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FOREWORD Get Ready For The Smart Set


hen was the last time that you spoke to that spunky 18 year-old fresher: asked her how she defined technology? Do so. She will tell you how technology’s not the future—it is her present. She starts her day by checking her smartphone for SMSes and calls. Afterward, it’s time to browse the net, update her social network status, read the latest news online and check e-mails. Her library is called the web. Discussions are over web-enabled portals. She does keep a diary, only now, it’s called her “blog”. And, if you try to explain to her that you could “do without technology” in institutions, she would think that you need rest. Let’s not kid around. Today, even in a remote pocket of India, students are aware of what the internet is capable of—or what technology can do for them. It is aspirational. They understand that tech-savviness is where the world is headed. When EDU started to work on the Spotlight issue (India’s plan to achieve the targeted gross enrolment ratio of 30 percent by 2020), we were in the dark as far as the roadmap to the target was concerned. Till we met Sam Pitroda. He said: “India wants to grow at an unprecedented rate. And, to support this ambition, institutions will have to focus on technology. Because, that alone will enable it to expand even with limited resource.” In a single stroke, he had answered all our doubts. And given us a story idea. It was then that we decided to bring to you the technology “must haves” for an institution. Some academics may argue that in the “real” India there are problems—students, faculty and staff are not familiar with technology. But, it’s technology that holds the key to solving these problems. Video conferencing, telepresence and online learning tools are some of the ways in which the “real” India can be brought forward. In this anniversary issue, EDU lists the top 10 technologies that we believe will help an institution move ahead and, hopefully, manage to keep up with that spunky 18-year-old. And finally, as EDU completes a year of publishing, we thank you for your invaluable inputs, e-mails, letters and contributions, we couldn’t have done it without you. Please, keep the letters coming!

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha

November 2010 EDUTECH




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14 RAHUL CHOUDAHA Will the Indian higher education institutions finally address the demands of the Gen-Q and their high needs? 20 RISHIKESHA T. KRISHNAN Delving into design thinking while shaping the college and university curriculum



56 SURANJAN DAS Meet the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University, a staunch idealist, an avid cricketer and the pucca babu By Dhiman Chattopadhyay


50 THE CAFETERIA Why ignore the canteen? EDU talks of design details with one of the leading studios of New Delhi and their biggest client


We need to pool in our resources”


A little more about what’s happening in institutions around the world. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares its perspectives with the EDU


EDUTECH November 2010

22 10 COMMANDMENTS What should a campus of the future look like? What services should it offer to its students and staff? EDU takes a look at the top 10 tech tools





1 Classroom


2 Digital libraries 3 Online learning &

DESIGN SR. CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Jayan K Narayanan ART DIRECTOR: Binesh Sreedharan ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR: Anil VK SR. VISUALISERS: PC Anoop, Santosh Kushwaha SR. DESIGNERS: Prasanth TR, Anil T Suresh Kumar, Joffy Jose & Anoop Verma DESIGNER: Sristi Maurya CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER: Subhojit Paul PHOTOGRAPHER: Jiten Gandhi

virtual classroom

4 Online testing & evaluation

5 Collaboration tools & social media

6 Unified

communication & networking

7 Cloud computing & SaaS

8 High performance computing

9 Campus management

systems & student lifecycle management

10 Identity



46 MARC ALEXISREMOND EDU talks all things HD with the global director of Polycom

PRODUCTION & LOGISTICS SR GM OPERATIONS: Shivshankar M Hiremath PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE: Vilas Mhatre LOGISTICS: MP Singh, Mohamed Ansari, Shashi Shekhar Singh

By Smita Polite

management & digital security

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68 GURCHARAN DAS Making a life, versus making a living


66 BOOKS Whispering Mind DIY Media In The Classroom An Educational Psychology Of Methods In Multicultural Education
















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67 PRODUCTS Apple iPod Nano Solar-powered tablet-iSlate


Certain content in this publication is copyright of The Chronicle of Higher Education and has been reprinted with permission










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November 2010 EDUTECH


Shankar Sastry Anand Sudarshan Pritam Singh Karan Singh V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai Rishikesha T. Krishnan Dheeraj Sanghi Ganesh Natarajan Rakesh Mohan L.K. Maheshwari Yash Pal Michael Gibbons Nick Hutton Rajiv Sethi Raghav Gupta Bharat Gulia Ajit Rangnekar M.P.Kapoor Kir an Karnik Vijay Kumar Ashok Kolaskar Stephen Carson Rebecca Bushnell Aaron B. Schwarz Satya Narayanan R Sam Pitroda Raj Warrier Kamal Karlapalem Paolo Cancelli Umashankar Venkatesh Surabhi Banerjee Furqan Qamar Ernest J. Wilson III Abhishek Mohan Gupta Manindra Agrawal M.G.K. Menon Raghunath Anant Mashelkar Anwar Ali Rajiv Divekar Ramdas Pai Beela Satyanarayan P.K. Gupta M.G. Sreekuamar Rajeev Shorey Arindam Das J.Frank Brown H.A Ranganath Namit Kapoor Shankar Sastry Vinay Hebbar Dinesh Singh Latha Pillai Fr. Xavier Alphonse Jagdish Arora S.Ashok Ashok Ranchhod Surjit Singh Pabla J.S. Sodhi Ashok Joshi S.K. Bhati G.N. Tiwari G.V. Selvam Rahul Choudaha Siddiq Wahid Rajendra Pawar Arun S. Nigavekar Gerald Ross H.S. Ballal Atul Chauhan R.C. Malhotra D.P. Kothari Shyam menon B. Mahadevan Indira Parikh Deepak Pental N.K. Singh Vibha Puri Das Ravi Singh M.N. Faruqui Uday Salunkhe Dheeraj Mathur Vijay Gupta S. Parasuraman Uma Ganesh S. K. Gulhati Deepak Chandra EDU celebrates a year in November. Ashok Kapoor D.Purandeswari Anil SachWe would like to dev Rajeev Sangal Abhijit Mukherjee Sanjeev take this opportunity Mittal Bharat Parmar Vikramaditya G. Yadav to thank all the leadGanapati D. Yadav R.Gopal S Manikutty Basav ers of higher Roychoudhury Aman Mittal Sriram Feite van Dijk

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November 2009

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Hotel School The Hague Asian School of Business Management Bhubaneshwar Lovely Professional University Great Lakes Institute of Management BI Norwegian School of Management – Oslo International Institute of Information Technology – Hyderabad Indian School of Business Tata Institute of Social Sciences Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management Harvard Business Publishing MIT IIT Bombay Management Development Institute (MDI) Narendra Laljani Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi Wharton BITS Pilani IIM Bangalore School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL) Princeton University VIT University Ambedkar University Inflibnet Centre UGC INSEAD Ansal Institute of Technology ICFAI Business School NAAC Delhi University MICA Sikkim Manipal University Amity University IIT Delhi Jamia Millia Islamia Jadhavpur University Islamic University NIT Rourkela UC Berkeley IIM Ahmedabad IIM Lucknow IIT Kanpur Indian Institute of Technology Chennai NIIT University Leeds Met India IIT Hyderabad University of Pennsylvania OpenCourseWare Consortium Merittrac Pune University IMI Delhi Manipal University Manipal Education Ernst & Young IGNOU Technopak U21Global Teri University Andhra University MT Ghaziabad Thapar University University of education and Southern California Sharda University institutions who have travelled IIM Kozhikode Pearl Academy of Fashion Lawwith us, guided rence Technological University Duke Corporate us and been an Education India Symbiosis Institute of Manageinspiration. ment Annenberg School for Communication

v ersary

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DINESH SINGH TAKES OVER AS DU’S VC Dinesh Singh (see picture right), former Director of Delhi University’s (DU) South Campus and its Pro Vice Chancellor, took over from Deepak Pental as Vice Chancellor of DU. Dr Singh graduated from St Stephen’s College and is a distinguished mathematician. He received his doctorate from Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, London. He has taught at St Stephens College, IIT Delhi, and Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.

MICHIGAN, JINDAL LAW SCHOOLS TO COLLABORATE Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal talks to Richard Levin, President of Yale University (left)


Yale, IIT & IIM To Team Up Centres of Excellence for academic leadership to start at IIT Kanpur and IIM Kozhikode


ndian Institute of Management, Kozhikode; Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; and Yale University, USA, entered a partnership recently to support Indian higher education, through a slew of academic leadership development programmes for higher education leaders. The programmes will focus on research mainly. In this regard, an MoU was signed between Dr Richard Levin, President of Yale, Dr Debashis Chatterjee, Director of IIM Kozhihode, and Dr Sanjay Dhande, Director of IIT Kanpur, in presence of HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and D. Purandeswari, Minister of State for HRD. Speaking on the occasion, Kapil Sibal said that this partnership, to begin from January 2011, will be sited at the two new Centres of Excellence for Academic Leadership or CEAL, to be established at the IIM Kozhikode and IIT Kanpur. The partnership will be for five years. A six-member committee, with equal participation from the three partnering institutes, will determine the norms and qualifications for these programmes. Its flagship session, titled “India–Yale University Leadership Programme”, will be developed by Yale, in consultation with IIM Kozhikode and IIT Kanpur.


EDUTECH November 2010

Michigan Law School and Jindal Global Law School have signed an agreement to establish a Joint Centre for Global Corporate and Financial Law and Policy. The agreement is expected to open doors for future co-operative efforts between the two schools, said a joint statement from Michigan and OP Jindal Global University. The MoU was signed by the two Deans, Evan Caminker and C. Raj Kumar. The areas of planned cooperation are the regulation of financial markets, research and legal policy analysis, and facilitating development of collaborative research and teaching.

MDI GURGAON OPENS CAMPUS IN WEST BENGAL Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon, promoted by IFCI, has launched its Murshidabad campus. Spread across 13 acres, the campus will be one of the most modern in the country, aimed at nurturing future professionals with a global outlook. MDI Murshidabad will establish itself as a “centre of excellence” in management education, high-quality research, executive development, and value-added consultancy. The curriculum will be suited to local needs and national aspirations.

UPDATES launch

Manipal Education To Set Up Manipal International University Multi-disciplinary university of global standards to come up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


anipal Education, on November 19, announced the start of a Manipal International University or MIU, in Kuala Lumpur. The university is being set up after an invitation from the Malaysian government. After Melaka Manipal Medical College, MIU will be the second institution to be set up in Malaysia under the aeigis of Manipal Education. With a planned investment of upto RM 650 million over the next five years, Manipal International University (MIU) will be a multidisciplinary university that will cater to Malaysian and international students coming in from ASEAN countries, North Asia, India, the Middle East and Central Asia, who are increasingly choosing the country as an education destina-

A tie-up starts

tion. Over a period of time, MIU expects upto 50 percent of its student population to come from overseas. The first batch is expected to commence in the next year from an interim campus. Its permanent campus will come up within three years after commencement. The university will

offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in engineering, management, commerce, law, animation and design, and hospitality and tourism. Programmes offered at the university will be designed and developed in close partnership with industries. The university will also enter into academic collaborations with universities from around the world, including Manipal University, India. Centres of Excellence in the university would be specifically focused on research and faculty development. MIU will also have an “Entrepreneurial Development Centre”, which would build the foundation for fostering a stronger entrepreneurial ethos in Malaysia; and will create the infrastructure to incubate entrepreneurial initiatives.


Berkeley Latest Entrant To $50,000 Club IN 2009-10 there were 58. Today, there are around 100 institutions charging $50,000 or more, as tuition, fee, room and board charges, says College Board; a major rise from the year before, when five colleges were priced over $50,000. It seems that $50,000-mark for a year has become a norm at US’s elite colleges. College Board’s data report on “Trends in College Pricing for 2010” showed that four-year public universities have also raised tuition by 8 percent in 2010, almost twice the 4.5 percent average increase for tuition at America’s private universities. It seems that public university tuition has increased faster than private tuition in each of the last four years, and in eight out of the last nine years, by an average of 3 percent per year. The latest public institution to join that elite club: the University of California at Berkeley is charging out-of-state residents $50,649. (The price for in-state residents is $27,770.) All of the other 99 colleges charging $50,000 or more are private.



is what Berkeley is asking for from students

the rate of hike for US-based, public university tuition fee 8% isfour-year

November 2010 EDUTECH


UPDATES celebration

NIIT Celebrates Its First Year Anniversary 100-acre green campus at Neemrana takes off as a ‘New Model in Higher Education’


IIT University recently hosted its Second Annual Lecture by Karan Singh, Chairperson NIIT University and Member of Parliament, on university campus at Neemrana. Gurcharan Das, acclaimed author, playwright and former CEO of Procter&GambleIndia, addressed the audience on “The Importance of Being Humane”. Rajendra Pawar, Founder of NIIT University and its Chairman, Rajeev Shorey, NIIT President, and other eminent guests were present on the occasion. AT the occasion, Singh congratulated Pawar and his team on the successful completion of a year. He stressed upon the holistic approach to knowledge and said that modern education system should be interdisciplinary, whereby students are not only exposed to the latest technology, but also to the rich, pluralistic, multi-faceted spiritual and intellectual heritage of India. He congratulated NIIT for implementing seamless, industry-linked, research-driven, technology-

The NIIT University celebrates its first birthday

based education. Singh went on to add that, “NU gives a glimpse of what future educational institutions can be.” While addressing the audience, Das stressed on the role of education in shaping individual personalities. His speech drew inspiration from his latest book— The Difficulty of Being Good. Das said that “true progress” could be achieved when people marry age-old moral and ethical structures with the education system. (Excerpts of the speech has been carried on


Sibal Bags Three Portfolios Kapil Sibal takes over the telecom ministry from A. Raja and science and technology ministry from Chavan HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal in November bagged the additional charge of the telecom ministry. Sibal will hold the charge of the ministry formerly held by A. Raja, who resigned after facing allegations in a 2G spectrum allocation scam. Sibal assumed additional charge of the science and technology ministry


EDUTECH November 2010

also in November. With the telecom ministry, Sibal now holds three ministries. The arrangement is being seen as a “temporary one”, keeping in mind the ongoing Parliament session, and at a time when the Centre is facing a lot of heat over scam allegations. Sibal took over the charge of science and technology ministry from Prithviraj

the last page of the magazine.) Pawar said, “In years to come India will be known for its innovation and research. Hence, the need of the hour is to look at the future requirements of the knowledge society. And establish a new model of higher education. In this century of the mind, India will gain pre-eminence owing to holistic and seamless education. NIIT is a step in that direction.” Shorey called it an “honour” to be associated with NIIT during its formative years.

Chavan, who was appointed the chief minister of Maharashtra. While accepting his responsibilities, Sibal, a renowned lawyer-turned-politician, said that it “was necessary that both the MHRD and the science and technology ministry work in tandem”. “I am looking forward to an alliance between human resource development ministry, science and technology ministry and University Grants Commission to strive and bag combined funding for projects,” he said. Previously, Sibal was the science and technology minister in the first UPA government between 2004 and 2009.

UPDATES collaboration

PM Talks of US, India Ties

The two countries will hold a higher education summit in 2011


rime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 8, said partnership between India and the US on education held “great promise”, as no other countries were “better equipped to be partners in building the knowledge economy of the future”. “Co-operation in the field of education holds great promise because no other countries are better equipped to be partners in building the knowledge economy of the future,” Singh said in his opening remarks at a

joint news conference with US President Barack Obama at the Hyderabad House. Nearly 100,000 Indian students are studying in American i n s t i t u t e s i n t h e U S . Si n g h announced that the two countries would hold a higher education summit next year. This year, a three-day summit was organised in July in Mumbai. He added, “The US is one of our largest trading partners. Indian investments have helped to increase the competitiveness of the US economy.”

VOICES “I THINK WE NEED TO EMBRACE AUTONOMY, MERITOCRACY AND ENHANCE INTERACTION between universities here and outside, particularly those that have performed better than we have” —N.R. NARAYANA MURTHY, Chairperson, Infosys Technologies

“ THE WEST HAS HUMAN RESOURCES but no jobs, and India has jobs, but no trained human resources. We need more college students” — KAPIL SIBAL, Union HRD Minister, India


Vedanta Land Hopes Squashed By HC

Orissa High Court directs that the the land acquired for Vedanta University Project be returned to its ‘rightful owners’


he Orissa High Court recently quashed the process of land acquisition for Vedanta University in Puri. The HC directed the government to return the acquired land to its owners. The division bench of Chief Justice V. Gopal Gouda and Justice B.P. Das delivered their verdict in response to eight petitions. The court declared that the land acquisition notification for Vedanta University project is illegal. The court quashed the notification. The Anil Agarwal Foundation, promoted by chairman of Britain’s Vedanta Resources Anil Agarwal, was setting up the multi-disciplinary Vedanta University near the Konark-Puri marine drive. The university was to come up in over 6,000 acres with a phased investment of INR 150 billion ($3.5 billion). But the project faces opposition from residents. Some people who lost their land had sought the intervention of the court describing land acquisition for the project as illegal. “We have been opposing the land acquisition since the beginning because it was illegal. Now the court has came to the rescue of people. The judgment is historical,” Umaballav Ratha, one of the petitioners. The Union environment ministry had earlier refused clearance to Vedanta’s mining project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri hills.

