Informal Spaces

learning spaces designed around disciplines and departments, and waking up to the need to harness learning technologies that support interaction.

On the Ground Designers have also recognised the

importance of creating spaces that support multiple methods of learning. The International Management Institute, Kolkata, has been designed with a number of interaction spaces and spill out areas. The narrow entry opens out into the plaza, the nerve centre of the insti-


tute, which has green spaces, sit-outs and a waterbody. At NIFT, Hyderabad, corridors work as open galleries and exhibition spaces, with students discussing ideas, dressing up mannequins and finalising designs. The open plan of the campus at Centre for Environmental

Kinds of Learning’ connect with peers. A successful space encourages blended activities, allowing a mix of discussion, group study, socialising, relaxation and co-creation.

Can any of these spaces be interactive—where the discourse of knowledge takes place among faculty and students through the process of interaction and meeting?

Learning now takes place wherever the learner is inspired. How can institutes encourage learning in informal environments?

Learning discourse is by definition interactive and traditionally has taken place anywhere on a campus where it is convenient to linger and talk. At DEGW, we think about the circulation space adjacent to classrooms as ‘learning corridors’ animated with seating alcoves and gathering areas, which allow students to spill out from classrooms and continue to debate issues they have been learning about. Lounge spaces with seating and whiteboards at the cross roads of departmental suites can function as effective “front porches” to faculty offices, where students can cross paths with faculty. Well-positioned cafes can function as intellectual crossroads for a campus community, where undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff cross paths and linger to talk or connect to work.

The quality of design matters now that mobility enables learners to choose where they prefer to work. Attractive informal areas have comfortable furnishings, use colours and interesting forms, and are located so there is a synergy with adjacent activity. They enable a blend of serendipitous meetings, relaxation with friends, and learning discourse. Access to information and support services, such as IT or media, helps. Informal learning spaces can also be energised by providing services that offer opportunities for presentations or performances, or other activities that tie the use of the space to the wider campus community.

What kind of informal spaces do students frequent and how do they aid the learning process? Students seek out many types of informal learning spaces, whether in large central facilities like student centres or libraries, or in distributed study or lounge zones near classrooms or residential buildings. The model of the learning commons (many in libraries) can offer students a full spectrum of flexible settings and learning support services at one location. Some involve writing centres, tutoring centres, academic counseling services, media services and other partners, as well as cafes, classrooms and computer labs. The convenience of having them closely co-located offers students the ability to engage with them all and personalise their own learning experience. Student commons can range from individual seats and two to three person work stations, to small group work clusters, lounge areas, group meeting rooms and larger multipurpose spaces. When these work settings are designed to enable co-creation of documents or products with shared screens and collaborative software, it can enrich the learning process.

What infrastructure do institutes and campuses need to put in place to assist learning in informal environments? Campuses need: IT infrastructure to support mobility, collaborative work, and institutional research repositories Academic computing infrastructure to support new ways of teaching and learning, digital scholarship, creating with digital resources and media, and knowledge management, sharing and development Learning support services infrastructure, to aid students in their journey Assessment infrastructure to research how well informal learning spaces are performing and supporting student engagement, and whether they can be linked to improved learning outcomes Planning process that guides improvement and planning of informal learning space on campus Budget infrastructure for developing and maintaining them.

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Informal Spaces

Planning and Technology creates a mesh of interactive spaces that form the backbone of the design. At National School of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, the reception area showcases informally placed exhibits—it’s one place where faculty, students and visitors interact. Shirley Dugdale, Director of DEGW Learning Environments and a space planning consultant who specialises in learning environments, says: “As learners gravitate to blended spaces that support blended activities—where they can work, eat, converse, and relax comfortably—campuses need to plan for diverse settings that are flexible, that allow for user control and manipulation, and that can adapt to different populations, activities, and times of day.” Abin Chaudhari, of Abin Design Studio, is the architect behind International Management Institute, Kolkata. He feels that ‘open spaces, semi-open spaces or even spill-out zones such as corridors or games rooms work well’. “People interact here and exchange ideas in a lighter mood, enhancing their learning process. Unlike the traditional student-teacher interaction in a classroom, these areas lead to better learning,” Chaudhari says. In Kolkata, Praxis Business School has created an environment that enables learning. With the belief that “learning takes place as much in informal areas and through non-classroom interaction among students as in formal classrooms”, architect Sanjay Lall has organised the WiFi enabled smart campus into three overlapping functional zones– introspective (reflective and self-study work), interactive (interaction among faculty and students) and representative (interface between the academia/students and industry outside campus). The institutes are on the right path. Cyprien Lomas, Director of the Learning Centre at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, says creating informal learning environments should be part of the strategic plan of any institute. “The awareness of the importance of informal learning spaces has grown these days. Serendipitous conversations always occurred in hallways and dining areas. Now these spaces are being pro-


EduTech  April 2012

“Serendipitous conversations always occurred in hallways and dining areas” —Cyprien Lomas

Director, Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

vided with amenities to encourage students to linger and meet peers, instructors and others,” he says. Informal spaces are everywhere at UBC—they are spaces where students gather, connect, study and learn. Many of them are so popular that bookings are often needed. The Abdul Ladha Science Student Centre has three conferencestyle meeting rooms, a silent study area, and a lounge area with a kitchenette, couches, and coffee tables. Brock Hall is furnished with study carrels, loungestyle seating, and moveable tables and chairs. Buchanan Complex is a collaborative workspace with moveable tables, chairs, sofas, and benches. The Irving K Barber Learning Centre has a variety of informal learning spaces—individual study spaces, open study areas with moveable furniture, group study rooms and a cafeteria.

At Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, the academic centre may be the heart of the campus, but the most popular spaces are the Atrium and the library (known as the Learning Resource Centre). The Atrium, which can accommodate nearly 500 people, is a popular hangout area as the coffee shop and cafeteria are located nearby. Shrini Ravindran, a student of the ISB Class of 2012, says, “Classroom learning time is a small percentage of the total time a student learns at ISB. Much learning happens in informal areas, which bring about a feeling of ease. One tends to look at things from different perspectives and thinking is stimulated. The most visible informal space where learning happens is the Atrium. It is usually where study groups have their first meetings. After that, based on their working style, they may meet up in the Learning Resource Centre (it has a number of study rooms that can be booked online), in a team member’s studio apartment or quad room. Common areas and mirror pools in student villages are also popular.” On the XLRI campus, all informal learning spaces, be it the learning centre, library, lawns, cafes or the park, offer wireless internet access. Most areas have power outlets, media equipment (available on request), flexible furniture and easy access to refreshments. Hrishikesh Chennakesavula, student of the one-year GMP course at XLRI, says, “A lot of attention is paid to informal learning. Students build learning into their days with unstructured, informal exchanges with peers and faculty. They ask questions and learn in an unmonitored and uninhibited environment.”

Designing a Difference Learning spaces have morphed as communication, collaboration and technology come together. Studies show that students opt for non-traditional and informal spaces as they allow them to multitask. Studying under the eagle eye of a librarian is extremely different from studying in a lounge where they can play music, hang out with friends

Informal Spaces

and snack. How do informal spaces be successful learning spaces? First, they need to be multitasking to ensure that they meet the needs of a variety of students, evolving technology and changing learning styles. The requirements are simple— flexibility, comfortable seating, good lighting, and access to technology and learning resources. Flexible seating arr a n g e m e n t s a r e a m u s t — t h e y allow students to “work in groups, engage in debates or have face-toface conversations”. Dugdale feels that campus planners need to anticipate demand for learning that is more “collaborative, with active learning and group work; blended, with learning and other activities happening anywhere/anytime; enabled with mobile technology; integrated and multidisciplinary; immersive, with simulated or real-world experiences; and hybrid, combining online with face-to-face learning activities, augmented with mixed-reality experiences”. Designers are reconfiguring the learning environment as changing trends have implications on campus design – all spaces need to be designed differently. Spaces that were traditionally used as usage and flow areas, courtyards, plazas, hallways and corridors, take centrestage as spaces that aid learning. Lomas believes that the “most useful features are WiFi and power (and they have to work well all the time!)”. “Access to food is extremely important. Other useful features include large shared displays that students can control, access to printers and other media creation tools. Booth-like seating for small group work is very popular. One key goal of the design is to create spaces where students can work and review in small groups and where other students can watch what is going on,” she says. In Educating the Net Gen, Malcolm Brown says: “Net Gen students, using a variety of digital devices, can turn almost any space outside the classroom into an informal learning space.” This is true these days on most campuses where students tote around a multitude of devices.

“All ISB students carry a laptop and wireless connectivity is available at most informal spaces. WiFi access is also provided to smartphones. Whiteboards are provided in study rooms. While these tools are useful, nothing compares to the learning that happens simply by talking to a fellow student. The more time students spend in informal settings, the more the learning,” Ravindran says. XLRI has cafes with extended hours of operation and also provides open access to all informal learning spaces. Venkatesh S Iyer, a student of the 1-year GMP Course, says the cafeterias function as informal learning spaces. “Students and professors often head here after classes and it’s common to see


use technology (cell phones, laptops, etc) and so we are adding wireless to our campuses.” However, designers need to be vigilant as too many distractions can reduce the success of learning. Campuses need to monitor informal spaces and keep tabs on whether they are actually promoting learning or only acting as venues for socialisation. Assessing the true value and impact of informal spaces is tough and could take a long time. “The discourse of knowledge may be deeply buried in conversation and activities that look social and fun! Some positive things to watch for: interaction between senior and junior students, interactions with instructors

“Open spaces, semi-open spaces or even spill-out zones such as corridors or games rooms help people interact and exchange ideas in a lighter mood” —Abin Chaudhari

Architect, IMI Kolkata, Founder Abin Design Studio

them conferring about a topic that deserves an outside-the-classroom discussion,” he says. Like other design areas, learning space design evolves over time and as student usage patterns become defined. MacPhee says: “Sometimes we redesign spaces after watching the way students use them.Students have been bringing food into class, for example, and recently people realised that providing food services in libraries and other study spaces keeps students there longer. Students also increasingly

and faculty members, debate, reading, etc,” says Lomas. What exactly is the future of learning spaces? “The differences between formal and informal learning spaces will become even more blurred. With evolution of blended or hybrid courses, the concept of required ‘seat’ time in the classroom will become less meaningful. As pedagogy evolves to less didactic, more inquiry-based learning with teamwork and joint projects, more and more learning activity will shift to venues outside the classroom,” ends Dugdale. April 2012  EduTech



Forever Engaged


Engaged Traditional guru dakhshina made famous by the redoubtable Eklavya has today translated into large endowments to the alma mater. Today, institutions need to connect with alumni for more than just funds. Here’s why, and how to go about it


atan Tata,Chairman, Tata Sons, made headlines last year when he committed $50 million on behalf of the Tata Group, the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Tata Education and Development Trust to Harvard Business School to fund Tata Hall, a new academic and residential building on the campus. The renowned institution acknowledged the gift as the single largest contribution received from an international donor (and alumnus of the executive MBA programme) in its century-old lifetime. Interestingly, a same-sized endowment made by Tata to his alma mater Cornell University, in 2008, had created a big buzz as well. That $50 million helped establish the Tata-Cornell Initiative in Agriculture and Nutrition, to advance India-focussed nutrition and agriculture research, and the Tata Scholarship Fund for Students from India, to attract bright students to Cornell from India.

