A Meeting of Minds

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A Meeting of

Minds Nikhil Sinha, VC, Shiv Nadar University

SNU pioneers inter-disciplinary, four-year research-led programmes using international best practices P20



B.N. Jain, VC, BITS Pilani, on his love for technology P54


Leveraging social media to reach students P32


Using technology to improve student placements P40

FOREWORD Teaching the meaning of life…


“What we are teaching in our colleges and universities today is more a ‘love for jobs’ than any exploration of knowledge and learning”

he earliest universities were not set up to create managers, engineers, lawyers, accountants and programmers. Rather, higher education was meant to be an exploration of the meaning of life. Over time, it evolved into the study of theology, law and medicine. You would likely be offered a programme in one of these areas, if you had applied to Nalanda University 3,000 years ago. The next phase of development saw the evolution of the study of liberal arts -- more broadly, philosophy -which means “love of wisdom” in Greek. Most importantly, universities and colleges taught you how to learn rather than cramming you with what you must learn. What we are teaching in our colleges and universities in India today, is more a “love for jobs”, than any exploration of knowledge and learning. The problems are well-known and understood. The decline in the liberal arts, the narrowing focus of our programmes, and the primary emphasis on examinations and marks, have created legions of young men and women who have degrees, but are either unemployable or lacking in wisdom. It is great to see some new universities charting a course to address these problems. In this issue, we showcase the soon-to-be-launched Shiv Nadar University (SNU), being established with the vision to build a multi-disciplinary research-based institution. The hope is that SNU will create US-style broad-based undergraduate programmes that encourage inter-disciplinary exploration of knowledge, while providing specialisation in a major discipline through a four-year undergraduate degree programme. The Shiv Nadar Foundation has done exemplary work through its Abhigyan schools in UP by providing fully-funded, high-quality education to the most deserving students from its villages. I am sure the Foundation’s foray into higher education will be similarly game-changing. A similar fledgling effort was also launched by the International Foundation for Research and Education (IFRE) last month to promote multi-disciplinary higher education. The IFRE, of which I am a part, has launched the Young India Fellowship, a one-year programme for the exploration of multi-disciplinary knowledge domains for 58 of India’s most talented postgraduate men and women (see: youngindiafellowship.com). I hope these initiatives will rekindle the desire to explore the meaning of life in some of our students and help them become more complete young men and women who have the “love for wisdom”.

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha pramath@edu-leaders.com

July 2011  EduTech


Contents EDU july 2011

update 06 07 08 09




10 Rahul choudaha The B-schools Bubble 12 dheeraj Sanghi Teaching Tools for Gen iPod 14 Rishikesha T. Krishnan The Social Responsibility of Academics

Expertise 16 Aaron b. schwarz Choosing Land Sites

technology 32 The social campus Get to know how to leverage social media to reach out to your students 36 Tech Interview 37 Tech Tutes

administration 40 Placements Technology has come to the rescue of lower-tier cities in their efforts to get students the right jobs By Kavitha Srinivasa


“Hiring faculty is quite like selecting a prospective son-in-law or daughter-inlaw...” —Professor B. N. Jain Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani

academics 44 Social Responsibility Looking beyond classroom for inspiration

Global 2

EduTech  July 2011

corrigendum June 2011: Volume 2, Issue 6 The advertisers’ index inadvertently carried the incorrect spelling of Sungard. The mistake is regretted May 2011: Volume 2, Issue 5 In TLC for Teachers: 1) Professor M.S. Ananth has been wrongly referred as the former director of IIT Madras 2) A quote by Sumit Ghosh, “Sometimes, students learn because of the teacher. Sometimes, they learn despite the teachers...” has been wrongly attributed to Lucinda M. Finley.

perspective 54

Find out what’s happening in varsities around the world through The Chronicle of Higher Education 46 crisis of confidence threatens colleges Karin Fischer


Managing Director: Pramath Raj Sinha PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Anuradha Das Mathur Group Editor: R. Giridhar Editorial Director: Mala Bhargava Managing EDITOR: Sangita Thakur Varma consulting EDITOR: Inga Butefisch Assistant Editor: Smita Polite Assistant features Editor: Rohini Banerjee CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Aniha Brar SUB EDITOR: Ruhi Ahuja

cover Story

20 Rewriting the Book of Higher Education

DEsign Senior Creative Director: Jayan K. Narayanan Art Director: Binesh Sreedharan Associate Art Director: Anil V.K. Sr Visualiser: P.C. Anoop Sr Designers: Prasanth T.R., Anil T., Joffy Jose Anoop Verma, N.V. Baiju, Chander Dange & Vinod Shinde Designers: Sristi Maurya, Suneesh K. Shigil N. & Charu Dwivedi Chief Photographer: Subhojit Paul Photographer: Jiten Gandhi

Shiv Nadar University is all set to be an institution with a difference. From dual degrees to mandatory research by undergraduates, it is on a quest to change the paradigms of Indian higher education By Aniha Brar & Smita Polite

27 Nikhil Sinha The Founding VC of

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SNU on his commitment to quality education

30 Saurav Adhikari Senior Advisor

Shiv Nadar Foundation, on how they have adopted international best practices

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50 plans for a private, liberal-artsstyle college in britain Aisha Labi 51 thiel fellowship pays 24 talented students $100,000 not to attend college




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a meeting of

Minds Nikhil Sinha, VC, Shiv Nadar University

SNU pioneers inter-disciplinary, four-year research-led programmes using international best practices P20