“AS INDIA MODERNISES grows and plays a larger role in world affairs, we will need an ever-expanding pool of human resources, the quality of which will have to be second to none. We will need global leaders in education, entrepreneurship, technology and management — MANMOHAN SINGH, Prime Minister, India

YOU NEED THREE THINGS AND IF YOU GET THESE RIGHT, YOU WILL DO GREAT FOR YOUR COUNTRY. YOU NEED TO GET YOUR GOVERNANCE RIGHT. Second, you need to get your economic policies right. Lastly, you need to get your education right, — THOMAS FRIEDMAN, Author, Columnist

November 2010 EDUTECH



Rahul Choudaha

2015: Arrival Of The Gen-Q And Quality


ndian higher education is characterised by a two-tier structure—a handful of quality institutions co-existing with a number of mediocre ones. Much has been written about the “lack of quality” among Indian institutions, and how the situation should be fixed at a policy, or institutional, level. However, one of the major influencer, in my opinion, will be demand from the students of the future. That demand will force institutions to shape up and offer quality programmes. These prospective students will be the children hailing from the upper middleclass strata of professionals, with a capacity to pay for “quality education”.

It is clear by now that the pace and growth of the Indian economy has generated a new class of wealthy Indians. According to an Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, the number of (US dollar) millionaires in India rose from being 43,000 in 2008, to reach 1,27,000 in 2009. This prosperity has changed consumer expectations. It has given Indians a purchasing power. And, a higher capacity to afford quality. To remain competitive and to maximise market opportunities, organisations need to respond to this consumer demand. This responsiveness is already being seen in the car industry.


EDUTECH November 2010

Indian consumers are moving up the value chain, as far as quality and price is concerned, and car companies are being forced to constantly innovate and deliver.

Gen-Q: Rich Kids Expect Quality As far as I understand, our higher education will be forced to be more “quality-conscious”, as demand (for quality) will rise among the children of new-age professionals, who can afford to pay. When I talk of new-age professionals, I refer to those involved in high-growth sectors such as telecommunication, financial services and insurance, who have benefited from the liberalisation and privatisation of the economy. This will result in corresponding growth in compensation, and lifestyle changes. A special case among these professionals is the information technology (IT) professionals. They have witnessed an even steeper growth when it comes to pay. According to NASSCOM, the number of knowledge workers in the Indian IT industry has grown eight-fold in the past 10 years—from less than 200,000 in 1998 to 1.6 million in 2007. I define Gen-Q as the children born in the late Nineties to parents working in these new-age industries such as IT and telecommunications. Gen-Q will start going to college from 2015 and, be sure, they will expect quality education.



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Rahul Choudaha

This demand (for quality) is evident from the growth of international schools in India. For example, the number of students in IB programmes has grown at a CAGR of 25 percent in the five-year period from 2005-09. Apart from the expectation of quality, Gen-Q will influence Indian higher education in different ways: there will be demand for international experience, for autonomous decision-making, acceptance of diverse fields and higher pricing of programmes.

Greater Expectations The Gen-Q is expected to graduate from competitive private schools. Having gone through that experience, these students will expect a suitable transition, not only in terms of quality of core teaching and learning opportunities, but also in terms of an engaged and rich campus life. This will mean that even the quality of faculty, studentteacher ratio and personalised attention will start becoming important differentiators. The Gen-Q will be used to a comfortable lifestyle, it will expect world-class facilities and support services.


gathering process will be influenced by internet and social media. Gen-Q will trust the advice of peers on social media platforms such as Facebook—more than a family member. Though, parents will play a key role, as far as funding is concerned, the Gen-Q will be self-directed in terms of how they want to shape their educational future.

Acceptance Of Diverse Study Fields Another aspect related to autonomous decisionmaking is openness to considering and accepting a wide range of careers and programmes. Programmes in liberal arts and humanities, provided that quality is offered, will get more popular. Interdisciplinary programmes (read international affairs or environmental studies) will also gain traction. Subsequently, several of these Gen-Q students may wish to study abroad for myriad postgraduate programmes.

Higher Price Programmes Ten years ago, ISB launched its MBA with a price tag of $25,000. It seemed exorbitantly expensive.

en-Q is expected to graduate from competitive private schools; having gone through that, these students will expect a suitable transition

Demand For International Experiences Gen-Q will demand more international experience, as far as education is concerned. This will compel institutions to seek more international partnerships and develop study-abroad programmes. Student exchange programmes are already becoming an expected norm for the better MBA programmes. However, this expectation will become more important at an undergraduate level. Institutions will be required to approach internationalisation in a comprehensive manner and deliver high-level of student services to meet expectations of Indian and foreign students.

Autonomous Decision-making Gen-Q would exhibit a higher level of autonomy in the decision-making process—it will decide for itself what colleges to be in and which programmes to pursue. Its opinion and information-


EDUTECH November 2010

Today, ISB charges about $45,000 and it’s quite evident from the number of applications received by it that even with this price, people find the programme investment worthy. Price increase of programmes will be driven not only by students’ capacity to pay, but also because of higher cost structures required for offering quality faculty and facilities. Beginning 2015, Indian higher education is set to witness a major change in terms of expectations; for quality—primarily driven by demand. This will be a fast and sudden change, presenting opportunities and challenges for institutions. Survival and growth of many will depend on preparing for this change and focusing on quality for long-term competitiveness. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at

Rahul Choudaha A higher education specialist based out of New York, Dr Choudaha specialises in strategic management of higher education, institution building, academic leadership, collaborations and market development. He has a PhD in higher education from the University of Denver, MBA from NITIE, Mumbai, and BE from Jabalpur University. He can be reached at



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Rishikesha T. Krishnan

Design Thinking In Higher Education


ndian higher education is on the threshold of major change. New regulatory structures, government-funded universities, collaboration models (innovation universities), and the entry of foreign universities, are all on the anvil. While these measures may not solve some of the bigger problems (low gross enrolment ratio), they could well provide the shake-up that our system needs. In middle of all this excitement, we would do well if we pay heed to doubts being raised about the sustainability of the “American university model”. Top US schools are presumably our role models. But, their current business model is asset-heavy, leading to high costs as far as students are concerned. While the US universities are renowned for the quality of their scholarship and prodigious research, their faculty are pampered by low-teaching loads, frequent sabbaticals, and post-tenure absence of pressure to perform. In other words, the American system is facultycentric. Sprawling campuses are a treat to the eye, but cost an arm and a leg to maintain. Fees at US universities continue to rise steadily, outstripping the rate of inflation. Students and parents groan under the weight of increasing tuition burden. Commentators have gone so far as to ask if this could ultimately result in US universities going the way of the US automobile industry—too bloated to be competitive. Is this what we want to replicate in India? Can we afford such a model? Or, can we come up with alternate models that borrow the best from the west, yet


EDUTECH November 2010

remain scalable at a reasonable cost? A stream of thought in contemporary higher education could be of help here—design thinking. It is the application of principles of design to areas such as higher education which has been outside its ambit traditionally.

Delving Into Design Thinking Design thinking emphasises an understanding of problems and needs of users. It starts with secondary research, but moves into a discovery phase, where it focuses on observing users in their natural habitat—how they grapple with problems. It encourages experimentation, prototyping and testing, before scaling-up. In recent years, design has embraced sustainability and ecological concerns. And, design thinking facilitates incorporation of the “local idiom” (our current 1 and 2 coins featuring Bharatanatyam mudras are excellent examples). In his recent book Idea by Design, the CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown, emphasises this point by quoting Henry Ford: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs sees design as a discovery, rather than an invention process. Closer home, Titan has shown how design thinking can ignite industries. Wouldn’t higher education in India benefit from such a fresh perspective? What would design thinking offer Indian higher education?

Rishikesha T. Krishnan

Advantage; New Thought For one, it helps ensure that we solve the right problems at the right time. It helps create options. It ensures that change is grounded in the needs of users, and are sustainable. It is known that students in urban India spend hours on social networking sites and internet. Design thinking could make us pause to ask how this phenomenon can be used to the advantage of higher education. After all, technology has the potential to bridge the gap between richness and “reach”. Design thinking could help integrate technology seamlessly with the learning process. It could help find new ways to balance face-to-face contact with faculty, and resource utilisation. Acquiring tracts of farmland for non-agricultural uses has become a contentious issue in India. Design thinking could lead us to question whether horizontally sprawling campuses are necessary to create a sense of space. Elements of design thinking have already seeped into higher education. But, it remains more on the periphery. Instructional design is one such approach



ASU’s new model has been guided by eight design aspirations: 1. Leverage Our Place; 2. Transform Society; 3. Value Entrepreneurship; 4. Conduct Useinspired Research; 5. Enable Student Success; 6. Fuse Intellectual Disciplines; 7. Be Socially Embedded; and 8. Engage Globally. This has enabled ASU to transcend traditional roles and direct its attention to bigger problems—its new bio design institute that seeks to produce cost-effective vaccine for pneumonia. Design thinking has made a difference. In August 2008, Newsweek described ASU as “one of the most radical redesigns in higher education.” Earlier, Nature (26 August, 2007) observed that “the university of the future will be inclusive of broad swaths of the population, actively engaged in issues that concern them, relatively open to commercial influence, and fundamentally interdisciplinary in its approach to both teaching and research”.

The India Way In India, the potential for application of design thinking is immense. With so many new institu-

nstructional design incorporates usercentricity by focusing on learning objectives, outcomes and measures of every course

that incorporates user-centricity by focusing on the learning objectives, outcomes and measures of every course. However, such instructional design appears to be more prevalent in for-profit training institutions, than universities. Design thinking is reflected in the planning and architecture of new buildings and facilities on some campuses. For example, Clark Centre, which houses Stanford University’s pioneering inter-disciplinary bio X programme, was designed to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration by providing windows that help people look into laboratories and locate staircases and walkways outside the building, so that you pass these windows as you walk around. Arguably the most ambitious use of design thinking in contemporary academia has been the Arizona State University’s (ASU) “New American University” project. ASU President Michael Crow encouraged the design theme of “going back to basics”. He questioned the fundamental assumptions by asking “do you replicate what exists, or do you design what you need?”

tions being set up, we have an opportunity to look at things afresh. Applying design thinking, we should see the higher education process as a mind and personality-shaping experience. For one, we can re-jig the two-year MBA programmes; its format has probably outlived its utility. As my colleague J. Ramachandran and I argued in a recent op-ed piece in The Economic Times, the current format is resource-inefficient. At least in our top business schools, students come from the best schools and have the ability to absorb ideas. In such a context, it’s not clear if the second-year adds much value. ISB and INSEAD have shown that it’s possible to offer well-designed one-year programmes without adverse effects. It’s time to ask fundamental questions about higher education in India with a single focus—the student. Design thinking offers the most holistic perspective to academic programmes. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at

Rishikesha T. Krishnan Dr Krishnan is a professor of corporate strategy at IIM Bangalore. He has an MSc in Physics from IIT Kanpur, MS in engineeringeconomic systems from Stanford University, and a PhD from IIM Ahmedabad. He can be reached at

November 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology COVER STORY Technology

Are you using them today? EDU’s survey reveals the state of adoption and use

nstitutions today cannot remain unaffected by technology. In their quest to reach goals such as gross enrolment ratio of 30 percent by 2020, and to do so with minimum resources, institutions must resort to technology. Remoteness, ignorance and the lack of support and infrastructure, cannot be treated as ‘excuses’ anymore. Be aware of what options exist before you and what you must do to live up to the expectations of GenQ. EDU brings to you the absolute ‘technology must-haves’ that will help institutions become ‘today’s centres of excellence’. We also present to you, a snapshot of an EDU survey. We spoke to leaders in higher education sector and found out just how ready are the institutions to tackle the GenQ needs

1 Classroom technologies 2 Digital libraries 3 Online learning & virtual classroom 4 Online testing & evaluation 5 Collaboration tools & social media 6 Unified communication & networking

7 Cloud computing & SaaS 8 High performance computing 9 Campus management systems & BY ANIL T

student life-cycle management

10 Identity management & digital security

COVER STORY Technology


Indian educational institutions are focusing on in-classroom technologies for better delivery of knowledge BY PRATEEK MALHOTRA IMAGINE THE

classroom that was; teacher drones on, fills a blackboard with scribbles that the boy in the last bench can’t figure out. Some students understand what’s being said. Most don’t. As examination time approaches, the cramming starts. Groan!

New Learning System Now, take a classroom of today. The teacher uses innovative technologies— the problems are simulated, pointed out and questions are most welcome! The display is clear and explanations are visual. Students grasp a concept. Those who don’t, start a spirited discussion. Learning can be fun, interactive and student-centric. Clearly, focus today has shifted towards learning. It’s not about teacher-led lectures anymore. “With the use of in-classroom technologies, our lectures turn from a teaching experience to a learning experience,” says Anushree Raju, a first-year student


EDUTECH November 2010

of MBA-HR at Amity University, Noida. How is this shift happening? Through the use of in-classroom technologies that bring in interactivity to the learning. Institutes are now keen to adopt better teaching and learning models. Computers, laptops, internet and wireless campuses are becoming a default infrastruc-

ture in most institutes of higher learning. In most metros, schools have adopted in-classroom technologies in a big way. Thus, when these batches of schoolchildren take admission into a higher education institute, they look forward to being taught in an interactive and collaborative environment.

What’s On Offer? High up in the list of must-haves in a modern classroom is “interactive whiteboards”. These connect to a computer or a projector, to facilitate group interaction and information sharing. Then there are the “installation projectors”, which come with comprehensive “A student, with 3D connectivity and technology, can have networking capaan immersive view of bilities. Also a project or a thing” available are Abhilesh Guleria, “ m o b i l e” o r Country Head, MMPG&ITPF Business, NEC India

Technology COVER STORY

“desktop projectors”, which are light. These grant teachers a lot of mobility. LCD displays are also common—they allow content to be displayed in a static or dynamic manner. “This method of teaching is a blessing when compared to the monotonous teaching-oriented system that was there in our school days,” says Raju. “This way, even our teachers are able to combine their understanding with e-books, e-journals and international publications. It is a more international way of learning things,” Raju adds.

All Geared Up IITs and IIMs have been the early adopters of new-age technologies. Following their cue, both public and private institutes are now upgrading to the latest versions of technologies mentioned before. Most institutes now work on “BOOT” (Build, Operate, Own, Transfer) model in order to incorporate cutting-age tech-

nologies. Institutions and colleges are also laying emphasis on developing content that complements these technologies by making sure that the content provided is designed keeping in view the use of projector or other technologies.

3D: The Road Ahead

wants to plan a town, with the help of 3D technology he can have an immersive view of the whole thing. He can fly through it; rotate it; move it up and down; have multiple angle snap shots, and thus plan it in a better way,” says Abhilesh Guleria, country head of MMPG & ITPF business, NEC India. “This technology makes education a little more relevant, specifically because its impact is probably 10 times more than the audio or plain words,” adds Guleria. Educational content providers are working towards generating 3D enabled content—as content is the key for 3D usage. Progressive 3D usage in projection and other technologies will be experienced as soon as the content becomes available. Besides this, digital signage is expected to catch up among the most important in-classroom technologies. Efforts are being made towards combining projection technologies and interactive multi-touch technologies. This combination, teaching is in for some big changes, says Guleria. It will be possible to interact, have discussion boards, whiteboards and comments coming in on the same screen with multiple people contributing online.

If films, and now the television, can turn 3D, can the in-classroom visual technologies be far behind? With institutions showing interest in adopting it, 3D is slowly gaining ground. 3D technology more impact on brings in a never-seenbefore prospect into learnstudents is ing. Visual impact and expected from 3D immersive viewing, technology enabled by 3D, takes learning to another level. “If a student wishes to design a skyscraper or


Roadmap Institutions planning to implement in-classroom technology on campus, need to prepare the infrastructure and mindset before they take the plunge. Most of these technologies have easy deployment and installation features. Institutions know a lot regarding their usage already. But keeping the Indian November 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology sensibilities in mind, a lot of other things need to be considered. For instance, avoiding misuse of the technology and weather conditions. These products are easy to use, most functions are in-built and don’t require engineers to operate them. However, teachers and students using it should be trained.