Getting it Right Such generous gifts bring the spotlight back on alumni donations. It is commonly believed that India lags behind leading American universities in attracting alumni sponsorships. Actually, prestigious Indian institutions receive quite a few donations, albeit of smaller denomination, and nowadays, institutions


EduTech  April 2012

with active alumni cells are benefiting to the same extent that Harvard and Stanford are, from graduates who are now top honchos of India Inc. If Narayan Murthy and Anand Mahindra donated $5.2 million and $10 million to Harvard respectively last year, technology entrepreneur Romesh Wadhwani pledged $5 million for a new bioscience and bioengineering research facility at his alma mater, IIT Bombay. Patu Keswani, BTech from IIT Delhi and Chairman and Managing Director of Lemon Tree Hotels, a chain of full service budget hotels, has committed to construct a Research Centre for his alma mater. The building outlay will be about Rs 20 crore. Vinod Khosla, another distinguished alumnus of IIT Delhi, and Co-founder of Sun Microsystems has contributed $5 million for the School of Information Technology. It’s not only about individual giving. The Kusuma Trust, a UK-registered

By raj verma

by Charu bahri

Alumni Engagement


April 2012  EduTech



Alumni Engagement

charity working in the field of education, made IIT Delhi a grant of £2.8 million towards research facilities for the School of Biological Sciences. This donation came about because Co-founder of the Trust and UK businessman Anurag Dikshit, holds a BTech from IIT Delhi. Dikshit has also contributed £0.9 mn towards a Faculty Research Travel Award and 80 Outstanding Young Faculty Fellowships (each lasting five years) designed to attract and retain talented young faculty. Beyond doubt, alumni of Indian institutions feel for their alma mater, leading Damayanti Bhattacharya, COO, IIT Bombay Alumni Association (IITBAA) to say, “Alumni networks prove to be a valuable resource as the first contact and in facilitating dialogue with institutions involved in R&D. They often help connect the dots when institutions need to reach out to industry sources.” It’s a pity that not all Indian institutions are open to tapping the readymade network alumni provide, nor know how to convert positive sentiments into substantial contributions to further development.

ts “Constrain d more experienceecent years deeply in r ng are changi s towards perceptiongagement” alumni en Gupta and —Ashok s mni Affair

Delhi Dean, Alu al Programmes, IIT n o Internati

Escalating Needs Some old Indian institutions understood the value of establishing channels of communication with alumni early. IIT Bombay (IIT-B) established its Alumni Association as far back as 1964, soon after the first convocation of the institution. In its current form, IITBAA was reformulated

It’s not all about endowments Alumni are the most authentic brand ambassadors and best references for any organisation. Building relationship with them may sound easy but can be tricky if you do not include them as true stakeholders and just approach them for funds. Don’t see alumni as money bags. Instead, focus on maximising engagement as the primary goal and funds will follow. Here are some important points to keep in mind: The key to building strong, fruitful, long-term relationships with alumni is to do so for the right reason. Don’t focus on ‘what’s in it for the institution’. Honour and recognise alumni achievements during alumni meets. Bring out limited edition gifts like planners, ties, wallets, mugs, sweatshirts, etc. Find out what alumni expect from the institution. It is important to action such feedback to show your genuine interest in creating stakeholder relationships. Institutions desirous of asking for alumni contributions but closed to accepting their suggestions lose out. Stakeholders are created when alumni are involved in decision-making at a strategic level. So, compulsorily include alumni in the board of governors, academic advisory board, academic council, course revision committee etc., purely on a rotational and achievement basis. If engaging alumni mandates some loss of control, so be it. Consider it a transfer of control to an important stakeholder. Proverbially, you win some, lose some.


EduTech  April 2012

10 years ago as a company incorporated under section 25 of the Companies Act and aims to keep alumni connected with each other and with the institute. It is run by an elected Board and works closely with the office of the Dean, Alumni and Corporate Relations of IIT-B. Bhattacharya points out that alumni contributions and involvement have escalated exponentially since the mid-90s. What is it about the present time that is encouraging both private and public institutions to increasingly turn towards alumni? “Constraints experienced more deeply in recent years are changing perceptions towards alumni engagement,” says Prof Ashok Gupta, Department of Civil Engineering and Dean, Alumni Affairs and International Programmes, IIT Delhi. “Traditionally, publicly funded IITs did not wish to openly ask alumni for funds. They were happy to keep intact the general perception that all the needs of an IIT are taken care of by the government. But now we feel the need to empower our students and faculty, alumni are seen as a potential resource to tap.” “Alumni engagement has greater relevance today than ever before. The world is more competitive and globalisation has created an environment in which students stand to make significant gains from connecting with well placed alumni,” adds Prof ML Singla, FMS Alumni Association and IT Faculty, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), University of Delhi.

Alumni Engagement

Multipurpose Giving Demands from institutions are growing—they are expected to stay informed about latest industry trends, design industry-relevant curricula, provide students live projects to work on and call in specialists to conduct mock interviews for students. Adjunct faculty is playing a greater role in institutions. Students are increasingly conscious of the quality of placements offered. Faculty needs for funds to participate in conferences to update their knowledge and conduct research work are rising. Students need mentors, especially now that more are bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, observes Dr Gupta. Who better than alumni to guide youngsters in this path fraught with challenges? Guest lectures by well placed alumni are a big draw. Alumni can provide resources and services to fulfil all these needs. At IIT-B, alumni sponsor programmes with social implications as well. Bhattacharya explains how: “More and more students from humble backgrounds are making it to IIT-B. Many can’t arrange their tuition and mess fees. GoI norms stipulate that all IIT-B students are entitled to student loans from banks. In practice, many students are denied loans on some flimsy pretext or other when banks cannot establish their credit worthiness. Hard-pressed students often turn to private moneylenders charging exorbitant interest rates.” A highly successful and innovative financial aid programme funded by alumni has been supporting students providing them with loans at low rates of interest to meet their tuition and living expenses. More then 500 economically underprivileged students have been supported in the past four years. Most students repay the loan within 12 to 18 months of graduating and so far there has not been a single defaulter.

Key to Success: Communication “Communication is the key to successful alumni engagement,” says Dr Singla. Institutions must adopt communication

channels that appeal most to alumni. Bhattacharya points out, “Younger alumni are tech savvy and appreciate electronic communication. But some older alumni are kept in the loop with snail mail.” A rethink of communication strategies may show that current methods could be improved. John Cherian, Founder, enParadigm Knowledge Solutions, and secretary of the IIM Ahmedabad Alumni Association, Ahmedabad, is of the opinion that standalone portals are outdated because alumni do not login and update them. Instead, he advocates a userfriendly resource connecting directly with LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages, essentially pages individuals feel utility in updating. One technology tool being used by Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH) is a portal where mem-

elps “Viburnix hociation alumni assner more portals garan simple traction th t facilitates websites. I tact and alumni conns to the contributior” alma mate ni hik Bellha logies, o —Kausia n c nce Te

CEO, Sav y behind Viburnix an the comp


bers register themselves and connect with each other with the institution staying in the loop as the common thread between alumni. BIMTECH and FMS’s portals (to name two institutions) are powered by Viburnix, technology that combines the power of a portal with an e-commerce facility, nifty communication features, and links to social media— LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook Events pages. “Viburnix helps alumni association portals garner more traction than simple websites. It facilitates alumni contact and contributions to the alma mater, the creation of content, and encourages collaboration. Viburnix being a Saas (software-as-a service) offering, can be accessed from anywhere, on any device. We are looking at adding special benefits in the form of applications to run on handheld devices and iPads in the near future,” describes Kaushik Bellani, CEO, Saviance Technologies, the company behind Viburnix. “Alumni databases should also facilitate industry-wide searches,” recommends Cherian. That is, the resource should tell a user which alumnus is currently placed in or has ever worked in a certain company. Usage of the resource should be open: “Too many institutions adopt restricting rules about sharing information about alumni, which is counter-productive and discourages alumni from using the databases in the first place. Institutions should simply state the rules of usage and contact to minimise chances of misuse. Students should have access to the resource as well.”

Communication Methods An institution’s direct presence on social media like Facebook pages and Twitter, scores high with alumni. Social media facilitate interactive, ongoing communication, thus enriching alumni experience and engagement. “Social networking sites offer instant connect—pages and groups on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., form part of our outreach activities,” adds Dr Anshul April 2012  EduTech



Alumni Engagement

Alumni Engagement: A Snapshot


he database containing alumni contacts is the single most intellectual resource of an institutions’ alumni cell. Institutions struggle to find missing souls. Here’s how the respondents to this feature are faring:


IIT Delhi

FMS IIM Ahmedabad


1961 1954 1961

Total number of alumni in database 35,000 11,000 29,000 (including

Number of alumni whose contacts are available

% age

20,000 5,600 14,500

57 51 50

21,000+ 6,657 2,284

56 66 65

short duration courses)

IIT Bombay IIM Bangalore BIMTECH

1958 1976 1988


10,000 3,500+

Verma, Associate Professor, Finance, BIMTECH. In contrast, institutions must determine the frequency of email and snail mailing and abide by the decision to establish regularity. This differs across institutions. “Alumni receive about three to four correspondences sent by surface

operations happen from interest accrued on a corpus created by life membership fees. Where an alumni organisation has chapters, such as IIT Bombay, available funds are used to run the central alumni office on campus whereas the 26 decen-

Dr Verma, “is best because it fosters warmth, but frequency is a constraint because of time and reach. Centres that are spread out facilitate get-togethers in locations that are easier for alumni to reach, thus helping overcome the communication challenge.”

Overcoming Challenges According to Dr Singla, “Updating the database is the biggest challenge in managing alumni relations. Individuals are quick to inform about changes in phones and email IDs but slow to communicate their address when they relocate.” “Managing alumni is a 24x7 job, akin to the services sector. Besides, locating missing souls is a huge challenge,” adds Bhattacharya. Programmes like ‘Each one, reach one’ and ‘Mission 10,000’ help FMS connect with more alumni. Singla says contact is viral as classmates stay in touch and put the alumni cell on to other alumni. Of course, it helps to start early, that is, engage students as volunteers in alumni activities through the alumni interface

as greater h t n e m e g a g n e “Alumni ver before. The e n a th y a d to e relevanc ompetitive and vironment c re o m is d rl o n w as created an eake h n o ti a s li a b lo g nts stand to m ting with e d tu s h ic h w in s from connec in a g t n a c ifi n ig s mni” well-placed alu gla agement —Prof ML Sin iation & IT Faculty, Faculty of Man ssoc FMS Alumni A ity of Delhi rs ve ni U , Studies

mail and a dozen odd emails from us annually. A few phone calls are made as well,” shares Dr Singla. “We send out two electronic newsletters to all alumni every month,” adds Bhattacharya. Environmental and cost considerations dictate that fewer snail mails are sent out than emails since most alumni


EduTech  April 2012

tralised worldwide chapters function independently. “They raise money for their operations, organise events and decide what to do with their surplus funds,” informs Bhattacharya. While institutions are structured, alumni are geographically spread out, making regional or city-based chapters very useful. “Face-to-face contact,” says

cell. That way, they are more likely to appreciate the value of alumni and stay in touch after they graduate. “Developing a culture of giving and sharing takes time,” observes Rakesh Godhwani, Adjunct Faculty, Head Alumni, IIM Bangalore, and author of Plunnge. “When institutions see graduation day as the first day of the alumni relationship, students learn to value long-term associations.”