B.N. Jain, VC, BITS Pilani, on his love for technology P54


Leveraging social media to reach students P32


Using technology to improve student placements P40

Cover Art: design: Joffy Jose photo : Subhojit Paul

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts before recycling

July 2011  EduTech


the case for an oPen digitaL camPus: Part one Working smarter. Working faster. Working more efficiently. That’s always been the promise of technology. But it hasn’t always been the reality. Today, technology on higher education campuses is pervasive, supporting academic and administrative functions well beyond student information or learning management. And while virtually every college and university now has a central IT organization to manage that web of supporting technologies, it seems a new piece is added to the puzzle board daily—challenging even the best IT organization with how to manage resources as effectively as possible. As a technology partner serving 1,800 institutions across the globe, we hear from our higher education customers every day about what they need to manage their campus communities more effectively. Our customers tell us that even while the technologies available to them have proliferated at a dizzying pace, there remain key shortcomings that hinder their ability to sustain and support their missions. Large, monoLithic erP systems. Increasingly our customers want to be more selective about the software they adopt—using only those systems or features or functions that help them pursue their institutional mission more effectively. They want that functionality when they need it—not six months or a year later. They want us to think harder about how we can make our systems more open, flexible, and standards-based. They want delivery options that don’t require an across-the-board purchase

of systems that don’t meet immediate institutional needs. In short, they want more choice. And that means radically rethinking how enterprise class systems are designed, developed, and deployed. costLy, time-consuming, and PainfuL imPLementations and uPgrades. Even the most well-orchestrated implementation comes hand-in-glove with opportunity costs, as your staff scrambles to fulfill its daily obligations while assessing needs, building policy, and mapping, transforming, and loading data into new systems or modules. While expert project planning and management can reduce implementation risk by allocating and using resources effectively, we know our customers need more: implementations that don’t drain critical resources or disrupt important priorities as well as upgrade processes that are simple, straightforward, and reliable, yet still accommodate the functionality you need to maintain your institutional distinctiveness. high costs to buiLd and maintain modifications. Over the years, higher education IT departments have tried to embrace a “one-size-fits-all” management philosophy about their ERP systems and other technology assets as a way to keep control of IT costs, manage upgrades more effectively, and provide a level of fiscal discipline to an everincreasing IT budget.

Today, the pace of change means those evolutionary shifts are happening more quickly than ever before. To date, the alternative has been a slew of costly and ultimately unmanageable modifications to your enterprise systems: small, and sometimes not so small, “tweaks” that address evolving needs, but that add up to higher ownership costs over the long term. Many of our customers tell us that it is time for a change. They want systems that evolve as their needs evolve. They want to know that they will be able to change or adapt business processes quickly. They want the ability to innovate, but they want to do it more easily, efficiently, and cost effectively. Long deLays before new features become avaiLabLe. Time to benefit. In a climate where resources are limited and time is money, waiting months, or even years, for a vendor to release the software innovation you need today makes no sense. But, for the most part, your enterprise systems still depend on a release methodology where new features and functionality are designed, developed, and then bundled into a major release and subsequent point releases. There are many ways to meet technology needs in a more timely fashion. One is to change the way that solutions are developed. In higher education, collaboration is essential to creating new knowledge. That kind of collaboration should be a key element in how we deliver solutions to you. And a more iterative and agile development process—where just the features that you need today are available to you more immediately—should be a part of any vendor’s technology portfolio. Limited abiLity to aLter or extend camPus systems. Today, your IT managers grapple with how to integrate disparate systems into your digital campus. But tomorrow

they will no longer be asking “how big can my IT grow?” but “how can my IT strategy support innovation?” And even more radically, “where will my IT live?” Our customers want a more open infrastructure, designed to scale easily and support new and emerging web services. And they want innovative ways to grapple with capacity—as the imprint of their data centers grow. inabiLity to deLiver the kind of exPeriences your education communities exPect. Really, that’s the bottom line—delivering a better experience to the community you serve. Your IT infrastructure is there to support that goal, not hinder it. Having a greater ability to extend services and support at levels expected by your “digital natives” is key. Our customers are looking for ways to flexibly and efficiently adopt modern technologies, mobile platforms, and more collaborative environments for teaching and learning. We’ve been listening and we think we have a few ideas. what’s next? At SunGard Higher Education, we have responded to these key drivers by introducing a vision and technology strategy that gives colleges, universities, and foundations unprecedented flexibility to shape how technology meets their evolving needs in a dynamic future. We call this vision the Open Digital Campus. Please watch this space for more information on our Open Digital Campus strategy and vision. And visit us at www.sungardhe.com/opendigitalcampus.

Prepared by SunGard Higher Education © 2011 SunGard. All rights reserved.

from the world of higher education

07 aid 07 research 08 proposal 08 report 09 revision sought 09 appeal & more

Highest NMC Honour to Google VP Dr Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google and one of the fathers of the internet, was awarded the prestigious NMC Fellows Award at the New Media Consortium Summer Conference, 2011, in Madison, Wisconsin on June 18. Cerf is the sixth recipient of the award. At Google, his job entails predicting technologies’ impact, encompassing artificial intelligence, environmentalism, advent of IPv6, and transformation of television industry.

DU Professor is New VC of Kashmir UnivERSITY

Collaboration: HRD Minister Kapil Sibal with German Federal Minister of Education and Research, Dr Annettee Schavan, in New Delhi

Meta University with Germany India has proposed hosting an Indo-German Education Summit this year to facilitate joint research programmes SET UP: Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, has proposed the establishment of a Meta university with Germany, saying, such varsities would be a step towards further collaborations in the higher education sector, between the two countries. He said that two to three Indian universities can partner with German universities to conduct degree level courses. The minister discussed the proposal during a meeting with the German Federal Minister of Education and Research Dr Annettee Schavan, in New Delhi. “Mutual recognition of degrees and diplomas awarded by educational institutions of both the countries will be extremely helpful in enhancing the mobility of students,” said Sibal. He also suggested hosting an Indo-German Higher Education Summit in November-December this year, to explore areas like development of junior faculty including doctoral and postdoctoral programmes and mutual recognition of qualifications, particularly in vocational education and joint research programmes.


EduTech  July 2011

Dr Talat Ahmad, noted geologist and professor, Delhi University, has been appointed as the new Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University. He takes over from Professor Riyaz Punjabi, who completed his tenure on January 6, 2011. Dr Ahmed has been a Fellow at the Indian National Science Academy, Indian Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. Besides, he has also been a post doctoral Fellow with three foreign universities: University of Leicester, UK, under the Government of India Fellowship; University of Cambridge under NERC Fellowship; and Nagoya University, Japan.

First University on Urban Affairs The Indian Institute of Human Settlements, India’s first university focussed on urban affairs, is building its `250-crore campus at Bengaluru. The 58-acre campus would be set up at Kengeri on the city outskirts. It will have a built-up area of about five lakh square feet, said Aromar Revi, executive head, IIHS. Planning for the first phase of the campus is in progress. The varsity expects to set global standards for efficient, economic and sustainable design, operations and maintenance.


