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Volume 01

Issue 03



A 9.9 Media Publication january 2010





educ ation



volume 01 | Issue 03

Simsim! MIT professor Vijay Kumar’s magic mantra

“OPEN KNOWLEDGE” could change the future of education Dialogue:

Anand sudarshan “Technology gives manipal an edge” P34



C.s. venkata ratnam “only the secure can take a risk” P60


success recipe for multiple campuses P50

Contents EDU January 2010 Volume 01 | Issue 03

UPDATES 06 07 08 09

launch AT A GLANCE administration strategy academics report collaboration voices accreditation

Cover Story 07


10 Ganesh Natarajan Government reforms need speedy implementation 48 Rishikesha T. Krishnan Ethics should be taught in professional courses


The Open Knowledge movement that started at the beginning of this century at MIT, could prove to be the Big ang of the education universe

56 Dheeraj Sanghi Staying connected is necessary to foster stronger alumni relations


60 C.S. Venkata Ratnam He believes that only the secure take risks By Smita Polite


38 design & Architecture Aaron B. Schwarz talks about new directions in campus design

“If one is insecure he will not only not grow but will also not let others grow�


Edu Tech January 2010

Case Study

58 computers Pepperdine University adopts an affordable computing model by deploying thin clients


42 design A campus design is more than a blueprint of buildings. It is the translation of an idea and a belief By Indu Prasad


50 expansion Multiple campuses could be effective if planned well By Parul Gupta

By Chitra Narayanan



62 Books Review: n The Wisdom of Crowds New Releases: n Globalizing Education, Educating the Local



Managing Director: Dr. Pramath Raj Sinha publishing director: Vikas Gupta Printer & Publisher: Kanak Ghosh Group Editor: R Giridhar Consulting Editor: Aman Singh Assistant Editor: Smita Polite editorial advisor: Dr RK Suri international contributor: Vinita Belani



20 the Open GURU

24 the open believer

Vijay Kumar believes Open Knowledge can facilitate lifelong learning

Ashok Kolaskar says Open Education can help private institutions

technology 28 open knowledge

DEsign Sr Creative Director: Jayan K Narayanan Art Director: Binesh Sreedharan Associate Art Director: Anil VK Manager Design: Chander Shekhar Sr Visualisers: PC Anoop, Santosh Kushwaha Sr Designers: TR Prasanth & Anil T


34 tech wise

Anand Sudarshan talks about Manipal’s latest technological innovation By R. Giridhar

Production & logistics Sr. GM Operations: Shivshankar M Hiremath Production Executive: Vilas Mhatre Logistics: MP Singh, Mohamed Ansari, Shashi Shekhar Singh

More than resources, institutions need an “open mind” to join the Open Knowledge movement By Nupur Chaturvedi ADVERTISER INDEX MICROSOFT

n Using the Medical Model in




IFC & 1



63 Products



n Google Nexus One

Tata communications


n BookBook

This index is provided as an additional service.The publisher does not assume any liabilities for errors or omissions.


64 Madan Padaki Online exams can help institutions reduce exam-related administrative problems




A 9.9 Media Publication



The great indian education revolution has taken off. P62







officE addrEss Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd C/o KPT House, Plot 41/13, Sector-30, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400703, India Printed and published by Kanak Ghosh for Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd C/o KPT House, Plot 41/13, Sector-30, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400703, India Editor: Anuradha Das Mathur C/o KPT House, Plot 41/13, Sector-30, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400703, India Printed at Silverpoint Press Pvt Ltd D 107,TTC Industrial Area, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706


YASH PAL & SAM PITRODA talk about why they believe that the current edifices of higher education need to be demolished.


salEs & MarkEting VP Sales & Marketing: Naveen Chand Singh Brand Manager: Siddhant Raizada National Manager-Events & Special Projects: Mahantesh Godi National Manager Online: Nitin Walia ( 09811772466) Assistant Brand Manager: Arpita Ganguli GM South: Vinodh Kaliappan(09740714817) GM North: Pranav Saran(09312685289) GM West: Sachin N Mhashilkar(09920348755)

Cover Art: design: anil T photo: dr lohia

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

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts before recycling

December 2009 Edu Tech


FOREWORD Keys to the treasure

W “Open Education could in fact be the key to overcoming the triple challenges of Indian Higher Education— capacity, quality and access”

e met M.S. Vijay Kumar by chance. But perhaps it was no accident. For what Vijay is involved with could hold the keys to a treasure of knowledge that just keeps growing by sharing. An IIT Chennai alumnus, Vijay leads the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology at the hallowed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). And he is the man behind MIT’s initiative to make its courses available to the rest of the world. For free! Open knowledge and education is more than just making content accessible — it is a mindset. A mindset that does not view knowledge and pedagogical materials and practices as proprietary. A student or teacher in a remote village in India can use the Internet to access Economics 101 taught by a Nobel Laureate at MIT. She can watch video-taped lectures, access notes, read materials, take assignments and tests. She can also interact with others accessing the course, and even get questions answered by relevant faculty. So what is the future of campuses if you can get all your education online? That’s a tough one to answer. For now, most educators agree that learning in a traditional setting will continue to attract students as long as education is seen to be the sum of one’s campus experiences, and not just the time spent in the classroom. However, what is also becoming clear is that while technology has hitherto supplemented conventional teaching, we may reach a point when classroom sessions will end up enabling and supporting Open Education! While this may seem far-fetched, we are already moving in that direction. IGNOU, which leads the Open Knowledge movement in India, has just been declared the largest university in the world by UNESCO. Open Education could in fact be the key to overcoming the triple challenges of Indian Higher Education — capacity, quality and access. It could allow us to take quality education to the remotest parts of our country at almost no cost. All this sounds Utopian, and we have a long way to go — given the pace of broadband adoption and other challenges. But, in the long-term, Open Education could provide answers to the enormous challenge of building the 1500 universities that our country needs.

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha


Edu Tech January 2009


December 2009

The themes and issues covered are of paramount importance to all the stakeholders in the field of higher education in the country

I.V.Ranga Rao Executive Director International Collaborations & Exchange Programmes, Jindal Global Business School

WRITE TO US EDU values your feedback. We want to know what you think about the magazine and ways and means to make it a better read for you. Our endeavour continues to be a work in progress and your comments will go a long way in making EDU the preferred publication of the Education Community.

Send your comments, compliments, complaints or questions about the magazine to

Vivid portrayal. All the articles in the November 2009 issue vividly portray the current scenario of our higher education system, and the various initiatives that should be considered in restructuring the system for bringing in excellence in the teaching-learning process and in all its other components. I liked both Dr Rishikesha T. Krishnan and Dr Dheeraj Sanghi’s column, and agree with their viewpoints. Dr Pritam Singh’s strong belief in karma yoga and his enormous love for teaching are great sources of inspiration to the teaching community. Every teacher involved in higher education should read the dialogue with Professor Yash Pal and Dr. Sam Pitroda and ponder over their observations on the points of weakness in the prevailing system of higher education and participate in the creation of the right new model for the 21st century, envisaged through the establishment of 14 innovation universities.

Dr. M. Subbiah Professor, Electrical and Electronics Engineeering, Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Thandalam, Chennai

Commendable work. My hearty congratulations to you and your team on bringing out EDU. I went through the last two issues and found that the editorial team has done a commendable work in identifying the relevant topics and the appropriate experts.

Please continue the good work that you have started. I wish that this magazine continues to highlight issues concerning the education sector and becomes the most preferred magazine for the leaders and policy makers in higher education. My hearty congratulations, once again to you and your team.

Dr.Thangam Meganathan Chairperson, Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Thandalam, Chennai

A winner in your hands. I have gone though the two issues of EDU and there is no doubt that you have a winner in your hands since the themes and issues covered are of paramount importance to all the stakeholders in the field of higher education in the country. The inclusiveness of approach, the freshness of perspective, the pioneering focus adopted in the design of the publication and its availability as an exclusive, responsive and responsible platform for debate and discussion on macro and micro issues pertaining to such a vital sector are very timely, particularly for a start -up higher education institute like ours. My best wishes for the success of the EDU team!

I.V.Ranga Rao Executive Director International Collaborations & Exchange Programmes, Jindal Global Business School January 2010 Edu Tech


at a glance 07 administration 07 strategy 08 academics 08 report

09 collaboration 09 VOICES

09 Accreditation & More

ba in applied Sign Language IGNOU has started a BA programme in Applied Sign Language with registration of 30 students. It is the first of its kind in the entire world. The university has planned to take 40 students every year in the three-year on-campus degree programme to produce teachers in sign language. IGNOU, also has plans of setting up the first International College for the hearing impaired in India.

AICTE Increases Seats The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has announced that it will extend the seat limit in new engineering and management institutions to admit upto maximum 300 from 240 and 120 from 60 students respectively. Union Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, also launched portals of AICTE and the National Board of Accreditation to bring greater transparency. Left to right: Dilip Chhabria, Vivek Oberoi and Ajinkya Patil (chairman, DY Patil group) at the Auto Expo 2010


School For Auto Studies Launched Dilip Chhabria is collaborating with the DY Patil Group to start an institution devoted to automotive studies


nternationally acclaimed automotive designer, and promoter of DC Designs, Dilip Chhabria, in association with DY Patil Group, announced the launch of India’s first institution devoted to Automotive Studies — the DYP-DC Centre for Automotive Research and Studies at the Auto Expo 2010 in New Delhi. On this occasion, actor Vivek Oberoi unveiled the first car from the centre, designed specially by Chhabria to create a new design direction. The centre is to combine the educational legacy of the DY Patil Group and automotive styling expertise of Chhabria. It will be a premium interdisciplinary Automotive Design, Engineering and Management institution, covering all domains within the automobile industry. The institution’s design philosophy and curriculum will be rooted in actual industry practice. It will start offering undergraduate and post-graduate courses in automotive styling from August 2010.


Edu Tech January 2010

No fake degrees To curb forgery of educational certificates, Government of India has set up a task force that will develop the blue print for posting all educational degrees in an electronic format, in a common online pool. In case of loss or theft, one can retrieve the certificate easily by paying a fee. “We are concerned about the fake certificate syndrome and have decided to deposit all educational degrees through dematerialisation to a technology-based solution that would ensure authenticity, fidelity and enabling online verification,” says Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

Rural mbbs A three and a half year bachelor course in Medicine and Surgery for practicing in rural areas has been proposed by MCI. The doctors who pass out of these courses will work only in rural areas and district hospitals with specified bed capacities, which can also be utilised as medical schools for these courses. MCI will be meeting with vice chancellors in the first week of February 2010 to fine tune the proposal.

updates administration

IGNOU Is World’s Largest University Says UNESCO

Almost three million students from India and 33 other countries are enrolled with the university


he Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is the world’s largest, with its student base extending to three million, according to the UNESCO. “IGNOU is the largest university in the world. Almost three million students in India and 33 other countries study at IGNOU, which is also India’s National Resource Center for Open and Distance Learning and a world leader in distance education,” UNESCO said in a posting on its website. “Enrollments of nearly three million students and networks across the country making the best use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) — IGNOU’s accomplishments are recognised worldwide,” said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

IGNOU’s Open and Distance Education programmes offer students in the remotest parts of the world easy access to higher education

“With the launch of EduSat (a satellite dedicated to education) in 2004, and the establishment of the Inter-University Consortium, IGNOU has ushered in a new era of technology-enabled education,” the website said. Through its 21 schools of study, 59 regional centres, 2,300-learner support


Stanford Limits Industry Influence In Education Stanford university’s, School of Medicine, one of the top 10 medical schools in the US, has developed a new industry-funded model for the continuing education of physicians that aims to improve patient care while ensuring that corporate donors do not exert influence over the curriculum. “We set out to see if industry would be willing to partner with us to create a high-quality curriculum, under the condition that Stanford faculty would design the curriculum independent of the relationship with industry,” said Robert Jackler, MD, the school’s associate dean for Continuing Medical Education (CME).


was the average loss in endowments for a college (in US and Canada) during 2009

centres and some 52 overseas centres, the university offers certificate, diploma, degree and doctoral programmes, comprising around 1,500 courses. The university also provides access to sustainable and learner-centred education and training to all through quality, innovative and needs-based programmes at affordable costs, thus reaching out to the disadvantaged, and also promotes, coordinates and regulates the standards of education offered through open and distance learning in India. The website further said that IGNOU’s staff consists of 380 faculty members and other academic staff in headquarters and regional centres and some 36,000 counselors from conventional institutions of higher learning and professionals from different spheres.

Under this new model, Stanford will use a new, $3 million, threeyear grant from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to design and implement a novel curriculum that uses a variety of advanced technologies and teaching methods, including simulated and immersive learning tools. The Pfizer grant comes with no conditions, and the company will not be involved in developing the curriculum. The overall goal of the program is to improve patient care and outcomes, with a focus on specific patient-care issues identified by Stanford physicians, said Jackler. US organisations like the Institute of Medicine, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, have been saying that the way in which CME is currently financed and conducted is fundamentally flawed.


Source: National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Commonfund

Global Update

billion endowments were lost collectively by colleges in US and Canada last year January 2010 Edu Tech


Updates academics

Graduate Programme In Golf Management

International School of Corporate Management has launched a programme to enable managers to run a successful golf operation


he International School of Corporate Management (ISCOM) has launched a programme to train managers to run a golf operation as a successful business venture. “We have integrated our existing innovative and robust post graduate management programme with the golf management programmes of our knowledge partners, Elmwood College, St. Andrews, Scotland, UK for this programme,” said Professor Keshav Rae, director of ISCOM. “We see great potential for such candidates to be absorbed into the growing golf industry in India and South Asia,” he added. The two-year programme will have four semesters of six months each. The last semester will involve “on-the-job” training programme at a golf course in

Golf operations have to move into the hands of managers who know the business as well as the game


Demand For Medical Education Continues To Boom In India

A new report from RNCOS analyses the need for medical education services in India over the next few years

medical education has emerged as the most profitable segment of the education industry according to the latest RNCOS research report, “Indian Education Services — A Hot Opportunity.” The report states that India has shown remarkable growth and development in its higher education sector and continues to offer tremendous growth potential for a variety of higher education degree and diploma courses. The report states that despite the continuous growth in Indian medical education sector over the past few years, the country has not been able to adequately meet the constantly growing needs for medical professionals in the country. This is reflected in the shortage of healthcare service professionals like doctors and nurses among others, with extensive disparities existing not only between urban and rural India, but also between various states of the country. The research’s demand-supply model indicates that if India wants to increase its doctors to patient ratio to the global average of 15, the country would require several million more


Edu Tech January 2010

Scotland which will be arranged through Elmwood College. Brigadier Dileep Gole (Retired), who has been involved in golf course design, golf project management and golf education for over eight years and heads his own company Ace Golf Foundation, will steer this programme. Any golf course facility built around a premium golf course and a country club can have an investment up to Rs 1 billion. Its operations could be worth another Rs 1 billion per year. Such a facility involves a large number of specialised activities such as daily play, tournaments, marketing, member facilities, upkeep and maintenance of machinery and equipment and maintenance of turf grasses. The overall operation also involves managing the associated activities such as hospitality, house keeping, swimming pool, tennis courts, squash courts, party and events and HR related issues concerning manpower, legal and compliance matters. Such a facility requires managers with an in-depth knowledge of all the facilities and services to create an integrated profitable operation. The course is aiming to cater to this unmet demand.

doctors to meet the growing demand for healthcare services. A similar demand is expected for nurses in the country over the next few years. Thus, there is an urgent need to expand medical education system in India while keeping in mind the quality issues in providing medical education. The report provides extensive research and rational analysis of the higher education system in India. It gives the current status of the higher education system, overview of the number of universities, technical education institutions and colleges available in the country. Besides this, it gives analysis of the type of courses that will remain in high demand over the next few years. It also lists the regions which are most appropriate for setting up new medical and technical institutes along with others in the country.

updates collaboration

MDI To Collaborate With IOCL Indian Oil will utilise MDI’s expertise in training, and also provide industry experience for its students


anagement Development Institute (MDI), has recently signed an MOU with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL) to partner in the area of training and development. The agreement envisages utilising the intellectual resource and infrastructure of MDI to facilitate IOCL’s efforts in areas of talent and organisation development. The areas of collaboration include management

development programmes for competency development of senior executives with IOCL, and consulting by MDI faculty in IOCL projects and research. IOCL will participate in the final placements for employing students graduating in various programmes and may also provide summer internship to MDI students. The MOU has been signed for an initial period of five years.