Alumni Engagement

Fact is, alumni are vital stakeholders in an institution. They stand to gain if the reputation of the institution improves. Likewise, it is a feather in the cap of an institution if an alumnus achieves professional excellence. With the stakes being so high, actively involved staff must continuously come up with creative ways to engage alumni. “You simply can’t afford to rest on past laurels,” cautions Bhattacharya. “Institutions must work hard today,” adds Cherian. Alluding to the IIMs, he says, “They have still not recognised the value of doing things in an open, flexible manner. While students have offered to bring in new technologies at very low cost to help the institution improve contact with alumni, the college managements expect these services for free, which shows the mindset. IIMs may be teaching best management practices and strategic manage-

“Alumni often help connect the dots when institutions need to reach out to industry sources” Bhattacharya, —Damayanti y Alumni COO, IIT Bomba AA) Association (IITB


ment but unfortunately they do not implement these practices.” Being tuned in to alumni preferences is vital for success. “Sponsorship ideas presented to alumni must resonate. You only get buy-in for projects that excite them,” says Dr Singla, adding as an afterthought, “You need passion to do this job, and passion is beyond institutions.” Perhaps, but developing the right attitude and engendering a strong sense of pride among alumni must become a priority, if institutions are to tap their staunchest support in a fast-changing world. After all, Tata’s (and Anand Mahindra’s) endowment to Harvard followed India-born Nitin Nohria’s appointment as dean and his subsequent fund-raising outreach visit to India. Not for nothing do they say, ‘Seek, and thou shall find’. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at


Winter of Content

A unique Winter School by IIIT Delhi in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University took a bunch of undergraduates on a journey last winter that sharpened their research appetite BY shalini gupta

Left to right: Prof Carolyn Rose (CMU), Prof Ponnurangam Kumaraguru (IIIT-D) and Prof Bhiksha Raj (CMU)

By raj verma

Winter school

hen Prof Ponnurangam Ku m a r a g u r u ( P K ) a t Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT Delhi), got a call from Prof Carolyn Rose asking him if he would like to organise a winter school on research in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University(CMU), he agreed readily. After all, even as a PhD student at CMU, Prof PK and his close friend Dr Rohit Kumar (US-based researcher and Prof Rose’s PhD student) were keen on developing the capabilities of students in research methodology and had orgainsed a series of talks titiled “Popularising Science in India”, at CMU in 2007-2008. Prof PK got in touch with a third friend and fellow PhD student at CMU, Prof Kishore Prahallad at IIIT Hyderabad, who had been collaborating with CMU for the past few years to get the idea rolling. Earlier, Prof PK had conducted a survey on computer science students in India and realised that research methods as a course was not being taught here. So when this opportunity fell in his lap literally, he along with three


professors of CMU—Rita Singh, Bhiksha Raj and Carolyn Rose—decided to give a taste of research to students across India.

Honing Talent Early On In the winter of 2011, 62 students from institutions like IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, Delhi Technological University (DTU, formerly DCE) and NIT Suratkal, made themselves at home at IIIT Delhi to partake of what had mostly been missing from their curriculum. The school was patterned on the annual Pittsburgh Science of Learning Summer School. Dr Rose, admits that ultimately such initiatives take shape only when the faculty of institutions take initiatives, just like Prof PK did. She says that she was inspired by her colleagues at CMU to adapt the Summer School paradigm, which was designed for graduate students and faculty, to

The Three Modules of the Winter School Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) Collaborative technologies such as Wikipedia and virtual maths teams offer a wide range of formal and informal learning opportunities to individuals and groups worldwide. The goal was to work towards understanding the pedagogical and technological features that make online education in general, and collaborative learning in particular, effective.

Speech Technology Assessment of difficulties within group processes, especially through automatic means, is a problem of great

interest to the broader educational technology community. These difficulties can be revealed through interaction processes observed during group work and offer insights into designing effective group learning environments.

Web Security and Privacy The aim of projects in this group was to use computational techniques like data mining, information retrieval, statistics, etc, to solve real world security and privacy problems on the internet, thus preventing cybercrime by silently eliminating the attacks, warnings and training users not to fall for them.

April 2012  EduTech



Winter School

Winter School gives students a taste of research life Is the Winter School aimed at grooming students for research? What we teach students is that regardless of the situation they currently find themselves in, there are choices they can make that will either prepare them for a research career or for the industry. The Winter School gives them a taste of research life. And if they like it, then there are steps they can take, like doing a summer internship, which would make them more marketable for getting a PhD and then moving in to a research career. Not all students who attend the Winter School decide to pursue a research career. And we do not consider that a failure with respect to the goals of the programme. What we want is for students to have enough taste of research to make reasoned choices about their path and what best suits them.

something that would be appropriate and desirable for undergraduates. The first school began in the winter of 2009 (at IIIT Hyderabad) and saw 180 applicants which increased to 350 in 2011. Talking about the inception of the Winter School, Carolyn says, “We get a lot of students from India at Carnegie Mellon. When I visited IIIT Hyderabad in April 2009 and met the researchers there, we discussed ways to build a bridge between India and the US and make research in India more relevant. That is when the idea of the Winter School took ground.” The school is a unique effort to nurture research talent at the undergraduate level in technical universities by providing an atmosphere where students can brainstorm ideas and work on problems in the real world. It is also a unique attempt to create a bridge between institutions of higher learning in India and CMU, which is at the forefront of research in computing worldwide. It also aims to expand the pool of talented


EduTech  April 2012

Carolyn Rose

Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, Instrustor at IIIT Delhi Winter School What impact does the Winter School have in building a research environment? Do you think educational institutions in India are conducive to research? The biggest area for potential impact of our programme are the

young researchers in India, through ongoing research partnerships between researchers at both institutes in the form of co-advised BTech projects.

Where Ideas Take Shape During the two weeks of the school, students were exposed to research and research methodologies, tools and techniques, insights into theory and practice, and a broad overview of three tracks: speech, web security and privacy, and computer supported collaborative learning or CSCL. Undergraduate students were paired with graduate students to work on the research problems taken up by the latter. The goal is to provide a platform or rather a crucible, for them to brainstorm ideas, address problems, find solutions and think how to make their contribution through research. “We completely understand that it is not possible to give them substantial exposure in 15 days of winter school. But, for the interested stu-

institutions that have the desire to increase research opportunities on their campus. In that case, the students who come back from the Winter School with the desire to do research become a resource for those institutions, both for the development of the research of their own faculty, and also for potential bridge building with other institutions through co-advising projects. Educational institutions both in the US and in India vary a lot in terms of how conducive the environment is for research, both at the undergraduate level and the faculty level. This will be a continuing reality. Students who go back to institutions more conducive to research and who have decided to pursue that path, will find it much easier than those students who decide to pursue the path but don’t have the support at their home institutions.

dents, we have created mechanisms for continued interactions with the facultly,” says Prof PK. The school runs in two phases. While in the winter school, students get exposed to research or work on something specific, those who successfully complete it are then invited to apply for research internships at CMU, USA or at IIIT Delhi. Successful applicants are then matched with internship advisors for a summer internship at either of the two with full financial assistance. “The students are encouraged to question everything. The challenge is how to get them thinking scientifically and provide an atmosphere to nurture and groom them. It’s about getting students to build upon each others’ ideas,” explains, Prof Bhiksha Raj. To find out more details on this school visit Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at

TECHNOLOGY 40 Tech TUTeS: DIY Video Lectures

By raj verma

37-41 Tech Snippet: Tehnology News, Tips and Tricks

Campus Butterfly The new campus butterflies are technology savvy. Instead of banning them secure the campus by Tushar kanwar 36

EduTech  April 2012


dd me up on the FB Placements group!” “Guys, RT my tweet from yesterday about the upcoming seminar” “DM me tonight’s hangout location” If you tap into the conversations of students in campuses today, you’re likely to come across a lot of this new age gobbledygook, and more. As administrators and teachers come to terms with the impact of social networks on their campuses and society as a whole, one fact is undeniable—communication as we know it, has changed forever. Collaboration between students and teachers is on the rise, information is shared quickly and transparently and perhaps most importantly, social networks help students step out of

Social Network Security

Tech Snippet | Mobile

Govt shelves plans for Mobile TV services The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has decided to shelve its plans to launch Mobile TV services. The ministry has also decided to restrict Doordarshan’s digital capacity expansion. The decision comes after a ministers’ panel announced the allocation of 700 MHz wireless spectrum band for the 4G telecom services. According to reports, a policy for the launch of mobile TV service has been pending with the ministry for several years because of the unavailability of 96 MHz of spectrum in the UHF band. Presently, Doordarshan is the only player in the mobile TV

their cocoons and teach them skills they’ll need to survive in the business world. As with any phenomena on the scale of Facebook and Twitter, there are drawbacks that need to be contended with, especially when it involves education and the devel-


market. The ministry was likely to make Rs 300 crore with the mobile TV services. However, unavailability of the spectrum and other factors prompted the government to reconsider its move. Doordarshan had sought 82-646 MHz in Band V for its digital capacity expansion. Also, the ministry had sought 96 MHz for mobile TV. The Department of Telecom, on the other hand, was insisting on restricting I&B’s projection to only up to 646 MHz instead of 698 MHz. The Defence Ministry also restricted I&B’s chances of getting more spectrum. With the availability of 4G telecom services, the industry does not seem very keen on mobile TV.

opment of young people. Privacy, security lapses and bullying are themes that have arisen as a result of social networking. Fortunately, these can be combated with the implementation of fair usage and the correct supervision, and not by blocking

Dos and Don’ts Do: Ensure you have internet security software installed and updated on your PC. Many mobiles platforms these days also have similar offerings available. Use good judgment while sharing personally identifiable information or pictures on social networking sites. Keep your home address, phone number strictly off your public profile and remember, the information you post will live on these sites forever. Exercise caution when befriending strangers. Evaluate them by checking if their profile information matches other online information, such as their Facebook or LinkedIn profile. Do make sure you understand how privacy settings work on social networking sites and only let your friends and family have access to your profiles, posts, photos and videos. Do talk to your parents or a trusted adult/counsellor if you feel you are being harassed or bullied online. They can help in ways you may not have thought of. Don’t: Don’t download files or click links from an unknown source. If you really think your friend is sending you a video clip on a social networking website, double-check with the friend to be sure before you click on the link. Users should especially avoid clicking on links that point to secure web sites, such as banking sites. Don’t post hurtful comments, gossip or attacks against others through IM, websites or online chat forums.

access to social networks. We spoke to a number of leading security experts and institutions that have evolved checks and balances for appropriate use of social media to look at the important considerations and choices you have to make.