India will Set Up 80 Institutions in Africa India’s total commitment over the next three years will be $5.7 bn to help Africa achieve its development goals aid: India will establish over 80 new institutions in diverse areas including agriculture and English language teaching for institutional capacity building in Africa, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He was speaking on the concluding day of the two-day Second AfricaIndia Summit at the African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abbaba. India’s total aid commitment to Africa would now be $5.7 bn in grants and lines of credit over the next three years. “We will establish over 80 new institu-

tions at the Pan-African, regional and bilateral levels in sectors such as agriculture, Towards Development: Prime Minister Manmohan rural development, Singh meeting the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 23, 2011 food processing, soil, water-testing laboratories, integrated textile cluster, weather forecasting, life and earth “The consolidation of our financial assissciences, information technology, vocatance consisting of grants and lines of credtional training, English languages centres it into a cohesive plan has begun to show and entrepreneurial development instiresults in projects of interest to Africa.” In tutes, in consultation with the African addition, India will offer 22,000 scholarUnion,” Singh said. ships and training slots to African students.

A Step Closer to Universe Matter Mystery RESEARCH: Experiments have shown that different flavours of neutrinos can spontaneously change into each other, a phenomenon called “neutrino oscillation”. Two types of oscillations have already been observed but in its first full period of operation, the T2K (Tokai-to-Kamioka) experiment has found evidence of a new type of oscillation (the appearance of electron neutrinos in a muon neutrino beam). If confirmed, this means that neutrinos can oscillate in every way possible. If oscillations of neutrinos and anti-neutrinos are different, this would be an example of CP-violation and explain why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe. Dr Gary Barker, University of Warwick said, “The T2K project has given us an intriguing hint that this third neutrino oscillation channel is present in nature – our job now is to collect much more data and work to further understand our detector in order to reach levels of precision that will put the conclusion beyond doubt.” The experiment ran from January 2010 to March 11, 2011. when it was dramatically interrupted by the Japanese earthquake.

global update


million has been invested in the project by the UK. Its physicists are playing a big role


scientists from 12 countries are part of the T2K experiment

July 2011  EduTech



Universities for Persons of Indian Origin The universities will focus only on innovation. 50% seats in each university will be reserved for Indian diaspora PROPOSAL: The Government of India has proposed to set up five universities in different Indian cities, including one in Bengaluru, for persons of Indian origin (PIO) to deepen its ties with the diasporas, said Didar Singh, Secretary in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, at the recentlyconcluded mini Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The secretary said that the idea was proposed two years ago and the

Wooing Diaspora: Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, addressing the first Press Conference on the ninth Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas-2011, in New Delhi on September 22, 2010. Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Dr A Didar Singh is also in the picture

universities will be set up under the Innovation Universities Bill. Since these universities will focus only on innovation, the students will not have to bother about passing exams or scoring good marks. The universities will be built in public-private partnership and 50 per cent of the seats will be reserved for PIO students. He also said that the

universities would serve as a platform for the diaspora youth to not only connect with their roots but also acquire excellent education and professional skills. PIO universities are in addition to the many other initiatives like Know India Programme and Study India Programme that India has undertaken to connect with its diaspora, Singh added.


Indian Higher-Ed to Grow at 15% CAGR report: According to a report by the RNCOS, a market research and information analysis company, the market size of higher education in the country will rise at 15 per cent CAGR and will cross US $22 bn by 2013. The report says that education is the most crucial investment and essential for India’s development and there exist ample opportunities for growth, diversification and investment in the sector. It also predicts increased investments in education by both public and private players. The report also forecasts that the annual student enrollment in higher education will witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7 per cent during 2011-13. The report further says that various factors like, availability of education


EduTech  July 2011

loan, growing demand for skilled personnel and e-learning, among others, will be the catalysts for growth in higher education sector. Currently, the Indian economy faces numerous challenges like low pedagogic quality and lack of investment to provide excellent quality education. But the rising economic growth will surge the demand for more engineers and management graduates and make the Indian higher education system lay emphasis on producing quality graduates. The report also presents an overview of the existing and required number of universities, technical education institutes and colleges in India.


AICTE Eligibility Cap Irks Karnataka Many students will be debarred from admissions, while colleges struggle to fill vacant seats revisionsought: Karnataka will be struggling to fill up vacant seats with approaching the All-India Council for many students debarred from pursuing Technical Education (AICTE) for revoengineering courses. Eligibility for SC/ST cation of the eligibility cap for admisstudents was also raised from 40 per cent sions to engineering coursto 45 per cent this year. As a es, which was raised from result, about 17,000 stuthe earlier 45cent to 50 per dents did not get CET rankcent. Due to this revised eliings. Raising the eligibility gibility slab for aggregate cap to 50 per cent will lead marks in marks in science subjects, to more vacant seats. Meanscience only 60,543 candidates are while, Higher Education subjects is the Minister V S Acharya said eligible for admission in new eligibility Karnataka this year, against that three new engineering the 71,639 in 2010. colleges will be opened in criteria for The raised bar would leave Karnataka, once the AICTE engineering the lower ranked colleges approves the proposals.


13 New Applications for Deemed University Status The UGC has set up expert panels to inspect campuses and assess if they deserve deemed university tag APPEAL: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has set up expert panels to inspect the campuses of 13 institutes seeking deemed university status, said a UGC source. Stricter criteria will be used to assess applications this year. Three applications have come from Uttar Pradesh, another three from Tamil Nadu, two each from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, and one each from Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. A huge controversy has been raging for the past few years over grant of deemed status to dozens of institutions that a review committee had condemned as undeserving. The HRD Ministry had set up a review committee in 2009, after petitioner Viplav Sharma approached the Supreme Court pointing to the proliferation of deemed universities and questioning their standards. Of the 130 such universities, the review committee had found 44 unworthy and recommended withdrawal of deemed status, while another 44 were given three years to correct their shortcomings.

voices “Education can no longer be considered a goal in itself, but rather it should be considered a powerful driver of socioeconomic change.” D PURANDESWARI, Minister of State for Higher Education, India

“As the cost of learning resources go up, people in higher education are going to be looking at ways to transfer knowledge digitally.” Dr Craig McDaniel, President, Georgia Northwestern Technical College

“In the media maelstrom which currently surrounds higher education funding, it’s easy to lose sight of the huge social, economic and cultural impact of universities.” Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities, UK