IMI Delhi Awarded SAQS Accreditation The accreditation endorses that IMI has a continuous quality improvement system at par with global standards


he Association of Management Development Institutions In South Asia (AMDISA) has awarded International Management Institute (IMI) Delhi with the South Asia Quality Systems (SAQS) Accreditation. Supported by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) the SAQS Accreditation offers European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) Accreditation. “SAQS Accredited” is a quality label which assures that IMI Delhi has in place a continuous quality improvement system benchmarked with leading global schools in the world. “There are only five other institutes that are part of this accreditation and we are proud to be among them. It also proves that our systems are at par with global standards,” said Dr C S Venkata Ratnam, director IMI Delhi. The eligibility for IMI for participation in the ASDISA SAQS Accreditation exercise was approved after the institute prepared and submitted its selfassessment report based on the SAQS criteria and quality parameters. “This will entitle IMI Delhi to use the SAQS Accredited quality label for the next five years,” added Ratnam. AMDISA’s decision to award SAQS Accreditation to IMI Delhi for five years was based on the report and recommendation of the peer review team, the response of IMI to the observations and expectations of the peer review team, and the subsequent vetting by the SAQS accreditation awarding committee.

Voices “In elitist colleges, the first aim among students is to graduate and then emigrate. A huge change of attitude is needed.” — P. Chidambaram Union Home Minister

“Basic science education is being neglected. The government should play an important role in promoting science teaching. The universities, research institutions and national funding agencies should work in tandem for this.” — V.S. Achuthanandan Chief Minister, Kerala

“Students and researchers must be taught to relate what is taught in classes with real-life situations early enough, from their primary classes.” — G. Madhavan Nair General President ISCA & former Chairman, ISRO

“It is unfortunately true that red tape, political interference and lack of proper recognition of good work have all contributed to a regression in Indian science in some sectors from the days of (Nobel laureate) C.V. Raman and other great pioneers of Indian science.” — Manmohan Singh Prime Minister, India

January 2010 Edu Tech



Ganesh Natarajan

Do Winds Of Change Herald A Storm?


s the first decade of the 21st century comes to an end, the Indian government looks committed to giving education an overhaul. The bulk of the action seems to be concentrated in the higher education space. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is already working on a legislation for an education tribunal — to resolve disputes between students, institutions and teachers. A Bill to establish multiple private accreditation agencies, monitored by a regulator is also being considered. Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal, is advocating FDI in the education sector as a priority for the government. The proposed Bill will help supplement government spending on higher education, and is generating a lot of excitement among potential investors.

A Slew of Reforms The MHRD is also moving to establish 14 world-class innovation universities, and coming up with a concept note on a ‘brain gain’ policy. The idea of amending the Constitution to set up the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), and a legislation to create it, is already with the Prime Minister’s Office. The proposed NCHER will be a


Edu Tech January 2010

single autonomous body which will replace existing education councils. It will start functioning from the academic year 2010-11. It will supersede existing regulatory bodies like University Grants Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education, and according to Sibal, “give the job of regulation to experts in each specific field rather than to administrators.” A draft note on the proposed commission, speaks of a six-member commission to regulate different streams such as technical education, medical education, architecture, general education, research and scholarships. The commission would be an autonomous body like the Election Commission of India. For this to happen, the draft has suggested that the Prime Minister should make appointments to the commission, and that the commission should report directly to Parliament.

Attracting Quality Players Autonomy of the commission is also necessary to facilitate seamless entry of foreign players in higher education. It will help the government win the confidence of reputed foreign universities, which want to come to India, and draw on their talent and expertise. The Cabinet is expected to take up Foreign Education Providers Bill, the legislation allowing

Ganesh Natarajan

foreign universities and education providers to set up campuses in India. All foreign universities will need to be accredited in their country of origin and be in existence for at least 10 years before setting up campus in India. Sibal favours the idea of foreign universities having hundred percent ownership of their campuses in India, and these institutes will not be allowed to repatriate surplus income generated at their campuses in India. The surplus has to be spent on expansion of the campus within the country. Foreign education providers would be given the status of deemed universities in India which would permit them to grant admission and award degrees, diplomas or certificates. To attract serious players to higher education and ensure that existing ones do not face financial constraints for expansion, the MHRD has mooted the idea of a National Higher Education Finance Corporation (NHEFC). The NHEFC proposes to directly finance any recognised university for creation or improvement of infrastructure. It will grant loans and advances to scheduled public sector banks or approved financial institutions for refinancing of educational loans to students. It will provide venture capital to a university to incubate scientific or technological ideas or products that emerge as an

outcome of research undertaken by the university. It will also manage the endowment funds of the universities and higher educational institutions, and provide a higher return than bank deposits. Aimed at philanthropy, NHEFC will directly support, at concessional rate, the establishment of any higher educational institution that has raised at least 25 percent of its project cost through charitable donations or contributions. All in all, there seems to be a slew of new initiatives in progress. However, the need of the hour is robust and speedy implementation. The concept of the Innovation University is excellent but the basis for defining an existing or future concept as innovative has to be defined, and the NHEFC empowered to provide easy access to finance for these innovative concepts. The modalities of participation of foreign universities in existing and future higher education models has to be clearly articulated by the MHRD so that the NCHER has a clear mandate to take the necessary steps. Though there is a huge allocation of funds for education in the 11th Five-Year Plan, the government alone cannot finance the educational needs of the country. The private sector has to participate, but it should be regulated by experts and academics and there should be no political interference at all.


Ganesh Natarajan Dr Natarajan is vice chairman and CEO of Zensar Technologies. He is an MBA from Harvard Business School and has a PhD in Knowledge Management from IIT Bombay. The column has inputs from Jui Mehendaley and Parul Vaidya who work with Zensar

January 2010 Edu Tech



pen knowledge is the

Around the world, the challenge before nations is to provide educational access for everyone in a sustainable way. Does the Open Knowledge movement hold the key? By Chitra Narayanan Imaging anoop pc


Edu Tech January 2010


t the start of this Millennium, when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) USA, launched OpenCourseWare (OCW) over the Internet, it could not have visualised the impact this innovation would have on education. Today, just consider what MIT’s OCW can enable educators, students and self-learners across the world to do: a teacher sitting in a small town in Tamil Nadu who is dissatisfied with her textbook can examine the curriculum and notes of her peers in US and European universities, gain

cover story

open education resources community members worldwide

An estimated 60

million people from 220

countries and territories across the world have used OCW Source: OER: The way Forward, deliberations of an international community of interest. By Susan D’Antoni, published by UNESCO and International Institute for Educational Planning




Central and Eastern Europe



Western Europe

North America



5% East Asia



Sub-Saharan African

Latin America



of MIT’s faculty uses colleagues’ materials available on the OCW site


South and West Asia

Central Asia





Arab states


Important Weblinks to Open Resources



“To work as a sanitation engineer in the US, you need a degree. To improve the sanitation in a village in the developing world, all you need is information” — stephen carson President, OpenCourseWare Consortium

The Pacific

“Many of the constraints of the formal educational system are taken away in the Open system as they offer alternate pathways to learning” —vijay kumar Senior Associate Dean and Director, Office of Educational Innovation and technology, MIT



of students use the OCW site to complement course materials

January 2010 Edu Tech


cover story

“There Is No Turning Back” Mary Lou Forward, executive director, OpenCourseWare Consortium talks about the future of Open Education Resources and the Consortium’s involvement in getting universities to contribute In the current social context, do you think Open Educational Resources will become more relevant? I think there’s no turning back. When education was created 400 years ago, it specifically catered to the elite in the society. I think as the world shifts in its societal attitude as to who should receive education, any vehicle that gets education to the largest number of people for the biggest possible impact will come into focus. So it’s not really a question of will the movement catch on? It’s more a question of which direction is it actually going.  

Mary Lou Forward Executive Director, OpenCourseWare Consortium

As a consortium, one of your objectives is to find partners to contribute to the movement. Where is the biggest challenge in

getting them on board? It is often rooted in two places. There’s the administration of the university who look at it and say ‘well it’s a great idea insights and supplement her teaching with additional slides and presentations. Similarly, a student sitting in, say, Latvia who does not have the financial resources to enroll for a Masters in physics can easily study on his own, choosing lesson plans from hundreds of universities that have made their course freely and openly accessible on the Internet. While this student may not get an official degree for completing the course through the Open System, in the not-sodistant future, when a proposed credit banking system eventually takes shape, the hours of self-learning may hold valuable pay-offs.

Unlocking Knowledge The applications of OCW are varied. Policy makers across the world are realising that Open Knowledge is perhaps the only route to expand the reach of education and make it inclusive, as well as help


Edu Tech January 2010

but if we give it away free, who will come to our university?’ However, research that has been done on open textbooks doesn’t support this thinking. If you give away your textbooks for free, it doesn’t reduce the number of textbooks you sell. It increases your sales. Because people say I really like this offer. I am going to see what else he has and I am going to buy it. So that’s the same with the OpenCourseWare. You get a glimpse of what the university has to offer and you say well this is interesting and I want a degree from this place. Let me go in.

Now that you have taken charge of OCWC, what’s your agenda for the next three years? It’s evolving everyday. The vision of the consortium is to create an opportunity for anyone to learn any topic in an appropriate context to them. We have to do a lot of advocacy, and we have to tell people it’s there. We have to help people let their policy makers know that this is important so that we can continue to provide the building materials for the movement. We also need to create the space and the support for people to create things from these building materials. So the idea is 1)Generate the content 2) Generate ideas and make space and support for that and 3) Find ways to make it possible and then coordinate this on a global level.

institutions raise their standards. And that’s why the reason for the excitement. A match struck in India could, after all, light up the flames of knowledge in distant Africa or in China, and vice-versa. Unlike Distance Education, which also helps the geographically and time-challenged individuals to educate themselves, OCW is also helping students and educators in centres of excellence to push up their performance. Stephen Carson, external relations director, MIT OCW and president, OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC), a global grouping of higher education institutions, points how the initiative is finding applications in centres of excellence like MIT itself. In the process, it is transforming the very model of education delivery, changing pedagogical approaches, making learning very transparent and speedy. For instance, today 84 percent of MIT’s faculty uses colleagues’ materials

on the site, while 70 percent of students use the site to complement course materials and improve learning. As Mary Lou Forward, executive director, OCWC, says: “There is a global connectivity to the movement, where you (each nation) do not have to create things differently.” Already, OpenCourseWare projects have been developed in more than 30 countries and the sharing across geographies is instantaneous. Here are some numbers from MIT’s OCW that describe the scale: An estimated 60 million people from 220 countries and territories worldwide have used OCW for a broad spectrum of teaching and learning purposes. Nearly 790 OCW courses of a total of 1940 courses have been translated into languages including Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai at an estimated investment of $10 million; more than 100 complete copies of the site have

cover story been distributed to universities in bandwidth-constrained regions. Records show that over 100,000 Indian students are accessing MIT’s OCW, and benefiting from it. And MIT is just one among the many players in the Open Knowledge Movement, and as it says, “Quite happy to be losing market-share”. Today, as part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, nearly 200 universities together have created materials for 10,000 courses. Outside the Consortium too, many players are making available their resources openly. Of course, there are questions about sustainability. After all, how long can anything thrive on “intellectual philan-

“What an expert in robotics sitting in Japan will know cannot be known by a teacher sitting in Chhattisgarh. The teacher should just contextualise it, and assign it” —Sam pitroda Former Chairperson, National Knowledge Commission



Open learning is an approach to learning that allows learners flexibility and choice over what, when, at what pace, where, and how they learn

Distance education is a formalised approach to education, delivered remotely to the learner. It is characterised by separation of geographic distance and time

It is free

It is usually paid

Users are anyone, anytime

Those with scheduling or distance problems are usual users

Drivers are usually institutions that It’s a sustainable model for institutions looking have a mandate to improve educa- to increase their range and offering of courses tional access for all as virtual delivery costs less compared to putting up physical infrastructure Uses all the tools of distance educa- Distance learning technologies include: tion, besides proprietary tools like n Voice-centered technology, such as CD or MP3 recordings or webcasts EduCommons n Video technology, such as instructional videos, DVDs, and interactive videoconferencing n Computer-centered technology delivered over the Internet or corporate intranet n Satellite-based (television channels like Gyan Bharati etc.) No exams no certifications

Exams and certification method available

thropy” as MIT’s efforts have been dubbed? There are other challenges and limitations, as well— technological glitches to be ironed out, policy hurdles to be crossed. But more on those later. Let’s first track how the Open journey began, its evolution and growth.

A Radical Idea Professor M. S. Vijay Kumar, senior associate dean and director at MIT’s Office of Educational Innovation and Technology describes how in the fall of 1999, MIT’s President and Provost, Charles Vest charged the MIT Council on Educational Technology with determining two things: How is the Internet going to impact education, and what should MIT do about it? At that time, many colleges in the US had launched e-learning initiatives with a view to using the Internet to cash in on their intellectual property. But, after a year of research, the MIT Council saw no

economic reason for offering educational materials on the Web. Instead, they suggested opting for a higher goal— sharing their educational resources with the rest of the world over the Internet. This went hand in hand with MIT’s faculty’s passion for teaching. Once MIT had put 500 courses on the Net, it began to get enquiries from other institutes interested in creating their own OpenCourseWare — and not just colleges in the US, but in Japan, China and Europe. The UK Open University, the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) of Carnegie Mellon were some of the other significant open initiatives. Soon an exciting stage came when collaborations were formed. In 2002, the rapidly growing phenomenon of sharing educational resources freely on the Web was given a new term “Open Educational Resources” (OER) at a UNESCO conference. OERs, as Vijay Kumar defines, January 2010 Edu Tech


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The India Story While India may be an active user of Open Courseware it is also an active player in creating enabling technology and managing backend operations (such as MIT’s OpenCourseWare). But, when it comes to institutional level initiatives to create OCW of its own, the country has been lagging behind. Former National Knowledge Commission chairman Sam Pitroda doesn’t mince his words when he says the lack of popularity of OERs in our country could be rooted in the manner in which our educational system has tried to adopt it. “MIT (a leader in OERs) has created 2,000 courses online which get the largest number of hits from China and not from the US. I am sure we can learn a few things from our neighbours,” he says. Currently, there are only a handful of initiatives: Flexi-Learn from the Indira Gandhi Open University, the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) a collaborative venture between the seven IITs and IISc-Bangalore, Yashwantrao Chavan Open University, Maharashtra, and Ekalavya, started by the Affordable Solutions Laboratory (ASL), Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology (KReSIT), IIT Bombay which has come up with the very interactive Open Source Educational Resources Animation Repository (OSCAR). In recent months, however, there has been hectic activity which perhaps indicates that the movement is at last picking up steam. In August 2009, IGNOU organised a national meet to prepare an action plan to take the Open Movement ahead. Independent privately funded players like Indian Institute of Human Settlements are moving ahead with plans of creating an interdisciplinary Masters of Urban Practice (MUP), undergraduate and doctoral research programmes, within an Open Curriculum frame, with technology support from MIT. Recommendations have also been made by the National Knowledge Commission to spur the movement. These include: 1. Create an ICT network 2. Set up a National Education Foundation to develop web-based common open resources 3. Establish a credit bank to effect transition to a course credit system 4. Establish a National Education Testing Service for assessing ODE students 5. Facilitate convergence with conventional universities 6. Set up a research foundation to support research activity in ODE 7. Overhaul training programmes for educators —Chitra Narayanan & Nupur Chaturvedi

are more than the content of a course; they include a variety of resources that support learning— interactive content, simulations, and hands-on activities. Fortuitously, around the same time the Open Source Software movement led to many software becoming freely available. Other parallel events that helped were the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, and the rise of free publishing movements like Open Access leading to creation of digital repositories.

Evolution And Growth Soon, a consortium of universities all eager to share in the creation process


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took shape. Over 200 universities are today members of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, and together they have produced and published over 10,000 courses. “Almost 70 percent of these universities are outside the US,” points out Lou. The Consortium has ensured that time was not wasted in replicating efforts and also saved on costs. After all the whole bid to democratise education access is today almost wholly dependent on generous donations (to kickstart the initiative Hewlett Foundation invested $14 million, Mellon Foundation $11 million, MIT itself put in $7 million and Ab Intitio Corporation $6 million).

MIT’s operating budget for keeping OCW vibrant and relevant is $3.7 million a year. The Consortium approach has also resulted in unique learnings, such as how different cultures have different ways of approaching the open education concept. Take China, where MIT’s courseware was furiously translated into. From China also came another learning — on creating incentives for educators to contribute to the OpenCourseWare and improve their course materials (the selected course teams get up to $13,000 to make their course available online for free for five years). Mary Lou explains: “It’s an honour for them to submit their courses to the OpenCourseWare sites. They can also get nominated by colleagues and students for the prize level.” India may be a late starter compared to China, but ideas for creating incentives to spur the OER movement are coming thick and fast. Ashok Kolaskar, convenor of the working group on Open Access and OpenCourseWare, and an advisor to the National Knowledge Commission, for instance, talks of creating a reward system for teachers who create assessment papers based on material from OERs to drive student traffic to these resources.