Social Network Security Concerns In the campuses of today, social networking is closely linked with social identity and who and how you are on these networks can impact your real world influence; hence the importance students place on such media. However, the large user base and the ability to pinpoint real world activities with a high degree of accuracy makes for a potent combination, one that cybercriminals are only too eager to exploit. Effendy Ibrahim, Internet Safety Advocate and Director, Symantec Asia Consumer Business (makers of the Norton suite of security products) highlights one of the biggest concerns around social networking usage in educational institutions— the rise of ‘cyberbaiting’. As Ibrahim explains, cyberbaiting occurs when students first irritate or bait a teacher until he or she cracks, filming the incident on their mobile device so they can post the footage online, embarrassing the teacher and the school. He quotes the firm’s latest Norton Online Family Report 2011, which reveals that one in two Indian April 2012  EduTech



Social Network Security

Tech Snippet | Facebook

Interest list to create personalised newspaper Facebook has announced a new feature called the Interest List that allows users to compile ‘interest lists’ around topics, wherein the top stories from each interest will appear on newsfeed. The new feature will allow users to create a list in which they can subscribe to their friends, brands, celebrities and others present on the social network. The new Interest List feature on Facebook is similar to Twitter’s list feature or Google’s Reader, which allows users to create a small list of subscribed social news. However, Facebook’s Interest List is much easier to curate and customise news feeds.

teachers has either experienced or known someone who has experienced cyberbaiting. According to the same report, Indian teachers are equally concerned about this phenomenon, with nearly seven in 10 of teachers (67%)

The social networking giant says its new feature turns the service into a personalised newspaper. Facebook users can create their own lists and share them, or can keep them private. Users can also subscribe to lists shared by others. “Interest lists can help you turn Facebook into your own personalised newspaper, with special sections—or feeds—for topics that matter to you. You can find traditional news sections like Business, Sports and Style or get much more personalised—like Tech News, NBA Players, and Art Critics,” Eric Faller, a Facebook software engineer, wrote in a blog post. With the new Interest List, Facebook is now trying to fill up the gaps which it had left.

agreeing that being friends with students on social networking sites exposes them to risks when it comes to respecting the boundaries between teacher and student. Vinoo Thomas, Product Manager,

McAfee Labs adds perspective on another key concern of social network security, which comes in the form of cyberbullying. Much like bullying in campuses in the real world, this involves intimidation, humiliation or embarrassment on

In Conversation with R Sreenivasan, Director, IWSB What are your specific concerns around security on social networks as it relates to the higher education sector? The very nature of the medium makes an individual, institution, organisation and even a nation vulnerable. The unintended and intended consequences are pretty high—right from increased distraction in classrooms, to students posting videos about a situation or a faculty, which can potentially tarnish the image of the institution. The sense of anonymity and false sense of privacy these networks bring can severely damage the public’s perception of an individual and the institution. Finally, with corporate recruiters and other stakeholders always cross-checking individuals on social networks before recruitment, every individual is vulnerable and


EduTech  April 2012

their reputation online that much more important.

What guidelines do you recommend to prepare students and faculty in the higher education sector for the security concerns on social networks? Recognising the vulnerability and threats, intentional and unintentional, an institution has to safeguard itself

and its community. The aforesaid reasons are compelling enough for most institutions to come out with behavioural code or advisory on ‘ net-etiquettes’. Everyone will benefit if each one of us keeps a few things in mind. First, that discretion is the better part of valour—do not divulge detailed information that would expose you to identity theft or cybercriminals. Think before you type—the internet gives false sense of security and anonymity, and since your guard is low, there can be times when you type things without any inhibitions. Be careful so that nothing will come back to haunt you. Of course, one should be careful of untrusted sources that can compromise your personal privacy (computer, personal data, bank accounts) and also the institution’s privacy.

Social Network Security

Tech Snippet | Survey

Mobiles becoming more popular than TV: Survey Mobile phones have now become an integral part of our lives. We not only rely on the phones to communicate but for entertainment and information as well. With the advent of smartphones featuring increased screen sizes, access to internet and a plethora of mobile apps, users are now spending more time on their mobile phones than the conventional sources of news and entertainment such as TV. This change of trend has been confirmed by a survey conducted by a Bangalore-based mobile ad network InMobi. The survey also reveals that users are spending more time on web via their mobile phones, than watching TV or using

social network sites by posting nasty comments on your Facebook profile pages or on pictures you’ve posted. Since the visibility of such comments is instant and widespread, it may be hours before the victim realises what has happened and takes corrective action, by which time most of the damage to identity and reputation is already done. Adds Ibrahim, the ease of a quick text response coupled with the anonymity of the online world can turn otherwise resilient and well-behaved youth into an occasional online bully. While these may be the more commonly seen security threats of social networks in higher education, as Thomas points out, many innocuous activities like photo and location sharing are ripe for abuse. Take photo-sharing for example. Most students love sharing photos, be it of parties or vacations. But rarely do people exercise caution in categorising access to photographs according to the sensitivity involved. Sometimes, mere acquaintances or even future professional contacts can see some of the more personal or embarrassing pictures in your profile. And with more and more students posting from mobile phones, the ability to add global positioning system (GPS) information to their social media updates so their friends and colleagues can see where they are, is a tempting proposition. Yet, it is a no-brainer to


laptops or desktop PCs. According to the survey, mobile phone users spend 33 per cent of their media time on the phones, while TV gets only 25 per cent of people’s media time. The InMobi survey also points out that users spend an average of 94 minutes a day on their phone looking for entertainment. And this excludes time spent on other activities such as texting and making voice calls as they haven’t been categorised under the entertainment bracket. The findings of the survey, conducted in 18 markets including India, were released at the Mobile World Congress. In India, the sample size of the survey was 2,200.

imagine how cybercriminals and stalkers can take advantage of this information—in real time, nefarious elements can see who is tweeting and from where. The concern of clickjacking raises its ugly head on prominent social networks as well. Want to cheat your way through a popular social game, or win an iPad during an unbelievable festive time contest? Cyberscammers know that these are attractive lures and they have smattered social networking sites with phony promotions and contests aimed at gathering personal information. Clicking on such links harvests your personal information and often can steal your passwords and post updates on your profile page or your friends’ profile pages without your knowledge. Bear in mind—if the offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is! Security consultant Akash Mahajan classifies this issue as one of misuse of trust, that is the spread of malware due to the people we trust on a social network. He adds that another big threat is from social engineering. For example, a fake profile which can pass off as a legitimate profile can be used to entrap/snare for information, more so if the profile has been made in a convincing and believable fashion with the use of photographs and other detailed personal information. Sharing sensitive information with such fake profiles can either be a

minor irritant or a major catastrophe in the making. Adding an administrator’s viewpoint, Dr Rajiv Seth, Registrar, TERI University mentions that with students accessing more and more social content on their gadgets such as mobile phones and tablets, the security threats to the campus network can only increase. Add to that the added distraction during class hours and with links to study content and resources being passed around between students through social media, it makes it very difficult to guarantee originality of students’ work, and this is a major threat in the field of higher education where research plays an important role. Dr Seth also voiced his concern about the institution’s image, which can come under threat by a false rumour being spread on social networks before an institution has a chance to defend itself.

Guidelines for Social Network Usage Staying safe on social networks may boil down to a number of common sense decisions (see box on Dos and Don’ts), but it helps to have institutional backing to a policy that serves to educate teachers and students alike on the dangers of such platforms and how to stay ahead of the curve in this unending war against cybercrime. Valan S, Systems Engineer, April 2012  EduTech



Social Network Security

Fortinet suggests a good security awareness programme across the campus, covering both students and faculty to directly address phishing and identity theft issues and how users can protect themselves. In addition, Valan suggests that students and faculty should be particularly circumspect when they receive a message from a friend or acquaintance that asks them to take some action. Before taking any action, they should consider the message and its contents, and think whether the friend or acquaintance is likely to send a message of this type. They should also consider whether the writing style it is similar to that per-

son’s writing style. If the message appears suspicious, the user should disregard it, even if the return address and links appear authentic. A link could send the user initially to Facebook, for example, but then redirect to another site. The sender’s computer may have been compromised by an attacker and have sent the message without the sender’s knowledge.

safety education in schools, with many Indian teachers pushing for codes of conduct for interacting with students via social networks. Dr Seth sums it up masterfully when he says that administrators need to accept the fact that social media is a part of a student’s life, and it will not go away. Yet, at the same time, institution policies must be adapted to counter the threats posed by these networks.

Conclusion The threats may be real and the consequences severe, but according to Ibrahim, the good news is that the education sector is waking up to the need for cyber

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Tech TUTES DIY Video Lectures

Ready Steady... Shoot!


uying a camera doesn’t you’re choosing a smartphone for shootmake you a photographer; ing your video, remember to get the perit only makes you a camson shooting to use both hands to grip era owner. Wise words your phone, keep your elbows close to indeed! The trick is in your body and you’ll see a big improvelearning the shooting till you master the ment in your footage. device and the art. In the second leg of Go easy on the zoom: Overuse of zoom our three part-series, we’re is a common problem, and going to equip you with the can result in video that tips you need to shoot betlooks plain amateurish, READER ROI ter video, and get you startor worse still, makes the How to frame your shots for a good ed on the journey of editing viewer dizzy. If you do need composition your own videos. to zoom in to better explain Ready, Steady: One of the something, take it slow and Handling your biggest problems with steady, and don’t zoom lighting and audio amateur video is shaky out again too soon. worries footage. Of course, there’s a And remember the Software that you rather easy fix to that— golden rule—don’t use can start with, for mount your camera onto a digital zoom. editing tripod while shooting. If Fr a m e y o u r S h o t s :


EduTech  April 2012

Keep a steady hand. If you are just starting off it would be a better idea to just use a tripod instead

Remember to fill the frame with your subject, and don’t be afraid to place him or her slightly off-centre. Good shot composition uses the ‘Rule of Thirds’. This is where you treat the screen as being divided into a 3x3 grid. When you shoot your video, you should place your key subject elements along those lines, and where the lines intersect will be the best place for your subject. Works well if you’re shooting with a whiteboard or presentation to allow for both the visual content and the speaker to fit in the frame. Lighting is Key: To borrow from the old real estate rule, good video is all

Social Network Security

Tech Snippet |Tablet

ATab education tablet launched for Rs 5,000 AcrossWorld Education, in collaboration with Go-Tech, has launched a 7-inch Android tablet in India, called ATab, priced at Rs 5,000. The tablet will come with free access to online educational resources from AcrossWorld Education as well. Specs of the ATab include a 7-inch touschreen, a 1.1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, 2 GB of built-in storage expandable via microSD up to 16 GB, as well as WiFi and 3G (via USB dongle). Colour options for the ATab will also be available, which will help its “appeal to the younger

about lighting, lighting, lighting. Most cameras and camcorders do a horrible job under poor lighting, producing grainy video that no post-production work can fix. Of course, the easiest way is to shoot outdoors, but if you’re shooting educational content, that isn’t often an option. If indoors, switch on every light you can find, but ensure that you avoid backlighting. Remember, just because we can see people’s faces when they’re lit from behind doesn’t mean the camera can. Audio Matters: If lighting is important, audio is a close second, especially if you’re trying to record any educational content. Unfortunately, most cameras and camcorders aren’t particularly gifted in this department, with microphones that are fairly basic, recording audio from all directions rather than what’s right in front of the camera. Check if your camera has a jack for plugging in an external microphone. And check for audio quality by playing back a small recording to see how much the background noise is interfering with what the speaker is saying. Of course, some common sense tips— have a spare memory card apart from your primary card—video, especially the higher resolution variety, really consumes storage space, and if you haven’t set a time limit to your video recording, you may just run out before you’re done. A spare battery is handy too.


generation.” We expect it will be running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and the touchschreen to be resistive. The ATab will join other budget-tablets in India, like the BSNL Penta T PAD IS 701R  and the education-oriented Aakash launched by the Government of India. The ATab comes with three-years of free access to EducationBridge, which will give institutions, teachers and students a platform to share content and educational resources, and “connect, collaborate, and innovate.”