July 2011  EduTech



Rahul Choudaha

The B-schools Bubble


re Indian B-schools in a bubble, as some are claiming American colleges are? Joseph Schumpeter, in a recent article in The Economist entitled “The latest bubble?”, argues the American higher education bubble is already beginning to burst. He quotes PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel, “Higher education fills all the criteria for a bubble: tuition costs are too high, debt loads are too onerous, and there is mounting evidence that the rewards are over-rated.” This claim is also applicable to Indian B-schools. With more than 3,000 such schools in the country, India has three times more B-schools than the US. This difference becomes stark when one considers that the size of the Indian economy is one-tenth of the US economy. The result is poor quality education and an over supply of MBA graduates which, in turn, increase unemployability and under-employability among graduates. According to economists Karl Case and Robert Shiller, a bubble represents “a situation in which excessive public expectations for future price increases cause prices to be temporarily elevated”. In other words, a bubble simply represents an over-


EduTech  July 2011

estimation of future expected returns. Based on this simple definition, we can clearly see that Indian B-schools are in a bubble. On the demand side – from students and families – expectations of social prestige and career advancement from an MBA degree are reaching a level of irrational exuberance. Similarly, on the supply side, promoters’ expectations of earning easy money are also blown out of proportion.

Demand Side One of the characteristics of a bubble is “herd behaviour”. This can be seen in the large number of students who continue to aspire to an MBA degree. MBAs are perceived to offer a safe and rewarding career path. This perception, and accompanying herd behaviour, are largely driven by the salary war (read: inflated salaries) among B-schools and corresponding media frenzy associated with top pay packages. The social prestige associated with an MBA has also contributed to the demand for MBAs. One crude indicator is the matrimonial classifieds, where an MBA degree is often positioned as a measure of success and achievement. We can also see it when someone says that they have an MBA

Rahul Choudaha

vs MEd — we are already judging that the person with an MBA is “better” than one with an MEd These social stereotypes of MBAs as a measure of success have contributed to undue and irrational expectations for people to pursue them.

Supply Side On the supply side, given the appetite for MBA degrees, many entrepreneurs and politicians have seen an opportunity to make easy money. The barriers to entry to start a B-school are quite low, both in terms of financial and regulatory requirements. These barriers are even lower if one ignores the regulatory requirements. In addition, the emergence of new models – especially the one-year MBA and distance learning – have accelerated the supply of MBA programmes, many of which are not recognised by AICTE. The result is too many unrecognised, poor quality MBA programmes in the market. Given the readiness of prospective students to invest in their future, those offering MBA programmes have been increasing tuition fees at a clipping rate. Consider the tuition fee increase for a leading B-school like MDI, Gurgaon. The school increased the fee for a two-year PGDM program by 135 per cent in five years, from 3.6 lakh in 2006 to 8.5 lakh this year. This price increase clearly shows the ability of the market to absorb a high fee for a good MBA and paints a promising picture of the business model. While many new entrants hope to price their programmes in line with leading schools, they do not have the capacity or inclination to invest in quality.

Let’s Contain This Bubble Could we have avoided the dot-com bubble? Could we have avoided the housing bubble? Perhaps no. One of the biggest problems with bubbles is predicting and assessing whether we are in a bubble or not, and, even if we know about it, whether there is a painless process of preventing it. However, I believe there is enough evidence that Indian B-schools are in a bubble, and I propose three solutions to contain its expansion. First, both at the institutional and policy level, the need is to take a quality perspective and not just quantity perspective. Given that only 12 per cent of the addressable population has access to higher education, expansion remains a challenge. However, any expansion does not have to come at the expense of quality. Likewise, goals of institutional growth should be framed in the context of delivering quality. Second, information asymmetry should be decreased. Randall Kroszner, in his article “Asset


Indian B-schools are in a bubble. Expectations of social prestige and career advancement from an MBA degree are reaching a level of irrational exuberance as also promoters’ expectations of earning easy money Price Bubbles, Information and Public Policy”, notes that: “When a price seems to outstrip fundamentals, an investor logically asks whether it is a bubble or whether s/he does not have access to important information about fundamentals. So it is important that information is available not only to select individuals, but to the general public.” This also applies to B-schools, where higher standards of information disclosure to students and policy-makers should be enforced to enable informed decision-making. Finally, there needs to be a focus on fundamentals. The fundamental valuation of a stock or a house is based on its future stream of payment or earning potential. Likewise, the fundamentals of management education are related to knowledge, skills and abilities, in line with societal and business needs. Institutions need to start questioning whether they are adequately preparing their students. Do these schools want to go down in history as having educated the leader of an Enron or of a GE; as a Tri-Valley University or a Harvard University? Are they contributing to expanding the B-school bubble or containing it? Bubbles have long existed around the world, and they inevitably burst with severe damage to individuals, society and the economy. It’s time we collectively make our best efforts to reduce the damage from the Indian B-schools bubble. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters

Rahul Choudaha A higher education specialist based out of New York, Dr Choudaha blogs on www.DrEducation.com and specialises in strategic management of higher education, institution building, collaborations and market development. He holds a PhD in higher education from the University of Denver, an MBA from NITIE, Mumbai and BE from Jabalpur University. He can be reached at rahul.choudaha@eduleaders.com

July 2011  EduTech



Dheeraj Sanghi

Teaching Tools for Gen iPod


he shortage of teachers notwithstanding, the content, quality, delivery and reach of classroom lectures can be improved by using technology and online resources. Televised lectures, video-conferencing, virtual classes and video downloads can be used to make instruction engrossing and interactive. Higher education today is beset with quality faculty crunch. A lot has been written about it, including a couple of articles in the previous issues of EDU, where the authors have argued that we have little option but to use technology to extend the reach of the limited faculty. In the 80s and 90s, several attempts were made to record lectures. The recordings were initially distributed as video cassettes, but as technology progressed, we started providing the lectures in VCD and DVD formats. Now classroom lectures can be downloaded from the internet. Lectures have also been aired on dedicated television channels and the trend continues. However, the quality of such videos leaves much to be desired. When recorded in a studio setting, the absence of


EduTech  July 2011

students makes the lectures appear artificial and lacklustre; and when actual classroom recordings are used, the lights and camera angles impact the visual quality adversely.