Driving Use When MIT first began putting courses online, it thought that the biggest community of users would be teachers, as educators would stand to benefit from the sharing. But contrary to its perception, it is students and self-learners who make up the bulk of the traffic to the site — and surprisingly, visitors included even MIT’s own students who had access to the best physical infrastructure in the world. As Kumar explains, many of the constraints of the formal educational system are taken away in the Open System, as they offer alternate pathways to learning. According to him, it leads to more efficiencies in the classroom. Points out Kumar, “in the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, it was found that the open design and access to a 14-week Statistics Course resulted in the learning

cover story outcomes becoming realised in half the time.” Open online resources also suggest that as a teacher, you can start thinking about putting the face-to-face time in a class to more interesting use, perhaps to answer questions. For Kumar, the possibility of a fiveyear degree programme getting reduced to three years courtesy OCW is feasible…but as he says, the converse can also happen …it could also be extended to a 100 years, as OCW promotes lifelong learning! In sum, virtual “meta” universities have been created, which offer access to cross-linked educational resources, promote efficiencies and varied learning outcomes.

empowering minds Profile of visitors accessing MIT OpenCourseWare









Note: WHEN IT FIRST BEGAN, MIT FACULTY THOUGHT THAT THE OPENCOURSEWARE WOULD BE ACCESSED BY OTHER EDUCATORS. BUT surveys have shown consistently that about half the people using the site are independent learners not affiliated to a school.

Challenges and Solutions However, the acceptability of Open Education among teachers and students remains a big challenge. Teachers think it is intrusive and impinges on their time. And students worry about job prospects. Can a student from the Open System, with no exams and certifications, expect an interview call from potential employers? Rosita Rabindra, head of human resources at NIIT Technologies, says that “At the entry level, we have so far never considered someone coming out of the Open System.” However, at the mid and higher level, she says that the company does give credit to employees, who have undergone self-learning from an Open System, even if there are no official certifications. “We give weightage to skills, not to degrees,” she says. Stephen Carson of MIT agrees that, “The need for certification won’t go away,” but as he points out right now, “OCW serves the broader need for access to knowledge. To work as a sanitation engineer in the US, you need a degree. To improve the sanitation in a

village in the developing world, all you need is information.” Students using the OERs feel that searching for relevant information is time consuming and search functions have to improve. In developing countries, especially Africa, and many pockets in rural India, band-width issues pose a hurdle to accessing courseware. In creation, as Mary Lou points out, there are copyright issues that need to be overcome. There are several technological challenges too — of getting various operating systems to talk to each other. Making the courses more interactive is yet another challenge for creators. But then, these are inevitable hurdles in any new movement, and solutions can be found. For instance, having independent assessment centres for candidates wanting credits, and setting up credit banks are ways to solve the certification and quality issue. Some like IGNOU’s FlexiLearn have found a way to build a certification tool. Many are also using social networking sites like Facebook to conquer the inter-

India may be a late starter compared to China, but ideas for creating incentives to spur the OER movement are coming thick and fast

activity issue. Tech evangelist and former National Knowledge Commission chairperson, Sam Pitroda suggests that teachers should be delinked from course creation. “Today the teachers are seen as people whose only role is to create and deliver content…I want them to get rid of this part of their job. I want the content to be created on the Net by the experts from around the globe. What an expert in robotics sitting in Japan will know cannot be known by a teacher sitting in Chhattisgarh. The teacher should just contextualise it, and assign it. Teachers should become mentors.” So, discussions on ways and means of delivering content are ongoing, and answers are clearly not too far away.

The Learning Curve How long before the Open Education movement gathers critical mass? In a presentation, OER: The Way Forward, Susan D’Antoni of UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning says that three things are happening: 1) connectivity to Internet is increasing 2) low cost computers and enhanced mobile phones have been developed, and 3) body of open content in digital format is expanding. Clearly, then the movement is at a critical juncture. Given this, how ready are the players? Forward says that work is on to continue fostering an active global community, improve searchability and January 2010 Edu Tech


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FlexiLearn — Flexible and Free Professor Uma Kanjilal, Director, School of Social Sciences and Coordinator, IGNOU FlexiLearn, talks about how IGNOU’s latest initiative FlexiLearn, makes knowledge more open Where did the idea for IGNOU FlexiLearn come from? Our vision started in October 2005 with E-gyankosh, a digital repository of learning resources. The idea was to make self-learning material freely available to the students and the community. This was done so anyone could register and start using this content as Open Education Resources. So far 95 percent of our self-learning material has been archived and put in the repository and is freely available. Apart from that, we have put around 1600 videos on YouTube, which is again free and being extensively used. With E-gyankosh we Uma Kanjilal also have the facility of broadDirector, School of Social casting. Sciences and Coordinator, What we plan to do is to go IGNOU FlexiLearn beyond just the content we put up on E-gyankosh. We want to offer open courses rather than just open resources, which means that all the learning modules are available freely. We provide a flexible environment in which anyone can register for a particular course and get a certificate for that course as well. Apart from that, if someone wants to combine course credits later on and get a degree, we provide that facility. If someone is interested in just one course, she can do that too.

discovery resources so that users find appropriate material. OCWC is also working on the quality assurance issue — though Forward points out that this is a huge challenge because: “The big question with the quality monitoring is that quality to whom?” For instance, a casual learner, looking at a site that gives an introduction to civil engineering will think it is okay, as opposed to a more advanced learner. The other big challenge that the OCWC is working on currently is to get nations to incorporate the production of OCW/OER at policy levels — institution-


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Given limited accessibility to computers and the Internet in India, how are you planning to take this forward? Right now, our focus is on making the content available online through the website. Later on, we may think of using common service centres all over the country, where this facility can be provided. This will be followed by availability through mobile phones. But there is a limitation that you can’t really read the course content properly on a mobile phone. But, I think through mobile phones we can provide the facility of interacting with academic advisors, and participate in educational forums. We will be exploring all these options.

What are the targets you are working with? We have just started a few courses (around 30). Within six months, 60 percent of our courses will be put up on our site. There is a lot of demand in the areas of engineering and technology, computer science, management, etc. There are a lot queries coming in about how courses can be combined. We are also working out the modalities of evaluation and walk-in examinations. Evaluation has to be made a part and parcel of this, and also, if possible, automated certificate generation.

What has been your experience with the way Open CourseWare format has been received in India? One thing I can say that this is going to be big in the long run. We have been talking about the democratisation of education, and I think this is going to help in that. Further, it’s not just IGNOU that should be doing this— other universities need to get together and work. We should have a consortium where courses are available, and anyone can access, combine courses from different institutions.

al, national, regional, and to improve accessibility. Efforts are also on to make it a more sustainable story for everyone. MIT’s OCW already has a modest but growing online visitor donation programme, which generated just under $150,000 last fiscal year, an increase of more than 50 percent over the prior year. Sustainability is a struggle, admits Carson, who says MIT is now pursuing a model similar to the one used by National Public Radio in the US — a mix of corporate sponsorships and user donations. Although clear business models are still far away, MIT itself is taking a lead

here. OCW already derives modest income — about $30,000 per year — from referral links to Now, a pro bono team from management consultants Bain & Company is helping MIT assess which are the ideas that have potential for financial return. MIT expects that by FY 2012, a combination of cost containment, fundraising efforts, and new revenue streams will provide the support needed to sustain OCW and make the transition to a low-maintenance steady state model from a high investment start-up model.



“OERs are more than the content of a course; they include a variety of resources that support learning— interactive content, simulations, and hands-on activities”

was the year when MIT’s Council on Educational Technology was asked to determine how the Internet would impact education, and what MIT should do about it?

M S Vijay Kumar

Senior Associate Dean and Director, Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, MIT


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courses of MIT have been put on the net and are available for



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pen Courseware brings us closer

to the vision of lifelong

learning Vijay Kumar, who has been at the forefront of the Open Knowledge movement, talks to EDU about the challenges and future path for the open movement in education By Chitra Nararyanan

EDU: What has been the impact of MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) and what’s the future vision? Vijay Kumar:

MIT’s launch of OCW spawned and catalysed a significant Open Education Resources (OER) movement. OERs are more than the content of a course; they include a variety of resources that support learning— interactive content, simulations, and hands-on activities. We include, for example, MIT’s iLab project that provides access to real labs over the Internet. We can have students in Singapore or Sweden using network analyser equipment and other labs at January 2010 Edu Tech


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MIT and elsewhere, through their Internet browsers. The increasing capabilities of the Internet coupled with OER offers exciting new dimensions to distance education by enabling extensive access to globally created educational resources. Not only will these serve the knowledge needs of diverse communities, but they also offer the possibility of delivering interactive educational experiences in flexible formats, both formal and nonformal. We no longer have to provide a standard one-size-fits-all delivery model of distance education. We can shape the learning experience for different topics, for different thematic approaches, for different kinds of learners.  Pedagogical innovations, which often remain in isolated and closed domains, are rarely shared across classrooms, institutions and disciplines. In fact, open courseware brings us closer to the vision of lifelong learning than ever before.  The notion of the “Metaversity“ described by MIT’s ex president Charles M. Vest paints this vision very nicely. The Open movement in education can revolutionise the way that educational resources, practice, and pedagogical experience and knowledge are shared, peer-reviewed, reused, and continuously improved.

What are the challenges and limitations of OER? There are technical, organisational and cultural challenges, but I like to think of them as “readiness issues”, i.e., factors that influence our readiness to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Open Education. There are challenges in terms of finding appropriate quality resources suitable for different learning needs and learning outcomes. Recommendation Systems as well as the “wisdom of the crowds” can help address this to some extent. There is more work that needs to be done to map content to learning outcomes. Even if potentially useful content were to be located, it is not always easy to get them, or use them either due to IPR restrictions or technical barriers.  Basic infrastructure elements such as


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inadequate and uneven network connectivity also present a hurdle. Technical design aspects also limit the portability and interoperability of learning resources even if they are openly accessible. The result is that learning resources created in one setting cannot be easily used in different contexts, or to address different learning goals. There are other more subtle but significant challenges in converting OER to productive educational experiences. An important consideration is: How can we make good practice and useful knowledge of teaching and learning visible and shareable? How can we openly share the tacit knowledge that underlies educational resources?  Another challenge is the inertia of our current culture and practice of education. Our instructional practices and even business models for education are based on a “scarcity paradigm”— they assume that resources available to education (content, contact, labs etc.) will be scarce. The Open movement by making quality resources, relationships and community extensively available suggests an “abundance paradigm”, and requires that we recast our approaches accordingly.

Will certifications and credentials cease to be relevant in the Open scenario? I do not believe they will become irrelevant— rather they will be re-defined. These instruments of credentialing are to recognise the achievement of a set of educational experiences. But the manner in which they will be provided can certainly change. For instance, Open Education suggests two possibilities that represent a departure from most current systems, namely decoupling of the learning delivery agency from the credentialing function and credit-banking systems that support the possibility of self-learners accumulating credits.  I think it is a very valid possibility to acquire your learning from one source and get the testing and competency checking done elsewhere. Market forces can also come into play, setting standards. A self-learner armed with credits

from a credit banking process can go to employers or a formal education system, which can then subject this individual to whatever threshold of testing is required.

What is the current state of the Open Movement in India? OER efforts in higher education are still sparse, with only three or four major initiatives and few other more modest institutional initiatives. There is great, unrealised collective opportunity and need in India, which is outlined in the NKC recommendations. By comparison, the movement is more organised, large-scale and widespread in China, Japan and Taiwan.

The NKC recommendations were made in 2007. What has been the progress on these recommendations? Some changes are beginning to take shape. There is the National Mission for ICT in education, which is looking at particular initiatives to support— initiatives like NPTEL have progressed extensively. One significant enabling development is the launch of the National Knowledge Network, which is essential infrastructure for educational access and quality. However, infrastructure is not physical connectivity alone. Setting up the network is just one part of the infrastructure, the other part includes creating the content repositories, content management systems, learning applications and teacher support. You also have to look beyond what the National Knowledge Network provides which is just connecting up institutions. The question is how do you extend access to the rural areas, where the unmet need is?

Could this effort to open access to education cause social turmoil and result in more unemployment? Real Change and progress is a systemic phenomenon. So, when educational access and quality change, the other parts of the economy are not standing still.   It is possible that we might go through a stage when the capacity of the


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“The Open movement in education can revolutionise the way that educational resources, practice, and pedagogical experience and knowledge are shared”

economy is not able to accommodate all the outputs from educational systems. But that is unlikely. We are at a time in India where there is unmet demand for trained human resources in every sector and the demand will grow. I also believe that an educated populace with access to continuous learning opportunities is empowered to create employment and economic potential.

In your book, you have raised the issue of sustaining Open Knowledge initiatives. Any solutions? Sustainability has to be looked at in two ways. One is the cost of sustaining

open resources. The second is thinking about sustaining education. MIT’s OCW is a snapshot of all that has happened in a course. However you cannot just put what has been used in class on the Web and make it publicly available. We have to ensure that whatever is made open is IP clean, accessible, maintained and useful. This has a cost beyond what it takes to just produce and distribute these materials. This is a significant cost. But you have to think about the value to the institution and to others that this open resource brings, and based on that determine how to invest in sustaining it.

Again, thinking systemically about the education production function is very important. This is not unlike how we think in making a library digital — How do you shift the cost of journals from paper to online? You have to step back and see what the ecosystem looks like and where the displacements are. Similarly, we have to consider how Open Resources are changing, the production and delivery model of education and consequently what costs are possible due to this change. Of course, there are practical ways to bring down costs. The Consortium model is one of the models, where costs of production and technology can be shared. Public-private partnerships are another important dimension to the sustainability issue. For the private players, there is an opportunity to look at the value-adding services. Coming to the second aspect, the more important question is around creating a sustainable model of providing continuous quality education at scale, and understanding the role Open Education can have in doing this. In the Indian context, this is especially relevant. The challenge is to provide extensive access to quality education and do it sustainably. We have indicated that Open Education Resources present a path to this goal. Open Resources have to be integrated in the educational practices of nations. It is tied to the mission of providing knowledge that empowers because it makes education visible and accessible to large audiences. January 2010 Edu Tech


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pen education

Resources will

help private

institutions Ashok Kolaskar, talks to EDU about the challenges of developing a standard, usable and easily accessible open courseware repository By Aman Singh


January 2010 Edu Tech Januray

EDU: What are the challenges in the creation of quality Open Education Resources? Ashok Kolaskar: First, of course, is to identify a good domain expert. That domain expert must also understand the way that he should put across the subject, or the content so that the students who are not necessarily interacting with the teacher are able to learn the subject. In a classroom when we are teaching, we are looking into the eyes of the students and noticing how they are reacting. Here those options are


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too Ashok Kolaskar

Former Vice Chancellor, Pune University, and Convenor working group on Open Access and Open Courseware, National Knowledge Comission

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“if they have open education resourceS, and an ordinary teacher they can still provide quality education”

not available. And, therefore, much thought has to be given to the presentation of the content. Especially, because the attention span of a student is generally six to eight minutes. The second level of challenge is to build in the interactivity.

Once the repository of high quality content is created, how do we reach out, and extend it to the people who need it the most? First we need to ask, who are using the open education resources and why? It’s often thought that students will be accessing these resources out of pure curiosity. But that percentage of learners is always very small. The second set of people using are those who say, “I don’t have resources. I can’t go and purchase a good text book from the bookstore. I don’t have it in the library. My teacher is teaching either very fast or very slow so I get bored. If at all I want to learn, I have to go to the Open Education Resources.” The third set of students visiting OERs are those trying to improve themselves, and get outside support for their studies. As for teachers, they are going to go and use it to improve their own knowledge and also try and see how they can add to that. In order to popularise these open resources, my feeling is that we need to formulate an examination system such that we ask the questions on the basis of these OERs. For instance, in these OERs, create some assignments, which must


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be completed to finish projects. Then the usage of the OERs will be much better.

Do you think private institutions in the higher education sector will want to play along in terms of creation of resources? Certainly, for the private universities this is a good way to increase profit margins. The cost of creating educational material and resources will come down. For example, currently they employ experienced teachers by paying a very high salary. Instead, if they have OERs, and an ordinary teacher they can still provide quality education. Also, several private institutions face a shortage of teachers. So, students at these institutes are unable to do the practical exercises and assignments. These OERs will help those students to come to a level which is acceptable to the society in a cost-effective manner.

What regulatory changes are required to expedite this initiative? On the legislative front, we don’t require too much government initiative. What can help are steps like creating a model syllabus of course content, a question bank, or initiatives to increase the usage of open resources by telling universities to create question papers based on these resources. Government initiatives are needed to provide open access material. In cases where the research is being funded by government money, the research should be accessible. Research papers should be published on OERs, and both the institutions and the person should be supported. Once that is started, and huge amount of research becomes available in the public domain, then people will not do frivolous or useless research.