Centre Speak The government’s part in contributing towards in-classroom technology has gained momentum. There are “informa-


IN-CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGIES Classroom technologies and teaching aids are tools that make learning interactive and hold the attention of Gen-Y Typically a class can use the following technologies: 1. Interactive Whiteboards 2. Projectors 3. Audio Visual Systems 4. Laptops 5. Virtual Learning Environment 6. Simulation Software ADVANTAGES Interesting Interactive Real world connect

tion and communication technology” or ICT-based projects where the Centre is putting a great deal of emphasis: on the usage of visual and projection technology. ICT has now become an integral part of the government’s “big mission projects”. However, at the moment it is important to focus simultaneously on developing infrastructure and preparing people to adopt the technology. “In-classroom technologies are just tools. Unless a basic infrastructure exists on a sustainable basis, to run and utilise the tools, and the people are trained, there is no use in deploying the technology. The government needs to focus on this right now,” says Guleria.


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Digital libraries do not just give a way to access knowledge from other institutions, they help create a repository of the work being done within an institution BY SUMA E.P. THERE WAS A TIME,

ing higher education in India. Instituwhen a well-stocked library was asset tions of higher learning are increasingly enough. Now, students and teachers setting up their repositories to showcase know that a little more is required. Pertheir research outputs in the form of haps, it is more important to tap into the published articles and publications, wealth of knowledge that lies outside the available in “Open Access” for the acalibrary building, campus and, perhaps, demic community. even the country. As creation of content This, in turn, increases the visibility of firmly moves into the digital domain, it’s an institution’s research and results in becoming critical for higher education higher citations to articles available in institutions to figure out how they make “Open Access” through institutional their research data accessible and availrepositories. “Open Access Initiative” is able to all. And not only provide access to a worldwide attempt to encourage free others, but also access and unrestricted online journals, research availability and sharing of papers, e-books, videos material. and e-content relevant to their -domain. Welcome institutes that Venkatesh L.S. of Ecole to the digital library. participated in Global, a technology soluD r Ja g d i s h A r o r a , EDU’s survey use tions provider enabling Director, INFLIBNET, an teaching and learning inter-university centre of IT tools in their delivery, says, “Quality of UGC, says, “Digital libraries higher education varies libraries are transform-



Technology COVER STORY from one institution to another. Digital libraries and knowledge repositories can play a significant role in bridging this gap—as access to scholarly material can be made available to students irrespective of location. Students pursuing social sciences, arts, history and related subjects are often disadvantaged, as they are the ones who need access to material for research and reference the most. Many a times these resources are out of print, or not available in a local library. Digital libraries will be a boon for such students.”

Digital Library: Trends Dr Arora points out some of the initiatives taken by the government in this area. “The Centre is setting up a ‘Library Consortia’ to enable access to subscription-based digital libraries. This is meant for government-funded institutions. Some of them are: UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium for universities; INDEST-AICTE Consortium for IITs, NITs, IISERs, NIITs, IIMs and technical institutions; National Knowledge Resource Consortium for CSIR and DST institutions; DELCON for DBT institutions; CeRA for agriculture libraries; N-LIST for colleges,” he says. He adds, “The MHRD, through its National Mission on Education and ICT, is funding projects for making online courseware and making them available in ‘Open Access’. Such initiatives would make high-quality information available to Indian citizens not only in urban areas, but also in rural areas. This will impact higher education in a positive way.” Venkatesh points out the trend in technologies being used in digital libraries. He says, “The awareness of open source technologies and tools has grown. That makes it easy for higher educational institutions to build digital libraries. However, the proliferation is still low in the country.”

Are You Ready? How prepared are Indian higher education institutes to adopt digital libraries? Dr Arora says, “Digital libraries for institutions

DIGITAL LIBRARIES No physical boundary. The user of a digital library need not to go to the library physically; people from all over the world can gain access to the same information, as long as an internet connection is available.

ADVANTAGES 1.Round the clock availability 2.Multiple access 3. Easy information retrieval 4. Preservation and conservation 5. Saves space 6. Easily accessible

may mean i) buying access to digital content from commercial publishers, or through open access digital libraries; ii) setting-up your own digital library for submitting content generated in-house and making it available to rest of the academic community. While most educational institutions (at least at the university level) have the basic network infrastructure, i.e. internet connectivity and “Digital libraries can internet-enabled PCs, play a significant most universities may role in bridging the not have the ICT gap between instituinfrastructure and tions” expertise to set up Venkatesh L.S. their digital libraries.” Ecole Global And that’s where institutions like INFLIBNET help: it has set up digital repositories like ShodhGanga ( that enables universities to deposit students’ theses; and ShodhSagar (with funding from MHRD) for depositing research articles published by universities. Venkatesh mentions that the readiness of an institution is dependent on stakeholders such as students and researchers, who will be accessing these; the faculty who need to contribute to the repository; and librarians, who need to facilitate the process and the infrastructure. “Students are usually tech-savvy. They will be ready to access, if resources are available. The faculty should be willing to invest time and effort to learn and repurpose available content for deployment on digital library technologies. Librarians should focus on quality of the content, meta data and delivery by choosing the right technologies, ensuring compliance to international meta data and standards, and providing the required literacy to the other stakeholders. There should be workshops to ensure that the skill sets are created and knowledge transfer is encouraged.” So, how can any institution get ready to set up a digital library? Dr Arora says that educational institutions should develop computing and network infrastructure and take advantage of the internet offered by NKN (National Knowledge Network) or the NME-ICT (National Mission on Education-ICT) . “They should take advantage of the consortium-based access to e-resources. Consortia provides private institutions the scope to join and benefit from the access to e-resources at discounted prices. They could join the ‘open access movement’ and set up institutional repositories, either directly, or join INFLIBNET (ShodhGanga and ShodhSagar),” he says. Venkatesh agrees that the management team of institutions should recognise that digital libraries add value to the faculty and students. The management must provide the required support to those involved in implementation. November 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology “They need to articulate the vision, so that stakeholders understand the importance of implementing digital libraries, or the need to incentivise the faculty and students to encourage proactive participation. “An institution management should also be willing to embrace proposals from others for any collaborative efforts and create shared repositories.”

Digital libraries are the need of the hour for higher education institutes, because that world is increasingly becoming a flat one. There are many initiatives by the government to enable easy setting up of the infrastructure or easy access to content. The know-how is already available in the country. Each institution now requires to engage in some soul searching to get on to the path of the digital libraries.


Online learning and virtual classrooms unleash the ability of an institute to reach out to more students in interactive and collaborative form BY ANKUSH BAKSHI TODAY the internet gives students and teachers several sources of learning: search engines, wikipedia and social media platforms. Their biggest takers are students, who resort to these in a big way. Is it possible to ignore the power of the online medium in delivering courseware and lectures today? It is not. With improving connectivity across the country, delivery of video content is also not as prohibitive as it used to be some years ago. Interactive content, live classroom sessions and collaboration across geographies, is now happening. Online learning provides a technological advantage for students as well as the institutes. The former are no longer restricted to conventional learning meth-


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odologies. Those who can’t keep pace For example, the National Programme with classroom lectures can choose to opt on Technology Enhanced Learning for a model that suits their learning styles (NPTEL) allows students to learn from and convenience. This platform also IIT and IISc faculty—even if they aren’t gives from different backgrounds the a student of these institutions—for free. chance to communicate. The aim of NPTEL is to let a large numInstitutions also benefit as there is an ber audience, unable to attend scholarly increase in student interinstitutions, have access est. Online learning to quality content, created enables students to pursue on an AICTE format. or continue education NPTEL has web courses beyond the classroom and video content that institutes said through the internet. Stucan be accessed easily. It they plan to dents can access course also has a channel on install video-concontent, assignments, YouTube. ferencing in 6 video lectures or notes Another example of from either their homes or online learning is the months designated learning places. ‘Online Virtual Campus’


Technology COVER STORY run by Punjab Technical University in collaboration with Lovely International Trust. The campus offers BBA, MBA, MCA, MSc (IT) and some other courses. Virtual classrooms are a special form of online learning. They give the students an opportunity to be a part of live learning sessions. It’s just like attending a class, except that the students log in from different cities at the same time to attend lectures. Special software enable professors to conduct sessions, just as they do in a physical classroom. Students can raise hands, and if the session is webcam-enabled, teachers can keep a visual check on them, as well. The sessions can be recorded and uploaded to be viewed later by students who might have missed attending it. Being a part of the virtual classrooms students can not only learn, but also have a live interaction with all those participating in the virtual class. University18 has been using such an environment for students who can attend the lectures live from anywhere in the world. Raunak Singh Ahluwalia, Director, University18, says: “Learning Management Systems or Virtual Learning Environments, are software systems that organise such information and content in an educational setting, providing tools and controls to the institution, to enable publishing of academic content such as e-learning modules, e-books, or video lectures, to be able to control access to this content, to evaluate and assess students accessing this content, as well as interact with them either using live virtual classroom sessions or forums and discussion boards.”

Instruction material & tools

On Line Learning

Insructor evaluates and asseses students

He says, “The use of online learning systems and virtual classrooms has grown exceptionally in the past five years. The popularity and easy availability of the internet has allowed educational institutes across the country to take up the online learning and virtual classroom technology.” The use is not restricted merely to the IITs and IIMs, other colleges and institutes are also catching up. Private higher education institutions are readily spending time and money to crack an advantage over others. Ahluwalia says, “Increased collaboration, between private organisations and public institutions, has led to the development of innovative collaboration models and increased capabilities in the field of online learning”.

Helping Hand The main reason for the growth of online learning in Indian higher education has “These systems been governorganise information ment support. and content in an The governeducational setting” ment of India has funded variRaunak Singh Ahluwahlia, ous research and Director, University18 Information and

Instructor monitors and delivers content

Students at different locations receive content

Communication Technologies (ICT) projects. Ahluwalia says, “Budgetary allocations towards projects like NPTEL and the National Mission on Education through ICT, as well as spending by organisations like the Indira Gandhi National Open University, have provided for most of the groundbreaking work done in this field. All this is contributing towards making India an upcoming world leader in the online learning space.” ISRO has also provided support in making the technology convenient to use by providing satellite connectivity through Edusat, which is its educational satellite network. Edusat provides connectivity for institutions, the NTPEL initiative and Indira Gandhi National Open University. Many private players also provide connectivity for many of the online programmes available today.

Adopting Technology So how should an institute go about adopting online learning? The prime requirement is that the institute should be interested as well as be willing to adopt the technology. Institutions should work on a well thought out strategy, so that online learning is used as a primary practice and not as a supplementary project alone. Faculty from diverse November 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology

E-LEARNING e-learning is essentially the computer and networkenabled transfer of skills and knowledge e-learning applications and processes include web-based learning computer-based learning virtual classroom opportunities and digital collaboration (Wikipedia) ADVANTAGES It lets myriad forms of interactions among students It lets institutions to communicate with their students better departments can help as the Subject Matter Experts (SME) in developing the online content. Ahluwalia says, “Enabling an institution for the new age is a critical task and deserves all the time and attention we can put into it. Unfortunately, such initiatives often fail to take off due to a lack of management focus, clarity in vision and missing change management.” In terms of infrastructure an institute needs the requisite hardware, software and data connectivity. The amount of investment required depends primarily upon the number of people who will be using the services. An account with any web-hosting provider might hold good for an audience of 50 to 100 but a dedicated server is required for a larger audience. The investment gets bigger when an institute looks for more features such as live classes or live streaming. Ahluwalia says, “Online learning gives students access to some of the best brains in the field, something that was till recently the privilege available only to a handful ones fortunate enough to get into IITs and IIMs.” That is the real power of online learning. While the divide between the top institutes and their lesser counterparts cannot be bridged easily, online learning shows us a path to reduce the gap.


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Online testing offers accuracy, flexibility and security to students and teachers. Especially when compared to the widely-used manual examination and evaluation system, which is paperbased and has several drawbacks BY ANKUSH BAKSHI

Technology COVER STORY tem has drawbacks. Dr Udaya Shankar says, “Institutions have been conducting offline exams for a long time now. They have spent years polishing and perfecting the system. Despite that there are inherent flaws that cannot be ironed out. The lack of complete security, accuracy and instantaneous results are a few examples. Experts indicate that the answers to these problems lie in the realm of online examinations.” Manual testing and evaluation consists of a large amount of paperwork, for which space becomes a problem. On top of that question paper and answer sheet filing consumes a lot of time Manual testing and evaluation system is ineffective when it comes to filtering the right chunk of information from the mass of paperwork, or when you need to review or revaluate results. The manual system makes result processing slow and is a waste of time for the qualified and expensive faculty.

Simplifying Processes


of technology has been responsible for transforming the education sector. Technological initiatives have helped make the education system convenient, not just for students but for education providers as well. Online testing and evaluation is one such technology that has been adopted by modern education institutions in the past few years. Dr H.N. Udaya Shankar, Registrar (evaluation) of Manipal University, believes that, “Online exams can revolutionise higher education. It creates a secure and accurate test platform, with faster result processing, which is advantageous for stakeholders—institutions and students.”

Lack Of Security, Accuracy About 175 million examinations are held every year in Indian institutes. These include entrance and end-of-the-term tests. Most of these are offline, i.e. involve manual tests and evaluation. But, widely-used manual examination and evaluation sys-

Online testing and evaluation systems consist of a web-based software application that may be executed through a server by multiple clients. This software is capable of working in a flexible environment. And, it reduces human effort by cutting down paperwork. This technology works on the idea of providing a comprehensive computerised system, which can not only receive and retain inputs, but also can analyse them. As Dr Udaya Shankar explains, “Online tests are secure and can process results immediately with accuracy and, of course, with no logistical headaches. Assessment can be more objective and can be conducted simultaneously anywhere. Similarly, the subjective answer scripts can be evaluated by multiple examiners from any location through the net. Scores can be submitted to the system directly.” Infrastructure-wise, this technology requires a one-time investment on computers, software, servers and a question bank. It offers advantages such as usability, security, maintainability, availability and portability, which makes it a must-have. As Dr Shankar adds, “Online testing and evaluation gives students flexibility of date, time and location for objective-type examinations. It gives examiners flexibility of time and location for evaluating subjective answer papers.”

“Online tests are secure, can process results immediately with. Assessment can be objective” Udaya Shankar, Registrar, Evaluation, Manipal University

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COVER STORY Technology

Going Online


stage, while 15 percent have already begun. SevUniversities such as Manipal and Gujarat Techenty percent of all VCs, Registrars, CoEs were keen nological have been using online testing successon introducing online examinations and 68 perof students were cent of these respondents mentioned that they fully. Recently, CAT, that conducts India’s premier aware of online would do this in the coming 36 months. management entrance exam, also introduced testing, online testing—albeit with errors which, hopeStudents (95 percent of those interviewed), fully, would be smoothened out over time. John including those in Tier-III cities, also acknowlevaluation P.V., CEO of Japan India Network, and Technical edged that they are aware of online assessment. Director of Orell, believes, “We need to create Sixty-nine percent of them think universities that awareness among students, management and conduct such tests are technically advanced. parents. This technology is ready and will take little effort on the part of the management to implement.” Experts believe that the time is right to take up online testing. The government’s role becomes crucial at a time when With the presence companies around that have the expertise reports suggest that both institutions and students are eager to and the experience required for conducting online examinatake up the technology. As John P.V. points, out “The Centre tions, all that an educational institute needs to do to implecan guide an institute’s management on the availability of tools, ment online testing is to select one company and ask them to and encourage them to use them. The government should prohelp them implement a software engine and prepare staff vide grants for institutions to use these technologies.” through workshops. India’s first-ever comprehensive research report on the future The technology can reduce stress for both examiners and stuof examinations, released at the “EDGE2010 Conference”, dents. At the same time, it can reduce the chances of malpracreveals some interesting facts, like: 52 percent of VCs, Registices and impersonation. It is a fair, transparent and cost-effectrars and CoEs interviewed, showed interest in the concept, 15 tive system, capable of delivering instant results. percent confessed that they had already implemented it in some

Time Is Right


LEARNING If your students are on social networks, it’s time you considered having one for your institution. It can create a platform for all stakeholders to meet and collaborate fruitfully BY SUMA E.P. ALMOST

every young man or woman that you know today has an account on at least one social network. Most of them are likely to be YouTube regulars, and the more professionally inclines will be on LinkedIn. A set would also be reading their favourite stars tweet


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on Twitter. In short, students are spending a lot of time on networks. Instead of worrying about how to get them off these, the question is—how do you get in and some how (trick them) or make them a thing or two. Ask Dilip Thomas Ittyera, Founder

and CEO of Aikon Labs, a company that has built an idea management solution that solves this dilemma. “We believe that social learning will drive the next generation of students and academics. Social tools will drive learning in collaborative communities, made of students,

Technology COVER STORY faculty, guides, alumni, industry experts, and companies, who would be recruiting from these institutions.” That sets the tone for you to start seeing social networks as a single platform to engage with all stakeholders in a meaningful manner. Thus, it’s time now for institutes to start viewing social networks as a productive format for learning.