Make Lectures Interactive Experts, however, have diagnosed the problem as lack of interaction between the teacher and the taught in such indirect mediums. As we all know, teaching is an interactive art. A good teacher, instead of standing at the podium and delivering a lecture, actively elicits students’ involvement and thus, sustains their interest. Without interaction in class, students soon lose interest. Experts suggest that a classroom lecture should be beamed live to distant locations with at least one online link — chat room, video conferencing, etc., — to enable students to ask questions and interact with the online teacher. Such attempts made earlier faced quality issues as the technology was not that advanced at the time as now. But with the strides that technology has taken in recent years, online students can become a part of the virtual

Dheeraj Sanghi

classroom. They can watch the lecturer, the board and the presentation material, as clearly as the students in the local lecture hall. However, distance education based on video conferencing has its limitations. The cost of setting up audio-visual equipment at multiple locations is still prohibitive. The timetable of different institutions also needs to be synchronised, for lectures of one institute to be available for the students of other. This is not practical at all times. The curriculum of all the institutes involved in such a setting will have to be same as well. Again, this may not be possible. Also, a lecture with an audience of 1000 students, whether local or remote, cannot be truly interactive. Hence, video conferencing as an interactive classroom cannot be scaled up beyond a point. And, if interaction is going to be limited or non-existent, why spend a significant amount of resources on this model? Why not go back to what we were attempting in the 90s, video recorded lectures that can be played anytime, anywhere?

Innovate for Gen iPod Recently, I visited an institute in New Zealand and watched an instructor taking a class. He would take short breaks to show videos on related topics. He had interwoven his lecture with these videos so seamlessly that the overall learning experience was excellent. The videos were mostly downloaded from YouTube. He told me that he searched for relevant videos that blended perfectly with his own lecture plan. Of course, he was there to answer any questions that the students had. So, it was not a passive session, but a very much interactive one. The video insertions effectively broke the monotonic delivery of the lecture, and therefore, the students were more attentive throughout the duration of the class. The instructor also made another interesting point, calling today’s youth the “iPod” generation, that is always listening to music. They listen to a different voice every few minutes on their iPods, and get bored if they have to hear the same voice for 50 minutes at a stretch, he explained. A lecture interspersed with video caters to their need to hear different sounds, the instructor said.

Enrich Teaching After this experience, I visited the websites of the best universities in the world and found that all of them have video lectures available for downloading and viewing. I watched a number of them and realised that these were a great resource for learning.


Experts suggest that classroom lectures should be beamed live to distant locations with at least one online link — chat room, video conferencing, etc., — to enable students to ask questions This brought me to the realisation that a new model for enhancing learning, using technology, seems to be emerging. The instructor is not dependent on only one source, and the differences in the curriculum are no longer important. There is no need to synchronise the timetable. The infrastructure needed in the lecture hall is only a projector. The instructor can download the videos on his laptop, or if the internet connection is good and reliable, show it directly in the class. The downloaded content or the links could be put up on the course website for reference. The videos can be short, 5-10 minutes, embedded into a longer lecture, or of 50-55 minutes and can be used as replacement for the lecture, but still be an interactive one.

Teacher is still the King The real strength of this model is that a local instructor can strengthen and improve the quality of his teaching. But it is still the teacher’s responsibility to teach those parts of the course for which no good videos are available. Also, the lecturer has to manage interactions in the class, and assignments, projects, etc., are also his/her responsibilities. As such, the instructor continues to have the respect of the class and this aids learning. The other major strength of this model is that it works to improve the quality of learning by both an average instructor and an excellent one. A good teacher, too, can use these resources to enrich the classroom experience of his/her students. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters

Dheeraj Sanghi Dr Sanghi is the former director of Laxmi Narayan Mittal Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur. He is a professor of computer science at IIT, Kanpur. Dr Sanghi has a BTech in computer science from IIT Kanpur and an MS and a PhD from University of Maryland, USA . He can be reached at dheeraj.sanghi@eduleaders.com

July 2011  EduTech



Rishikesha T. Krishnan

The Social Responsibility of Academics


ilton Friedman, of the Chicago School of Economics, and guru of both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher is best remembered for his famous quote on the role of business in society: “The business of business is business”.

I was recently reminded of Friedman’s views when invited to speak on academic social responsibility, or “ASR”, at a seminar. When I first heard the topic I was intrigued – isn’t almost all the work we do as academics, for social good? Teaching the next generation of citizens; giving them the skills and knowledge they require to take the country forward; helping them attain gainful employment – aren’t these all enhancing social welfare? On deeper reflection, I realised that higher education carries a heavy burden. On the one hand, we are expected to convert the nation’s demographic dividend into a sustainable competitive advantage. On another, by implementing the government’s reservation policies, we seek to redress social discrimination. Some expect us to be in the vanguard of inculcating values and creating caring citizens. Others, like minister, Jairam Ramesh, expect us to advance the boundaries of knowledge.

Trade-offs and Expectations Rapid expansion in the past two decades has come at the expense of quality,


EduTech  July 2011

particularly in engineering education. Providing higher quality is likely to make higher education more expensive and thus more difficult to access. Knowledge creation can be an expensive activity. A recent report in The Economist pointed out how the focus of the tenure system on research has resulted in low productivity of faculty in other areas – most notably teaching – resulting in high and possibly unsustainable costs in higher education. At the same time, stakeholder expectations vary. In India, the public measures institutions only by the number of students graduating and the employment opportunities open to them. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has tended to share this method of assessment. For example, in the case of the IIMs their focus has been on the number of students enrolled in the regular two-year PGP (MBA), to the exclusion of almost every other indicator. But assessment by academic peers, whether through national or global accreditation, is putting increased emphasis on the knowledge-creation dimension.

ASR & the Individual Professor Social responsibility becomes even more complex at the level of the individual academic. A professor’s

Rishikesha T. Krishnan

role includes teaching subject, teaching life skills, advising and being a good role model. S/he has to work at continuous self-improvement, pedagogical improvement and research and knowledge-creation. In a transitional society such as ours which is beset by a range of national challenges, academics also tackle issues outside the boundaries of academia. These could be akin to the efforts of Jagdeep Chhokar and Trilochan Sastry in the area of election reforms or Anil Gupta in relation to support for grassroots innovators. Many academics have written op-eds drawing attention to critical national issues that may have otherwise not come under the radar. Others have worked in rural and social development like Ravi Matthai in Jawaja. In India, many of us have accepted a broader definition of academic social responsibility. Thus, faculty also take on tasks of administrators. For example, admissions, including preparation of tests for both the IITs and IIMs, have been managed primarily by faculty . From time to time, academics have played pivotal roles at the national level as well. In the late 1960s, Professor M G K Menon moved from heading the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) to set up a national agency, the Electronics Commission. A few years later, Professor Satish Dhawan took the reins of the Indian Space Research Organisation in the wake of the untimely death of Vikram Sarabhai. More recently, faculty colleagues have been playing important roles in myriad government committees across the spectrum, and even as regulators. IIMA Professor Jayant Verma was a full-time member of SEBI some years ago and our IIMB colleague, V Ranganathan, recently joined TRAI as a part-time member. In these roles they are valued not only for their technical expertise but also for the objective, external perspective they bring. Then there are the contributions of academics like Andre Beteille and Jean Dreze to the UPA government’s National Advisory Council and its flagship initiatives like the Right to Information Act and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. Who can forget these? Another important arena where professors have gone well beyond their defined role is in corporate governance. Since the new corporate governance regulations came into effect in 2005, several senior academics have been inducted onto boards as independent directors.