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pen -up with

technology The world over, higher education institutions are opening their courseware to students. But what are the enabling technologies for Open Education Resources? By Nupur Chaturvedi


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nytime, anywhere, at your own pace is the promise of Open Education. You could be in Lakshadweep islands and yet finish an engineering course from t h e Ma s s a c h u s e t t s Institute of Technology (MIT), downloading text, video and other rich media freely from the Internet. Open Education has been able to unlock knowledge from the brick and mortar institutions and give it wings. As Professor V N Rajasekharan Pillai, chairman and vice chancellor at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) points out: “The challenge before an education system is to enhance the reach of education — to provide education to everybody. This can only be done by the contextualised use of technology.”


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How MIT creates open courseware The whole process takes 2 to 3 months, and the specific effort takes 100 man-hours.

The OCW team approaches the faculty and asks them if they are interested in making their course available on OCW.

The publishing team decides how to represent the courseware. It aggregates the courseware, tags it for the Filemaker database and then sends it to the outsourced team in India.

faculty OFFSHORE team

If they agree, the publishing team takes the content in whatever format it is in — on the LMS, in Word docs, etc.

OCW Team The publishing team then shows it all to the faculty for final approval.

publishing team

So what are the enabling technologies and ideas that have helped unshackle education from the constraints of the formal system?

The Medium is The Message From print (remember the early days of correspondence courses) to radio to television, the Open Education movement has had a long journey, in search of the right medium. While television and radio are affordable and have great reach, both these mediums are limited by a country’s broadcast rules. And learning remains constrained within borders. You could say that it was only with the arrival of the Internet and the delivery of courseware over the information superhighway that sharing of knowledge became truly global, thereby raising quality standards. It’s the Internet that has helped the Open Knowledge and Open Education movement pick up critical mass. Until the advent of Internet, education had remained tightly bound, the sum of three components — the content, the teaching-learning experience and the certification. “In a traditional campus these three components are tightly integrated,” explains Stephen. E. Carson, external relations director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare, and the president, OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC). “With the emergence of technology, and especially the Internet, it became possible to disaggregate them.” Tightly bound, there is only so much you can do to make these components adaptable to dissemination methods other than traditional. Once these compo-

The team in India does the requisite conversions and creates the commissioned images. And then sends it back to the publishing team.

nents are disaggregated, though, you can explore ways to make each of them ‘more open’. This is what MIT did when it first began its OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative in 2000. It removed the certification component, and freed Open Education from all the constraints of the formal system. When MIT began its experiments, there were only limited things that could be done over the Internet. To start with, it built the OCW site in flat Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). However, the Open Source Software (OSS) movement and emergence of Web 2.0 around 2004-05 paved the way for a radical change. With Web 2.0, the focus shifted to the user, emphasising interactivity, interoperability and collaboration. January 2010 Edu Tech


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Tech@India Although on the content repository creation front, India has been lagging behind, on the technology front, India is a very active player. Says Professor M.S. Vijay Kumar, MIT’s senior associate dean and director of the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, “India is an active player in the Open Source Software movement as well as the open access movement as evidenced by the increasing availability of open access electronic journals, open access repositories and Open Source Software based repositories, such as DSpace and EPrints.” In the India story, there have been some unique tech innovations based on the country specific requirements. The need for Indian language translation facilities, for instance, has catalysed action in this area. Take Ekalavya, started by the Affordable Solutions Laboratory (ASL) at the Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology (KReSIT), IIT Bombay. It has created a mentorship programme called eGuru, a courseware content creation programme called eOutreach and an Indian language course content creation and translation programme called eContent. Ekalavya enjoys strong industry backing with support from companies like EMC, Infosys, Intel, PSPL, Red Hat, TCS and VIA Technologies, and associations such as NASSCOM and CSI. “Supporting technology was developing around us — the PDF technology was just in time and so was instant messaging — and we were using it extensively,” says Carson. Over time, the content went from plain PDFs to rich media content. Video became a big part of the content. Obviously there were bandwidth and server space concerns. Gradually, YouTube came into being and the videos were all moved to it, resulting in a huge saving. In recent years, online applications and Web sites like Facebook, YouTube, iTunes have played a big part in on-demand content creation and delivery. While this has helped urban users, true democratisation of knowledge will only happen when the knowledge needs of people in bandwidth constrained areas are met. But, here, too novel solutions have emerged. For instance, Cisco invited entrepreneurs in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, to come up with models to harness the power of communication technology for development. The solution was village kiosks created through a public-private partnership initiative where students in remote hamlets could access knowledge over the Internet. Over time, the Web has become the most important resource in transmitting open courseware. Carson says, “Right now, the Web, including YouTube and


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iTunes — is the most important medium to deploy open courseware, but going forward, I think mobile devices will probably be increasingly important.” While mobile devices will also use Web-based technologies, technology forecasters feel that in countries like India, where Internet penetration is low, set-top boxes that offer on-demand educational TV content would emerge as a strong parallel medium.

The MIT Experience Today, it takes MIT, which pioneered OCW on the Web, about three months to convert a course from the classroom presentation to the OCW format, with minimal involvement of faculty time. MIT’s annual operating budget for OCW is $3.7 million. When it first began, the process was far more long drawn out and expensive, and results far less interactive. To start off, MIT had to make investments in expensive proprietary software and robust infrastructure. It was using Microsoft’s Content Management Server 2002 and a customised version of FileMaker. It built an in-house team to manage most of the process for conversion of classroom courseware into open, distributable courseware (See Flowchart). But it outsourced document conversion, support for CMS, creating commissioned images, and data entry to an offshore

team in India. That team could, on a project basis, design websites and microsites as well. When it started, it was a 20 member team in India, but it has now been reduced to eight. Luckily for MIT, its entry into Open Education coincided with the rise of the OSS movement, which not only led to lowered costs, but also untangled the legal web surrounding proprietary software and made collaborative practices possible. Development of licences like Creative Commons made it easier for institutions like MIT to liberate their courseware for free dissemination without legal restrictions. However, the use of open source and Web 2.0, in several universities, was

“The challenge before an education system is to enhance the reach of education — to provide education to everybody. This can only be done by the contextualised use of technology” —rajasekharan Pillai Chairman and VC, IGNOU


done in an ad-hoc manner, adding components as the need arose, not really in an organised and streamlined manner. That changed when EduCommons came into being.

Free and Organised A couple of years ago, representatives from the Utah State University (USU) visited MIT to learn from its OCW initiative. The representatives, led by David Wiley, came to the conclusion that they wanted to use the same principles, but in a more cost-effective way. The team then decided to create a free software platform for open courseware. It was called EduCommons. It was essentially a content management system designed specifically for the creation of open courseware content. The workflow management in EduCommons ensures that the process is streamlined. It is technology agnostic, which means that whether an institution is using a learning management system (LMS) like Moodle, or not, it can be used together with the system. Developing EduCommons was an expensive process, but a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helped USU. Tom Caswell, Open and Distance Learning Consultant, Dynamic E-Learning Strategies, Inc and Strategic Outreach Manager, OCWC, says that USU served as a good starting place for us to test out the platform. Once EduCommons was made available online to be downloaded for free, there were several takers. “At last count,” says Caswell, “more than 50 sites were using EduCommons. Once developed, EduCommons became an entity owned by those who downloaded it.” A company called enPraxis has become a sort of custodian of the platform, spearheading the development of additional features, providing for-fee support and even hosting services, and taking up voluntary initiatives like translating EduCommons to other languages. The platform is available in seven languages, including Hindi. “My vision for EduCommons,” says Caswell, “is for the platform to be really owned by the community — not just the

OCW What is OCW? It is a free and openly available course content, downloadable from the Internet by students, teachers and selflearners.

What does it include? The syllabi, reading lists, lecture notes, tests and quizzes, lectures (in video and/or audio format) and so on.

What does it not include? Certification or degree; access to faculty; grant and credits.

What technology do you need to create and disseminate OCW? Content management software, a database software with metadata management, hosting space, and a website.

users, but also anyone who believes in the open courseware cause. They could give back to the platform in the form of suggestions for improvement, programming time, or even translation.” There are several other ways the institutions are developing open courseware. Llorenç Valverde, Vice President for Technology at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) Barcelona, Spain says, “We have just implemented a new LMS, based on free software that, among other features, allows personalisation. We have also experimented with Facebook as a tool to deliver courses, i.e., the interaction between students and mentors. In addition, we are opening our content to provide them in five different formats, including mobile devices.” Ultimately, technology can be adapted to the content, and the medium of delivery. Whether or not you use an LMS, whether or not your courses are already digitised, whether or not it has rich media components — there can be technology to put it online. A note of caution,

cover story

though, there has to be a way to attach citation — what is shareable in a classroom may not be shareable on the Internet for fear of copyright infringement. And so, the metadata engine should be equipped to check that.

Architecture Depending on the extent you want to go with your OCW, what you need to get started varies. Meena Hwang, director, Community Outreach, OCWC, says, “How you get started on the open courseware route depends on your budget, in-house availability of manpower and of course, whether or not you are genuinely ‘open’ minded.” For content creation, you could designate people from an existing IT team in the institution (if you have one), a few ‘open’ faculty members, or a student team (which will still be less expensive than hiring professionals). In terms of technology infrastructure too, the requirements vary. There need to be at least a couple of dedicated computers running the content management system and the meta data management system. Then, there has to be some way to host the data — either an inhouse hosting facility, or a web host. Some institutions already use a LMS like Moodle or Blackboard. These can be leveraged to make content handling easier, but are not necessary for the development of OCW. Says Caswell, “If your institution has basic IT infrastructure in place and an IT team to handle it, and if they have a little bit of extra time and resources, you can get started on OCW.” If you use tools like the EduCommons platform, you can get started immediately. But you could also choose to develop your own proprietary tools. If you want to add rich media features, like video, animations, podcasts, etc., you will need recording and processing tools for them — like a video recorder and video editing tools, along with a computer fitted with enough resources to handle video editing. You will also need people skilled to handle them. With Web 2.0, the best part of putting up video to go with the course is just a January 2010 Edu Tech


cover story


matter of uploading it on YouTube, for instance. And the other great thing about it is that you don’t need very high budgets to use it. On the downside, you could be missing out on features that may be very specific to your requirements. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, for instance, was looking for an affordable tool for data analysis and management for the interdisciplinary research collaborations in the various streams of humanities. This led to Research in Information Technology (RIT) team to develop an Open Source solution called the Software Environment for the Advancement of Scholarly Research, or SEASR.

“My vision for EduCommons is for the platform to be really owned by the community — not just the users, but also anyone who believes in the open cause” —Tom Caswell Strategic Outreach Manager, The OpenCourseWare Consortium


Edu Tech January 2010

The biggest issue remains the different levels of access to technology in the different parts of the world. Different media work differently in various parts of the world Of course, for more specific requirements, often higher infrastructure investments are needed. Take the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), a joint initiative between seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Government of India, where the emphasis is on building interactivity among teachers and curriculum builders. For this, the infrastructure includes around 60 computers, servers, high-quality scanners and printers, two video studios, video editing studio, storage rack, and a proposed 100-node electronic classroom; the software includes tools for web design and content creation, animation, image and video editing and mathematical analysis. There are also 25 project associates, assistants, technicians and attendants. Also, if the idea is to have something like IGNOU’s Flexi Learn, where certification is also on offer, then there is the whole assessment infrastructure that has to be put in place. IGNOU’s Flexi Learn offers around 30 courses. The technology behind it includes both a content management system as well as a learning management system. Mohit Kumar Baran, Head Programmer, for IGNOU FlexiLearn, says, “Our main challenge was to provide the single signon for the CMS and the LMS. We wanted a system like Google’s, where you could sign in any one of their applications, and you are signed into all. It took us threefour months to develop the website initially, but otherwise it is an ongoing process. Very soon, there will be complete tracking of the learner — how many courses they have taken, what are the profiles and more.”

And if other media for course delivery, like TV and radio, are to be included, you will need the related infrastructure.

Challenges The biggest issue remains the different levels of access to technology in the different parts of the world. Different media work differently in various parts of the world. Standardisation is another concern. Maintaining the same level across subjects, and then ensuring that people from across geographies are able to relate to it is a tall order and needs special attention. Ensuring that copyright issues are kept at bay is also critical. An equally important concern is interoperability. Keeping all courseware technology-agnostic is very important. If you have incompatible technologies, it is frustrating for the users. Standards should be created for better portability. Best practices should be studied and adopted. Keeping ahead of the technology curve is another issue. The rapid pace of technological development demands that your infrastructure, the content, its delivery and the whole experience of education don’t become obsolete easily. Finally, but perhaps the most important, is a reality check on the sustainability of open-education. How expensive is free? For example, every course which MIT publishes costs US$ 10,000 to $15,000, and roughly twice as much for those with video. The money pays for back-end stuff that users never see — content collection, reformatting and intellectual-property vetting. But, tech forecasters are not fazed by these challenges and say ultimately, the answers could lie in technology itself!

T dialogue

Anand Sudarshan


Add Value”

Anand Sudarshan, MD and CEO of Manipal Education talks to EDU about how Manipal’s technological innovations in education give it an edge

By R. Giridhar

EDU: How do you see technology facilitating education? Anand Sudarshan: There is a lot we can do with technology to enhance learning, improve teaching and also build a stronger support system. Today, at Manipal, we have 175,000 students, tomorrow perhaps half a million. With that kind of student strength how do we continue to enhance the quality of what we do? We need to make sure that students get the full value out of education, and technology can make this happen. If India wants to solve its higher education challenges, it has to use technology to create learning environments and provide teaching support. We have to use technology in an effective and a fairly widespread way. In the next five years, you will find a lot of usage of technology in education.

Could you share with us some details about your latest technological innovation EduNxt? EduNxt is a technology architecture that we created to build a more enabling learning environment for students, and to provide a better teaching delivery mechanism for our faculty. One can think of it as technology enabled higher education. The platform can support distance education and hybrid distance educa-


Edu Tech January 2010

tion. For instance, campus-based learning and continuing education. The idea is to go beyond ‘e-learning’ and move to the next level where the teaching delivery and the learning environment don’t have to be moulded around the application. The application moulds itself around the requirements of the student. This makes it very individualised for the learner. The platform can also support collaboration. For example, if there are ten students from across the country who are trying to complete a certain project EduNxt will enable them share documents, discuss and even save the discussions. EduNxt also has a high tolerance for the limited bandwidth available in the country. It is tolerant to both latency and availability. We have created an application which compresses data, and uses minimum bandwidth. We also pre-loaded significant amount of content on to learning devices

Anand Sudarshan dialogue

Fact file Education BTech in Electronics and Communications, National Institute of Technology, Trichy MBA, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta current engagement MD and CEO, Manipal Education

by k.n. rahul


previous engagements President, Adea International CEO, Netkraft Pvt Limited Co-Founder and CEO, The Microland Group

January 2010 Edu Tech


dialogue Anand Sudarshan

The idea is to go beyond ‘e-learning’ and move to the next level which are custom prepared for EduNxt. So, even if there is an interruption in the bandwidth, the content can be provided offline.

What makes you so passionate about EduNxt? I am passionate about EduNxt for two reasons. One, because it is going to make a big difference for Manipal and students for sure. Second, because I think it is going to be a game-changer as far as the use of technology in education is concerned. While we don’t claim to have monopoly on the idea, we think EduNxt will play an important role. Until now, technology companies have been seeking out education entities to collaborate with. I think for the first time, education entities are seeking technology companies to work with. That is a great change.

In addition to technology, what are the other ways to boost effectiveness of distance education? What distance education misses is the “outside classroom” engagement that a campus provides. We have to combine the online distance learning materials with video (satellite-based lectures, both live and recorded). We will continue to enhance this paradigm. Through our study centres we have also created an outreach mechanism which provides advice and counseling support. However, without technology it will be impossible to span this vast country of ours. That is really the key.

What is your view on open knowledge? It is an exciting concept. Knowledge should always be open. But, would you hold it against somebody if they have been able to create something new for which they would expect to get compensated? I am not sure. Putting that aside, I think open knowledge has got an extraordinary relevance. As an institution we would be happy to put our courses on the public domain. It may not happen overnight, but at some point of time we will start acting. The role of the institution is not to transmit knowledge to the students but to generate informed and responsible learners.


Edu Tech January 2010

What is Manipal’s strategy for growth? Manipal University is already among the finest universities in India. We would like it to be one of the top universities, globally recognised for its quality of teaching, value systems and research. As an education system, we would like to be global leaders in English-based higher education in the developing world, and a global leader in medical education. These are the two vectors of our vision. Obviously, India is going to be our growth engine. As regulations become more transparent and in tune with the realities, I think there will be a lot of opportunities for institutions like Manipal. We would certainly like to be in the thick of things, making a difference to the Indian economy and Indian students.

What according to you are the challenges in achieving this vision? Let me just talk of one external challenge as far as India is concerned — a more tuned regulatory environment. The other challenges are quality and growth. Here I take comfort from the successes of companies like Infosys and Wipro. If they can do it, we can do it. The final challenge is that we need to find a continuous stream of leaders, particularly young leaders, who would be part of the process. People on the academic and administrative fronts who can create and sustain ideas. Of course, there are many other operational challenges — but those we can solve.