An Example Take IMT Ghaziabad, for instance. It runs a platform called IIT-G Connect, which brings together aspirants, students, alumni, faculty, corporate bodies, and international exchange students. There’s an amazing exchange of ideas, snippets, news, and gossip, too. Underneath all that fun, there’s some serious knowledge to be gained through trivia, blogs, galleries, videos and a host of other features. This social platform runs on Neighborhood Campus solution built by Azuriks Technologies, a start-up, focused on creating the next generation of social networking solutions.

Experiential Learning Srinivas Seshadri, Co founder and Director, Injoos Web Solutions, which has a teamware platform, says, “Leveraging collaboration tools will bring in some fundamental new capabilities in an education institute by increasing collaboration among students, management and faculty. “Availability of easily accessible collaboration platforms allows students to explore, learn and connect with people or content in an useful way. Social tools also provide a platform for experimental learning through the discovery of information and dissemination of the same among friends or project mates.”

Why Connect? Narendra Narayana, Co-founder and Director, Think Core Technologies, a company that makes collaboration solutions agrees. “Social media tools can dramatically simplify the communication within an institution. There is easy com-

people talk to each other. It has also fostered uninhibited communication among people who have found a better medium to express themselves. Students have a tendency to pick up technology naturally. Streamlining this trend inside the educational institutions will allow them to achieve more by engaging stakeholders more effectively.” Ittyera says, “Recent studies show that social learning is an effective tool and can effectively augment classroom and faculty-led learning.” “Social learning will He t a l k s a b o u t t h e drive the next generation World Economic Forum’s of students and Global Education Initiaacademics” tive—that espouses the Dilip Thomas Ittyera, critical need for transformFounder and CEO, Aikon Labs ing educational institutions from being “administrative” to becoming a more “entrepreneurial” one. munication among stu“This means that institutions need to dents within interest groups. And, you manage and mentor student ideas, exehave effective ways to engage with an cute and showcase them, and create IP external audience, including the alumni that can take them to their ‘next’ level,” and industry—to deliver value to the instihe states. tution,” he says. Also, with all this online social activity, He adds, “Collaboration solutions also one cannot ignore the question of an have the power to improve the way content institute’s reputation. can be disseminated to a large audience, Ittyera says, “With a number of especially those in the rural areas, and to forums and communities sprouting engage them in a two-way dialogue.” online, which help students learn collaboratively and also, more importantly, rate professors and colleges, it Seshadri says, “A couple of years ago, stuwould be in the best interest for acadents were collaborating using wikis, demic institutions to enable communiinstant messengers, chat and exchanging ties within their space where they can information through e-mails. Today, more also closely monitor and engage with than 80 percent students are on Facestakeholders.” book—that has revolutionised the way Makes sense!

Entrepreneurial Schools


dialogues (Wikipedia)

Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive

ADVANTAGES 1.Learning is more fun 2.Collaboration, internally or externally, is easier 3.Communication is simplified

November 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology

Get Social Injoos’s Seshadri says: “Though social collaboration as such is not accepted and is perceived to be challenging in an academic environment, its adoption will soon bring innovation into education. Though the infrastructure is available, it is the mindset of the educational institutions seems to be the barrier between the technology and its adoption.” What else does the management need to do, to be a part of the social network? And whose responsibility is it? “It’s the management that needs to change the culture within an institution and support communities to socially collaborate to achieve ‘learning objectives’. They need to provide sponsorship and encourage change agents within the faculty and teams in running these initiatives. They could provide overall direction, as well as policies, that will ensure success of these initiatives,” says Ittyera.

Cloud Computing What about the infrastructure? Narayana says, “With the promise of cloud computing, it becomes easy for universities and institutions to deploy solutions, and go live with them without IT overheads. What this means is that with just computers and internet access, it will be possible for institutions to go live with a collaboration solution without investing in expensive server hardware, or in IT management of the solution.” Ittyera concurs. And adds, “The good news is that most of these solutions should and will run off the cloud—so a majority of this technology and infrastructure required will be provisioned by the solution provider, ideally on a SaaS model, with the institutions only needing to provide connectivity. And there would be a lot of access from home, work and other locations. This is how it should be.” Social platforms give institutions the way to break down the walls that hamper learning. It’s time to think social. “The adoption of social techniques for collaboration and learning is inevitable. To most of us, it is more a matter of ‘when’ rather than an ‘if’,” confirms Seshadri.


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Unified communication solutions are still thought of as expensive and tough to manage. But, in reality they are very simple to use. They no longer demand a huge investment from the college BY MADHURA BIRDI INTEGRATION OF communication technologies is becoming increasingly critical for educational institutes. Disparate technologies and conflicting thirdparty solutions get harder to manage as the college or institution grows. They demand a very high investment in terms of both time and money, and result in information silos, with no sharing of data across different media. Moving to a unified communications (UC) platform can enable an institution to manage its voice, data and video communications on a single platform. UC can greatly enhance information sharing, giving students and faculty fast and secure access to the resources they need. The services that can be covered under UC include instant messaging (IM), email, voice, video and web conferencing. UC also enables communication across different devices, like desktop computers, mobile phones, PDAs and laptops.

Transforming Higher Education Students today are already tech-savvy, and willing to use IT to learn more. Colleges should be looking to capitalise on this, and use the technology to have a greater impact. “Today if you tell a student to read a book, you are not likely to get a very enthusiastic response. But if you tell the same student that you have a web page where the book has already been posted, and he can go and take a look, and that he can also collaborate with colleagues, chat, share notes, etc, he will be interested,” says Sukhvinder Ahuja, Lead–Unified Communications, Microsoft. Let’s take a look at the ways in which UC can transform the field of higher education: Easier access to resources: UC offers increased availability of resources, and is aligned to the multimedia requirements of students today. Improved collaboration, better reach: UC allows collaboration and data sharing among people at different locations. Professors can reach more students for dis-

Technology COVER STORY tance education. Teachers don’t need to be physically present to conduct classes or answer queries. Video, audio and web conferencing tools enable them to communicate with students anytime, anywhere, even across countries. “Unified communications can break the boundaries of the classData Transfer room. A normal lecture being delivered to 10 students in a lecture hall can now be delivered to 10 more stuConference dents who are logging in to listen to it. And if that Video teacher falls sick, he can still take that class from his home,” says Ahuja. Increased productivity, reliability, process efficiency: UC enables faster, easier, streamlined access to communication tools over multiple devices, allowing Wireline the flexible use of time and increasing the productivMobility ity of both students and teachers. The presence capabilities of these solutions allow users to see the availability of others, and reach them on the first attempt. Manual processes can be automated to increase staff I Pad productivity. “Attendance and other records, which are Voice currently tracked manually, can be automated through voice SMS systems, and parents can be informed in specific scenarios, for example if the student’s attendance falls below a particular percentage,” says Arun Shetty, of Avaya. Self-service contact centres for better information dissemination: Contact centres can give students, faculty and parents better access to information. “If a student wants any information about the fees or syllabus, this can be automated through Most colleges today have the basic infrastructure in place, but IVR systems, and the information can be delivered on any they have it in silos. “The awareness is there among the collegdevice,” says Shetty. es, clearly. The students want them—most of them already have Cost savings: UC technologies also come with the benefits of mobiles and laptops. All that has to be done is that the backend low infrastructure and operating costs. These solutions leverage has to be enabled for the colleges to give these features to the the technology investment made by institutions and provide end-users,” says Shetty. immediate results. More and more institutions have begun seeing the value Simplified IT management: Since all of the college’s commuoffered by these solutions. “Adoption is slow, but it’s a curve nications happens over a single architecture, there is no longer which is growing,” says Ahuja. “Institutions want to adopt the a need for managing a dozen different networks. technology to keep the students’ interest there, and to attract the Scalability: UC solutions are software-based, and can easily be right students to the institution.” upgraded to meet the needs of a growing institution effectively. In particular, video conferencing is a feature that is expected to be absorbed pretty quickly, since it is critical for being able to reach a larger number of students across geographies. “Collaborating over a screen has become an indispensable form of communication at many institutes and has promoted distance learning amongst the student community,” says Minhaj Zia, National Sales Manager, Unified Communications, Cisco, India and SAARC. “In India, especially, the use of video conferencing has helped further the cause of rural education, one that will tremendously benefit from connecting remotely located stu“Collaborating over dents to teaching staff in nearby Tier 1 and 2 cities.” a screen has become Cisco has worked with several Indian universities to create an indispensable the ‘virtual classroom’. “At the Bapatla Engineering College in form of Andhra Pradesh, Cisco Digital Media System virtualised the communication” classroom environment with remote broadcast and viewing of lectures and on-demand materials. At Kolkata’s Presidency ColMinhaj Zia lege, Cisco established a strong network foundation for IPTV National Sales Manager, UC,

Unified Communication

Are We Ready?

Cisco November 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology broadcast servers. Assam University used Cisco’s solutions to implement LAN across campus and deploy end-to-end security and wireless solutions,” says Zia.

Getting Started Contrary to what most people believe, these solutions don’t require any high-end hardware to be deployed. “Five or ten years ago you needed dedicated hardware to do this. Today, you don’t. Today, everything is software-based, and can be run from standard servers, PCs and laptops,” says Ahuja. All that these institutions need to deploy a UC solution today is a high-speed Internet connection, some basic servers in the college, and the software that will run on the servers. Students need basic PCs/laptops to use the solution. Shekar Nair, CEO, Elina Networks, says, “Colleges can implement e-mail, chat and internal file-sharing as the first step towards UC. Voice communication inside the campus is useful primarily for faculty and staff; students can simply use VoIP or their cellphones to connect. The colleges should also implement policies for fair, clean and controlled access to the Internet for all students.” Colleges that don’t want to spend too much can start with a simple infrastructure, and add more UC features as they go along. They can start with a basic voice communication system. “The same system can later be upgraded for more advanced communications, and they can explore features like how to handle incoming calls effectively, how to make their professors available on same extension number at the college and at their homes, etc. So adopting open standard protocols and starting out on a scalable platform will be very important.”


Easy Management The two things that the management of an institution may need to look at are how to train end-users and how to train the people who will manage the infrastructure. “Today, it is very simple. You don’t really require end-user training, because the solutions are so easy to use,” says Shetty. Many vendors have partners who can manage the infrastructure for the institutions. These partners understand what the customer requirements are, and they can deploy and maintain the solution for them. Also, most colleges today already have a website and a student database, for which they have engaged IT staff to manage the servers. “They don’t need to hire or train anyone specially to manage the solution. An IT manager in the IT lab of a college can scale up and manage it. All they need is training on the software,” says Ahuja. “They have to break the mindset barrier that this is expensive. It’s no longer expensive. It’s available, economical and easy to deploy,” he adds. According to Zia, the one mistake that most schools and academic institutions make is of a one-time splash. “A school system tends to basic infrastructure, but then it won’t fund the support, refresh and training needed for this infrastructure to be maximised, which is often counterproductive. Striking a balance between replacement, maintenance and innovation is critical, and the technology department’s ability to plan systematically over the long run for all these areas works wonders for its usability,” he says.


EDUTECH November 2010

From an institute’s infrastructure to its services, from software development to delivery of campus applications— there is a lot that can take the cloud route. Are the institutes interested? BY SUMA E.P.

Technology COVER STORY

FOR THOSE logging in late, cloud computing refers to the use of Internet to run IT services. This means that you don’t have to worry about setting up your own infrastructure, application or services; you could have it set up and run over Internet protocols, while paying only for what you use. This brings down costs significantly. And best of all, your users need not know all the nitty gritties of being on the cloud—your service provider will take care of it all. In the realm of cloud computing, there are broadly four main areas. You can get Software as a Service (SaaS) by which you get applications delivered online. You can use Platform as a Service (PaaS) to develop applications your institute could need. Or you could have the entire Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Now a lot of web services such as social networking applications for institutes are also being delivered on the cloud. And yes, everybody is now talking about the cloud, and no, there is no way anyone can ignore it. Institutes are already experimenting with it. “Cloud computing can absolutely revolutionise higher education. What could be better than having a system that runs over the Internet, either for free or at low costs, because you pay only for what you use! It is the future, definitely,” says Tarun Malik, Director, Marketing & Strategy, Microsoft India. Gulshan Kharbanda, Vice PresidentGlobal Services, Progressive Infotech, also is convinced about the power of cloud for higher education. He says, “Cloud computing gives freedom, which will revolutionise the concept of studying from any-

“Cloud computing gives freedom, which will revolutionise the concept of studying anywhere, anytime ” Gulshan Kharbanda, Vice President-Global Services, Progressive Infotech

where, anytime. Online library, knowledge repositories will be available online which students can access as per their requirements. All these facilities will be available on a ‘pay per use’ model which is not only cost effective, but also offers reliability. Sharing of data, homework, semester results, assignments, team collaboration, study material, projects, and models will be done at the click of a button. All this will change the existing model of education system in India.”

What’s On The Cloud? A lot of institutes are already delivering their email on cloud solutions. Malik says, “We have been providing cloud based email services for institutes. Not only do they get a huge storage capacity, they also get Office Web Access so users can use tools like Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel over the Internet. They can share links and collaborate a lot more.” Progressive implemented India’s first private cloud solution for one of the premier technology institutions in India. Progressive’s Kharbanda says, “The range of applications supported on the cloud is significant. It consists of knowledge management, collaboration (email, chat, Microsoft SharePoint, etc), productivity (business intelligence, customer relationship management), transactional application (ERP), portals, content management, information management (for example, digitisation, record management, storage services, backup), security, and many more.” This means that a lot of applications being deployed to enable smoother functioning of the institute can easily find their way to the cloud.

Interest Is Growing Says Kharbanda, “The cloud computing structure has grown significantly in the field of higher education. Institutes now want to move from one location to multiple locations. Paper notebooks have given way to laptops. Computer labs are now transformed into Wi-Fi campuses. Instead of going into a library, students now like to search for the information over the Internet. Due to these changes, institutes would like to move to an online November 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology space where they can teach students through online learning or video conferences and live meetings, share notes and assess students through online assignments. Many students would want to use the online classroom structure which they can use as per their availability and convenience.” So are the institutes ready for cloud adoption? “Frankly people are still absorbing it. It’s going to take a while. People have to understand that there can be opportunities where they don’t have to physically own the databases, or licenses, or mail servers. Instead they can look at shared services across vendors. As people understand the technology, we will definitely have a huge adoption of this,” says Malik. Kharbanda says, “Premium institutes

have already started exploring an option to build private clouds and other institutes are catching up.”

Getting Cloud Enabled How do institutes get ready for the cloud? Malik says that the first step is to be open to adopting the technology. “The second step is to assess which is the right technology for the institute? Some people have experimented with hybrid solutions, and are exploring the benefits of going on a cloud. The adoption really depends on the maturity level of the IT setup at an institute. If the institute uses IT to improve efficiency and delivery, then they are ready. Others need to have their IT strategy in place and then figure what out of that IT strategy should go on the cloud?,” he says.

Kharbanda recommends that institutions should go for an assessment of their existing infrastructure through any cloud solutions provider. “This will give a complete scenario of the overall infrastructure and the requirements which need to be addressed. With the existing cloud services model, institutes don’t require any complex infrastructure to get onto the cloud but only require basic mechanisms of servers, networks and access machines like desktops or laptops. Cloud computing solutions will reduce organisations capital expenditure cost considerably.” Cloud is the road ahead, for enterprises as well as institutes. As higher education institutes adopt cloud solutions, India can become a hotbed for innovation in the cloud computing space,” says Malik.



Engineering colleges cannot ignore this area anymore. They now have easy means to have the infrastructure up and running BY SUMA E.P. HIGH PERFORMANCE

computing. When we hear that term, many of us think of supercomputers and expensive proprietary software. We think of highest-end research and experts well versed in working them. All in all, a very complex proposition. Well, it’s time to rethink all that and re-look at high performance computing (HPC), especially if you are part of engineering and technology colleges. “The interest in high performance


EDUTECH November 2010

computing solutions is now immense,” says Jigar Halani, Technical Specialist-HPC, Wipro. Ratan Dargan, Vice President– Enterprise Sales, Progressive Infotech adds, “In the new global economy, speed-to-market is an essential component in getting, and staying, ahead of the competition. HPC concentrates on this critical need. It uses compute, interconnect and storage power to help solve highly complex problems faster and more efficiently

Technology COVER STORY

A Must-Have For Engineering

respect to brain, and possible connections with diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. University of Colorado is using HPC for learning more about earth system science, biotechnology and renewable energy. Even humanities scholars use HPC to work with large sets of unstructured data in the form of newspapers, books, election data, archaeological “High Power Computing fragments, audio or uses compute, video files.