ASR Vs AR As an occasional teacher of topics related to corporate social responsibility, I have been


In a transitional society such as ours, beset by a range of national challenges, academics could legitimately use their stature and independence to tackle issues outside the boundaries of academia uncomfortable with the “S” in the term. The notion of CSR distract us from corporations’ core responsibilities, such as following the laws of the land, protecting the environment and treating people fairly. (Note that even Milton Friedman’s restricted notion of social responsibility includes playing by the rules of the game and not indulging in deceit or fraud.). As long as companies undertake corporate philanthropy or community welfare programmes, they are somehow absolved of their other responsibilities. Similarly wouldn’t we be better off focusing on “academic responsibility”(AR) rather than ASR? The primary AR of institutions are to provide a good education to their students, without indulging in any malpractices; to treat all their students and teachers with dignity; and to create an environment for creation and sharing of knowledge without hindrance. The primary AR of faculty is to create and disseminate knowledge effectively; to stay abreast of their respective domains; and to commit to continuous improvement in all these dimensions. Academic responsibility, at least for those institutions with aspirations to international stature or to be world class, must include creating knowledge. Both institutions and individuals can broaden the scope of their responsibilities but, ideally, only once their basic responsibilities have been discharged. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters

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 engineering-economic systems from Standford University, and a PhD from IIM Ahmedabad. He can be reached at rishikesha.krishnan@ eduleaders.com

July 2011  EduTech


By Aaron B. Schwarz asktheexpert@edu-leaders.com

Land Ahoy! Beware of Pitfalls


electing a piece of land to build a new campus is not a cakewalk. It calls for due diligence encompassing legal to climatic considerations and serious thought. A number of factors, both obvious and hidden, need to be investigated thoroughly before you fix your sights on a site. Land Selection Acquiring land is typically one of the first steps taken by the founders of a proposed institution. While this is a very important factor for the early implementation of a project, it is often accomplished too early and/or without the benefit of established critical criteria. A land decision taken without much thought can quickly turn this early start into a classic example of two steps forward and three steps backwards. A poor land choice can result in significantly higher project costs, major schedule delays, as well as other impacts that will require mitigation. It is therefore recommended that founders seek professional advice before finalising a particular site for their new campus. Beyond basic real estate financial acumen, there are legal, technical and other factors that need to be considered carefully. Following is a brief descriptive checklist of issues that you must factor in while purchasing property.

Environmental Concerns Unknown environmental issues are notorious for causing both rising costs and delays. It is imperative to know if there are any adverse environmental


EduTech  July 2011

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 the the United States and other countries. He is currently involved in designing some university projects in India

conditions existing on the site. These are not always visible and can include contaminated soil and/or water that require pre-testing. Some good, quick indicators of a potential issue are to look into how the site was previously used. If it was an industrial site or a dump of any sort, then it is likely that the existing conditions are less than optimal. The legal requirements for acquiring environmentally sensitive sites are now more stringent. In addition, people too have become environmentally conscious. Therefore, it is not advisable to move forward with the purchase of a land, if there is an existing condition of concern. Environmental issues can also refer to natural resource assets existing on a site that need to be or should be protected. A forested site of mature trees, or an area with considerable wetlands and/

or important wildlife habitat, should make you pause and reconsider your decision. As it often involves disturbing the natural habitat, and may also potentially reduce the actual buildable area. As sustainable as our new campuses are, there is still an impact caused by construction on a site, and this must be considered. We must ensure that the positive impacts outweigh negative impacts. These impacts are not necessarily limited to the site that is under consideration. For example, a site may be proximate to an important watershed region and its drainage patterns may affect the quality of the water system. In such cases, the measures that need to be taken regarding water run-off and waste-water management may be more costly and complicated than perceived by the uninitiated. It is also important to understand how the site under consideration lies relative to the flood plain. What is the topography of the site? Is it a sloped site that makes the development interesting or does it require costly gymnastics? Are all the areas on site accessible or are some of the site slopes inhibiting movement from one area to another? Are some slopes too steep to build on? These and other such issues need to be taken into account before making the purchase decision.

Climatic Conditions It is clear that any site should be analysed for how it is impacted during the monsoon season. How the site drains and what drains on to any given site, must be understood in advance. Are there issues of flooding due to proximity to rivers, seas, or other tributaries that are close by, but not adjacent to the site under consideration? There are other climatic conditions that should also be checked for both positive and negative impacts. What is the prevailing wind direction? Does it bring with it excessive hot air, sand or smells from adjacent uses? Will any of this involve costly processes for mitigation or are they obstacles that will be difficult to overcome? On the opposite end, you must also consider the potential benefits from such natural conditions like for example, can the wind be harnessed for power or for improving possibilities of natural ventilation?

Zoning and Easements Surprisingly, this is one of the most under-studied


By Anilt

Aaron B. Schwarz

Lowdown on Land It is not advisable to move forward with the purchase of a land if there is an existing condition of concern that has not yet been legally resolved

aspects of any site, and yet it is fundamental to a location’s viability to accommodate campus development. A list of questions to consider under this category includes: 1. Are the intended uses allowed on the site? For a campus this may go beyond academic uses and include residential, commercial, and research. It needs to be clarified how local zoning interprets these uses and if they are all considered academic, or are they ancillary, or defined independently. Are there any restrictions on these uses? 2. What are the setbacks required on the site and what can be included in the setback area (i.e. roads, parking, landscape buffers, etc.)? Do these setbacks apply in the same manner below grade? 3. Are there any easements running through the site and if so, what are the restrictions that they may impose? Time and again, it is suggested that these regulations are fungible and time and again, in the final analysis, they are not. 4. Are there specific height restrictions that will cause issues? Remember, buildable area is only one part of the equation. Other restrictions or requirements can prevent one from utilising the full buildable area allowed on a site, if there are mandates such as amount of open space required. Land costs are often set upon calculations based on allowable buildable area. However, if this calculated buildable area cannot be used, then the evaluation method is faulty. After considering all these factors, it is better to look at the area of the property that can actually be built upon, and then July 2011  EduTech



Aaron B. Schwarz

If Vastu is important to the stakeholders, then it needs to be studied from the start to understand how the site can be accessed and how its typology may be in concert with it evaluate if the total required buildable area fits within the reduced area.