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expertise Design & Architecture

Aaron B. Schwarz

“India Should Not Copy What Exists”


ndia today is in the unique position of needing to accommodate exponential growth in higher education. Public campuses are expanding, and new campus centres are being set up. In addition, private institutions including international campuses of western institutions may be built throughout the country. What precedents and models should be used to plan, design and construct these new campuses?

One obvious urge could be to copy the most well known and highly ranked universities from the western hemisphere — particularly those in the United States (US). Certain aspects of these campuses are certainly worth emulating. However, this must be done only after a thorough analysis. India should not copy what exists, but try to understand where its higher education sector is headed, and learn from how the notion of education is changing even at established universities, to arrive at its own models.

Initial Campus Buildings To put things in perspective, it will help if we trace the metamorphosis of campus structures in the West. Higher education initially was the prerogative of upper class citizens, and involved hiring in-house tutors. It started taking a more formal shape when aristocrats combined resources to build centralised shared facilities. Around the same time, religious orders also started providing academic and social education. These initial campuses were usually single buildings, in which students and faculty lived and learned. In 1862, US passed the first of two Morrill Land-Grand Acts. Following this, the national government provided each state with large land areas for the creation of institutions of higher education. These eventually


Edu Tech January 2010

Aaron is a Principal and Executive Director at Perkins Eastman. He has more than 25 years of experience in architecture. His award winning portfolio includes numerous projects for colleges and universities in United States and other countries. He is currently involved in designing some university projects in India

became the most renowned universities in the US. It is the physical constructs of these campuses that have become models for planning most current campuses today. However, the factors that played a role in creation of these physical environments cannot shape today’s and tomorrow’s campuses. The initial US campuses came up during the US civil war years, when society was transitioning from an agrarian to an industrialised economy. If these model campuses were to be planned today from scratch, it is doubtful if they would be the same. The primary factors that have changed include: advances in technology, shifting demographics, new learning pedagogies, societal shifts from an industrial society to a service society and global connections.

New Needs, New Spaces Most western universities in the beginning were designed for the delivery of education through lec-

Aaron B. Schwarz

tures. This low-cost delivery model resulted in large lecture halls and smaller seminars rooms. Today students learn very differently. Group interaction, projectbased and interdisciplinary learning are becoming the norm. A lot of learning happens outside of the formal classroom. As far back as 1817, Thomas Jefferson understood this, and applied it to the planning for one of America’s best loved campuses, The University of Virginia. He planned the “academic village” as a self contained community where interconnected buildings included both housing and classrooms. In fact, each pavilion housed classroom space on the ground floor with the assigned faculty members’ apartment above — very similar to a retail shop with its owner living on the upper floors. Connecting these pavilions was the student housing. Faculty and students learned and lived in contiguous spaces. This interaction throughout the day resulted in a continuous learning of the mind, body and the spirit. While many western campuses and universities have borrowed architectural styles and details from University of Virginia’s architecture, most have strayed from the initial path Jefferson envisioned. Most western campuses expanded and evolved to a point where different uses are zoned to different land areas and buildings. Departmental silos were created for various reasons, which went on to form physical and social barriers to integration of disciplines and to innovation.

Plan For the Future These walls are now coming down with the realisation that interaction with fellow students, researchers and faculty outside of the formal classroom is where innovation occurs. Modern campuses need to take advantage of that fact, and reinforce this notion of continual opportunity for learning absorption beyond benign osmosis. The obvious connection between private industry and public education has also been ignored for decades. The academic erudite considered it a clear conflict with their notion of the ivory tower. Academic arrogance has finally been overcome, and the symbiotic relationship between private sector and the world of academics is finally being viewed as crucial, productive, and necessary for sustainability. For many existing campuses it is difficult now to integrate public and private within physical structures. Thus, separate precincts for private industry incubation and collaborations have developed on these campuses. Future campuses may consider a more physically homogenised approach. This also means potential public-private partnership funding for research buildings as well as other campus needs such as housing, health care, recreation, and cultural venues.

CLASSROOM OF THE FUTURE: Learning environments will incorporate the latest teaching methodologies


One of the most important features of any campus is its library. Thanks to innovations in information technology, the library is going through significant changes. For one, the possible functions within and outside the library have significantly changed, and there is not one answer that fits all campuses. The library is no longer just a repository for books. Now we see libraries housing mixed media of all sorts — group study rooms, tutorial areas, counseling areas, auditoria, food and social spaces, software and hardware help desks, community and town interaction areas, galleries, housing for resident scholars, etc. Since different modes of learning require very different environments, instead of constructing spaces based on outdated teaching paradigms, higher education institutions in India should settle for a space that can adapt to the latest in teaching methodology and pedagogy. There is no single model that will work for all campuses that India will need in the coming years. Every campus has its own culture which is defined by its curriculum, methodology, community, place, and physical construct. Diversity should be planned for in the further expansion of the Indian system of higher education. The physical construct must reinforce the other ingredients of its culture. Therefore, instead of following a specific western model, new or expanding institutions need to first define their markets, their curriculum, and other differentiators — its ultimate physicality needs to be inspired by these factors. January 2010 Edu Tech


Advancing the Enterprise of Education

March 2010, New Delhi EDU 2010: India Higher Education Conclave will bring together senior leaders from a variety of private higher education institutions to consider new approaches to fostering and harnessing innovation, creativity and technology to drive the growth of their institutions. It will also help them develop an agenda for their institutions to capitalise on these emerging opportunities. The agenda of the conclave will be led by key stakeholders and will involve expert analysis, in-depth panel discussions, focused breakout sessions and insightful keynotes. Who Should Attend? Senior leaders and decision makers from: Universities /Higher Education Institutions Corporates/Industry Research Institutions and Consultancy firms Infrastructure and IT Companies providing Government products and services to the Higher Education Sector Detailed Agenda EDU 2010: INDIA HIGHER EDUCATION CONCLAVE Enterprise of EducationCONCLAVE EDU 2010: The INDIA HIGHER EDUCATION Day1 of Education The Enterprise 8:00 – 10:00 am

Day 1 Registration & Networking Breakfast

10:00––10:00 11:00am am 8:00

Welcome AddressBreakfast Registration & Networking Opening Keynote Address Welcome Address Title Address on the Keynote The Enterprise Opening Addressof Education

10:00 – 11:00 am

Tea of Education Title Address on Networking the The Enterprise Strategy & Policy

Campus Management

11:15 - 1:15 pm

Getting the Word Out: Building and leveraging your Strategy & Policy brand the Word Out: Building and leveraging your Getting Inside the Box: Optimizing your resources for greater brand efficiency effectiveness Inside theand Box: Optimizing your resources for greater Navigating Waters: Identifying and managing efficiency andthe effectiveness regulatory uncertainities Navigating the Waters: Identifying and managing

Connected Campus: Understanding campus communiCampus Management cation & mobility solutions Connected Campus: Understanding campus communiCampus Management Solutions: Simplifying and cation & mobility solutions streamlining administration and operations management Campus Management Solutions: Simplifying and On the Ground: Maintaining improving campus streamlining administration andand operations management infrastructure & facilities On the Ground: Maintaining and improving campus

KnowledgeManagement Design: Evolving and structuring courses and program offerings Academic to meet futureDesign: needs Evolving and structuring courses and program offerings Knowledge Campus Management Solutions: Simplifying and streamlining to meet future needs administration and operations management Converting Knowledge to Wealth: Campus Management Solutions: Simplifying and streamlining Fostering the creation of IP andmanagement patents, andConverting licensing them administration and operations Knowledge to Wealth: Back to School: Creating Education programs Fostering the creation of IP Executive and patents, and licensing themfor the next decade

Raising the Bar: Aligning with international educational quality standards Raising the Bar: Aligning with international educational Flat World: Ideas and techniques for coping with global quality standards competition Flat World: Ideas and techniques for coping with global Big Thinking: Spotting and exploiting opportunities for competition growth and expansion Big Thinking: Spotting and exploiting opportunities for

Networking Lunch of & your Exposition Keeping A Watch: Ensuring the security people and assetsA Watch: Ensuring the security of your people Keeping Managing and assets Paper Proliferation: Employing document mgmt & workflow to streamline recordkeeping Managing Papersolutions Proliferation: Employing document Electronic Pencil:solutions Creatingtoand using digital classrooms mgmt & workflow streamline recordkeeping and librariesPencil: for knowledge Electronic Creatingdelivery and using digital classrooms

Knowledge Passport: Understanding the implications of flexible and transferable credit systems Knowledge Passport: Understanding the implications of flexible and Cost Centercredit to Profit Center: Identifying and capitalizing on opportunities transferable systems for commercial research, consultancy and training Cost Center to Profit Center: Identifying and capitalizing on opportunities Outcommercial reach: Improving employment through effective placement for research, consultancyprospects and training programs entrepreneurship development Out reach:and Improving employment prospects through effective placement

2:15 – 4:15 pm

4:15 – 4:30 pm

regulatory uncertainities

growth and expansion

4:30 –- 6:00 4:15 4:30 pm pm

infrastructure & facilitiesNetworking Lunch & Exposition

Networking Tea and libraries for knowledge delivery

programs and entrepreneurship development

Enterprise of Education: Strategies for Knowledge and Wealth Creation (Interactive Workshop) Exposition

7:00 - 7:00 8:00 pm 6:00

Cocktails andExposition Entertainment Program

8:00 -pm onwards 7:00 8:00 pm

Galaand Networking Dinner Cocktails Entertainment Program Day 2 Dinner Gala Networking Networking Breakfast EXPO Day29:30 am to 12:30 pm

8:00 pm onwards 8:00 – 9:30 am 9:30 –- 10:15 am 8:00 9:30 am

Keynote Address Networking Breakfast EXPO 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

10:15- -10:15 12:15am pm 9:30

Strategy & Policy

Campus Management

10:15 - 12:15 pm

Spot Check: Benchmarking your institute Strategy & Policy Money Matters: Fund raising techniques Spot Check: Benchmarking your institute and practices The Vital Link: Fostering industry-institute collaboraMoney Matters: Fund raising techniques and practices tionsVital Link: Fostering industry-institute collaboraThe

Testing Times: Continuous evaluation and assessment Campus Management of students in an Continuous online environment Testing Times: evaluation and assessment Vanishing Boundaries: Going beyond brick and-mortar of students in an online environment to virtual institutions Vanishing Boundaries: Going beyond brick and-mortar The Green Way: Making your campus more energy to virtual institutions efficent and environment The Green Way: Makingfriendly your campus more energy


Keynote Address

Academic Management The ForeignManagement Connect: Promoting international collaborations for academic Academic programmes, technology transfers collaborations for academic The Foreign research, Connect:and Promoting international Guru Mantra:research, Developing managing your faculty for tommorow programmes, and and technology transfers The Hook: Attracting and retaining high quality students researchers Guru Mantra: Developing and managing your faculty for and tommorow The Hook: Attracting and retaining high quality students and researchers

Valedictory Session efficent and environment friendly

12:30 -–12:30 2:00 pm 12:15 pm

Networking LunchSession & Exposition Valedictory

2:00 pm 12:30 – 2:00 pm

Ends NetworkingEvent Lunch & Exposition

2:00 pm

Back to School: Creating Executive Education programs for the next decade

Edu World Café Networking Tea Enterprise of Education: Strategies for Knowledge Edu World and CaféWealth Creation (Interactive Workshop)

4:30 - 6:00 pm 6:00 - 7:00 pm

12:15 - 12:30 pm

Academic Management

EXPO EXPO 9.309.30 am to pm pm am12.30 to 12.30

1:15 – 2:15 pm 1:15 2:15 – 2:15 4:15 pm

Networking Tea

EXPO EXPO 11 am pm7 pm 11 to am7 to

11:00 – 11:15 am 11:15 –- 1:15 11:00 11:15pm am

Event Ends

Register Now!

*Offer valid till 15th Jan


Art The


By Indu prasad

eye stoppers infosys took seven years to build the Global Education Centre II Rs 20.55 Billion Was the total cost of building the GEC2, of which Rs 17.05 billion was spent in education infrastructure


Edu Tech January 2010

of Campus creation


hundred and forty kilometers from Bangalore is the erstwhile royal capital, Mysore. Palaces and royal gardens interspersed with wide, sparsely populated roads and old-world charm, Mysore gives you an overriding sense of being laid back. But drive 15 kilometers from the city towards Nagarhole National Park and this notion is dispelled. The first hint is when you crest a small hill and see a brilliant off-white structure in the distance. At first glance, it seems like a replica of the US Capitol dome but as you get closer, the semi-circular structure envelops you in a wide arc. The 1.2 million square feet structure is dotted with neo-classical windows and columns, with a yellow dome capping off the main entrance that’s ringed by stately Roman pillars and a grand sweeping staircase. It is the Infosys Global Education Centre II or GEC2, the company’s global training centre for its 105,000 employees. The planning and design of the training centre’s 335-acre campus and facilities to train 13,500 people make it a good example to look at for anyone planning a wholesome campus. “At the planning stage, N R Narayana Murthy (founder and chief mentor of Infosys) pointed out that since the campus would be essentially a learn-

by Hafeez Contractor

A campus isn’t just a motley bunch of buildings thrown together. It is an idea and a belief




January 2010 Edu Tech




ing centre, it should give a feeling of permanence. It should be a campus that students will recall years later,” says T.V. Mohandas Pai, director, Ad m i n i s t r a t i o n , E d u c a t i o n a n d Research, Human Resources Development, and Infosys Leadership. Accordingly, every detail has been polished to a meticulous finish. The campus has multi-cuisine food courts, its hostels are at par with five-star accommodations, and its sports facilities are of international standards. It also has a laundromat and coin-operated washing machines. There’s a sophisticated multiplex and auditorium complex, where the main auditorium seats 1,056 people while the three multiplex theatres seat 145 people each. “The master plan created by Chennai-based C.R. Narayana Rao, separated the private and public zones while keeping the semi-public spaces easily accessible from either of the zones. A street runs between the two zones but each of them also have separate gates,” says Ravi John, senior GM for Architecture with Sobha Developers who put the plan into action. India’s best known architect, Hafeez Contractor, who was roped in to design the Centre, felt that its campus has to be

Infosys GEC2: Snapshot The campus boasts of international standards in infrastructure and design


million sq ft Total constructed area

147 485 training rooms

faculty rooms


conference rooms


assessment halls

A cyber café An induction hall that can seat 400 Five examination halls and 302 faculty rooms Two state-of-the-art libraries which can house over 140,000 books, A MC room with a capacity of 40 seats with acoustically designed walls 84 100-seater, three 200-seater, six 60-seater and two 36-seater class rooms different from an office. He says, “People want something iconic in a campus. A student goes there during formative years. Whatever he sees should inspire him, inculcate discipline and have a visual appeal in the long run.” It was the desire to create something inspirational that resulted in the main building with heavy Roman influence, both in scale and design. “It was also our biggest challenge. We didn’t have much to go on and the detailing was very intricate and com-

plicated. We had to bring in highly skilled tradesmen for the flooring, pillars and other detailing from the north,” says Raghu Balan, CEO, Contracts with Sobha Developers who handled the construction of the campus. The other challenge was the landscape itself. “The land was barren with uneven terrain. The brief was that the terrain should not be disturbed. So we had to green it naturally by creating check dams and lakes. Since trees are better than



Mohandas Pai director Education and Research, Infosys

Hafeez Contractor architect

“A well designed campus is like a temple, so it should cause a bit of awe and respect for the institution”

“ The design and architecture should be in line with the area available and the programme taught”

Edu Tech January 2010

“Acquire and develop the entire land at one shot. Don’t have haphazard construction. Go for concentric development — plan things, zone it and allocate resources before you start. The buildings should also be suitable for the climate” Raghu Balan CEO Contracts, Sobha Developers


grass for maintenance, many trees were planted in the campus,” adds Balan. As a state-of-the-art facility for one of India’s top IT companies, the campus also had to be wired intelligently. Wi-Fi, smart cards and IT security were incorporated in the planning stage itself so that the campus was future-ready. Total investment: Rs 20.55 billion of which Rs 3.5 billion has been invested in the construction of software development blocks and related services, and Rs 17.05 billion invested in education and training-related infrastructure.