High performance computing involves use of multiple processors connected with high speed links to behave as one single system. Already most computers and laptops we use sport two or more processors. What this means is that each task being performed can be broken up into interconnect and storage bits which can then be distributed power to help solve to these multiple processors, and highly complex then put together again to create the outproblems.” Halani estimates put—that’s the concept of parallel processing. that only 20 percent While multiple processors have the potential to significantRatan Dargan, of the engineering ly improve the processing time, a huge part is also played at Vice President - Enterprise colleges in India have the software and application level to enable the parallel prothe infrastructure and faccessing. “But are we really ready with the applications that can ulty for a high performance leverage parallelisation?,” asks Halani. A lot of work needs to go computing setup. “But the good into that aspect. “And that’s why you will see most engineering news for other colleges is that they already have the infrastruccolleges now have a subject Parallel Computing. A few years ture for it. All they need is some open source software and some ago, only the IITs and IISc had such courses, but now all good support,” he continues. engineering colleges have introduced this as a subject.” First, the management in engineering colleges have to decide Hence the growing interest in having HPC setups in such colto take the initiative. Contrary to the belief that supercomputing leges. Colleges and universities have to give their students the setups require fresh investments running into crores, what is opportunities to work on HPC clusters so they are ready for the really needed is a re-look at the workstations already in place. challenges ahead when they start their careers. “It’s no more a Some additional investment of a couple of lakh of rupees or so luxury for colleges, it’s a basic requirement,” says Halani. would be enough to get the college started on its HPC journey. The fact it is a must have is made obvious in other ways as Some companies like Wipro already well. “Take Visual Studio, Microsoft’s offer the necessary support for this. software development environment. In For institutes looking at high end its 2005 version onwards, it has the research, a more strategic approach to inbuilt capability to enable programHIGH setting up an HPC infrastructure ming for parallel computing,” Halani PERFORMANCE would be required. You would need a says. If Microsoft made it a must-have as COMPUTING dedicated expert team to figure out far back as five years, our institutes can CLUSTER your exact requirements in line with no longer ignore it. Its a group of commercial offthe institute’s vision, and then seek the-shelf computers vendors who can set up the infrastrucinterlinked via high-speed The other area where HPC comes into ture for you. While this will require interconnects to create a play is that of research. It is of special higher initial investments, the ability robust, high-speed computing importance in areas which are calculaof the institute to attract research resource that rivals the tion intensive and require working with grant goes up significantly. performance of traditional huge amounts of data. Weather forecastHigh performance computing is no mainframe supercomputers at ing and climate research, biotechnology more the luxury only the highest end a fraction of the cost. research, quantum physics have been institutes can afford. With powerful some areas where HPC systems have off the shelf boxes and downloadable ADVANTAGES been used. Take a look at what some of open source software, it’s simpler for 1.Faster research results the universities are doing with HPC. most institutes to enter the HPC 2.Enhanced productivity University of Kentucky is exploring new arena. But it requires a dedicated and 3. Fast deployment uses of HPC in language arts and sciexpert team to run the show so that ence. The university also has researchthe institute can reap the benefits of ers using HPC to study alcoholism with the immense compute power.

Are We Ready?

Research In Many Areas

November 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology


CAMPUS MANAGEMENT Campus management and student life-cycle management are technologies that can completely change the way an institute functions. They bring everything under one roof, minimise manual work and keep the campus connected. These technologies are gradually gaining popularity in India BY SHRUDI JOHNSON


number of students as well as courses go up, higher education institutes come under a lot of strain to keep up with the paper work, tracking, reporting, and a lot more. That’s why these institutes are opening up to the idea of having a system that saves the time consumed by repetitive manual work, and keeps the management, students, and teachers connected.

Transforming The Future The task of maintaining documents systematically in a campus manually can prove to be quite complex. Though this is how things have been working in campuses for a long time now, new technologies coming in are proving to be a better option. Students often com-


EDUTECH November 2010

“The main question is the level of interest and the financial implications”

plain of not being able to find information they need from the administration or other departments. Campus management systems provide the much needed transparency and easier documentation of various processes in an institute. They also free the students from having to run from department to department. Students get easier access to all the information they need, anytime. There are many other benefits of having a campus management system:

Record-keeping Made Easy

Head–IT, IIM, Shillong

Teachers can analyse the progress of students regularly Management, students and par-


Basav Roychoudhury, l



Xxxxxx xxxxx

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advts.indd advts.indd advts.indd 54 54 54

12/22/2009 12/22/2009 12/22/2009 2:54:15 2:54:15 PM2:54:15 PM PM

COVER STORY Technology

Guidelines For Campuses

ents are able to track the performance or assignments at any time l Courses, grade history, class and exam schedules can be viewed easily l Enrolment appointments can be checked and class enrolment can be modified easily l Users can view details about each person’s account for charges, payments and admission deposit l Online credit card payments and eCheck payments is possible l Education institutes can manage relationships with alumni and other donors more effectively

Is India Ready? Campus management system is gaining popularity, but the readiness of Indian higher education institutes to adopt this system is still in question. “The main question is the level of interest and the financial implications,” says Basav Roychoudhury, Head–IT, Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. With smaller institutes, the level of interest is less because they can manage with the usual manual techniques. With larger institutes, there is interest but the trouble– both financial and after installation maintenance, stops them from taking further steps. “The cost of having a campus management system, from external vendors, if they cannot develop one by themselves, is going to be very expensive by Indian standards,” says Professor B.S. Satyanarayana, Principal, R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore.

Further, the campus management system needs to be customised according to the needs of the Indian academic environment and the specific institute. Security issues also keep the interest levels of the institutes low. “There are many campuses where every person does not have a laptop, but the computer centres can still serve the purpose to start with,” says Roychoudhury. “Technology is available in India but the willingness to use that technology is still not as widespread as it is in other countries,” adds John PV, Technical Director, Orell. However, several campuses already have functional computer networks with enough computers for the needs of the students.“It is now becoming more common among educational institutions in India – both in the public as well as private sectors,” says Sunil Jose, Vice President – Applications, Oracle India.

Extensively understanding the whole structure of campus management is the most important part for any institution before adopting this system. “In many a case, the management gets into procuring such systems without worrying about the necessary complimentary infrastructure requirement or without totally understanding the total cost of ownership for the same,” says Roychoudhury. It is important to understand that the implementation may not be the only cost associated, for example, maintenance of the system plays a big part. Managing such a system requires manpower, which cannot be done by people who are already responsible for other things. Other important guidelines are: l Formalising the processes with which the functions are carried out l Enforcing change management across the institute l Basic infrastructure in terms of systems and connectivity should be present l The support staff must be computer literate l The institute should be prepared for taking on global best practices Hence, with proper understanding of campus management and student life cycle management, Indian higher education system can adopt this technology in a better way. Also, this technology would become a must-have in all the campuses in the coming years, making them more efficient than ever and taking India one step forward in the global technological arena.

Technology COVER STORY



Identity management solutions allow university and college system administrators to track their users more efficiently, reduce costs and ensure data security BY MADHURA BIRDI TODAY,

any institution that communicates over a network or has a database of information faces a challenge in terms of data security and privacy control. User roles are constantly changing and evolving, and thousands of students now require access to information. Managing this access and preventing misuse of copyrighted information as well as user information is a challenge that most educational institutions will have to deal with in the near future. Identity management (IdM) solutions can help these institutions to address potential security threats and ensure data protection. They can also help the management of an institution to reduce operating costs and function more efficiently.

Changing Needs In Education A few years ago, there was no concept of students logging in to a university database to access educational resources, or accessing sites like Jstor and Project Muse to download research articles. Now, this is the norm. Where there used to

be only a few computers in each college for administrative purposes, now there are hundreds, with almost all the enrolled students logging in to digital libraries and other resources for their research. Access to these databases needs to be controlled, with the rising focus on intellectual property (IP) protection and licensing of content. Students are now also using voice, video or web conferencing tools to collaborate with students on other campuses. User roles are continually changing and evolving, with the whole idea of teaching undergoing a massive overhaul, as we reconsider and revaluate the teaching process, keeping in mind all the things that technology has brought within its scope recently. Identity requirements are complex—users often need access to multiple systems, and all this information needs to be tracked and kept secure.

Increasing Security Concerns “It is important for institutions to protect themselves from sophisticated online attacks” Dhruv Singhal, Sales Consulting Director, Oracle ndia

Educational institutes today exist in a scenario in which the safety of their institution and its members is constantly under threat from hackers and other people who want to intentionally misuse the inforNovember 2010 EDUTECH


COVER STORY Technology mation available on their system. Cyber crime is a IDENTITY major concern, with most users of the Internet MANAGEMENT having experienced some form or the other in ADVANTAGES Identity management their lives. Lapses in security are becoming 1.Integrated solution solutions identify individuals increasingly common, forcing the management of 2.Improved security in a system and control access these institutions to find ways of ensuring the pro3. Improved user experience to the resources by placing tection of their users. “Universities are being chal4. Lowered costs restrictions on the established lenged to secure student, alumni, faculty, staff 5. Scalability identities and constituent access to various information systems, strengthen user authentication, and simplify user experiences across multiple applications running on heterogeneous environments,” says Dhruv Singhal, Sales Consulting Director, Oracle is a multi-applicattion card that an institute can issue to its facIndia. “It is important for these organisations to protect themulty, students and staff. The card is their identity card, and can selves and their user population from increasingly sophistialso record their attendance, marks, library and sports informacated online attacks,” he adds. tion, canteen credits, etc. It can also be their ATM card. There are numerous benefits involved: Integrated solution: Identity management offers an integratAnother factor that universities must take into consideration is ed database of information. IT managers get a complete view that of cost. Managing separate systems for libraries, admisof an individual’s profile instead of having to manually track sions, exams, etc, and having multiple people managing access them on each system, leading to more efficient operations rights to each of these is unproductive and time consuming. across the university. Not to mention the huge cost to the university or institute if any Improved security: IdM allows better management of user of their information is leaked. accounts and improved control over user information. Improved user experience: The single sign-on facility means that users no longer have to re-authenticate themselves when Identity management solutions allow universithey want to use another service that is part of the ties and colleges to identify individuals that log same system. A single ID and password allows them in to their system, and control their access to access to the full range of services that are available. resources. Through user IDs and passwords, Lowered costs: Identity management allows unian IdM solution can associate user rights and versities to reduce their operational costs, automate restrictions with each particular identity, processes that are managed manually, and increase institutes find authenticate users when they log in, and allow productivity across the whole system. Students upgradation of access on the basis of the permissions granted spend less time having to authenticate themselves, staff skills a hinto the user. IT managers can modify the rights and administrative staff is freed up from having to drance in tech and restrictions for users depending on their carry out routine tasks. adoption role in the system, or delete users when they Scalability: Universities can choose to implement are no longer a part of the network. The applionly a few modules to begin with, and gradually cation ensures the protection of the privacy of scale up to suit their needs. Thus, the solution can users, allowing IT managers to hide users’ perbe tailor-made. sonal data and track only relevant information. In the present scenario, where the factors that threaten modThrough the single sign-on facility, IdM solutions give IT ern institutions are constantly evolving, colleges will have to managers the ability to manage only a single set of credentials completely change their perspectives to effectively deal with all for each user. IdM can minimise the work that staff has to do to the challenges that face them. authenticate users. With a single username and password, They must abandon old, redundant ideas of effective manageusers can get access to all the systems that are part of the univerment, and be prepared to invest in the latest tools to help them sity network, thus doing away with the need for users to sign in achieve their goals. “As these institutions aggressively embrace multiple times with multiple passwords. the Internet for student services, administrative systems, IdM solutions offer educational institutions the ability to cenresearch projects, self-service, and profile management, online tralise their access control instead of managing several isolated security is at a premium. Users must feel protected for web systems. Legacy systems that have fragmented user identity channels to grow and enhance the user experience. At the same information can be consolidated and brought onto a single plattime, compliance mandates and university breaches become form. Routine account management activities can be automatmore numerous and threaten the institution’s assets and brand ed, leaving staff free to perform other duties. name. Institutions that cannot meet the security demand will IDenizen has a product called Smart Card for campuses. This suffer,” says Singhal.

Rising Costs

How Identity Management Works



EDUTECH November 2010

Technology COVER STORY


EDU’s survey on technology readiness of Indian institutions revealed the following facts (all figures in percentage) Teaching aids and technologies that institutions currently use in classrooms


Video conferencing

50 40


Projection System




Virtual learning environments




Digital Whiteboards







9.3% Other

Factors that hinder the adoption of new technologies in higher education institutions

Upgradetion of existing systems



Simulation Software


Upgradation of staff skill

Getting funding

Upgrade of IT infrastructure

Trends that will impact IT infrastructure

Use of technology in functional and operational activities 100



13.1% 50%








Digital Books

56.1% Mobile Computing



0 Student admission & record management

Fee collection finance & account

Timetable & course management


Classroom teaching


Streaming media & large media files



Lectures & content on demand

November 2010 EDUTECH




CURRENT ROLE Global Director-Government Solutions & Market Development Polycom POSITIONS HELD Director-Government, Education & Healthcare solutions, Polycom Senior Director, Regional Marketing Communications, Asia Pacific, Alcatel-Lucent

Marc Alexis Remond


Benefits Of Being Highly Defined The

EDU talks to Polycom’s Marc Alexis-Remond, who explains why the future of technology lies in high definition space. By Smita Polite EDU: How can High Definition (HD) video transform distance learning? Marc: If we look at distance learning, we need to look at four key areas of training. The first is educational degree. The second area is government training, and the third is vocational training in specific industries. HD is transforming the way people have access to experts and how they share information and content across distances. Which means that specialists and students who were not networking earlier, and content that was not shared earlier, is now available to all, regardless of location. That too, in extreme HD resolution.

November 2010 EDUTECH


DIALOGUE Marc Alexis-Remond

“With HD you can more than just share; thanks to it you can witness live surgeries”

If we compare the resolution of television to HD, HD is three times better. If we look at the resolution of traditional video-conferencing, the quality is much less. So, you can imagine that if you need to share an artefact, or if you need to share a high-quality image in art or science classes today, with HD you can do so. Thanks to HD, students can be trained remotely in the health care space. Experts can attend live heart bypass surgery and see the operation being conducted. They can see ultra sounds from a remote location.

Video-conferencing versus tele-presence versus desktop conferencing. What works best for institutions? Well, I think that depends on what we want to achieve. If, let’s say, an institution wants to maximise its reach to students, it can do so by having a teacher in a room and all students connected through laptops or PCs, with a video-client on their desktop. That would be a way to connect hundreds or thousands of students, at the same time. If you want to have more of a workshop, where two classrooms can interact, just like if they


EDUTECH November 2010

were across the table, then tele-presence is a better option, especially in higher education. Also, there are options whereby, we can put people on content, like what you see on television, with the weather report, where the presenter is standing in front of the content. Imagine a teacher talking about Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background. As he or she goes through the presentation, the background changes to support the presentation.

What kind of trends are you witnessing in the Indian higher education sector as far as the adoption of technologies is concerned? We have noticed a lot of activity going on in India, especially with the recent announcement made by the Indian HRD ministry to introduce new central and innovation universities. We also foresee a lot of action within international universities, travelling to India and offering their curriculum. There are a couple of ways they can do this—they can do so physically, but they can also achieve the same by leveraging tele-presence or video conferencing systems. Now, the impact of this will be tremendous in India. We expect foreign universities to compete against each other trying to offer the ‘best curriculum’. We also expect national universities to invest in the same technology, to be able to remain in the market in such a competitive environment. Recently, HRD minister Kapil Sibal said that India requires an additional 800 universities. This is a very aggressive target, which cannot be achieved by simply building universities, per se. It would take years to do this the traditional way. So, this is where, in fact, high-definition video conferencing or tele-presence comes in, to help institutions to achieve these goals rapidly.

Marc Alexis-Remond DIALOGUE What are the major global trends that you have seen? In terms of global trends, we have seen a lot of universities, especially US ones, expand and open campuses across Asia and Europe. And they offer exactly the same curriculum that they do to the US students. Also, teachers remain in the US, and teach students from abroad, enabling them to participate in the classroom and workshop, with the US students. That’s, in fact, where a customised immersive tele-presence comes in. Students from the overseas feel like they’re in the same room, at the same time, and of course having discussions with the same teacher.