Start with simple editing applications that are less intimidating than the professional ones. Try Windows Movie Maker or Apple iMovie or Google’s Picasa

Beginner-level programmes may be simple but they have intersting video effects that you can experiment with

Once your recording is complete, it’s time to take the results onto the editing table. Most people’s first attempt at video editing involves beginner-level software such as Windows Movie Maker or Apple iMovie or Google’s Picasa, and that’s a great way to get started. Simple editing applications are less intimidating and easier to learn than professional packages, but still have the same general layout. All three products will allow you to very quickly perform simple video editing tasks. Keep in mind that if you want to be able to add more interesting effects and transitions to your videos, you might want to check out commercial video editing software. These programmes provide very intuitive user interfaces to com-

plete basic editing tasks, but are also complex enough to let you experiment with advanced video effects. Windows Movie Maker tutorials: and wd6jBN Apple iMovie tutorials: ym1e8S Google Picasa tutorials: yi7d62 UC Berkeley’s Multimedia Journalism School’s tips on shooting great video: . Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at April 2012  EduTech



Disruptive Educational Research

“I never once thought that in this life I will be able to meet and interact on an equal footing with some of these personalities” Shanath Kumar, Speaker

“One of my most memorable conferences” Sahana Chattopadhyay, Speaker

Learning Delegates listen attentively to one of the speakers at a session of the three-day Tech EdgeX 2012 event held at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

Tech EDGEX 2012 Learning to Reach

Constructive Brainstorming EdgeX 2012 Disruptive Educational Research Conference proved to be a mine of information


DGEX 2012, the Disruptive Educational Research Conference, held at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi from March 12-14, 2012 was a huge success. It was well represented by entrepreneurs, innovators, academics and researchers from India and was attended by over 100 delegates. The conference was also webcast live and over 50 virtual participants from all over the world joined in. The conference featured renowned researchers like George Siemens and Stephen Downes, eLearning guru Jay Cross, serious games and mobile learning expert Clark Quinn and a host of other illustrious speakers from the USA, UK, Canada, Gambia and Australia. The ideas demonstrated by over 20 Indian entrepreneurs that could potentially have transformative impact on Indian education, were lapped up by the receptive


EduTech  April 2012

gathering. The conference was based in two contexts—the current challenges for the education system in India and the cutting edge of educational research in the world in areas such as connectivism, collective knowledge, informal learning, simulations, mobile learning and serious games. Apart from building awareness about this research, the conference succeeded in establishing their relevance in the Indian context, indicating the potential impact of this research and innovative practices like the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). Delegates shared their experiences and deliberated with the masters on how disruptive ideas could be operationalised and extended, and left the conference connected with a wider network and motivated to take these ideas to their organisation and initiatives. Kirsten Hill, a delegate said, “EdgeX was a tremendous learning experience. It is exciting to

“An incredible, mindexpanding event” Jay Cross, Speaker

“I achieved my objective of learning the latest” Sandeep Athavala, Delegate

“My understanding of e-learning concepts enhanced substantially” Prerit Rana, Delegate

see so many people working together to innovate for a better educational future.” Cross who coined the term e-learning and has co-authored Implementing eLearning found the conference “an incredible, mind-expanding event.” The Conference also drew the attention of researchers and experts to the specific problems in India like lack of infrastructural support for introducing concepts of MOOC, connectivism, etc. As Les Foltos, Founder of Peer-Ed, a platform for peer coaching and training, summed up, “I thought it sparked many discussions among participants, which I am sure will go on for some time, and reshape the practices of all the participants.” (For more details, visit http:// Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at






Ideas. Innovations. Insights.

Breaking new ground in the development debate


Open Government/Open Innovation ICT for Development Social Media for Citizen Empowerment Policymakers' Panel SOME OF OUR SPEAKERS Mr. Kapil Sibal Minister for Communications & Information Technology and Human Resource Development, Government of India Mr. Nandan Nilekani Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Mr. Arun Maira Member Planning Commission, Government of India Mr. David Hume Executive Director, Citizen Engagement, Government of British Columbia, Canada Mr. Jānis Kārkliņš Assistant Director-General, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO Prof. Geoff Walsham Judge Business School, Cambridge University, UK Dr. Samantha Liscio Corporate Chief Strategist, Ontario Public Service, Government of Ontario, Canada Mr. Ajit Balakrishnan Founder, Chairman & CEO, Mr. Padamvir Singh Director, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, India Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala Indian Institute of Technology - Madras, India amongst many more...

AGRICULTURE: Developing solutions for food security and public distribution, raising productivity and improving farmers' quality of life EDUCATION: Adapting new, innovative educational tools and assessing IT interventions to improve learning and building a high-quality workforce e-GOVERNANCE: Empowering the State's agenda of delivering ‘anytime, anywhere’ services to its citizens, building capacities and fostering transparency HEALTH: Creating viable public health management systems; effective service delivery channels to improve health outcomes and better human resource management



16 - 18 April, 2012 Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi

Over 500 registrations and counting…


Call John Khiangte +91 98710 39988

Registration closes on 31st March 2012 SUPPORTING PARTNER





Advancing Higher Education ThroughTechnology

On February 28, experts from the field of education technology and academicians came together at IIIT Bangalore to address contemporary technology issues as well as cutting-edge developments. Through highly interactive and participatory discussions VCs, deans, directors and head of departments shared experiences on unique IT solutions implemented or developed at their institutions. The speakers not only voiced their concerns regarding technology issues but also stressed on the paradigm shift in higher education from teaching to learning and the evolving pedagogy. With a focus on actionable steps and implementations, mobile apps, open source software, cloud technology as well as modernising examination and evaluation systems were widely discussed.


EduTech  April 2012

Filling the void Prof S Rajagopalan, IIIT Bangalore set the day’s agenda with his welcome address on the challenges faced with the implementation of technology-aided education. In his address, he deliberated on the process of converting information into learning and whether technology can enable the human brain to appreciate this information in a similar fashion.

edu tech 2012

To teach is to touch lives: Vice Chancellor, Manipal University, Dr K Ramnarayan said that technology acts as an aid to deliver information but it’s the teacher who plays a vital role in aspiring, influencing and inspiring the learners. “We do realise that IT has a role, but we also realise that nothing can replace the human, living, loving teacher. We believe that in any university, teaching must be a central mission and the teacher is an advisor, a friend, an expert and a team-member.”

Always available: Assistant Prof Shankar Venkatagiri, Head, Technology Initiatives, IIM Bangalore, stressed on the importance of IT tools in teaching. In his address he discussed the increasing use of tools such as open source software, automative testing as well as utilisation of social media for education. Technology has made the process of learning much more interactive. On using web based forums for discussions he says, “A teacher’s dharma is to be available to his students at any time. You can’t be sitting in the office waiting for questions!” On cloud computing he says, “I had Google people come over and deliver a presentation to IAS officers. They need to be trained about cloud computing. The power of cloud computing is that you carry no hardware with you. The less you have to allocate to things physical, the more we like it.”

April 2012  EduTech


edu tech 2012

Steering the course: “The role of a teacher has changed. From a single point of source, now the teacher is becoming a source for navigation.” Hari Prakash Shanbhog, Founder and MD, Ipomo Communications India :On the shift in the education space with the advent of mobile applications, .

Teach to tweet On using social media for educational activities, Suresh Babu, Founder and CEO of Web Marketing Academy: “We have social media now, so we learn from our friends. That is the power of social media.”

Actionable assessment for actionable intelligence “Why do we conduct exams? It’s not just to create a linear order. The idea of doing an examination is to give feedback to the student.” Dr KRV Subramanium, CEO Radix learning, Adjunct Faculty, IIIT Bangalore, on modernising exam systems and evaluations with IT.


EduTech  April 2012

edu tech 2012

Tempering technology efficiently Dr Geetha Narayanan, Founder and Director, Srishti School of Design and Technology, in her address stressed on the human factor which enables technology to achieve its bit. She believes technology can aid acquisition and recall, but only human efforts can bring processing and abstraction in the equation. “It’s not a device that makes you important but it’s what you do with it.”

From teaching to learning Prof Shanath Kumar, Head eLearning, Manipal Education on using web-enabled services in higher education : “People understand a lot of technology, people understand a lot of academics. There are very few people who understand both of these things.”

Together to teach ‘technologically’: Educators and technology providers sharing insights on ‘technology aided learning’ at EDU tech 2012, IIIT-Bangalore

April 2012  EduTech


the global perspective From

o f h i g h e r ed u c a t i o n

INSIDE 50 | Google Scales Back Book Scanning 52 | American Colleges’ Missteps Raise Questions About Overseas Partnerships

A Science Institute in Okinawa Breaks Down Academic Barriers The radical new university may just be able to energise the depressed Okinawan economy By David McNeill



Strong Medicine: The University breaks out of Japan’s cloistered and formal academic format


EduTech  April 2012

n an era of academic retrenchment and pinched research budgets, new public universities are rare. In postdisaster Japan, struggling with plummeting tax income and the developed world’s worst public debt, they are unheard of. Yet this fall, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University will begin its first intake of students after securing almost $1-billion in government money, five-plus years of guaranteed research financing, and the backing of five Nobel laureates. The mysteries of Japan’s newest university, a graduate institution that will accept only 20 students this year, don’t end there. In a country with a notoriously rigid, balkanised academic structure, the new institute has no departments. More than half its 47 faculty are foreign—10 times the norm at the average Japanese institution—and most are on an American-style tenure track. In place of the stuffy hierarchies of Japanese academe, professors, students, and staff from more than 26 different countries mingle freely, keep their office doors open, and drop job titles. President Jonathan Dorfan is known here simply as ‘Jonathan’. A particle physicist formerly with Stanford University, Mr Dorfan calls the institution a “bold response” to perceptions that Japan’s insularity is throttling its global academic competitiveness. “Its aim is to be a truly international university that can aspire to be a global contributor to higher education.” A one-time sceptic, Mr Dorfan says he now believes OIST Graduate University will succeed. “When Japan decides to do something and commits to it, they’re very thorough.”