Campus Elements Institutions today, want to build their campuses around certain themes that are closely related to their philosophy and vision. The architecture and the design also has to consider the courses that are being offered at the institution to come up with a design that is most appropriate. “Different disciplines have different requirements. Hence there cannot be a uniform design for all campuses. One has to consider the overall lifestyle of the students,” says Raman Sikka, associate architect with Sikka Associates Architects. According to him this is the reason behind open architecture for fine arts colleges like Chitrakala

“Masterplanning is important. growth of the institution over the years should be thought-out without disturbing the existing elements, adding on in an aesthetic manner. There should be one common element throughout the campus” Raman Sikka associate architect, sikka associates architects


Parishad in Bangalore, or the more secluded spaces of IITs. Earlier, universities with multi-disciplines also had separate spaces within the campus which would segregate the students and faculty of different disciplines — not anymore. “The traditional separation of faculties and colleges into pedagogical silos is breaking down. This is reflected in new spaces and buildings that bridge disciplines, and includes more places for people to come together in a range of social and academic settings,” points out Warren Price, senior associate with Toronto-based Urban Strategies Inc, the firm that has designed universities of Cornell, Ottawa, Toronto and Minnesota among others. This is the concept for designing features such as the open-air central spine of IIT Chennai bringing faculty, researchers and students face-to-face several times during the course of the day. At Carnegie Mellon’s new international campus in Qatar’s Educational City, a three-storey atrium and walkway serves the same purpose. As does the semi-public areas of Infosys such as the Employee Care Centre that are equidistant from the residential as well as training areas. Modern campuses are a world within themselves with no or few distractions.

At BI Norwegian School of Management, a sense of seclusion is created by extensive use of glass. It is built like an open town, where you can see activity going on all around. Open terraces, galleries, nooks and quiet areas have been created as special meeting places. As Balan of Sobha Developers, points out, “Campuses now are no longer just about classrooms. They are giving more importance to residential blocks, utilities such as laundromats, recreation facilities like sports fields and multiplexes. The students barely need to step out.” While these could be easy to integrate into a new campus, older ones like IISc in Bangalore are also adapting themselves to the new concept of self-containment. The campus is well-endowed with ATMs, restaurants, coffee shops, and snack bars. It even has an underpass that connects the two parts of the campus separated by a busy road. Apart from the physical campus, wiring or networking of campuses is taking on an increasingly important role. “Research and learning is also increasingly facilitated through computer-based networks and these activities occur in a much broader range of settings. Design of places for learning now must support a range of activities, communities and

Warren Price senior associate, urban strategies, toronto

Feite van Dijk Project Manager international programmes bi norweigian school of management

“Good campus design helps promote the identity of an institution, builds community and provides amenities”

“Look for best practice examples. Prioritise library and other learning facilities for students”

January 2010 Edu Tech




Good Design Builds Identity Warren Price, senior associate with Urban Strategies Inc, Toronto explains why campus design and architecture is crucial How important would you say is good campus design and architecture for an institution? Although academic priorities are always paramount, ensuring physical resources and academic objectives are aligned is essential for any institution. All institutions strive for the best possible facilities to support teaching, research and outreach. Increasingly, social spaces and the campus setting are also seen as the places in which to learn and support the academic community. These places are becoming “selling points” which attract and retain both students and faculty. Good campus design helps promote the identity of an institution, builds community and provides amenities.

What have been the prevailing norms for campus designs?

Warren Price Senior Associate, Urban Strategies

In western culture, the courtyard or quadrangle has been the prevailing model for university campus design. This model has been reinterpreted in countless ways in a wide variety of settings. It provides a focus for community and suggests a social space that is somewhat set apart from the surrounding context.

What are the challenges of improving the design of an existing institution?

Many of the most respected universities and colleges have existed for decades and have continually reinvented both the institution and its physical setting or campus. Most simply put, the challenge is to retain what is valuable and necessary, and to change what is no longer relevant. Often the setting and image of the campus must endure while adding new facilities, modes of transportation and servicing.

What is your advice for creating a wholesome campus? The creation of a campus’ open space and circulation framework is key. This framework can be built incrementally over time, resulting in an enduring and rich setting and identity. Within this framework campus building sites should be identified, which can developed or redeveloped as facility needs evolve.

How do you design a smaller campus within an urban setting? The advantage of an urban setting is the diversity and level of amenity cities can provide. The institution can focus on the creation of academic spaces and “borrow” other spaces, housing and amenities from the surrounding city. The challenge for an institution in an urban setting is to create an identity and academic community that is distinct from, yet connected to, its host city. communication styles. The computer commons or lounge has replaced the library. The seminar room has replaced the large lecture hall,” Price points out. Many institutions are also choosing to


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not disturb the contours of land, or natural vegetation by keeping their design environment friendly. Innovative alternatives like setting up an amphitheatre in a natural depression at NIIT Univer-

sity, or creating a lake in a valley at the Infosys campus are becoming popular. At Carnegie Mellon University, “each floor of the new nine-storey Gates Centre and four-storey Hillman Centre is uniquely shaped to conform to the site’s demanding geology, steep terrain and built environment and to optimise office views,” says Kenneth Walters, Senior Media Relations Director. Additionally, a college needs to be commercially viable in the long-term for which a master plan becomes significant. Observes Ravi John of Sobha, “The master plan is the backbone of any campus. In most cases, an independent advisory body is first formed to survey and come up with a plan acknowledging all aspects — environment, functional requirement, statutory requirement, fire safety, urban scapes, etc., and most importantly, the vision and mission for the development.”

Hurdles Along The Way As Ravi John confesses, “The challenge in creating any new campus is formulating and finalising a project brief and fulfilling changes to the original inputs, at a later stage. With respect to modifying a campus, the main challenge is to fuse the modern systems, building services and technology without losing the essence and the sentiments of the older structures.” Many campuses also face intangible problems. “Most academic institutions are “politically dynamic” places. They favour debate and promote discourse. Decision-making in such an environment can be challenging,” points out Price. “Getting architects, civil contractors, project management consultants to sit together to resolve problems of delay and quality,” cites Professor Sriram, executive director of Great Lakes Institute of Management Chennai, as the problems they faced while building the campus. In addition, since they opted to be a green campus they had to use significant amounts of recycled materials, sourced exclusively from green-certified sources preferably from adjoining areas which was another challenge towards its timely completion. GEC2 had to contend with shortage of skilled craftsmen for fine



Open Design Wins International Accolades Barely 10 minutes from downtown Oslo, is the BI Norwegian School of Management, set in a modern but dramatic setting. “BI decided that the building should be inspiring, and be a leap forward in terms of facilities,” explains Feite van Dijk, Senior Advisor, International Relations at BI. BI hired Norway’s best known architect, Nils Torp to realise this vision— a building with 8,000 people, who are constantly on the move. This sense of activity that can be seen on the outside as well. The building comprises of four blocks, each with seven levels. The entire building is covered by a glass roof. Even with a design that lets everyone have a free view across the campus, there are special nooks and private spaces that provides for interactions and functional privacy. There are also two unique features— one is the central escalator that goes only up, taking students from different levels to the library on the top two floors, the sunniest part of the building. The second is the Ryttertrappen (Horseman’s Staircase), which seems to be floating mid-air. The BI also boasts of a unique student housing facility, Nydalen, which was founded by the students themselves to provide cheap and good accommodation to students. The students also have a unique student card concept that enables them to transfer money directly from their bank account, making it an on-campus cash card, with which all daily needs can be paid. The canteen is an open self-service food hall with different food outlets and open kitchens. In addition, there’s also a fast food outlet where both hot and cold fastfood meals, fruit, fresh bakery products, dairy products, soft drinks, books, magazines, newspapers are available. The unique take on campus by BI has received rave reviews and the international FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Award in 2008, which is awarded to buildings that are considered excellent both architectonically and functionally and also contribute positively to its environment.

detailing work, while for NIIT University terrain proved to be a real hurdle.

In conclusion The popular image of ivy-covered buildings, century-old trees, teeming water bodies and lush green lawns is what American architect and landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted envisioned in the 1800s. He with his partners designed the Central Park in New York, the US Capitol Grounds in Washington DC and some 350 colleges and universities between 1857 and 1950. Even today, some of his earliest designs UC Berkley, Stanford, and Vassar are testimony to his modern approach and considered among the best campuses. He was the first to identify the importance of natural topography, combina-

tion of functional organisation, urban design, landscaping and gardening. The interest in campus architecture in India is fairly recent. Does this mean that we didn’t create good enough campuses earlier? No. Pai points out that IISc campus in Bangalore is serene with a distinct character. Manipal University has kept up with the times by regular renovations. “Some older government-funded institutions like IITs and IIMs were well planned and built at one go. On the contrary, most new campuses are businesses by private organisations, who have limited resources and land that leads to piecemeal development,” says Sikka. Contractor reaffirms that its mostly lack of appropriate funds and a vision for the future that have resulted in haphazard designing.

“Making intelligent and good campuses isn’t difficult. If you invest now, it will pay off later,” concludes Pai. The campus itself might be in the making for many years. But its architecture and spatial organisation must facilitate the teaching and research enterprise, portray the institution’s academic session and enhance the quality of life on campus. It takes time, money and effort to create a campus that envisions the needs of the future.

What’s Online To read more stories on Campus go to the EDU website Write in your views and opinions about the stories in this magazine or on any other issues relating to higher education. Send them to the Editor, EDU at

January 2010 Edu Tech



Rishikesha T. Krishnan

Ethics Should Be Taught In Professional Courses


s the excesses of the past and the downfall of major financial institutions recede from memory, we should not lose sight of an important question that these events raised — what is the role of professional education programmes in promoting ethical behaviour? Though the financial crisis put the spotlight on management education, reports of doctors being involved in organ transplant rackets, accountants being party to major corporate frauds, or careless engineers being responsible for accidents at construction sites suggest that this question is equally relevant to other professional disciplines. Professional education, particularly at elite schools, gives graduates considerable power and influence at an early age. These graduates ascend to senior management and even CEO positions by the age of 40, and influence major decisions taken by corporations. These developments imply that the importance of a strong moral compass cannot be over-emphasised. Thoughtful industry leaders concur with this view. In his recent book The Professional (Penguin Books, 2009), Subroto Bagchi, vice chairman of MindTree, argues that the primary pre-requisite of a professional is integrity, and


Edu Tech January 2010

that professionally qualified individuals who lack integrity constitute a danger to society.

Enhancing Moral Development Is professional education at college too late? In a landmark research, Kohlberg showed that children go through six stages of moral development between the ages of ten and sixteen. Therefore, the moral values of our students are shaped to a large extent before they enter undergraduate education at the age of seventeen, and certainly before they enter business school in their twenties. But Kohlberg also believed that explicit consideration and discussion of moral dilemmas could help individuals enhance their individual moral development. Of course, the identification and discussion of moral dilemmas in the classroom is not enough. As Kidder pointed out, education constitutes a broader experience. Thus, the discussion of moral dilemmas in the classroom should ideally be supplemented by a learning environment where students take responsibility for their own learning, standards are clearly defined, teachers and students enjoy mutual respect, and governance is shared by students, teachers and the institution. Young adults pick up their cues from others. Faculty members have a role to play in influencing professional and ethical behaviour of their students. Supportive faculty behaviours would

Rishikesha T. Krishnan

include giving feedback in time, taking classes regularly, and meeting the needs of students even if it causes individual hardship. The institution itself needs to walk the talk. An environment in which young students enter a professional course thanks to a “donation” to a college functionary or the “influence” of an intermediary cannot but breed cynicism, and make any form of ethics education an uphill task. The problem is compounded by the rhetoric and language of academic discourse. The pressure to meet the earnings expectations of Wall Street or Dalal Street has led to a short-term orientation that gives primacy to transactions over relationships.

Challenges and Solutions In a survey we conducted of our MBA students at IIM Bangalore some years ago, we found that about 20 percent students are aggressive moralists, that is they would stand by their conscience and personal values under any circumstances. In contrast, about half of our students would be ethical but practical, they would allow their personal behaviour to be shaped by the prevailing norms



ethics and social responsibility when MBA students return to campus after their summer internships to begin their second year of courses. Films are a powerful medium to raise ethical debate and there are several outstanding films (The Insider and Rashomon) and documentaries (like Joel Bakan’s The Corporation) that can be used. One useful video that provides lessons in “Ethics 101” in an organisational setting is Ethics for Everyone (available from Multimedia HRD, Mumbai). A useful supplement to planned classes on ethics is an impromptu discussion of events as they unfold in the world outside. Secondly, it is useful to encourage students to develop their own code of conduct, both for their stay in the institution, as well as for their professional life ahead. The MBA graduating classes of 2009 at leading US business schools including Columbia and Harvard took voluntary oaths committing themselves to upholding high ethical standards. Apart from reiterating their commitment to basic values like truth, integrity and respect, these oaths explicitly took a stakeholder perspective by recognising that businesses oper-

he pressure to meet the earnings expectations of Wall Street or Dalal Street has led to a short-term orientation

and expectations of the organisation where they work. Ultimately, of course, whether our graduates will behave ethically will be influenced by the organisational climate of the companies they are employed in. Notwithstanding these challenges, there are certain things that professional degree courses can and should attempt to do. First, it is clear that they need to devote time and space in their curricula to the discussion of ethical issues. The absence of such a discussion gives a clear (if unintended) message that “anything goes,” and that ethical issues are unimportant. Such discussions on ethics should be ideally intertwined with regular coverage of the curriculum. But ethics can be emphasised in other ways. A focus on ethical issues in the orientation programme for entering students is a good start since it emphasises the importance of maintaining high ethical standards right from Day 1. This should be reinforced by a module on

ate within society and that business decisions have a larger community and societal impact. Students undertook not only to uphold the laws of the land and limit environmental externalities, but also guard against decisions that advanced their own ambitions at the cost of the enterprise or society. While the oath-taking is a welcome sign of social responsibility, the process of debating and finalising the text of the oath must have been highly educative and thought-provoking for the participants. Finally, in India, we live in a world of tremendous inequality. Our students shelter themselves from this reality. Exposure to societal challenges and the struggle of others is important to sensitise them to the problems around us and the privileged positions they enjoy. Encouraging internships and projects with NGOs, and courses on Social Entrepreneurship could broaden our students’ horizons and make them less self-centered.

Rishikesha T. Krishnan Dr Krishnan is a professor of Corporate Strategy at IIM Bangalore. He has a MSc in Physics from IIT Kanpur, MS in EngineeringEconomic Systems from Stanford University, and a PhD from IIM Ahmedabad

January 2010 Edu Tech




Edu Tech January 2010





Wings Today, higher education institutes are expanding by opening new campuses and diversifying the repertoire of courses on offer. Have they found a success recipe? by parul gupta ILLUSTRATION anil t

January 2010 Edu Tech


I I Strategy


n 1996, when the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, received 20,000 applications for its 400 seats, it realised there was no other way but to expand if it had to take in more students. The institute founded in 1929 by G. D. Birla, achieved a Deemed University status in 1964. But it still took more than three decades to set up campuses in Dubai, Goa and Hyderabad. The Amity Group, on the other hand, which set up its first business school in 1995 at Noida, realised soon enough that it could no longer delay expanding into other geographies when it started receiving almost 120,000 applications for its 6,000 seats. The last five years has seen the Chauhan family owned group aggressively push to set up 15 campuses within India and two overseas — one each in London and Singapore. There are plans to roll out a campus in every state of India by 2011, and several overseas within the next two to three years. “Ten new campuses will come up in New York, Dubai, South America and Europe, with an expected investment of about Rs. 2.5 billion,” claims Atul Chauhan, president of Amity Education. BITS and Amity are not alone. The expansion spree is gaining steam both within India and overseas. Take the case of Manipal Education Group, which is investing Rs 1 billion in expanding its campus in Dubai and is also exploring a new campus at Sri Lanka. In the next two to three years, it hopes to have a presence in the Middle-East, South-East Asia, the Caribbean and the US. It recently bought a major stake in the American University of Antigua in the Caribbean. Manipal is moving to open its fourth campus at Jaipur next year. International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi plans to open a new cam-


pus at Bhubaneshwar and another one in Kolkata. Institute of Management Technology (IMT) which already has three operational campuses in Ghaziabad, Nagpur and Dubai, has planned another one in Hyderabad by 2011. Even the research-oriented Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad is seeding a new 70-acre campus at Mohali in Punjab with an investment of about Rs 2 billion. (see box) So, what are the imperatives that drive such need for expansion? After all, opening multiple campuses is no child’s play. It requires huge investments, there is a fear of diluting the quality of education, plus many logistical problems. The only thing that appears readily available is the enormous demand for these institutes. And this huge potential is the reason for the push.

Seeking Multiple Advantages The National Knowledge Commission estimated that around 1,500 universities will be needed around the nation to achieve a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of at least 15 percent by 2015. It is this need gap that creates opportunities for expansion. Thanks to its multiple campuses, BITS has managed to increase its annual intake six times.