Could you elaborate a little on the customised immersive tele-presence? What does it consist of ? Imagine a classroom that is cut in half. Now you have participants who can look at each other; because you can see people full-size in HD. It’s like being in the classroom. It can be a small room, or it can be a room as big as an amphitheatre, but you can customise it with this tele-presence solution. Of course, it requires HD cameras and screens and the proper sound infrastructure, so that when students or teachers speak, it’s like you’re in exactly the same room.

Can you share some of the best practices, or benefits, with the higher education experts and us? As I mentioned before, Polycom has a technology called PeopleOnContent, which allows a presenter to be within the environment itself, while giving a presentation. This has opened the door to new applications in higher education. We have seen content providers for higher education in Australia offering under-sea exploration classes, sharing HD videos and imaging of fish and other animals that form a part of the Great Barrier Reef’s eco-system. Some use it for scientific studies—to study the weather, or medical applications in different labo-

“HD allows a person to be within the environment while making a presentation, by creating a virtual field”

ratories. We’ve also seen it being used in music and performing arts. Even in history and art classes, teachers are able to share artefacts, or even recreate a visit to the museum. This is what they call a virtual field trip—without taking students physically to that particular location. So, there are a wide range of places where these technologies can be applied in the higher education environment. But to do so, educators and institutions need to look at a couple of things. There is a data transfer rate and a certain bandwith is required—very often, we require 1 to 2 megabytes per secondquality of service over the network. You should be able to guarantee the quality of video, voice and content. The rooms themselves will require HD cameras connected to high-resolution screens, which, of course, has to come in different formats. More importantly, you will require an HD multipoint controller. This is what is called a video bridge—it enables multiple people to be connected to that video. So, there are a couple of things that educators and their IT departments especially need to look into, when they want to leverage HD video-conferencing or tele-presence for distance learning.

What are the solutions that Polycom is offering for HEIs? We offer a wide range of video-conferencing and tele-presence solutions, ranging from a desk top, or personal tele-presence on a laptop, or desktop to solutions intended for big rooms, with screens and cameras, and even immersive classrooms. But it’s not only about being able to see and talk to each other. Very often, it’s about how you can capture this knowledge and share it across borders. So, recording the classes and lectures are very important and we offer recording solutions. In case students are not able to attend a particular video-conferencing session, we offer a streaming capability, so that they can access the recording at a later date or time. Universities need to organise and archive that content. So, Polycom has solutions for that as well. To organise videos, whether they are coming from our sources or from other sources like DVDs and make them accessible on demand, to the students and to the teachers.

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Why should we ignore the hub of campus—the cafeteria? Some tips to a clean roomy canteen




VERY UNIVERSITY has that one magical spot that draws students. They flock there either to eat, or to hurriedly scrape together an assignment, or just to “hang out”. Of course, the cafeteria! Nobody can deny that the cafeteria (referred to as the “canteen” by the fuddy-duddies) receives more attention and footfall than any other place on campus. Why, then, do we choose to pay so little attention to it? Let’s face facts; most colleges have canteens that are small, dark, dingy, and all-round unhygienic. There are legendary tales of students finding creepy-crawlies in their rajma-chawals. Not having learnt from older universities, there seem to be few new institutions that have realised the impact that a clean cafeteria makes on the university’s image. Be it the starving students, or the equally famished faculty, everybody needs to eat.

Food For Thought

THINGS TO DO OPTIMISE CHAIRS & TABLES Optimise the number of chairs and tables—both for the convenience of students and servers INVEST WISELY Don’t waste money on fancy furniture, floors, or walls. You can make stuff match, just don’t go crazy. Instead focus on longevity

The first thing that one associates with a cafeteria is food. If you were once a college student, you’d remember the cheap canteen fare. And, how the company you were with, more than made up for the lacklustre taste. Is Gen Y happy with mediocrity, though? “Making-do” seems to be a thing of the past. Nowadays, good, old (in every sense of the word), cheap food is blasé. A college campus isn’t a proper campus without, at the very least, a Nescafe stall. Sure, students and faculty alike can’t resist the oily dosas or samosas and the overly-sweet, milky cups of tea, but is the health-conscious Gen-Y, used to lattes and lettuce, going to stay silent long over chaats and pakoras? With the influx of bigger brands than Nescafe, the availability of quality food is now no longer out of reach. However, if we keep in mind the targeted audience, we might just notice a contradiction of sorts. While wanting to be healthy is all well and good, who can resist unhealthy food at the end of the day? The charm of a canteen is that it is affordable and that it November 2010 EDUTECH




remains affordable for all who pass through that outdoor classroom. Says Chandni Gupta, an ex-student of Delhi University, “The canteen was where we spent our time. We were perpetually on a tight budget. The hanging out area had to be affordable.” Nobody doubts that college cafés have perhaps one of the tastiest foods. In fact, for non-veggie lovers, the Delhi School of Economics (DSE) canteen is famed for having the best mutton dosas in Delhi. What does, however, make waves is the cleanliness and hygiene factors, or lack thereof, that come in to play.

Hygienically Helpless Hygiene is a major issue when it comes to college canteens. While some, like the Dehradun Institute of Technology, are run like restaurants—professionally and are kept spic and span—others seem to think that cleanliness comes not only after godliness, but after a long list of other things, including profits. The food is not only unsanitised, but often is also unhealthy. In today’s world of x-boxes and PS3s, obesity among the youth is a concern. Coupled with the risk of infectious diseases, students and faculty alike, run a high risk of becoming seriously ill after eating at the canteen. A common problem is often the staff who man the place—and, who are at their best untrained and unwilling to learn. Students in some DU colleges complain that their canteen staff wash hands as infrequently as possible. Even the utensils are unclean. Insects roam freely, and are sometimes treated like pets (trust students to turn a foul thing, funny). It is not just the government universities that are deemed to be unhygienic, often even private colleges leave a lot to be desired.

Design Issues A canteen is a space where diverse and varied people from different backgrounds come together to express equally diverse and varied views on subjects. It is a common space for everyone—thus, there is no reason to make such an important platform flimsy.


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THE CAFETERIA SHOULD BE A LIVING SPACE. IN OFFICES, PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO GRAB THEIR COFFEE AND LEAVE. IN COLLEGES, PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO HANG AROUND If, when designing a campus one knows and keeps in mind that the cafeteria is where people are going to be spending most of their time, it raises the question as to why more attention is not paid to its design, construction and allround development. These are the days when academe is considered a convivial refuge from the corporate world, a place where scholars have ample time to debate ideas over lunch and drinks. Shouldn’t the cafeteria be given prime importance, then? Corporate houses have learnt fast and cafeterias there are now relaxed, open spaces. Says Vikrant Sharma, Director, Spaceframes Design Studio who designed the cafeteria for an

IT Park in Gurgaon, “the cafeteria should be a living space. In a corporate office, people are expected to come, grab their coffee and leave. In colleges, people are expected to hang around there all day.” There are several very important points that one should keep in mind when designing the cafeteria. Location & accessibility: The cafeteria should be well-accessible from all parts of the university. Students will not want to be running from one end of a campus to another for one samosa. Lighting: Natural lighting is always best. Not only does it save on electricity, it makes the cafeteria a brighter and more appealing space. Infrastructure: This is an important



“Awareness About Importance Of Architecture Is Low” Martand Khosla, the man behind Jamia’s Castro Café speaks to EDU about the travails of designing for Indian institutions.

and often over-looked part of cafeteria design. Chairs should be movable and not fixed, in order to pre-empt the hordes of students that often like to sit together. Booths are another option; however there should never be too many as they crowd up a room along with the fact that they are slightly more difficult to clean and maintain. For universities that serve both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food, the counters should not only be separate, but ideally, in separate corners.

Case In Point—Castro A canteen no longer has to be either utilitarian or luxurious—it can be both. Take the Castro Café of Jamia Millia Islamia for instance. Here is a canteen (or fancily-called, café) that has been redesigned to suit both aesthetic and utilitarian needs. The café’s architect, Martand Khosla, of the Romy Khosla Design Studios, explains, “We were lucky that a Vice Chancellor (Najeeb Jung) with a broader vision asked us to re-think the whole concept for a student’s cafeteria,

When designing the Castro Café, what specific ideas did you have? After seeing a number of canteens and cafeterias across government colleges, and after checking out other establishments within Jamia, it became clear to us that most non-air-conditioned cafeterias were hot, poorly-ventilated and bug infested. We found that in most such cafeterias, students would run in, hurriedly place orders and run outside to eat. They simply didn’t wish to stay in the cafeteria. The problem, we were sure, lay in the design—how it did not address the issues related to the climate. In a country like India, climate should play a cardinal role in design. It was apparent to us that the solution of this problem lay in gradually unfolding space, which addressed and adjusted to the different (and extreme) climatic conditions of New Delhi. We do have extremes of climate here! Summers are above 45 degrees Centigrade and winters go below five degree Centigrade. Indian canteens, which are not airconditioned, are often poorly-ventilated. That makes them very hot and almost oppressive in the summer. They turn very cold in the winters. Castro Café was proposed as a ‘semi open-air café’. This allowed the space to have ambient temperature for most of the year, along with proper ventilation. We also ensured that there was a variety of shade from the climate. What would be your version of an ideal campus cafeteria? For India, and for educational institutes with limited resources, Castro, I believe, is the ideal cafeteria. Places that have pleasanter climates or better resources could opt for different solutions! According to you, what are the pre-requisites for a campus before it decides to design and build a cafeteria? The prerequisite is that the university or college authority should be aware of what designates to be ‘good architecture’. They should also respect an architect’s wisdom. Let’s take the Jamia example. Castro should have been an inspiration for authorities in other campuses, especially since the design has been widely published in both international and national journals. It has received awards. However, no campus authority has approached us till date to have a discussion. Why? I will explain that later. There are many India-specific problems such as energy conservation and budgeting. How do you keep these factors in mind when designing a cafeteria? We were able to come up with a non-traditional building and purely from a budgeting point of view, our design did not require the standard architectural elements (read doors or windows). We made all furniture permanent, thereby

November 2010 EDUTECH




reducing recurring costs. All the materials that have been used are natural. They didn’t require painting. They can all be washed clean. Wherever possible, we have consciously used recycled material. For the walls, we have used waste-off cuts of marble that have been stacked on the sides and elevated from the floor on a steel section. Do you believe that Indian higher education institutions stress on cafeteria design? If not, then why? As a rule, awareness regarding what entails as ‘good architecture’ is low in the country—especially in a space like the canteen. Especially, the government seems less interested to redeem the situation. In high-level institutions it is low. Among UGC, even lower. We were lucky that a Vice Chancellor with a broader vision actually asked us to re-think the whole concept, because the existing one they had was an awful space. The reason for this apparent lack of awareness, among the government institutions, is because government projects are handled exclusively by civil engineers. Architects are seldom consulted. Government civil engineers go for the cheapest material, services and designs—by which I mean those designs that they regard as ‘cheap’. The UGC offers a miserable fee to their architects. Often a university does not pay full fee. You can hardly expect to get good designs from architects who have been mistreated by authorities. Often, architects are changed like clothing in the middle of a project. You cannot stop paying an architect simply because you don’t like a design— especially after he or she has completed the project for you.


EDUTECH November 2010

because the existing one they had was an awful space.” Indeed, from that “awful space”, Jamia has come a long way. It’s now an example of what can be done “right”—with adequate lighting (natural and artificial); enough space to sit students, teachers and visitors; and infrastructure (separate wash spaces for students and kitchen staff for example), it is a great space to relax, breathe and catch up. When the EDU team visited the campus, what popped out right away were the clean lines that defined the structure. The café sits snug, right next to the arts gallery, and compliments it perfectly— installation art, eccentric and quirky at best, adds to the space’s charm. Inside, it is clean, spacious and roomy,

right next to the Centre for Information Technology. As a result, it is completely Wi-Fi enabled. It is not rare to find students hopping over to the canteen to finish projects, or coming in early to do the same. “We like it here. Because it is partly open-air and partly covered. The open space dissipates the noise. We unwind and catch up here,” says Sakshi Sharma, a first-year student of commercial arts, in the applied arts department. “It’s close to most of the departments, it’s clean, the food is all right and it is Wi-Fi enabled, what more can you ask for?” asks her friend, Sonam Bareja, also her classmate. Indeed, what more can we ask for? Well, a manicured lawn, for one. Wait, there’s that as well.

WHAT POPPED OUT RIGHT AWAY WERE THE CLEAN LINES THAT DEFINED THE STRUCTURE. THE CAFÉ SITS SNUG, RIGHT NEXT TO THE ARTS GALLERY, AND COMPLIMENTS IT PERFECTLY with fixed tables and stools made of sturdiest stones and wood, arranged in rows on opposite sides of the long space. The table tops have been kept large enough to accommodate exercise copies, books, laptops and, who knows, an occasional student? “Well, it’s a boon for us really. And, by us I also mean the teachers. Jamia’s a large campus. Previously, to grab a bite, students had to hop over to the other side of the street. Now, there is the café. Several teachers also have a quick cup there, and I have even seen classes spilling over to the canteen. Especially since discussions with the senior batch of students, say those doing their MPhils, don’t have a time limit,” says Simi Malhotra, an associate professor of English and the university’s media co-ordinator. The biggest boon is that Castro Café is

As for the main item—food—there were quite a few cuisines on offer at the canteen. No wonder that the Vice Chancellor, Najeeb Jung, drops in sometimes after a students’ meet, for a bite and a sip— along with the participants.

Keep It Simple The reason for picking up Castro Cafe was simple; because it kept things minimal, spacious and accessible, and it kept its food items affordable. We believe that there are several more such places that have learnt the trick of when less is more. For those who haven’t—there’s still time to woo the students. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at content/newsletters





Technology investments are a subject of serious deliberations at higher education institutions across the country. While administrators are expected to make investment decisions, they lack access to credible information on how their peers are managing technology investments at their respective institutions. EDU is conducting an exhaustive study on the technology investments at higher education institutions in the country. The study will help you get answers to key questions like:


What are the technology budgets at other educational institutions?


How is technology enabling learning & administration at other institutions?


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Suranjan Das

NAME: Suranjan Das DESIGNATION: VC, Calcutta University, Honourary Director, Netaji Institute For Asian Studies, Kolkata DOB: June 24, 1954 QUALIFICATIONS: BA (History) 1974, MA (History) University of Calcutta, 1976, in both he was the first-class first student DPhil, University of Oxford, 1987 DESTINATION: Scotland PASTIME: Catching up with old friends, watching cricket HONOURS: Herbert Memorial Prize, Oxford, 1986 Radhakrishnan Memorial Bequest, Oxford, 1987 Frere Exhibition for Indian Studies, Oxford, 1986-87 Overseas Research Scholarship, UK, 1985-87 Honourary Junior Research Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford, 1988-1991 International Visitor to the USA under the USIS International Visitorship Programme, 1988 Visiting Professor, Maison Des Sciences De L’Homme, Paris, May-June 1994, April-May 1995, May-June 1997, November 2004, September-October 2006 NATIONAL: President, modern India section of Indian History Congress Session, 2003

Staunch Idealist Suranjan Das, the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University, talks to EDU about the need for inclusive growth in the higher education sector DHIMAN CHATTOPADHYAY


EDUTECH November 2010


here is one quality in Dr Suranjan Das that always makes meeting him a pleasure—he is never one to be stingy with a smile. The firebrand student leader from Presidency College (Kolkata), who went on to break records as a student and then became one of the youngest set of teachers to be elevated to the position of a full professor at Calcutta University, has had enough reasons to look at the world positively. Life, he says, has been good to him, both on a personal and the professional front. Indeed his career profile would suggest so. Popular with friends during college days and students during his teaching years, he became the head of the history department at Calcutta University (CU) when he was barely 40. Before he touched 50, he was appointed Pro Vice Chancellor (academic) at CU. After a six-year stint, in 2008, was unanimously elected the next Vice Chancellor of India’s oldest university. A good orator, he loves a good adda (conversation) like a true Bengali. But at work he is sharp, focused and wants things done fast.