Global.Chronicle.Com more students in the region. Global 30 is In a global economy, the Asian powerhouse’s another government effort, which seeks to cloistered academy certainly needs strong boost the competitiveness of the nation’s unimedicine. A century and a half after Japan versities by hiring more foreign staff and facopened to the West, less than four per cent of ulty, increasing English-language instruction, its university students and five per cent of and sending students abroad. Change, howits faculty are foreign, according to the Sign up for a free weekly ever, is likely to arrive slowly. Junichi Hamada, education ministry. electronic newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education at President of the University of Tokyo, admits it Worse, the number of Japanese students at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter will be five years before the institution can American colleges has dropped by nearly half The Chronicle of Higher Education is begin enrolling students in autumn; many since 1997; Chinese, Indian, South Korean, a US-based company with a weekly more before other colleges in Japan follow and Taiwanese students now pick up a larger newspaper and a website updated suit. And the government’s responses to share of American science and engineering daily, at, that cover all aspects of university life. Japan’s academic aloofness have been widely doctorates. Young Japanese are increasingly With over 90 writers, editors, and criticised as too timid—and too late. shunning the natural sciences too—the numcorrespondents stationed around OIST Graduate University attempts to overber of graduate students has been falling for the globe, The Chronicle provides come that inertia with a radical approach. nearly a decade. Japan’s share of global timely news and analysis of academFinancing comes directly from Japan’s Cabiresearch production, meanwhile, fell from 9.6 ic ideas, developments and trends. net Office, bypassing the conservative educaper cent to 6.8 per cent over the decade to 2010, tion ministry. The university’s 17-member according to Thomson Reuters’ “Global board (including 12 foreigners), its budget, Research Report: Japan”, which blamed that faland its president, are directly answerable to the prime minister. tering performance on a dearth of international collaborations. A thousand miles from the education ministry’s micromanag“There is a sense of crisis about Japan’s decline and fall as a ing, Mr Dorfan’s team has created what may well be Japan’s power in sending students abroad and attracting academic talmost innovative educational experiment. The university’s cament,” says Mark Selden, a senior research associate at Cornell pus seems to reflect its Promethean origins. Built on the main University’s East Asia programme and a veteran Japan observer. island of Japan’s southernmost prefecture and carved out of a He says recruiters from some of the top American universities subtropical forest on a hill overlooking the South China Sea, it now skip Japan entirely when in Asia. “It’s a sign of the times. is as picturesque as it is remote. The institute’s striking setting, There’s no interest.” and the chance to start from scratch, is one of its attractions, says Alexander Mikheyev, an evolutionary biologist and former Overcoming Inertia Harvard University postdoc. “It was a nice place to live, and a After years of halting responses to this crisis, Japan’s educators chance to run my own show.” have recently been grinding the rusty gears of change. This year The graduate institution’s resources were another lure for Mr the University of Tokyo announced that it will move toward fall Mikheyev. “The funding is better than Harvard,” he says, addenrolment, the first step in a process that many hope will bring ing that he is paid about 20 per cent more than he would be in the nation’s colleges into sync with the rest of the planet— the United States. “The fact that I don’t have to spend my time enhancing the possibility for exchanges and the intake of forwriting and applying for grants frees me up for research.” eign faculty and overseas students. (Other institutions in Japan Keshav M Dani, a University of California at Berkeley-trained begin their academic year in April.) physicist, agrees. “I felt like a poodle jumping through hoops in The government is putting its shoulder behind collaborative the US life here is simpler. They flew me out to Okinawa to projects, notably Campus Asia, which aims to harmonise Chidesign and specify my own lab, then flew me back, and I hadn’t na’s, Japan’s, and South Korea’s colleges, and ultimately keep even accepted the job yet.” That generous financial support comes with high expectations. The institute’s multinational team must pursue one of science’s Holy Grails: genuinely collaborative research. The goal is built into the university’s architecture, designed by California-based Kornberg Associates. Professors share administration staff, lab equipment, and even coffee pots. A single long tunnel through a hill links the entire campus to the outside world. “The structure makes it difficult for people to avoid each other,” explains Mr Mikheyev

The institute’s multinational team must pursue one of science’s Holy Grails: genuinely collaborative research

This Is Better For now at least, it seems to work. “I find myself talking to biologists a lot more than in the US,” says Mr Dani, who experiApril 2012  EduTech


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE ments on the frontier between theoretical physics and biology, a path that he hopes might deepen understanding of photosynthesis and cell functions. Tatiana Márquez-Lago, an applied mathematician working on biomedical problems, says real collaborative work will take time, but she’s encouraged by what she’s seen. “It would be impossible to do this kind of research in a university with departments.” Meanwhile, Kenji Doya, an engineer-turned neuroscientist, paces between two labs, one with robots and the other with rats, as he struggles to build adaptive machines, using the lessons of the human-brain chemical serotonin. “Crossing the boundaries at Japanese universities was difficult,” recalls Mr Doya, a veteran of the University of Tokyo. “Roles are rigidly defined, and that’s not easy to change. This is better.” His work is precisely the sort of research that the new science institute hopes to encourage, says Mr Dorfan. “There is an enormous amount of discovery potential at the interface between the primary branches of the sciences. In these overlaps there are possibilities for discovery that we want to tap. You can walk from a neuroscience lab into a molecular-science lab or into an evolutionary-biology lab by just going through the door.” But achieving the institute’s goals, one of which is to energise the depressed Okinawan economy and eventually create Palo Alto-style technology parks, will be more difficult than designing an open campus. Apart from a MoU with a single Japanese drug company and some outreach to local schools and offices, the university still remains aloof from the local economy, Onna. Bridging the academic-business gap that is common in Japan will be the institution’s biggest challenge, admits its president, but he adds that there are precedents, citing his alma mater, Stanford. “Palo Alto was a small town, not much bigger than Onna,” Mr Dorfman says. There was no infrastructure of

“culture and academe, and certainly no Silicon Valley.” Where might business spinoffs come from? Ms MárquezLago’s research could be applied to create personalised medicine. The mechanical engineer Satoshi Mitarai is trying to develop new techniques for monitoring ocean currents that might eventually lead to the development of new measuring instruments with private companies. Mr Doya’s work may yield commercial breakthroughs in robotics. For now, however, the focus is on research. The other challenge will be money. Can the institute protect its financing amid an increasingly precarious fiscal environment? Japan’s sovereign debt of roughly $14-trillion, even before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, has forced the government to put many publicly financed institutions in its cross hairs. Mr Dorfan insists that the government’s commitment is solid but adds that external money will have to rise by 20 to 30 per cent over the next decade. “I think it should be attractive to private donors outside Japan,” the president says. “We will seek to have buildings and programmes named after people, industrial partnerships. We aspire to a scale that is more like an American university. Time will tell how successful we are.” That 10-year window gives the science and technology institute a chance to put Okinawa, a prefecture known until now primarily for the political tensions caused by its large network of US military bases, on the academic and business map. Somewhere along the line, it also hopes to begin changing Japan’s entire academic mindset. Says Mr Dani: “We have the resources, the money, and the location. Now we’re in a fight.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at

Google Scales Back Book Scanning More than 20 million books digitised to date but the pace of scanning now slows down, confirm partner libraries By Jennifer Howard


oogle has been quietly slowing down its bookscanning work with partner libraries, according to librarians involved with the vast Google Books


EduTech  April 2012

digitisation project. But what that means for the company’s long-term investment in the work remains unclear. Google was not willing to say much about its plans. “We’ve digitised more than 20 million books to date and con-

tinue to scan books with our library partners,” a Google spokeswoman told TheChronicle in an emailed statement. Librarians at several of Google’s partner institutions, including the University of Michigan and the University of Wis-

consin systems, confirmed that the pace has slowed. “They’re still scanning. They’re scanning at a lower rate than the peak,” said Paul N Courant, Michigan’s dean of libraries. At Wisconsin, the scanning pace is “something less than half of what it was” in 2006, the year the work started there, said Edward V Van Gemert, the university’s interim director of libraries. Wisconsin’s agreement with Google stipulated that the scanning would continue for at least six years or until half a million works had been digitised. “We anticipated this slowdown,” he said. It will be six years as of October 2012, and 600,000 volumes have been digitised so far, Mr Van Gemertestimates. “It would have been next to impossible for the library to come up with the resources to digitise that amount of material,” he said. “So I really cast the partnership as being highly successful at a time when digitisation was highly needed.” He credited Google’s work with helping the partner libraries and others create the HathiTrust digital repository, which now contains more than 10 million scanned volumes. That, he said, “has allowed us to think differently about out-of-copyright material and the preservation of resources in our collections.” According to Mr Courant at Michi­gan, the slackening pace reflects a natural maturation of the project. “They’ve done about 5.5 million volumes from our collections,” he said. That means “the pickings are getting kind of slim if you’re worried about duplication” with what Google has scanned from other library partners. When the work began, “Google would come in and take things by the stack row,” he said. Now they’ve switched to a book-by-book model, scanning only volumes that fill gaps in what’s been digitised so far. Some institutions struck agreements with Google to scan only specific collections. Much of that work has now wrapped up. The Univer­sity of Texas at Austin, for instance, signed on to have Google digitise its Latin American collection—about half a million volumes, said

By raj verma


Slackening: Google’s library digitisation project pace is almost half of its original making people wonder

Fred Heath, Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries. “We were not interested in a situation where we’d have to pick from the 10 million volumes in all of the libraries and have to ship them and then refile them,” Mr Heath said. Google completed the work far more quickly than the university could have done by itself, according to Mr Heath. “We figured we could do it in a 100 years,” he said. Google did it in two. “They were in and out with method and efficiency and no loss” of materials, he said. For now, the work has slowed down but continues at Michigan and Wisconsin and other institutions with whom Google has open-ended arrangements. Mr Courant expects “it will continue for the indefinite future.” Google isn’t saying whether it has pulled back from its long-standing goal of collecting all of the world’s knowl-

edge. Some of its digitisation efforts have shifted to Europe. Much of the company’s public focus lately has been not on mass digitisation but on how to use individuals’ data to create more focussed advertising and online browsing. Meanwhile, a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought against it by authors’ and publishers’ groups drags on.  Hathi­Trust and five universities, including Michigan’s and Wisconsin’s, face their own  challenge  from the Authors Guild and other groups over control of the scanned works. The legacy of the Google scanning depends in part on what happens in court and “the ability of the libraries and the rights holders to come to agreement” on how best to use the wealth of digitized material, Mr. Courant said. Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at April 2012  EduTech



American Colleges’ Missteps Raise Questions About Overseas Partnerships


Ambitious international ventures of US universities for dollars and prestige come under scrutiny By Karin Fischer

At Risk: American colleges venturing abroad for global reputation and funds are at risk of losing their sheen


eadlines in recent weeks have highlighted the stumbles, and sometimes outright spills, by American colleges seeking to set up degree programmes with foreign partners. State University of New York Empire State College has allowed a university in Albania to deliver diplomas in its name. But the public college, the subject of a New York Times investigation, has had seemingly little say-so in the curriculum or hiring at the University of New York Tirana. In North Dakota, state auditors issued a scathing review of dual-degree programmes at Dickinson State University, reporting that they had admitted hundreds of unqualified students, mainly from China, and awarded them degrees even when they failed to meet graduation requirements. Ignoring its own stan-


EduTech  April 2012

dards, the public university had acted as a diploma mill, the audit concluded. Then there’s Houston Community College, which has been in the midst of its own desert storm. Students at the Community College of Qatar, in the tiny Persian Gulf emirate, protested after learning that they would not earn degrees from the Texas college, as they had expected to. Those degrees would allow them to transfer to four-year universities. Houston officials maintain that they were working with Qatar’s first community college only in an advisory role, but that students could earn Houston diplomas by submitting their transcripts for review. Taken together, these incidents have renewed concerns about whether, in embarking on ambitious international ventures, American colleges are putting themselves at risk, legally, financially, and reputationally. In their quest for global prestige and, often, dollars, are they rushing abroad without doing their homework? After all, experts note, even internationally savvy institutions, like George Mason University and Michigan State University, have occasionally misstepped in their efforts overseas. “There are lots of good reasons to go and serve students where the education is weak,” says Alan Ruby, a senior fellow at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. “But  that doesn’t mean  going unwittingly and unthinkingly.”