“Ten new campuses will come up in New York, Dubai, South America and Europe with an investment of about Rs 2.5 billion”

“The advantage of inorganic growth is that all licenses and permissions are already in place, so we can hit the ground running”

“The vision behind any department in both the campuses would be the same since one person would be in-charge”

—Atul chauhan President, Amity

—Ranjan pai MD & CEO, Manipal Education and Medical

—savita Mahajan CEO, ISB, Mohali

Edu Tech January 2010


“Today we can accommodate over 10,500 students and our annual intake has increased from 400 seats in 1996 to almost 2,500 now,” says a confident B. R. Natarajan, dean, Work Integrated Learning Programmes BITS Pilani. Higher volumes also make sound economic sense as they translate into more revenue. If one is aiming for even higher margins then the overseas market is a good option. For instance, while the fee per semester at a BITS campus is only Rs 0.04 million in India, it is about 17,500 dirham or Rs 0.23 million per semester at BITS Dubai. Similarly, while an Amity student pays Rs 0.13 million per semester at Bangalore, he is charged Rs 0.3 million at the London campus. Going overseas also has other advantages, like easier government regulations and tax benefits. Even Indian students prefer to go overseas in search of better quality education. According to the Knowledge Commission there are an estimated 1.6 million students from India who are studying abroad. If the average expenditure on fees and maintenance is US$ 25,000 per student per year, overseas Indian students would be spending nearly US$ 4 billion or Rs 188 billion each year (at current exchange rates). If only higher education institutes create more opportunities for quality education of Indian students here, they could grab a small, but significant fraction of this pie. Many players also find that establishing a presence overseas helps in brandbuilding and attracting students to their Indian campus as well. Chauhan of Amity points out that corporates today want to hire employees who are aware of the business culture and systems in different markets. So, Amity uses global exposure as a Unique Selling Proposition to sell its programmes. An Amity student can enrol himself in Indore, and go on to do subsequent semesters in London, Singapore and the US by paying the relevant fee for those markets. Institutes, that do not have global campuses, are offering similar exposure to their students by tying up with reputed international universities. For example, the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)


“Understand the world, expand your world” INSEAD was amongst the first business schools in the world to set up a full campus outside its home location of Fontainebleau in France. Its director of external relations, Maziar Sabet speaks to EDU on the vision behind the move and the experience. Why did INSEAD set up a second campus at Singapore? In the late 90s, when we observed that Asia was the upcoming business centre of the world and offered huge research and learning opportunities, we decided to open a second campus here in accordance with our tagline “Understand the world, expand your world.” We wanted to expose our students and faculty to one of the most vibrant cultural experiences and the most dynamic economy of the world. Singapore was the ideal choice because of its dynamic multicultural environment, good quality of life (including a leading airport and an airline) and the efficiency and professionalism of its government agencies.

Do you think the expansion has paid off? Our Asia campus has been a resounding success. More than 70 percent of INSEAD’s students spend time on both its campuses in order to be equipped with multicultural skills. Maziar Sabet Director, External Relations, We started with 50 students ten years ago and INSEAD now, out of our 1000 MBAs, at certain times of the year more students are based in Singapore than in Fontainebleau. We have more Asian students on a per-capita basis on our Europe campus and more European students on our Asia campus.

What challenges did you face while expanding? There were challenges on many fronts including operational, financial, travel and cultural. However, the biggest obstacle to international expansion is the bureaucracy latent in traditional university structures, and the vast uni-cultural legacies of institutions. We overcame the major obstacles by remaining ‘independent, innovative and entrepreneurial’.

Would a brand like INSEAD need to rework for itself in different geographical regions? Absolutely not. We have a centralised admission process. Students apply to INSEAD but once accepted they can choose to start their classes, either at Singapore or at Fontainebleau, and then switch around later in the year. Our Singapore campus offers the same products and opportunities that exist on our Europe campus. Regardless of the campus, the programme, fee and faculty are the same.

January 2010 Edu Tech




Lucknow has tied up with McGill University of Canada, the Management Development Institute (MDI) has tied-up with 50 foreign institutes across the globe. The ISB has links with Wharton School of Business, Kellogg School of Management and London Business School.

Expansion Mantra Indian institutes are entering new geographies through acquisitions, investments and newer markets, or setting up new campuses on their own. While some like BITS, Amity, ISB, ICFAI and Symbiosis, believe in following the organic route for expansion, others like Manipal have sought to grow inorganically with joint ventures (JVs), affiliations, takeover of existing properties and facilities, or the franchisee model. Manipal University, has expanded geographically through its self-owned campuses within the country, while Sikkim Manipal University has achieved expansion through the franchisee model, with about 550 tie-ups (including more than 20 in Middle East and Africa). The Group has also acquired TutorVista, MeritTrac and U21 Global to enter potentially high growth segments including online education and skilltesting segment. Manipal Education and Medical Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Dr Ranjan R. Pai says, “Our strategy is both organic and inorganic depending on markets. The advantage of inorganic growth is that all licenses and permissions are already in place, so we can hit the ground running.” Manipal considers JVs only for its international ventures because of local regulations (like in Dubai and Malaysia) or to get a better feel of local conditions. “The local partner normally brings in local know-how and helps in expediting the projects,” he adds. “With the acquisitions made in the recent past, the group’s international operations contribute to more than 50 percent of its total revenue,” notes a recent Ernst & Young report, “Emerging Direction in Global Education (EDGE).” Chauhan says that Amity does not prefer JVs because education is a long-term business and partnerships are hardly


Edu Tech January 2010

1500 universities will be needed in India to achieve a GER of 15 percent by 2015

long-term since the priorities and vision of the partners may change with time. IMI Director C.S. Venkata Ratnam explains that the institute prefers to go alone because the regulatory authorities do not allow a corporate model for raising finance from the market.

Location Specifies Needs The reasons for choosing locations for new campuses are different for different institutions. Many decide on locations through feasibility studies. For instance Amity discovered during a feasibility survey in the North-East, which has a lower GER than the rest of the country, that more than 65 percent of

“The plus point is greater visibility and furthering of our consultancy and executive education efforts across the country” —C.S. Venkata Ratnam Director, International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi

prospective students would enrol for higher education if a reputed university set up a campus there. It also discovered that there was an overwhelming demand for agro-based courses. To cater to this unique requirement, Amity is planning to open a campus offering exclusive agro-based courses there. Before opening a campus in Bhubaneshwar, IMI Delhi had also done a feasibility study which revealed that Orissa, in general, and Bhubaneswar in particular, is emerging as an educational hub. Although there are 19 management schools in the city with Xavier’s Institute of Management (XIM) as the leading institution, the opportunities and need for postgraduate and executive education in a high-quality institution are vast, given the scale of development projects in the pipeline, particularly in infrastructure and mining. Some institutes like IIM Lucknow and IMT are also opening additional campuses to exclusively cater to specific courses like the management development programs (MDPs). While IIM Lucknow has established a campus at Noida to leverage the commercial hub of the national capital region, IMT plans to open a third campus at Ghaziabad to exclusively cater to these courses. The presence of industry in a particular area also encourages institutions to set up a campus. While the industry absorbs students after they graduate, it also solves the chronic faculty shortage problem for the institutes. “Being in the commercial hub, we are able to invite industry experts to our campus to deliver lectures which give us additional mileage,” says Punam Sahgal, dean, IIM Lucknow’s Noida campus. Little wonder, industry hubs including Bangalore and Hyderabad are now hot spots for quality educational institutions as well. Lastly, the initiatives of some state governments to improve educational infrastructure in their respective states has made it easier for the institutes to set shop there. For example, in IMI’s case, the Orissa government allotted 16-acres of land to the institute at a concessionary price and gave speedy clearances. When Andhra Pradesh government’s efforts to


get an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in the state did not materialise, it offered land and extended all facilities to BITS to establish its campus there. Similarly, in late 1990s when the Dubai government realised that it did not have enough facilities for higher education and parents were sending their children to other countries for higher education, it invited educational institutes from around the world to set up campuses there. It provided single-window clearances, and today IMT, BITS and Manipal have full-fledged campuses there, with Amity to follow suit.

Overcoming Challenges Even though the demand-supply gap is huge there is no assurance that all expansion plans will be successful. Venkata Ratnam explains the dilemma, “The plus point is greater visibility and furthering of our consultancy and executive education efforts across the country. The negative point is that two campuses mean two cultures, and the difficulty of building and maintaining brand equity.” It is a big challenge for institutes with multiple campuses to ensure that a uniform quality of education and exposure is maintained across all campuses. To address this, ISB plans to manage most key departments from a single place. Savita Mahajan, associate dean (Strategic Initiatives and Admissions) and chief executive of ISB’s Mohali campus, says, “The vision behind any department in both the campuses would be the same since one person would be in-charge for that department at both the campuses.” Fear of quality dilution across distance was also the reason why Amity delayed expansion. To solve this Amity has set up a complete back-end system where attendance, progress grades, and all details about each student, faculty, administrators and management can be updated online. As the campuses grow in number, the group can now simply expand the control system to maintain quality of exposure, curriculum and learning across various locations. Given the faculty crunch sweeping across India, finding quality teachers is also a challenge, and the institutes are


ISB: Innings in Punjab When the Indian School of Business was first launched in Hyderabad, it created quite a buzz as it was a unique educational offering. The institute is now creating news again with a second campus in Mohali expected to be operational in 2012. Why Mohali? Call it the choice of location or a combination of various factors. Easy land availability was a criterion as the Punjab government volunteered to allot 70-acres of land to the institute on a 99-years lease at Re 1 per acre annually. Also, the four corporate donors of the institute including Max India Limited, Bharti Enterprises Limited, Hero Corporate Service Limited and Punj Lloyd Group were enthused about having an institute located in Punjab since the company heads were from that state, and wanted to contribute to the community. So how will ISB integrate both campuses? Management of key departments by the same person for both campuses is one solution. For example, the associate dean for post-graduate programs would be the same for both the campuses, which would ensure rational and optimal division of scarce resources and expertise between both the campuses. finding innovative ways, including technology-linked tools to address that. “We have projection facilities for about 500 students at all our centres, and with the help of internet we ensure a standard curriculum and teaching pattern across our centres,” explains Natarajan of BITS. During the expansion phase, land acquisition is another major challenge. Land is not always available at concessionary rates, and many times institutes have to spend huge amounts to get hold of the right plot. BITS was lucky to receive 180 acres of land from Birla’s Zuari Industries, for its second campus in Goa. In Dubai, since a foreign entity could not own land, BITS decided to partner with Emirates Trading Agency (ETA), a leading industrial group, to set up its campus there. When expanding into new geographies, institutes also have to design courses and programmes keeping in mind the demand of the regional population. The courses that are relevant in London might not be relevant in Goa. For instance at its Jaipur campus, Amity has more programmes dedicated to family enterprises since family-run businesses abound in that region.

potential in this form of expansion cannot be ignored. The E&Y-EDGE report says that strong macro-economic and demographic drivers coupled with a gap in public spending will accentuate the relevance of private sector in higher education in India. While reiterating that many players are not present in this space due to structural and regulatory challenges, E&Y India partner Amitabh Jhingan says that private equity investors could play an important role in the expansion of India’s higher education infrastructure. Private equity investments could also help institutions approach expansion through multiple campuses in an organised way. Most established private players have realised that this form of expansion is a reasonable way to grow, specially since India needs more institutions to increase its GER in higher education. It is time that others also see the advantages and contribute to improving the education environment in India.

The Road Ahead

Write in your views and opinions about the stories in this magazine or on any other issues relating to higher education. Send them to the Editor, EDU at

In spite of the challenges involved in the multiple campus format, the extent of

What’s Online Read the full interview of C.S. Venkata Ratnam on challenges that IMI encountered in opening a new campus in Orissa on the EDU Website

January 2010 Edu Tech



Dheeraj Sanghi

Building Stronger Alumni Relations


lumni are one of the most important stake holders of an university. Once someone has received a degree from a university, they are part of it for life. Therefore, it is important for the universities to maintain an ongoing relationship with alumni, and seek their participation in achieving excellence. Alumni are often keen to play their part not just because the enhanced brand name of the university helps them professionally, but also because they have nostalgic memories and feel emotionally connected to the place. Alumni can help a university by mentoring current students, organising recruitments and internships, building collaborations between their employers and the faculty members at the university, and giving funds.

Stay Connected To have a fruitful relationship with alumni, it is necessary that the university knows who they are, where they are, and what are they doing. When a student body graduates, universities must collect contact information from them. This should include all the e-mail addresses that the student may be using, phone numbers, where the student is going to (job or higher education), and


Edu Tech January 2010

a permanent address. Periodically (once or twice a year) they must verify and update the database. If they lose touch with an alumnus, her batchmates should be approached for updates. Rather than just approaching alumni for funds, universities should engage with them in multiple ways for a broader and deeper relationship. Alumni should be involved as advisors and given representation in various administrative and academic bodies. They should be made to feel that this engagement is making a real difference in achieving excellence. Universities usually publish newsletters to keep stakeholders informed of their activities. These newsletters should also be sent to all alumni. These days newsletters can be electronic to cut costs. Websites can become a repository of previous newsletters. They could also produce newsletters specifically targeted at alumni, which may include news about alumni themselves. Different people prefer to communicate in different ways and these preferences must be respected. While some prefer printed materials others prefer e-mails or direct phone calls. University’s alumni relations office must also have an active presence on various social networking and professional networking sites, and use services like Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. Putting in a professional alumni relations software can also help. Alumni could also be divided into

Dheeraj Sanghi

subgroups other than batches. While geographical groupings could help in organising local events, industry groupings could facilitate professional networking. Organising large scale on-campus reunions is the most effective mechanism to ensure emotional bonding. However, if these are held too frequently, many people will not attend them. If they are held too infrequently, the bonding may be lost. Typically, once a decade is a good frequency.

Raise Funds When it comes to fundraising, most alumni make small contributions. Very few make large contributions. While it will consume significant resources to approach large number of alumni for small contributions, it is still extremely important to have a large number of people “connected” with their alma mater and in a habit of giving gifts. Those who make a small Rs 500 contribution from their first salary are more likely to contribute a million rupees when they are able to do so. “Catch them young,” as the saying goes. For those who are likely to make small contribu-



who makes the contribution, the option to name the initiative after him (or another person of his/ her choice). The fundraising office should have several alternatives to offer to any alumni who shows an interest in giving a gift. The office must do a detailed background study before approaching a potentially large donor. It should try to find out the net worth of the individual, and any other major philanthropic gift that the person may have given. The US has professional agencies, who do the background research for universities. In India, one may have to use more informal mechanisms. However, information gathering should be discreet, since the university should not be perceived as an intelligence gathering entity. The office should also collect details specific to the student days of that alumni in the institute. Which hostel did they stay in? What activities did they participate in? Which faculty members supervised their projects? This information will help in preparing a specific proposal for an alumni. A person who was always on the playground is more likely to give a larger gift for improving sports infrastruc-

o have a fruitful relationship with alumni, it is necessary that the university knows who they are, where they are, and what are they doing

tions— there can be funds for specific activities. There should be options so that people can contribute to what they care about. But the options should not be so many that every option gets a very small amount. If that happens, the stakeholders at the university would not be excited to maintain alumni relations, and alumni might not see how their funds are making a difference. It is best to start with fewer options, gauge alumni interest, and then slowly increase the number options. A good alumni management system would allow such appeals and campaigns to be personalised. For alumni who can contribute larger amounts, there should be customised options. These could include establishing student scholarships, starting a new department, constructing a new building or a research facility, or even setting up a “Chair Professor” position. It is important that the university is flexible and offers the alumni,

ture. If the person did a research project with a particular faculty member, inviting that faculty member during the meeting with that alumnus, could help in creating the right mood. It is extremely important to take quick decisions on gifts and facilitate permissions from Income Tax Office to help donors who require Income Tax rebates. The other important thing is to keep the alumni informed of how their contribution has made a difference. Send them updates, if the impact is on a long term (like a building construction). If it has directly helped an individual (like in case of student scholarship), get that person to write a personal note to the person who gave that gift. To summarise, universities should have a professionally run alumni relations office, create a good database, preferably with an alumni management software. Communication is extremely important. Plan a broad and deep engagement with alumni, and do not focus only on gifts.