Site Access How the site is accessed by users, including services, is very important. Can the road systems leading to the site accommodate the traffic that the campus development will generate? Is there current or proposed public transportation that will help to lessen personal vehicle traffic? We all try to envision a pedestrian campus where there are no polluting vehicles. This is a strong and important thought that we must hold on to, though implementing it will take time. Is the site accessible for construction? There are many sites, especially urban, where the necessary space needed for construction activity is quite limited due to restrictions. Beyond the footprints of the buildings to be constructed, there needs to be ample space for construction equipment, lay down areas for materials, shelter for site personnel including the migrant work population.

Soil Conditions Soil conditions impact construction costs. They determine the appropriate structural foundation systems which have different costs. In addition, soil conditions, such as presence of rock or water, also determine the costs or viability of below grade space for basements. While structured parking above grade may still not count towards allowable buildable area, it most likely will count against ground coverage.

Adjacent Development It is important to know what construction or activity is currently occurring or is in the pipeline around the site. What kinds of development and usages are likely to happen? Are they compatible or will they be nuisances? What moderating mea-


EduTech  July 2011

Lowdown on Land A forested site of mature trees, or an area with considerable wetlands and/or important wildlife habitat, should make you pause and reconsider your decision

sures or positive synergies can be optimised? Who owns the adjoining parcels? Will the campus need land for expansion in the future?

Municipal Planning Is there an overall master plan or strategic plan for the surrounding region or precinct? What kind of development is being sought by the government? What incentives are under discussion? What infrastructure is planned that will affect your campus in the short and long term?

Tenets of Vastu What are the stakeholders’ requirements for adherence to Vastu principles? If this is an important aspect, then the site needs to be studied from this perspective from the outset. Is the site access in the correct position? Does the site topography work with these principles? How will the site accommodate a development that must follow Vastu principles? There are developments that begin with a costly site enabling phase, whose entire requirement is to manipulate the basic site characteristics and make it conform to Vastu. In many cases, the cost of a plot is determined by the price of nearby land sold in the recent past, and its estimated future value. Yet, each parcel of land has its unique characteristics and inherent development costs rooted in these attributes. It is only prudent to study the aforementioned characteristics before agreeing to a final selection and closing the financial deal. It does not require any major effort to research these characteristics. Nor is it a costly or lengthy process to prepare a few quick feasibility tests during the due diligence, period. Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at http://chronicle.com/ globalnewsletter

Shiv Nadar University is all set to be an institution with a difference. From dual degrees to mandatory research by undergraduates, it is on a quest to change the paradigms of Indian higher education by aniha brar & SMITA POLITE


EduTech  July 2011

y cover stor

g n i t i r Rew k o the Bo r e h g i H of n o i t a Educ

by Subhoj

it Paul

by anil T

cover story New Campus



n the past few years, there has been a growing selfawareness in academic circles regarding the limitations in the education system of our country. The brouhaha over the recent 100% cut-off – an unrealistic and impossible bar by any standards – announced by a premier Indian college; the general slowdown in higher education especially in professional colleges (this year only 175 engineering and management colleges with approximately 50,000 seats will start operations against the earlier average of at least 1 lakh seats annually); and the slipping ranks of premier Indian universities on the international ratings chart (IIT Mumbai at 187 is the only Indian institution to figure in the world’s top 200 varsities in the QS Asian University rankings) – all have raised the question, ‘whither higher education?’ There have been a slew of national debates and forums on the topic. From admission processes to campuses, from syllabi to the quality of teaching, from the relevance of what is being taught to the necessity of degrees – all aspects of higher education have been under the scanner. There is a general consensus that undergraduate education in most universities is too limited in scope and over-specialised in terms of what students can study. And, there have been calls for increased research, a multidisciplinary approach and better teaching in Indian colleges.

Currently, there are approximately 430 universities to cater to around 12 per cent of the students that go for higher education in India. There is a huge shortfall with demand for seats far outstripping supply. The rush for premier institutions is even higher and in such a scenario, a 100 per cent cut-off seems a justifiable absurdity. It is estimated that around 1000 new universities are required by the next decade, if India is to up its quotient of students going for higher education from the current around 12 per cent to 30 per cent. The story of Indian higher education is yet unfolding, with many ambitious plans chalked out by the government, and the private sector moving in for the kill. With international schools offering International Baccalaureate catching the fancy of the upwardly mobile urban middle classes, the next logical progression for students passing out from such schools is a foreign degree. Though an estimated 500,000 Indian students go for higher education abroad, there are many who cannot afford this luxury. The rise of private varsities – standalones or joint or collaborative campuses with foreign universities – is an effort to bridge the gap. In such a scenario, the Shiv Nadar University a.k.a. SNU enters the fray with the promise of an undergraduate education with a difference. The story of SNU’s establishment makes an interesting read...