Looking Before Leaping The North Dakota University System audit is damning. Dickinson State, it charges, enrolled international students with subpar grades, shaky English, and fraudulent transcripts, awarding them bachelor’s degrees for spending just one of their four college years on that campus. A number of the students transferred in from a remedial-education institute associated with Taiyuan University of Technology, in China, and not from a college-level programme. What’s more, Dickinson State disregarded its own rules regarding course and degree changes, allowing students to switch to majors for which they had no preparation. Department chairs apparently felt pressure to do so because recruiting agents in China, purporting to work for Dickinson, had prom-

Global.Chronicle.Com ised students they would be able to swap majors once in the United States. Just 10 of the 410 students enrolled in these dualdegree programmes since 2003 actually completed the necessary requirements, the audit report concludes. It’s not entirely clear what led Dickinson State to begin the controversial programmes, and the president in charge when the worst offences occurred has been fired for other enrollment irregularities. But the news has many international educators scratching their heads: Why, they ask, did a small, little-known state university in North Dakota have dual-degree agreements with dozens of institutions abroad? Too often, these experts say, colleges’ international relationships are partnerships of convenience. Kevin Kinser studies branch campuses at the State University of New York at Albany—he doesn’t start them. (He’s also a Chronicle blogger.) Yet he has been approached countless times after speaking at conferences by foreign institutions that want to work with Albany. Philip G Altbach, director of the Centre for International Higher Education at Boston College, says colleges need to scrutinise their motivations and those of their potential partners before entering into any agreement. Sometimes he wonders why foreign universities or governments approach certain American institutions: “I don’t know if they just go through the phone book.” Nor are many colleges sophisticated in their methods of assessing possible global ventures. Colleges should have centralised committees that vet any agreements, and those panels should draw on a range of expertise, including faculty members, human-resources administrators, and university lawyers, says Bob Lammey, a senior director at High Street Partners, a company that advises colleges on overseas risk management. Institutions need to ask the right questions, from what’s the rule of law in a potential destination country to who in the partnership will do the hiring and firing to how much such an arrangement will cost in staff time and money. Few colleges have formal proc­esses to assess international ac­tivities, Mr Lammey says, and that’s a problem. Mr Kinser agrees: “Approving a programme in another country is not the same as approving a new programme in sociology.”

Nor are many colleges sophisticated in their methods of assessing possible global ventures

Keeping Control In Qatar, much of the disagreement seems to centre around academic control. In internal email messages obtained by the Houston Chronicle, officials of Houston Community College expressed concern about decisions made by the top administrator at the new Community College of Qatar, who was hired by the Qatari government, not the Texas college. They were also apparently surprised by a Qatari decision to educate male and female students separately. And although initial announcements by both partners said students at the Qatari institution would have ‘dual enrollment’ in Houston Community College, Houston officials recently said that only those who go through an in­dividual review process would be eligible for American credit for classes taken in Qatar. Houston Community College is not the first institution to run into disputes over decision-making. George Mason shuttered its campus in Ras al Khaymah, another Persian Gulf emirate, after its partner sought to make midstream changes in their agreement, demanded to hire a chief academic dean, and reduced its financial commitment. Peter N Stearns, George Mason’s provost, says the university hasn’t given up on overseas work but will focus on creating dual-degree programmes, not overseas campuses. Degree programmes, he says, give the university a greater amount of control. Daniel Kratochvil, of the University of Wollongong in Dubai, studies the Emirati education market. There’s no such thing as a ‘free ticket’ when it comes to international joint ventures, he says. “You’re overseas as a guest, and that’s a risk. Misunderstandings can arise, partnerships can change, governments can make unilateral changes to the terms of a contract.” Webster University, based in St Louis, has campuses throughout Europe and Asia, but it operates under a ‘one-university’ policy, says Grant Chapman, Associate Vice President for academic affairs and Director of international programmes. All course changes are reviewed by a centralised curriculum committee. Every diploma says “Webster University.” While staff and fac­ulty members may be hired locally, there’s always an administrator answerable to the home campus. And any variation from admissions standards must be approved back in St Louis. “We’re not in the business of franchising our name,” Mr Chapman says.

Relationship Maintenance Some observers question if that’s what Empire State College did in striking a deal in Albania. Although an initial agreement between the SUNY college and University of New York Tirana sets out high academic standards, Empire State’s director of international programmes told the Times that instructors in Albania were not subject to its review and approval. Teams of faculty members from New York are able to make the trip to Eastern Europe only a couple of times a year because of budget constraints. (College officials have since said they have a more substantial review system in place.) By contrast, officials from the Rochester Institute of Technology regularly visit its branches in Croatia, the Dominican April 2012  EduTech



Many colleges assume that their foreign partners are taking care of everything... That’s not always the case Republic, and Dubai. Rochester faculty routinely take temporary teaching appointments abroad, and the university uses its overseas sites as destinations for its students to study abroad. All those people going back and forth help act as a quality-control mechanism—one of many, says James H Watters, Senior Vice President for finance and administration. “It’s easy to say, ‘Out of sight, out of mind,’” he notes. Mr Lammey, of High Street Partners, says many colleges assume that their foreign partners are taking care of everything on the ground. That’s not always the case, he warns, mention-

ing one client whose longstanding partner failed to pay employees of the joint venture according to local regulations. The American college could face a hefty settlement with the foreign government. International agreements, Mr Lammey says, “always start out on good footing.” But when problems arise, colleges need to have an “easy-out clause” to end floundering relationships. Still, he cautions that educators should not assume the worst of all international ventures just because a few problems have grabbed headlines. Many are well-run, he says. Jason Lane, who is Co-director, with Mr Kinser, of the CrossBorder Education Research Team at Albany, worries that failures of institutional management could lead to “overly aggressive external oversight” by outside groups, like accreditors or state legislatures. They could put severe limits, or even prohibitions, on overseas partnerships. But John K Hudzik, a former vice president for global and strategic projects at Michigan State, finds that good can come from scrutiny. “It’s hard, but we can learn from failures,” he says. “It’s a good thing if people can learn to be more systematic about this work.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at

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Eduardo Glandt

Listen Students to your

Eduardo Glandt, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, UPenn, believes that to excel, engineering schools must develop the fortitude for getting feedback from students By Smita Polite

EDU: What brings you to India? Dean Eduardo Glandt: We want quality students, which we get here. A large fraction of our professors are from India. So, as the saying goes, there is no generosity but only self-interest—I am here for self-interest. You have a tie-up with the Young India Fellowship. Why did you choose to get into this collaboration? It felt right, from the beginning. Penn profile is that of an extremely interdisciplinary campus. Among the Ivy League institutions, we have a record number of schools on one campus, perhaps because of our Quaker heritage and the Benjamin Franklin motto of merging, blending, melding the applied and the ornamental. This programme has exactly the same characteristics. There is cultural affinity, genetic affinity if you will, between the Young India Programme and Penn. Are you also considering other collaborations in India? We have a number of person to person, professor to professor collaborations but no other institutional agreement. Recently, Penn instituted the Dean’s Medal for Distinguished Achievement, awarded to Mr Mukesh Ambani. He is planning to venture into higher education. Are you also in talks with him? I see him every year, and I expect to see him again in Mumbai.


EduTech  April 2012

Eduardo Glandt


Eduardo Glandt

ACADEMICS: Undergraduate degree from the University of Buenos Aires in 1968, PhD from Penn in 1977, both in chemical engineering Area: Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics

by subhojit paul

Designation: Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania

April 2012  EduTech



Eduardo Glandt

He is always interested in what we are doing. I believe there may be a partnership one day. He is not interested in partnering with a single institution but with a number of them. However, I am not aware of the present status of any such collaborations. For us, the YIF is a reality as it is not in the planning stage. There are people here right now and that is exciting.

Is the Foreign University’s Bill attractive in any way for you to consider coming to India? Maintaining quality at such a distance is something that all American institutions worry about, and something that we at Penn worry about a lot more. We have not done it anywhere in the world, and not for lack of proposals or interest, but only because in the end it hasn’t been practical. Technology is perhaps about to change that and make things possible, what was not possible 10 years ago. I imagine things will be different in 10 years. At this point, in our entire university, the only satellite activity is in San Francisco in northern west. We are guided by just one principle—the limiting resource for any such activity—the time of the faculty. So the way to do this is to ask the faculty: Where would they like to be? And where your faculty would like to be, is where you want to be. When 10 years ago that question was asked that place was San Francisco. If our faculty wants to be somewhere else today, we will definitely go there as well. You have been the Dean of SEAS for more than a decade and an engineer for many years now. How has engineering education changed over the years? Engineering as a profession where you build something, and have a hands-on experience, is much more solid today than it was two decades ago. Our flagship building, where my office is located, opened with great fanfare in 1906 with 16 senators coming from Washington to see this building with no classrooms. There were two museums and shops and drafting rooms and a foundry and that’s how you learnt engineering then. Things


EduTech  April 2012

changed tremendously over time. In the 60s when engineering science arrived— science came in through the door and engineering left through the window. Now engineering is back in many ways. We excite the students tremendously by setting them loose in building, designing and inventing. We are aware that more than 50 per cent of actual education happens outside the classrooms and that it happens by contention. What we offer the student is the other students, and set them loose.

What have been your greatest achievements as a dean? I would say I have been particularly lucky. Just like real estate is about the location, deanship is all about time. I walked into this job just as the IT bubble burst. It put a spotlight on technology as a driver of economy and culture. It made technology and engineering cool. Being the coolest school on campus was in a way the revenge of the nerds. I will not be disingenuous—the technology wave began with information technology but continues with biotechnology and nanotechnology. Nanotechnology has created a lot of wealth among our graduates which we have tapped into. We did not have new buildings in 50 years, and then in less than a decade we are completing a third building only because of the newfound appreciation for technology. So, now there is growth and there is passion and that is a powerful combination. You say that the curriculum at UPenn is excruciatingly interdisciplinary. Why do you emphasise this approach? Everyone knows that the most creative ideas come at the interfaces from fields. How you practice that is what makes the real difference. How you have the fortitude to not require students to take every single possible course. Not to say: “I took that course so thou shall take that course too”. To have your faculty develop the willpower to control themselves, and let the wisdom of the students guide a part of the curriculum. Get feedback from the students and listen to them. Penn also has a system called Responsibility Centre

Management that makes these schools very independent financially and the tuition follows the students. The schools are budgetary cooperatives and are encouraged to pay attention to the courses that the students would like to take up.

You also have this programme called Advancing Women in Engineering (AWE). What was the idea behind it? I was walking into an event with a woman colleague about 12 years back, when she said, “I am sure that once again I am going to be the only woman in the room”. That touched something in me. It is important for women to have a healthy number of women co-workers. Diversity is something that we have always believed in. So, with the support of some women graduates, we started this programme to assist women of all age-groups in engineering. It helps young women in the age-group of 13-14 from junior high school all the way up to young faculty. We have a programme called Girls in Engineering Math and Science (GEMS), for junior high school. This is the age when their minds are made up to partake in the excitement of technology. We are working against a strong cultural current here, because young women often think that to study engineering you have to be a grease monkey and work under the hood of a car, which is not what technology is like today. We are a very unusual engineering school. For instance, we do not have civil engineering. It is all very lab-based cutting-edge technology. Young incoming women students are invited to arrive a week earlier than the guys, get to meet the faculty, know the lay of the land and network among themselves so that when the guys are in, the women are a step ahead. This is to compensate for the so called cultural disadvantage, which they might have internalised and which we want to make sure is gone when they start here. Is it also a graduate who helped establish the Krishna P Singh Centre for nanotechnology?