Dheeraj Sanghi Dr Sanghi is the director of Laxmi Narayan Mittal Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur. He is currently on leave from IIT Kanpur, where he is a professor of computer science. He has a BTech in computer science from IIT Kanpur and an MS and PhD from University of Maryland, USA

January 2010 Edu Tech


case study


Thin Is In Pepperdine University has adopted a low cost computing model using affordable thin clients


epperdine is a leading university in California with over 8,300 students spread over two campuses in Southern California. Like most institutes of higher education Pepperdine’s IT budget was tight, while demand for on-campus computing continued to grow. With its current computers nearing end-of-life, Pepperdine recognised that it needed a flexible computing option for administrative, learning lab, library, classroom and public settings. “Like every university, we had a limited budget. We had to find a computing solution that was affordable, secure, reliable and efficient, and met our varied requirements,” says Thomas Hoover, director of Instructional Technology Support at Pepperdine.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Institution Pepperdine University, California, USA TYPE Liberal arts University with separate colleges of Law, Education, Psychology, Business Management, and Public Policy Business Challenge Meeting the computing needs of different learning environments across the University while facing a constrained IT budget

The Right Solution

Solution Deploying low cost, secure, reliable and efficient thin clients from NComputing

“We knew that low-cost desktop PCs were still too costly, and took up too much room on already crowded work areas,” says Hoover. “We checked out traditional thin clients, but the prices weren’t competitive, either.” Research

Benefits Hardware costs reduced by 70%. Reduced demand on IT support

Edu Tech January 2010


led Pepperdine’s IT team to CDW, a leading provider of technology products and services. CDW suggested the NComputing virtual desktop solution. The NComputing solution works because today’s PCs are so powerful that the vast majority of applications only use a small fraction of the computer’s capacity. NComputing’s virtualisation software and hardware tap this unused capacity so that it can be simultaneously shared by multiple users. Each user’s monitor, keyboard, and mouse connect to the shared PC through a small and very durable NComputing access device. The access device itself has no CPU, memory, or moving parts — so it’s rugged, durable, and easy to deploy and maintain. By spreading the cost of the shared computer over many users, schools can provide up to four times the number of stations for the same money. After running the numbers, the Pepperdine IT team decided to pilot the NComputing L-series solution in its International Studies and Languages (ISL) School’s computer lab. “The L230’s built-in microphone and stereo-out ports meant we could support the audio-visual needs of our language labs, and the USB port let students save their work to a flash drive. The L230’s support for widescreens also opened up interesting possibilities for communicating with our students and faculty. Our pilot showed that NComputing would meet our performance requirements.”

Saving Time and Money “We set up 28 NComputing L230s with flat screens in the language lab connected to three dedicated PCs. The performance is excellent, and we haven’t had any problems,” says Prakash Sharma, Pepperdine’s IT Manager, Graduate Campus Support. “We also mounted the L230s to the back of the new flat-screen monitors in the lab. That made a huge difference in available space for students’ books and papers.” “If we had outfitted the lab with just low-cost PCs, the hardware costs alone would have been $24,800. With NComputing we did the entire deployment for

case study

just $7,100. That’s an incredible savings,” adds Hoover. Pepperdine soon tested other applications with the solution. “New student orientation is usually a very tough week for us. We offer all new students free configuration and virus scanning for their laptops,” says Hoover. “Setting up and tearing down for this service took hours and hours.” Lines were usually long, and the students often got aggravated with the wait. We decided to set up 14 NComputing L230s as access stations for the students to use when completing the required forms online. We were able to process 650 students in just four days, with no lines. We figure the deployment saved us at least $8,400 in hardware costs in just this instance. With time and labour savings in set up and tear down, we actually saved thousands more.” Pepperdine found other innovative ways to leverage the solution. “We hooked up a projector from a flash drive connected to the L230’s USB port, and it worked great,” says Hoover. “That eliminated the need for another laptop— another huge savings. Now we’re looking at putting L230s with a mouse and keyboard in some of our study rooms connected to existing 37-inch LCDs so students can work on their PowerPoint presentations. We’re also using the L230s for digital signage.” Pepperdine has continued to deploy the solution across its campuses, saving thousands more in hardware costs. “We now only have to maintain three PCs in our ISL lab, instead of 28. Demand for IT support has been dramatically cut. That has freed up our time and budget so we can focus on instructional technologies, a strategic initiative for Pepperdine,” says Hoover. “We definitely plan to expand this deployment into every classroom across the campus.”

Advancing the Enterprise of Education March 2010, New Delhi

India Higher Education Conclave will bring together senior leaders from a variety of private higher education institutions to consider new approaches to fostering and harnessing innovation, creativity and technology to drive the growth of their institutions. It will also help them develop an agenda for their institutions to capitalise on these emerging opportunities. The agenda of the conclave will be led by key stakeholders and will involve expert analysis, in-depth panel discussions, focused breakout sessions and insightful keynotes.

What’s Online To read more case studies and whitepapers go to the EDU website Write in your views and opinions about the stories in this magazine or on any other issues relating to higher education. Send them to the Editor, EDU at

January 2010 Edu Tech




C.S. Venkata Ratnam

fact file Name: C.S. Venkata Ratnam Current engagement: Director, International Management Institute

things he likes: Book: Panchtantra Movie: Chak De! India Food: South indian Music: Instrumental (Santoor) Pastime: Playing with his 13 year-old dog, Smarty Holiday: Geneva

A Leap Into The Unknown Inherent confidence in his abilities enabled this man to give up a secure public sector job to tackle new challenges in the private domain By Smita polite


Edu Tech January 2010


hen Dr C.S. Venkata Ratnam joined a little known management institute, that ran its office from the basement of a small building in South Delhi, he knew he was taking a risk. He had quit a secure position as a professor in the highly reputed Administrative Staff College Hyderabad, had little money in the bank, and was moving away from the comfort

of his home state. What worried him the most was whether he would be accepted by the students. Just a decade earlier he had been rejected for a lecturer’s position by a college in Delhi. “You are such a small fellow. The North Indian students will tower over you, and you will

by DR Lohia

Date of birth: March 20, 1950

C.S. Venkata Ratnam

have trouble disciplining them,” the interview board had told the soft spoken, short and wiry MCom graduate from Andhra university. In contrast, the International Management Institute (IMI) welcomed him to help to grow the institute. Probably the fact that Ratnam was now armed with a PhD and the distinction of being one of the youngest readers at Andhra University had something to do with it. Ratnam moved alongwith his wife Chandra and two-year-old son Kalyan to a room in the institute’s building. “It was a small team and everyone knew everybody. It was easy to feel at home,” says Ratnam.

Home Away from Home But, it took some years before he could actually feel at home. Though IMI had just seven permanent faculty they were all from universities like Harvard, Michigan, the IIMs and IITs— except for Ratnam. “I was the underdog, and I knew I had to work harder,” he reminisces. Ratnam was no stranger to hard work. He grew up in a lower middle class family in a coastal town Kakinada in Andhra. He was still in school when he learnt shorthand and typing to prepare for a Company Secretary’s job. In college he held a part-time job. Everyday after classes he would report for work, which would finish late in the evening. However, Ratnam does not consider his growing up years as a struggle. “In fact, it was a lot of fun. I owe it probably to my mother, who brought up my elder brother my sister and me with a lot of love and care,” he recalls fondly. It was probably that same sense of security inculcated in childhood that held him in good stead. He saw IMI as an opportunity to learn from people who were better than him. “If one is insecure he will not only not grow but will also not let others grow,” points out Ratnam. IMI’s culture of freedom and experimentation helped Ratnam get rid of his initial diffidence. “There was no bureaucracy and the directors were very approachable. This helped in building an entrepreneurial spirit among the faculty and made them excel. Many well known directors of top management

institutes are former faculty of IMI,” observes Ratnam. It was the close knit structure at IMI that kept Ratnam coming back to the institute despite short stints outside. In 2004, a group from Ratnam’s hometown asked him to help them by joining as the director of an institute they had set up in Vishakhapatnam— Gitam Institute of Foreign Trade. “My director suggested that I retain my position in the institute. I would shuttle between Vishakhapatnam and Delhi as I was full time employed with IMI, and yet a full time director at GIFT. That’s IMI, it allows flexibility,” points out Ratnam. The only time he actually left the


row.” There was not a murmur of protest among the faculty as they were unanimous in their opinion that the decision was long overdue. “I am a very friendly and tolerant person open to new ideas, but that does not mean that my tolerance can be taken for granted,” says Ratnam. His students can vouch for his friendliness. “I do not like to treat my students as kids. They learn more if you treat them at par,” he says. As a teacher he never believes in taking centrestage. To bring the best to the students at IMI he introduced the concept of team lectures and made sure that he was never indispensable. He brought in people who had better knowledge of the industry than

“If one is insecure he will not only not grow but will also not let others grow” institute was when he joined IMT Ghaziabad to shape a specialised programme in Human Resources (HR) in mid 2004. At that time Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) was the only course offered at IMI. “Unfortunately most PGDM students consider HR a useless and boring subject. The idea of working with students, who were interested in HR appealed to me,” he explains.

Friendly, But Firm Ratnam has had to take a stand on many occasions as a director, but he always remembers to “brief the boss”. His decisions may be tough, but they are always reasonable. He once had to sack a faculty at the end of the day by sending a note saying, “Your services are no longer required. Please do not come from tomor-

him, to add value to the class. When Ratnam joined IMI as a director in 2005, one of the first things he did was start an HR programme. He is the first director in IMI’s history who is also a former faculty. “I knew it was a recognition of my hard work as there were other people equally worthy of the post. I was careful to not act like a new broom trying to sweep,” he confesses. Since he took over as director, IMI has tripled its revenue, its executive programme has become stronger, the faculty size increased from 20 to 40. Recently the institute also announced a new campus in Bhubaneshwar. Though Ratnam might treat his laurels lightly, and declare that life has been kind to him, the truth is that this “small fellow” has made a large impact in management education. January 2010 Edu Tech


“Under the right circumstances groups are remarkably intelligent” James Surowiecki, Author

Book Review

The Wisdom of Crowds Why the many are smarter than the few By Ranjani Iyer Mohanty We’ve all heard these terms — unruly mob, herd mentality, bandwagon effect, peer pressure, collective hysteria — and have agreed with them. But, James Surowiecki presents a different perspective in this book. As he puts it, “Under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.” Surowiecki first identifies the conditions needed for a crowd to be wise: diversity, independence, decentralisation, and summarisation. Individuals with diverse perspectives are needed to conceptualise the problem in different ways, to encourage independence of thought within the group, and to produce a varied set of possible solutions. Independent thinkers are needed to arrive at their own decisions without being unduly swayed or worried by the actions of others. Collective wisdom should be arrived at without a quest for consensus or compromise. Surowiecki goes on to explain that, given the right conditions, collective wisdom can be used to tackle basically three types of problems: a) Cognition problems: those that have one right answer, e.g., the height of the Qutab Minar.

b) Coordination problems: those that require people to determine how to coordinate with each other to achieve a common goal, e.g., driving in chaotic Delhi traffic. c) Cooperation problems: those that require people to do what they may not want, e.g. paying taxes. Surowiecki derived the idea of the wisdom of crowds from watching how the markets worked, but soon saw that it had implications for all aspects of society. The book is littered with anecdotes showing the wisdom of crowds, such as in judging the weight of an ox at an English county fair, locating a lost US submarine, the audience lifeline in the TV show ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ and the accuracy of a Google search. The book also contains examples of the stupidity of the select, such as the homogenous groups that planned the Bay of Pigs invasion and didn’t anticipate the attack on Pearl Harbour. A significant portion of the book pertains to the wisdom of crowds in the business world. While The Wisdom of Crowds is a timely idea and certainly worth exploring further, the book itself doesn’t always hang together. Surowiecki’s explanation of the necessary condition of decentralisation is vague and he mentions the problem of cognition in the beginning but doesn’t clearly follow it through.

Author: James Surowiecki Publisher: WW Norton (December, 2009) Price: $24.95

New releases Globalizing Education, Educating the Local


Using the Medical Model in Education

This book offers a critical account of global discourses on education, arguing that these overblown ‘hypernarratives’ are neither economically, technically nor philosophically defensible. Their ‘mythic economic instrumentalism’ mimic rather than meet the economic needs of global capitalism in ways that the Crash of 2008 brings into vivid disarray.

David Turner examines commonly held beliefs about learning, knowledge and intelligence, and critically assesses claims that certain drugs can improve learning and memory. Medicine, and particularly neuroscience, appears to offer the kind of educational quick fixes that politicians and the public would love to have.

Author: Ian Stronach Publisher: Routledge (December 8, 2009) Price: $125.00

Author: David A. Turner Publisher: Continuum (January 6, 2010) Price: $140.00

Edu Tech January 2010



Join The Google Nexus With the unveiling of Google Nexus One the tease is finally over. Its spectacular screen and a clickable trackball give it amazing drool value The phone features Andorid 2.1 and has wallpapers which are not only animated but also interactive. For example with a ‘water’ background, ripples appear wherever you touch the screen. It has a 3.7-inch widescreen OLED touchscreen with a resolution of 800x480. The phone is 3G capable and supports WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1. It also features a digital compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and a secondary microphone for noise cancellation.

Price: $529

gADGETS Sweat In Style Have you been trying hard to find ways to stick to your exercise schedule? If yes, then Philips Activa MP3 Player could be the perfect gadget for you. It has a feature called TempoMusic that can search through your music library to match your exercise speed. While a fast number can keep you company on the treadmill, a slow one will pop up as soon as you shift to graceful yoga steps. Launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010 at Las Vegas, Activa will be available sometime in April.

Price: $130

Get Framed Combining a lustrous gloss-black finish with elegant inlaid rhinestones and an intuitive LED lighted touch-sensitive menu interface, Transcend’s PF810 is the perfect addition to any room or office. Designed as a true multimedia device that does more than simply display photos, PF810 is fully equipped to play back movies and videos. It also functions as a full-featured MP3 player and an FM radio.

Price: Rs 9,900

Practical and Pretty

Flip Over

Missing the smell and feel of your good old hardbound books? Don’t stress. If you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro then you can take a break from the digital world by wrapping it up in the latest Mac accessory from Twelve South. BookBook is a hardback leather case that is hand distressed to make every piece exclusive and different. It has zippers which look like bookmarks. If the MacBook disguised as a book idea hasn’t got you sold then pick it up just for its practical protective feature.

Motorola BACKFLIP’s QWERTY keyboard and high-res 3.1” HVGA screen lets you see more and respond faster. The reverse flip transforms BACKFLIP into a hands-free video player, music player, digital picture frame and alarm clock. Unveiled at CES 2010 the phone will be available sometime after March.

Price: $79.99

Price: $324 January 2010 Edu Tech


Perspective Madan Padaki

Co-Founder and CEO, MeritTrac Services

Are Online Exams The New Oxymoron? No way! In fact, this mode can help institutions get rid of their exam-related administrative nightmares, and go on to become a tautology


ndia is a land of examinations— we have exams to get into schools, into professional courses, to get corporate careers started and to keep progressing in the career, to drive, to sell insurance and even to marry. Almost 175 million exams are conducted annually in the higher education space, including entrance exams and end-term exams. Almost all are offline (paper-pencil). In my interactions with Controllers of Examination of several universities I have had an opportunity to got an insight into their dreams and nightmares. They dream of an exam season, when their exam processes are completely secure, and they can announce the results in a single day with complete accuracy (no reevaluation headaches!).When they don’t have to deal with logistics of transporting truckloads of papers, and are able to keep candidates happy by addressing the odd RTI query easily. The nightmares are, of course, the actual lives that they lead during any examination session! Despite the fact that paper-pencil exams have been improvised, polished, and perfected— they still have inherent design flaws that render complete security, accuracy, and instantaneous results a pipedream. Our experience, with delivering over 9 million exams, clearly indicates that the answer to these problems lies in realm of online examinations. Several exams have successfully


Edu Tech January 2010

migrated to the online mode. Manipal University and BITS Pilani have been conducting online entrance exams since 2005, for around 100,000 candidates. Even state government-run Gujarat Technological University conducted an online entrance exam for MBA and MCA aspirants in July 2009. Around 23,000 candidates took this exam in 11 cities in Gujarat over 4 days and the exam reported a successful, first-attempt completion rate of 97.5%! CAT 2009, which has been dogged by several issues, has to be viewed from the perspective that 90 percent of the applicants were able to complete the test successfully. The issues in the remaining 10 percent hogged the media headlines and raised concerns on online testing. Having talked to students and understood the ground-level issues, I believe that the problems are largely related to planning and execution rather than any systemic technology failures.

The problems are largely related to planning and execution rather than any systemic technology failures

Any large-scale, high-stakes exam’s success rides on the following factors: Online testing engine: It is critical to have a platform built for the Indian context. Can the test be completed even if there are power outages, weak networks, poor internet connectivity? Are the test screens easy to comprehend? Infrastructure readiness: It has to work through extensive full load dryruns (Terminals, Power, Backup servers). Centres have to be sanitised before exams. There are bound to be teething problems. The trick is to iron out all issues well before the D-day Trained proctors: Test administrators have to be candidate-friendly, trained on the system and the candidate interface, and able to handle any eventuality Candidate support services: Accessible help-desks with multi-modal support like telephone, mails, chat and SMS will go a long way in reducing stress levels when the exam process is new. Project management: Finally, an examination project is only as good as the project management that goes into planning the exam. The project management team has to seamlessly integrate all aspects of the exam, identify risks and mitigation plans. Madan Padaki is a BTech from University of Mysore and an MBA from SP Jain, Mumbai. He has worked with Wipro, Infosys and BFL Software (Japan). In 2000 he co-founded MeritTrac, India’s largest skills assessment company and was recognized as a winner of the NASSCOM Innovation Award 2007 & Red Herring Top 100 Asia Award.



EDUTECH January 2010 Issue (Volume 01, Issue 03)