Suranjan Das

The last few years, however, has been anything but easy. Now however, that smile, which one suspects had briefly vanished from his face in the middle of this decade, has made a victorious reappearance. As we finally catch up with the workaholic Das on a week night, the 56-year-old VC, just back from a six-hour Senate meet, says he has spent the past eight years trying to bring the 153-yearold institution back to its old glory days. His claims are backed by recent developments: CU has been certified by UGC as a university with potential for excellence, and an India Today survey ranked it the 4th best university in India this year. But Das is not resting on his laurels. The Oxford University educated scholar, who has been a teacher for 32 years, says he is determined to improve not just the standard of his university, but also the overall standard of higher education in the state—before he calls it a day. The thing is, Das doesn’t like coming second at all. A brilliant student, he finished first in both his BA and MA exams, breaking the then record. Das's career has seen him teach at Vidyasagar College, Kolkata, Santiniketan’s famed Vishva Bharati University before joining CU in 1981, at the age of 26. “The teacher-student ratio in those days was a healthy 1:25,” he recalls, adding: “Things have changed.” He feels what governments and academic expert committees “sadly” failed to do was strike a balance between quality and quantity. As a result while the top students from say, Calcutta University, were still worldclass, the average quality became poor. “Are we expecting students from farflung villages to study in schools that have one teacher, somehow manage to reach college and then compete with the best of the urban elite?” asks Das. He admits that an often skewed growth of the higher education system led to this scenario. Rapid privatisation of higher education has in a way, only added to this problem. “Private institutions have mushroomed. Not all of them unfortunately have standards that we can boast of,” he smiles. This is not to suggest that this affable man who took over as VC in 2008 is will-

ing to give up. An avid cricket fan and a decent cricketer in his youth, Das says there is no reason why such minor obstacles cannot be overcome. An avowed Leftist, Das speaks in the same jargon as the state’s chief minister who brought in winds of change in the left ruled state by wooing the “capitalist classes” to set up shop in Bengal. “I am all for change. But we should not change for the sake of changing. We cannot be chasing fads,” he says referring to a recent Union HRD ministry directive asking universities to start a semester system. “The Centre speaks of inclusive


combination of subjects for the post graduate and MPhil-level courses. “Holistic education is a need. So, while we have centres of excellence in nanotechnology and molecular biology, we also have inter-disciplinary centres in social sciences.” Another conscious decision, he says, has been to bring in democratic governance to CU. “Earlier, the VC was allowed to take unilateral decisions. I believe it is easier to implement a decision if it is arrived at through a consensus,” he argues. At 56, Das has another four years at the

“I AM ALL FOR CHANGE. BUT WE SHOULD NOT CHANGE FOR THE SAKE OF CHANGING, OR CHASE FADS” growth. But, by blindly advocating a onesize-fits-all strategy, it is actually excluding those very people it wishes to include,” he thunders. Das’ career path has taken him overseas many times, first for his PhD (from Oxford) and then several times as visiting faculty in universities of the UK and the US. Yet, he is not a supporter of the move to bring foreign universities to India—unless strict controls are in place. “We need an even-playing field. You cannot have 30 per cent reservations in Indian institutions and give them (foreign universities) a free run. Laws should be the same for all,” he says. As the VC, Das says he has tried to strike a balance between conventional subjects and emerging areas and also created a number of interdisciplinary centres where students can take up a

helm. What are the changes that he wishes to see? “There has to be growth in tune with the principles of equity and access. Let us look at partnerships, instead of isolated centres of excellence. The AngloSaxon or the US model won’t work here. A Harvard can afford to be an isolated centre, but in India the government should encourage the faculty at the top 10 Indian universities to teach at each others' institutes. We need to pool in our resources,” he says. His ultimate goal: “Truly inclusive growth where we give as much importance to the weakest and least advanced of students, as the we give to the best.”

Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at content/newsletters November 2010 EDUTECH







A New Indonesian University Will Train Students to Solve National Problems Students of Sampoerna School of Education learn from observing live sessions being conducted in Jakarta’s classrooms BY KARIN FISCHER


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here is nothing like the Sampoerna School of Education in the small, central Java village where Yosea Kurnianto was raised. Even after a year of studying here, he speaks of the private college—with its wired classrooms, well-stocked library, and rows of computers lined up like obedient soldiers in formation—with a mix of awe and pride. “I feel that I have progressed already,” says Kurnianto, a bashful 19-year-old. “For me, this is close to a miracle.” Nearly 95 percent of Indonesian children are enrolled in primary schools, but the quality of that education is often poor. Indeed, the fact that Kurnianto is enrolled in a college at all, is against all odds. The college-going rate in this sprawling archipelago of 240 million people is just 17 percent, a proportion far behind that of its Southeast Asian neighbours. Only 7 percent of the population holds a degree. While a push to expand universal access to primary education is slowly raising educational attainment, Indonesia’s 80 overburdened public universities can admit only a fraction of those who apply. Into that gap has come a flourishing private education system. But, while many of Indonesia’s 2,200 private colleges are of dubious quality and relatively high cost, the Sampoerna School of Education stands apart. Founded by one of the country’s wealthiest men, Putera Sampoerna, it is part of a bold plan to introduce the American land-grant-university model to Indonesia through partnerships with foreign universities.

Sampoerna, working through his founorders, are well-regarded comprehensive colSign up for a free weekly dation, aims to create a first-class universileges, many are narrowly-tailored institutes electronic newsletter from The ty with a curriculum that corresponds to meant to train students in specific technical Chronicle of Higher Education at the country’s economic needs and a highfields, like computer programming. Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter achieving student body recruited from the Still others are “diploma mills and monThe Chronicle of Higher Education is country’s lowest socio-economic classes. eymakers” that prey on unsuspecting stua US-based company with a weekly newspaper and a website updated Everyone of the 190 undergraduates dents and their parents, Agoes says. In a daily, at, that enrolled in the School of Education, the country where corruption is pervasive, the cover all aspects of university life. first of the university’s colleges to open, is tarnished image of private education has With over 90 writers, editors, and on financial aid. led to a growing public wariness. correspondents stationed around the In drawing disadvantaged students globe,The Chronicle provides timely news and analysis of academic ideas, A More Rigorous Model from the country’s many islands and in developments and trends. Sampoerna, a cigarette and gambling magfocusing on fields critical to this developnate, started his eponymous foundation in ing nation, such as teacher training and 2001, pledging $150 million to improve entrepreneurship, Sampoerna hopes his education. Initially, the group, which also institution can help build Indonesia’s eduruns several high school “academies”, focused on sending cational capacity and improve its economy. bright, underprivileged students overseas for study. “Only 2 percent of all kids that go to university come from Sampoerna himself graduated from University of Houston, rural areas, from the lowest economic quintile,” Sampoerna and the foundation leadership is a mixture of expatriates and notes, “And that’s what we want to change.” foreign-educated Indonesians. Private Education’s Rise But the approach was expensive—the cost of enrolling a sinFor decades the country has used funds from the World Bank gle student in a college in the United States could total and other sources to invest in educational programmes. But, $200,000 or more over four years. Sampoerna officials began to attention has frequently been diverted by more immediate chalquestion whether they could have greater impact keeping those lenges: the transition from dictatorship to democracy, the threat students in Indonesia. of domestic terrorism, and the fiscal devastation of the Asian “If we could not afford to send more students to Harvard,” financial crash. says Agung Binatoro, head of programme development at the “When you are dealing with crisis after crisis,” says Nenny foundation, “Why don’t we try to set up a school like Harvard, Soemawinata, managing director of the Putera Sampoerna with Harvard-like quality, in Indonesia?” Foundation, “It’s hard to think about the long term.” The model the philanthropy embraced was not Harvard, but Still, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made educaAmerica’s flagship public research institutions, land-grant unition a priority, acknowledging that without bettering educaversities, founded more than a century ago with the mission to tional access and outcomes, Indonesia cannot achieve its ecogive practical training in fields vital to a nascent nation, to stunomic-development goals. dents of all economic classes. “We have to have a critical mass of educated people to move the In Indonesia, one of the most critical needs the foundation country forward,” says Irid Agoes, director of the Indonesian identified is teacher training. With a push toward universal eduInternational Education Foundation, an organisation that procation, nearly 95 percent of Indonesian children are enrolled in motes educational exchanges, particularly with the US. primary school. Yudhoyono’s government has committed to spending 20 perThe quality of that education is often poor, however. Indonecent of the federal budget on education and, in the current fiscal sian students score toward the back of the pack on international year, allocated nearly 20-trillion Rupiah ($2.2 billion), or about 9 science and mathematics tests. percent of the budget, to higher education. Some observers lay the blame on teachers, many of whom are But with 4.4 million Indonesian students dropping out of underprepared. More than half of all Indonesian teachers do not school annually, the government’s concentration has been, by have a four-year college degree. (Traditional teacher-training schools necessity, on primary and secondary education. And some here offer just a two- or three-year degree.) On any given day, one in experts, like Terance W. Bigalke, director of education profive teachers is not in the classroom, one of the highest rates of grammes at the East-West Centre, question whether the governteacher absenteeism in the world, according to the World Bank. ment can sustain its current level of support. The government has recently instituted stricter certification “Indonesia doesn’t have the financial capacity to expand highrequirements, which all teachers, both veterans and those er education without resorting to privatisation,” says Bigalke, entering the field, will have to meet by 2015. whose education and research organisation is focused on the While existing teacher-training institutes must revamp their Asia Pacific. syllabi to meet the new standards, the Sampoerna School of In recent years, the number of private colleges in the country has Education was created with those guidelines in mind, says Pauexploded. While some, particularly those associated with religious lina Pannen, the dean. November 2010 EDUTECH


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE The school allows students to major in two areas, English education and mathematics, but Pannen says the institution hopes to add educational technology and education management, to train principals. Like the original offerings, those specialities are in high demand in Indonesia. The Sampoerna curriculum is distinctive, Pannen says with pride: From the first semester, education students, many of whom look barely older than their charges, are sent out to elementary- and secondary-school classrooms, initially to observe and then to teach. “We believe in active learning,” Pannen says. First-year students must also take a course in research methods; at other education schools, a similar course wouldn’t typically be offered until a student’s final year, if at all, Pannen adds. “We want to develop a culture of the teacher as critical thinker, as researcher, as someone who is interested in inquiry,” says Nisa Felicia, who teaches in the department of education and information and communication technologies. The difficulty, she says, is that many students come from secondary schools that emphasise rote learning. “It’s a big challenge to transform them.” Anissa Pane, a petite English major, her face open beneath a snug headscarf, admits she found the research-methods course difficult. But she says the class, along with classroom observation, has made her think about teaching in a different light. “You have your perception as a student,” she says, “But now I see that there are so many things that influence conditions in a classroom.” Kurnianto, a fellow English student, says his first year of college contrasts starkly with the experience of his friends back home. “They come and sit in chairs and listen to the teacher lecture,” he says. “They entered university, but they say it’s just a replay of senior high school.”

Seeking Overseas Partners To build the programme, Sampoerna officials turned to two foreign institutions, Massey University, New Zealand, and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, for help with curriculum development and faculty training. By working with overseas partners, Binatoro, head of programme development, says the Sampoerna Foundation can ensure that its colleges offer a rigorous, international-quality curriculum and accelerate the creation of that course work. Backers hope that such partnerships will advance the new university’s international reputation, a hurdle because Indonesian higher education has a low-profile on the world stage. No Indonesian university is included in rankings of the world’s top research institutions, and political instability and domestic terrorism sharply diminished the number of student exchanges and joint research projects over the last decade and a half. (That could change—in June, Yudhoyono and President Obama announced a new effort to expand educational ties between Indonesia and the United States.) To broker international relationships, the foundation has an employee on the ground in the United States, Al Jaeger, who visits American colleges, continuously seeking the best partners for the new university as it seeks to add schools and programmes.


EDUTECH November 2010

WE WANT TO DEVELOP A CULTURE OF THE TEACHER AS THE CRITICAL THINKER, AS THE RESEARCHER, AS SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN INQUIRY Jaeger says he hopes to interest American institutions in all manner of partnerships, including curriculum development, faculty and student exchanges, shared research, and articulation agreements. Eventually, there could even be two-plus-two programmes, in which students begin their first two years in Indonesia and finish up at an American college, earning a joint or dual degree, he says. Iowa State University is already working with the Sampoerna School of Education and this spring will send a half-a-dozen students to Indonesia for student teaching, says David Whaley, associate dean for teacher education at the university. The two institutions are also exploring common research interests and hope to soon set up co-operative projects. And Iowa State would like to start a programme to bring Sampoerna faculty members to Ames for a semester apiece; first, though, officials there must find a source of financial support, Whaley says.

An Indonesian Institution The new university may seek to meet international standards, but it remains an Indonesian institution. Space in the school of education’s temporary quarters in a Jakarta office building—the foundation is scouting locations for a permanent campus—is set aside for prayer, a must in this Muslim-majority country. Instruction is in English, but on Fridays, students and professors wear batik clothing, the traditional textile of Indonesia. And the institution is centered squarely on responding to Indonesia’s economic needs. Thus, it focuses on critical fields— a school of business, opened in September, was the second to be started. Soemawinata, the Sampoerna Foundation managing director, says a business curriculum was a logical next step because of the necessity of creating more Indonesian entrepreneurs, and because multinational companies in the country complain of a dearth of managerial talent. Officials hope colleges of agriculture and engineering will follow. Unlike Indonesia’s elite state universities, where acceptance is based on a nationwide examination, Sampoerna’s students are not chosen on the basis of academics alone. Foundation officials are looking for future leaders, students who are likely

GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM to return home and help change the local educational system or encourage other residents to become entrepreneurs. To earn a spot, students had to present high school scores, prove their English proficiency, undergo psychological tests, and submit to a battery of interviews. For the school of education’s first class, of 89, 1,200 students applied. Faculty members say students are hungry for the opportunity. “Teachers can only open the door for you, but you have to enter for yourself,” says Felicia, the education lecturer. “My students are knocking on the door.”

Without The Luxury Of Time While Sampoerna officials are proud of what they’ve accomplished so far, the university remains a work in progress. Among the most critical issues is how it will be financed going forward. The philanthropy has made clear that its money is meant to seed future work, not cover all continuing costs. Bigalke, of the East-West Centre, notes that private universities are typically bankrolled by tuition dollars, while the foundation’s leaders say they are committed to enrolling a student body that can pay little of the cost—or none of it at all. “The basic notion is a good one,” Bigalke says, “But, where is the money coming from?” Jaeger, the American representative, says the group is seeking additional corporate and non-governmental donors, as well as

support from the American and Indonesian governments. But it’s uncertain what resources the Indonesian government could commit, and even the funds pledged by President Obama to underwrite increased educational ties between the two countries are relatively modest, $165-million over five years. Such support could also come with potentially unwelcome strings. Michelle Sampoerna, the foundation’s chairwoman and Sampoerna’s daughter, characterised the relationship with Indonesian higher education authorities as “friendly”. Officially, though, the ties are “at arm’s length,” Sampoerna says. The foundation is moving forward on other fronts, starting a new student loan programme, based on Shariah, or Islamic, law, and establishing a new programme to aid Indonesian students who would like to study in the United States and to assist American colleges that want to start partnerships and programmes in this country. “We’re so used to everything moving fast, fast, fast,” in the private sector, says Soemawinata, a former broadcast and marketing executive whose rapid-fire style is to answer questions before they’ve been fully asked. “Our approach is no waiting, just keep going, and then perfect it.” “We don’t have the luxury,” she adds, “To sit back.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter


Police Crackdown On Egyptian Campuses To End With Recent Court Ruling

A group of academics at Cairo University, recently won a lawsuit that ends police presence on university campuses BY URSULA LINDSEY


assan Nafaa is a critic of the Egyptian government, who coordinates several political reform campaigns. Because of this, Nafaa, who is the chairperson of Cairo University’s political science department, says police forces stationed on his campus don’t allow any visitors to his office, without a prior written request. “I refuse to do this,” he says. “I tell all visitors to come through the side gate and not mention my name.” For the past three decades, the police, under Egypt’s Ministry of Interior, have been stationed on all national universities. And—say professors, stu-

dents, and civil rights groups here—Nafaa’s predicament is just one example of the police’s unwarranted interference in academic life. That may change soon, thanks to the perseverance of a group of Cairo University professors, who sued the government several years ago, arguing that the police presence on campus infringed on academic freedom. In 2008, the courts ruled in the professors’ favour, but the government November 2010 EDUTECH





appealed. Then on October 23, in a final landmark ruling, one of the country’s highest courts found that “the presence of police, dependent on the Ministry of Interior, on campus, violates Egyptian law and the principle of the university’s independence,” says Abdel Gelil Mustafa, a professor of medicine at Cairo University and one of the academics who filed the lawsuit. President Anwar el-Sadat instated official police campus units in 1981, as part of a crackdown on his political opponents. “It was a time of unrest,” says Mustafa, and universities were hotbeds of oppositions to the president. “Hundreds of professors and intellectuals were arrested.” A month after installing the new campus police, Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists. The security units, which man university gates and have offices within most faculties, have remained in place ever since. Today, the ruling that might end the police’s presence on campus is “needed more than ever”, says Mustafa. Egypt will hold parliamentary elections on November 28 and presidential elections in 2011. President Hosni Mubarak, who is 82 and reportedly in poor health, hasn’t announced whether he will run. It isn’t clear who his ruling National Democratic Party might nominate to succeed him, nor how orderly that transition might be. Mubarak has been in power for the past 30 years. The country’s uncertain political future has aggravated tensions on campus, with students and faculty members complaining that their basic freedoms of expression and assembly are being denied. At the moment in Egypt, “there is political pressure for change”, Nafaa maintains. “And the regime is scared. The campus is sensitive because this is the most active segment of the population, and during a time of mobilisation like this, the [government’s] eye will be focused on the university campus,” he says.