Eduardo Glandt

Every graduate, not just every engineer should have a look under the hood of their cell phone

Krishna is a mechanical engineering graduate from our school, and the Founder and CEO of Holtec International, the largest and only company in the US that handles nuclear fuel. He found and patented this technology and built a company around it. He is one of the overseers of our school and understands the pattern of nanotechnology—as the next wave of wealth and technology generation. He wants to help us be a leader in that area and has funded the building. This is a very facilities driven, facilities hungry field, and you are as good as your labs. It is only in clean labs that nano bases can be built—no vibrations, no dust and no magnetic fields. These are really cuttingedge, very expensive buildings to build and maintain. Building devices, and prototyping and fabricating, set the core of engineering. 
When I was in high school and college I took a course called SHOP where you learnt to use machine tools. I remember I made an ashtray for my dad. The shop of the 21st century is a clean room. You don’t make an ashtray, you make a chip. You look under the hood, not of your car, but your cell phone and you know how the world works. I think every other graduate, not just every engineer should have a look under the hood of their cell phone.


EduTech  April 2012

What should an engineering institution be doing to excel? The glib answer would be—do what Penn is doing! I will try not to be too glib. We wrestle with that question all the time. I think it is a combination of things that are at odds many times. Giving the students a solid grounding in the fundamentals is what should come first. At the same time, they have to get a breadth, for which we have to keep 50 per cent of the course elective and 25 per cent from the social sciences and humanities. Pay tremendous attention to the social nature of engineering, where you work in teams, socialise and empower them to work in that way. Many things like ethics, innovation and ambition are learnt outside the curriculum. And I would really miss out if I do not mention the importance of admissions. Although educators would say that what matters is what we design; what matters just as much is the raw material that comes in through the door. The day of the new admissions will be the one day when you affect your programme the most. Many times, we have to turn down somebody with perfect grades and perfect scores and instead admit somebody about whom we have made a qualitative judgement: a judgement that this person has more leadership potential, innovation potential and creativity.

Would the same rules apply in India? I think the same rules apply. I envy the depth of talent here. I envy the fact that technology and engineering stand taller here, as a considered choice of the students and that is why I am here. We have heard that you are often compared to Sean Connery and are known as one of the most charming men on campus. Does that help in administration? What advise would you give other deans? I would rather be called Brad Pitt! (laughs). As I mentioned earlier, I have been lucky with the timing. One of course has to have awareness of the world and the pulse of the constituency. If I were to give just one advice to another dean, it would be to look at the world as a mosaic of constituencies where everybody is a constituency that needs to be thoughtfully cultivated. The list includes many who are a one person constituency. You have to specifically keep a meaningful relationship with all. That’s how the world works. Students are an important constituency for an educator, so are your colleagues, the administration, the parents, the graduates, the local police, the people who do the gardening and the dean of admissions.


Desi Detective Tales with a Twist Liddle’s sandook of criminals is a delight for both history buffs and mystery lovers Madhulika Liddle’s second book, The Eighth Guest and Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries, is once again based around the Dilli Durbars of the 17th century, at a time when the Mughal Empire had shifted base from Agra to Delhi under Emperor Shahjahan. The main protagonist of the book is “consulting detective” Muzaffar Jang, a young amir, first introduced in Liddle’s The Englishman’s Cameo.   In the first book, Liddle did what few Indian authors had done before—placed a detective novel in a historical era. Like with the first, Liddle’s second offering also gives the readers a vivid insight into the heydays of Shahjahanabad, taking them through bustling bazaars, royal havelis, elephant stables and sarais outside the walled city. Unlike the first book—a murder mystery with several intertwining subplots—the second book is a series of independent stories of murders, espionage and thefts. Liddle continues to delineate Jang’s character cleverly, by

“My stories focus on crime or people doing bad things, generally in a humorous way” Madhulika Liddle

focussing more on the young detective’s peers than him, and weaving a character based on the difference between them. Unlike his royal friends, Jang often collaborates with the ‘invisible class’ (read: boatmen, servants, mahouts and slaves). He seems obsessed neither with luxury nor leading a decadent lifestyle, is pragmatic and appears more ‘manly’ than his often-effeminate friends. He is more active than his friends and clients, who sometimes groan at the prospect of movement. But his tehzeeb is intact, and so is the chivalry. Liddle’s Jang, thus, is quite the maverick of his time. Unlike several other Indian authors who write in English, Liddle does not ‘exoticise’ her context or story by adding several layers of explanations or meaning to the text. She presumes that her readers have an understanding of old Dilli, which frankly, makes her style refreshing, less tedious to read and less condescending. Liddle’s language is lucid and her style matter-of-fact. Though there aren’t many direct references to political intrigues, there are passing references in the sub-plots which make Shahjahanabad more real for the reader. The footnotes at the end of the story add a layer of genuine history to the settings of the stories. All in all, Liddle’s style has enough in it to entice not just the whodunit lover, but also the fan of historical fiction. Author: Madhulika Liddle Publisher: Hachette India Price: Rs 350

New releases for your BOOKSHELF Critical Discourse Analysis in Education There are many overlapping theoretical

frames for critical discourse analysis and that it is characterised by “methodological hybridity”. The format offers students the opportunity to see how particular approaches might fit their research. Author: Rebecca Rogers Publisher: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Price: £85.00 and £27.99


EduTech  April 2012

Way Beyond the Three Rs YS Rajan examines the gamut of issues involved in India’s efforts to educate its young people and the work required to fix schools, vocational training centres, colleges and universities. He says Indian education needs reforms on a scale comparable to the economic reforms. Author: YS Rajan Publisher: Penguin Books Price: Rs 250.00 (US $ 5.68 )


gADGETS Tech Insider | Tushaar

To Buy or Not to Buy the New iPad It was written off as an oversized phone at launch, a device with questionable utility. But less than two years later, the iPad has remained the last tablet standing, as a multitude of applications and entertainment possibilities stave off the challenge of the competition. What then does the launch of the new iPad, simply called iPad, bring to the table for prospective tablet buyers? Go for the new iPad if you’re the type who loves to watch a lot of movies and show off photos. The new iPad’s ultra high resolution Retina display offers improved colour saturation and a brilliant multimedia and gaming experience. If you like pushing your tablet on demanding tasks such as image and video editing, the new iPad’s A5X processor, which claims four times better performance than the leading Android tablet processor, will be the ideal companion for your powerhungry tasks. If you have an original 2010 iPad, the case to get a new iPad is more compelling. Apple has significantly enhanced the iPad’s hardware since the first generation, and several capabilities in the latest iOS5 operating system don’t run on the original iPad. Go for the older iPad 2 if you don’t consume a lot of media and largely want to use it for mobile email, documents etc. Apple’s made the deal sweeter by dropping prices on the older iPad2— no less a formidable tablet in its own right! If a camera on your tablet isn’t high on your priority list, skip the new iPad—while it has a 5 MP rear-facing camera that is capable of shooting full high definition (1080p) video, you may well have a compact camera for the shooting. If budget is a priority, the entry level iPad2 comes under Rs 25,000, which is a steal of a deal!

A self-confessed gizmo-holic, Tushar Kanwar is a technology columnist with the Telegraph and Business World, and contributes to a variety of technology and lifestyle publications. Tushar’s interests lie at the intersection of consumer technology, internet trends and products that change the world.

Reliance CDMA Tab Reliance Communications (RCom) has launched a CDMA tablet, called Reliance CDMA Tab, in India. The new Reliance tablet runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS. The Reliance CDMA tab has a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 800x480 pixels, a 2 MP rear camera and no front-facing camera, 800 MHz CPU, 512 MB RAM and expandable storage up to 32 GB via MicroSD card. The device comes bundled with a 4 GB memory card. The device also sports a 4,000 mAh lithium ion battery. Price: Rs 12,999

Intex Home Theatre System The 80W Intex Marvel 250 Sound Bar comes with a wireless 100W subwoofer. Features include a CLASS D Audio Amplifier, and instant Low Power Radio (LPR) based 2.4 GHz wireless interface between the sub-woofer and sound bar. Designed to handle the diverse power conditions available in India, the Sound Bar Marvel 250 has SMPS based power supply design. It includes panel buttons, as well as a remote control. Price: Rs 9,999

February April 2012  2011  EduTech


legacy “Then I will tell the Viceroy of India on her behalf that the mother of Ashutosh refuses to let her son be commanded by anybody except herself, be he the Viceroy of India or be he anybody greater”

Tiger of Bengal Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee


ir Ashutosh Mukherjee is considered a true builder of the edifice of higher education in India. A prolific educator, he was the first Indian vice chancellor of the University of Calcutta from 1906 to 1924. Perhaps the most emphatic figure of Indian education, he was a man of great personality, high self-respect, courage and towering administrative ability. For his defiant attitude towards the British Government, high self-respect, courage and academic integrity he earned the sobriquet of the Tiger of Bengal. And for his service to Indian education, he was awarded the titles of Saraswati and Shastravachaspati by the pandits of Bengal. In 1879, at just 15 years of age, Mukherjee passed the entrance exam of Calcutta University. He stood third and received a scholarship. In 1880, he took admission in the premiere Presidency College and had distinguised personalities as PC Ray, Bhupendranath Bose and Narendranath Dutta (later Swami Vivekananda) as his classmates. In 1885, he completed his MA with major in mathematics. In 1886, he did his masters in physical science. In the same year he married Jogomaya devi. The same year he also received the coveted Premchand Roychand scholarship. He was then appointed an examiner for MA examination in Mathematics. He became the first student to be awarded a dual degree (MA in mathematics and physics) from Calcutta University. Mukherjee had a vision of the kind of education he wanted young people to have, and he had the acumen and courage to extract it from his colonial masters. At the age of 24, he became a Fellow of the Calcutta University and soon transformed it from an examining body into a great teaching and research centre. He set up several new academic graduate programmes: comparative literature, anthropology, applied psychology, industrial chemistry, ancient Indian history and culture as well as Islamic culture. The diverse range of subjects offered by Calcutta University is largely a result of his labours. He was also responsible for the foundation of the Bengal Technical Institute in 1906 and the Calcutta University, College of Science in 1914. The Calcutta Mathematical Society was founded by him in 1908, and he served as the founder president of the society from 1908 to 1923. He also established Asutosh College in South Kolkata in 1916. Mukherjee was a member of the 1917-1919 Sadler Commission, which inquired into the state of Indian education. For his contributions to education, the Government of India issued a stamp on him in 1964. Syama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of Bhartiya Jana Sangh and and educationist par excellence, was his son. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at


EduTech  April 2012

(1864-1924) 1904 Appointed judge of the Bengal High Court 1906 Appointed Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University 1908-1923 Founded the Calcutta Mathematical Society and served as the founder president 1911 Knighted 1914 Becomes the first president of the inaugural session of the Indian Science Congress


Industrious Intentions  

When good CSR leads to good education

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