There has been a distinct increase in the frequency and intensity of attacks on students, says Emad Mubarak (no relation to the president), the director of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, which monitors campus affairs and offers legal aid to students and faculty members. “This year, on the first day of classes, there were violent attacks in five universities,” says Mubarak, speaking of attacks by security forces against students. That’s compared with just a few cases of violence throughout last year. “This year we reached the point where security officers put out cigarettes on students’ hands. We’re always talking about the university as sacred,” Mubarak continues. “It’s supposed to be the high point of freedom of thought. What’s happening is the opposite— the university is becoming like a police station.” The students targeted by security are affiliated with different political groups, but all are engaged in calls for reform. Some are members of the banned, but nevertheless active, Islamist opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood. Others are associated with the former International Atomic Energy Agency director and Nobel Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei’s would-be presidential campaign (ElBaradei is ineligible to run for president under Egypt’s current laws). Moataz Bellah Mohamed and Mostafa Fouad Ahmed are students at Ain Shams University and members of a Left-wing student movement formed two years ago in solidarity with workers’ strikes. Their group tried to organise presentations to fellow students about fraud during student elections. They say their activities were violently disrupted by campus police. Ahmed has been barred from sitting for his exams; Mohamed faces criminal prosecution for trumped-up charges, he says, that he attacked other students. Nonetheless, “We’re intensifying our activities,” says Ahmed, “because of everything that’s happening this year. And for the same reason, security wants to keep us quiet. They don’t want to hear the people’s voice before the elections.”

Violence On Campus

Interference In Academic Life

Since the beginning of the academic year on September 18, the Egyptian media and watchdog groups have documented dozens of acts of violence against students on the part of security forces. At universities across the country, students who have engaged in mild forms of activism—putting up posters, handing out fliers, gathering signatures—have reportedly been threatened, detained, interrogated and beaten. Many have also been suspended and referred to disciplinary hearings and to criminal prosecution.

While it is most often students who are in open conflict with campus security, professors complain that the Ministry of Interior interferes in appointments and promotions. They also say they must obtain permission from campus police to invite guest speakers, travel to conferences, and organise extracurricular events. In 2005, before Egypt’s last round of elections,

EDUTECH November 2010

GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM academics formed an association that called for re-establishing the independence of the university, and they held demonstrations on campus. The recent ruling “Is a great development, but I am not quite sure that the government will abide by it,” Nafaa says. The Ministry of Interior has not commented on the allegations of student abuse or the ruling. A ministry spokesman referred The Chronicle to Magdi Radi, the Egyptian Ministerial Cabinet’s spokesman, who says: “What’s frustrating is that we have to respect the ruling, but we have to find a way to maintain security on campuses.” According to Radi, “You have to have some security, but it doesn’t have to be Ministry of Interior or gov-

ernment. It can be private.” Minister of Higher Education Hani Helal told the Egyptian newspaper ElShorouk that the ruling only applies to Cairo University, but his ministry will put it in place there and possibly at other campuses as soon as it figures out how best to do so. “If we implement the ruling ... and the next day Cairo University goes up in flames, who will we hold responsible?” the minister asked. Helal also described the alleged attacks on students as “A few cases you can count on the fingers of one hand”. “If the ruling isn’t put into effect this will be another violation of the law,” Mustafa adds. He and his colleagues will insist that the court’s decision be applied, he says, even if that means suing university presidents and the ministers of education and of the interior. Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter


Comparative Study Makes The Case For Mexico’s Public Universities

At the National Autonomous University of Mexico, creators of a database that compares Mexican institutions say that international rankings fail to weigh the contributions university researchers make toward national development BY MARION LLOYD


t can be lonely at the top. Especially when it comes to global university rankings. So in 2008, researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico—the sole Mexican university to break into the top 200 in international rankings—decided to see how their institution stacks up against its rivals in Mexico. The result was the Comparative Study of Mexican Universities, the second version of which was published recently. The interactive database compares the country’s 43 public universities and the top 15 private institutions with each other in areas such as patent production, scholarly articles published in peer-

reviewed journals, and the number of full-time professors with PhDs. With statistics compiled from 2,400 academic and government institutions across the country and the world, it represents the most comprehensive database of its kind in Mexico. The site is not, however, intended to serve as a national university ranking system. (Several Mexican newspapers offer university rankings already, though universities have declined to participate on grounds that the survey methods are highly subjective.) Instead, the creators of the database at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, which is known by its Spanish

acronym UNAM, insist that their goal is to provide an antidote to the rankings model, which they view as arbitrary and skewed in favor of a sole model: that of the elite American research institution. “The rankings are nothing more than Harvard-ometers, how much you look like Harvard,” says Imanol Ordorika Sacristán, director general of institutional evaluation at UNAM and co-director of the database project. He said he hoped the database would provide a useful source of information for scholars and university administrators, both in Mexico and abroad. “We tried to do what the rankings don’t,” says Ordorika, who holds a PhD November 2010 EDUTECH


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE in education policy from Stanford University. “We tried to create a comparative tool that allows us to know the state of the universities, not the position of the institutions.”

Overcoming Biases He and other academics argue that global rankings are biased in favor of English-speaking countries and, particularly, institutions in the United States, Britain, and Australia. (Together, institutions from those three countries account for more than half of the top 200 universities listed in the most recent Times Higher Education rankings.) They note that the main instrument used for counting scholarly articles, the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge, mostly surveys English-language journals from the first worlds. Ordorika argues that the rankings fail to take into account the broader role of public universities in Latin American in guiding social policy, promoting democracy, and combating poverty. “Our universities fulfill a huge range of activities that the others aren’t fulfilling, or aren’t required to fulfill,” he says. “These functions aren’t measured or even identified by the majority of the rankings.” The National Autonomous University of Mexico—which, with 140,000 undergraduate and graduate students, is one of Latin America’s largest institutions of higher education—still manages to rank among the top 200 universities in the listings produced by Times Higher Education and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. But, Ordorika says, “The rankings are incapable of capturing what UNAM really is or stands for.” In addition to having produced three Nobel Prize winners over the years and having 2,500 articles published in international peer-reviewed journals in 2009 alone, the university also hosts one of Mexico’s top orchestras, and operates the nation’s largest library and its main astronomical observatory. In addition, the university has graduated hundreds of thousands of professionals, including most of the country’s presidents, since its establishment in 1910.


EDUTECH November 2010

IT’S UNFAIR TO MAKE THIS DISTINCTION BETWEEN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE. ASIAN TIGERS DON’T MAKE THIS DISTINCTION. IF WE WANT TO COMPETE ON AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, WE HAVE TO PUSH FOR MORE RESEARCH “The state-level universities do the same thing at the state level,” he said, “But, none of that figures in the ‘international’ rankings.” The decision to create a comparative database was motivated by more than national or regional pride. Authors are also seeking to improve the image of Mexico’s public universities, which are facing fierce competition from their private rivals. Under the pro-business National Action Party, which has governed Mexico since 2000, the government has been increasingly channeling research and development funds to private institutions, breaking with a long tradition in Mexico in which only public universities received government support.

Public Versus Private By far, the biggest of the private recipients is the private Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, which has about 77,000 students on 33 campuses nationwide. Conservative members of Congress and opinion makers increasingly hold up Monterrey Tec as a model of productivity in arguing for more government support for the university’s technology innovation programs. Ordorika insists that such arguments are wrong-headed. He notes that Monterrey Tec ranks sixth nationwide in the number of patents awarded since 1991. It has produced three, compared with UNAM’s 121. In addition, he notes, public institutions in Mexico account for 95 percent of articles published in international peer-review journals. Monterrey

Tec officials, meanwhile, say the database does not reflect their institution’s recent efforts to expand research and development. Over the past decade, the institution’s research budget has quintupled, to $45-million, says Francisco Cantú, dean of research and graduate studies. There are plans to double that investment within five years. The university has also greatly increased its patent-production efforts, with 170 applications now pending in Mexico and Europe, he says. “The UNAM has taken decades to get where it is, whereas the Tec has shot up in the past 10 years.” Cantú insists that Monterrey Tec is not out to compete against UNAM, much less against the public universities in general. “It’s unfair to make this distinction between public and private,” he says. “The Asian tigers don’t make this distinction, nor does the US. If we want to compete as a country on an international level, we have to push for more research and it shouldn’t matter who does it.” Ordorika is not convinced. “In the ongoing debate in this country between public and private higher education, they’re trying to convince us that Monterrey Tec is the most marvelous,” he says. “But now we have the facts to make our case. The future of higher education in this country lies with the public universities.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter This section is being republished with permission from The Chronicle Of Higher Education



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EDUTECH  November 2010

Love is the biggest religion K.P. Shashidharan

Book Review

Celebrate the Flavour of Life

The message of eternity beautifully expressed in form of poetry LIFE IS not just about winning or losing. It’s linked with celebrating each of those moments, which you never know will prevail or not. It’s about experiencing sorrow and joy. This is what, the latest poetic prose, Whispering Mind, from K.P. Shashidharan—an alumnus of London School of Economics and a member of Indian Audit and Accounts service—talks about. Whispering Mind is a love story in poems and narrates the journeys of Yin and Yang, representing the negative and positive vibes in the world. The book, according to the author, is meant for all who love life; like to live in love; believe in exploring and discovering the inner hidden energy in them; and linking it with the supreme energy of the universe. The intention of the book is to bring enduring joy. The author compares his characters “Yin and Yang” with eternal lovers like Shakti and Shiva; Radha and Krishna; Adam and Eve. His characters believe in the power of celebrating “now”, not the past or the future. They believe in taking small steps in the life, driven by passion and compassion. Humanity

and love is the biggest religion for them. The poems have been written mainly catering to three themes emphasizing the essence of life, Spectrum of life: Poems on philosophy and environment; Rainbow of love: About the realms of relationships, feelings and emotions; Journey to Awareness, Enlightenment and Bliss: About destiny versus determinism, restlessness of mind and infinite bliss. The book seems to be influenced by the teachings of Osho, in parts. The message of eternity has been beautifully expressed in form of poetry. An interesting amalgamation of views, thoughts, experiences and examples can be seen in the poems. Thoughts have been penned well with intricate details. Examples touching almost every nuance of varied aspects of life support the views of the writer. Fables and excerpts from different mythological episodes have been rightly placed. Though mention of latest online activities viz-a-viz Orkut and Facebook appears to be forcefully put in. “The Bliss”, conclusion of the book gives an encouraging and insightful ending. The basic issues of mind and body gymnastics for bringing a beautiful mind in a beautiful body are explained in simple verses. All in all a must read for people who have the vision to see the “real” life. —Jatinder Singh

Publisher: Sterling Publishers Price:



DIY Media in the Classroom


An Educational Psychology of Methods in Multicultural Education

IN THE BOOK, the phrase “do it yourself media” refers to the effects and use of technology among the youth—its role in creating original, or modified, products. While most educators recognise that their students are indeed “creating” with technology, many are not yet convinced.

VANG’S BOOK illustrates issues that emerge in a normal classroom where students from diverse backgrounds converge.

Author: Barbara Guzzetti, Kate Elliott, Diana Welsch Publisher: Teachers’ College Press

Author: Vang Christopher Thao Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing House

Price: $ 22.45

Price: $ 31.14

EDUTECH November 2010



Apple iPod Nano — Tinier, Touch Support

GADGETS World’s Smallest Multifunctional Printer SAMSUNG, A brand not so known for its printers, has launched the “world’s smallest multi-functional laser printer” in India. Definitely an attempt to attract attention to their printing devices, the SCX3201 is well-priced at INR 8,999, and comes with a 2 year limited warranty (upgradeable to 2 years to INR 499 extra). The device is ideal for home professionals, students and small businesses.

If you are looking for something really tiny, Nano fits the bill perfectly FOR THE FEW who don’t know, the Nano is Apple’s offering to those who want a really compact PMP, but with a display. Gone is the clickwheel of old, gone is the elongated shape; the new Nano has shrunk to an all time tiny dimensions. Apple has cut corners on performance, something we do not care for. Also, the price is very close to the iPod Touch 8 GB, and if size is not an issue, we can’t see many people biting this Apple.

Price: 12,700

Price: 8,999

Canon EOS 7D – King of crops! AT INR85,000 the 7D is an attractive option for those looking for a high performance dSLR camera. Image quality is top notch, and if you want better, you need to look at a full frame. Noise is controlled for a crop sensor and the 7D is sturdy. This is a dSLR for the discerning enthusiast.

Price: 85,000

Project Perfect

Solar-powered Tablet- iSlate A COLLABORATIVE effort by Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Houston’s Rice University, Switzerland’s Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology, and an Indian NGO Villages for Development and Learning Foundation (ViDAL)—has apparently born fruit, in the form of the solar-powered iSlate, which is officially called an electronic notepad rather than a tablet.

Price: Not yet confirmed

VIEW SONIC India has announced the launch of new projector; PJD7383i in its extensive projector range, directly targeting the education and training sectors. With a multitude of user-friendly features and a convenient classroom set up, the 3D-ready ViewSonic PJD7383i offers additions to any interactive classroom environment. The interactive PJD7383i negates the need for costly interactive white boards. Teachers are able to write directly onto the projected image with the (included) interactive pen.

Price: 129, 999 November 2010 EDUTECH



Making A Life Versus Making A Living When a hotchpotch amalgamation of humanities saves the businessman’s soul


ome 100 years ago, Chicago and Columbia universities began what is known as the “Great Books Programme”. It required students to read what they considered to be the “great books”—by Plato, Karl Marx, TS Elliot, etc.—in the first two years of college. We don’t have such a programme in our universities. But, don’t let that stand in your way—there are summer and winter breaks aplenty. During these start your own “great books programme”. Meet up friends, get your list, read the classics and discuss. When I mean discuss, I literally mean interrogate the books. While you are at it, I will suggest that you look up a name—David Denby. Denby is a NYC movie critic and journalist, who entered Columbia University in 1991 to take the university’s famous course in “Great Books”. Denby later authored a book simply titled Great Books in which he spoke of the impact of the course on his life. The reason why I talk of the “great books” is because the impact they left on my life. At 16, as the son of a diligent engineer and an earnest homemaker—I went to Harvard to study engineering. But at Harvard, I learnt that nobody came there to study engineering. I promptly changed my course to chemistry. Why? Because newspapers at that time were reporting of James D. Watson and Fran-


EDUTECH November 2010

cis Crick, who had received the Nobel for discovering the structure of the DNA—I knew that their path began with this subject. At the end of that summer, I came back to India, and first noticed its grinding poverty. It was ironical that I had to go away to realise the simple reality of my country. It was then, going back, I switched to economics. But fate intervened. In a few months, I was enamoured by humanities—I switched again. By then my middle-class parents had begun to despair. My mother found herself frequently skirting questions surrounding my majors. But, I was not done. I found this great man called Daniel Engels (under him I learnt a little bit of Sanskrit). Then, I thought that architecture was wonderful, especially the modernists. In my third year, even Harvard lost its patience. I was asked to chose a major—and, I finally gave up the life of an academic wayfarer, to settle with philosophy.


For a brief while, I followed the norm, hoping to complete my PhD under Isaiah Berlin. Weeks before I was to complete a postgraduate project, I visited Chandigarh. Sitting on my porch, I found myself wondering whether I wished to spend a lifetime floating in that high stratosphere of abstract thought? I got cold feet. To assuage my parents, who had begun to despair again, thinking that I was unemployable, I answered an advertisement for a company. I started work as a salesman. Like the man who came to dinner and stayed on, I stayed in the world of business till I was 50. In between, I went to Harvard Business School. The reason why I narrate my tale is because I know there are a lots of students who are like me. I want to assure them that my background, the hotchpotch amalgamation of humanities put together was not a hindrance, but immense help. What undergraduate education in humanities helped me to do, was think! To not accept anything at face value. Not even, if it was written by Plato. I was taught to interrogate the text. This lesson stayed with me, along with the ability to think and write clearly. This habit is the reason why on a Sunday, I am able to discuss an issue (economical, political, or social) in 800 words. The above is an excerpt of a speech given by Gurcharan at the Second NIIT Annual Lecture. To read the full article log in to

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