5IndianLakh students go abroad for higher education each year

Chapter 1

The Power of an Idea


hiv Nadar University is a response to the call of the times. It conforms to all the buzz in the higher education sector – it is multi-disciplinary like most central/state universities and a few private ones and offers a vast array of disciplines at the undergraduate level. What makes SNU different from the others is what it calls its inter-disciplinary approach. SNU aims to break academic silos as a mandatory part of its larger curriculum plan. The same philosophy will be demonstrated in the physical architecture of the campus as well. But before we jumpstart the story let us take a look behind the scenes… Founder and Chairperson of the eponymous Shiv Nadar Foundation, Mr Shiv Nadar, had a vision that took shape almost 15 years ago. Mr Nadar set a clear mandate for himself: to empower


EduTech  July 2011

Indians and bring about social transformation through quality education. An engineer by training, Mr Nadar chose his home state, Tamil Nadu, for the first initiative under the Foundation’s umbrella. He set up the SSN College of Engineering in Chennai. But he had lofty ambitions. From the single engineering college germinated the idea of setting up a university, not only offering a wider range of disciplines, but also embracing a wider geographical spread. Soon enough, with funds and support from Mr Nadar himself, this not-for-profit university was rolled out. Vice-Chancellor SNU, Dr Nikhil Sinha, sharing the genesis of the university said, “About six years ago, two momentous things occurred: One, SSN College was recognised as an institution of repute and two, we decided to take our successful model to a city in the north. Initially, the idea was to rep-

cover story New Campus

licate the Chennai SSN, i.e., build an institute of engineering, technology and science. But after serious thought and a recce of the education firmament, we discovered that the country did not need yet another engineering or technology institute. There is no shortage of them and the government too is making significant investment in the area. This gave us the idea to set up a top-of-the-line research university either in the National Capital Region or some other location. Through SNU we are trying to establish a research-led multidisciplinary university.” The quest for a VC for SNU had ended at the doorstep of

Dr Sinha - an international management executive, academician and expert on information and communication technology industry. An M.A. and Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, Dr Sinha is also Senior Adviser, Shiv Nadar Foundation and HCL Corporation. His varied qualifications made him the right fit to head this evolutionary institution. In a career spanning over 28 years, he has also served as faculty member and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Communication at the University of Texas.

Timeline: Shiv Nadar University SSN College, Chennai and Shiv Nadar Foundation started



C P Kukreja, an architect in Delhi, begins work on plans for SNU

SNU team assembled




Vision Workshops held with Indian academics and thought leaders on higher education


Acquire land in Dadri through the Government of Uttar Pradesh

Shiv Nadar commits to the idea of a university in a different part of the country. By slow degrees, it evolved into SNU



The founders visit universities in the US. They go to Harvard, Cornell, UPenn, MIT, Yale, etc.

The founders visit universities in the UK. They go to Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, etc.

Chapter 2

Learning to Teach


ow can a research university be set up without thorough research and supporting data? Setting up SNU was not a snap decision; it took years of research and validation to build its foundations. The founders traversed the globe to study the universities with established reputations and robust academic systems. Their first foray abroad took them to the UK where they visited the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, SOAS, Imperial, Kings College, University College, London School of Economics, et al, learning about the British higher education system. The next trip was to the Mecca of Indian students, the American shores, where they covered universities of Harvard, MIT, NYU, UPenn, Yale, and others to get some glean-

ings on the American higher education system. Discussions with various vice chancellors and deans led to the slow concretisation of SNU plans. A check-list of dos and don’ts was developed based on the global learnings. It was still incomplete, for they had yet to incorporate the Indian educationists’ viewpoints to complete the picture. A series of vision workshops were held with intellectuals and thinkers such as Prof Yash Pal, Former Chairman UGC & National Research Fellow; Prof R Natrajan, former AICTE Chairman; Prof Shyam B. Menon, Vice Chancellor, B R Ambedkar University; Dr (Ms) Kiran Datar, Advisor, National Knowledge Commission and Dr Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor, Delhi University, among others. The inputs from these sessions July 2011  EduTech


cover story New Campus

discussions at Oxford University with the Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton, Dean of the Said Business School, Colin Mayer and Prof. Devesh Kapur, Director, Centre for Advanced Studies of India, helped us understand why research is so important and gave us a simple definition of research that I use often: Greatness in learning is when you produce more knowledge than you consume.”

by Subhojit Paul

gave shape to the idea of SNU and how it ought to function. Apart from academic matters, discussions were held on the social and environmental impacts the university would have. Saurav Adhikari, Senior Advisor, Shiv Nadar Foundation, elaborates, “We developed certain concepts, one of which was to take the university beyond words like ‘research-led’ and ‘multi-disciplinary’ and add ‘sustainable’ as well. Long

TEAM Shiv Nadar Foundation worked together on the new university project. Saurav Adhikar i who led the team, credits them with doing the real work

Chapter 3

From Vision to Action


he vision articulated, it was time to translate it into ‘doables’. The SNU team now got down to giving shape to their ‘Vision to Action Plan’, as they called it. Further rounds of consultations with experts, academicians and administrators from various premier varsities and institutes were held. Intellectuals and aca-


EduTech  July 2011

demics like Prof Balakrishnan, Indian Institute of Science, Dr K L Chopra, former Director, IIT Kharagpur, Prof Debraj Mukherjee, Delhi University, and academicians from IIM Ahmedabad and many others were consulted. The discussions mostly centred on the curriculum, its design and plan and most importantly, on how the different

ment in research projects. Since, they will a e v a also be expected to undergo practical ll h i w industry training, as well as participate in SNU ur-year te extra-curricular activities, three years was fo adua not nearly enough time to accomplish r g r all this. While the idea of an additional undegramme. year of study may not gain much popl l o i ularity initially with students and pr ents w parents, the founders are convinced Stud redits and that it is the only way to deliver the c curriculum in a meaningful manearn rees fromd ner. Speaking of their plans for g n e a the students, VC Nikhil Sinha d SNU n said, “Regardless of what both gie Mello course a student takes up, the e curriculum will be structured Carn the US in such a way so as to ensure in that all students graduating

schools under the university would interact with each other in order to make it truly symbiotic and inter-disciplinary. The intellectual brainstorming sessions led to the flowering of a novel idea – instituting a four year undergraduate programme instead of the usual three-year course followed by universities across the country. The idea to stretch the course to four years is rooted in sound logic, intended to provide students the best of both the worlds – East and West. Since SNU has a tie-up with Carnegie Mellon in the US, the team is looking at structuring the course in such a way that students earn their course credits from both institutions (two years in each university). At the end of the four-year duration, they will receive their degrees from both universities. Thus, the course curriculum is designed to enable a student in India to get international academic exposure. SNU intends to do more than pay lip-service to the concept of undergraduate research. Students (especially those in the fourth year) will be assessed on the basis of their involve-

from SNU have: * Broad-based exposure to different fields of study in the curriculum – sciences, humanities and social sciences * Specialisation in their own subject, the equivalent of an honours degree from any other university * International component in their studies, whether it comes in the form of doing part of the course abroad or taking up a course at SNU that fulfills the requirement * Internship, externship or a service learning opportunity either in a company or in a non-profit organisation

Chapter 4

The Building Blocks


hile the SNU think tank was hard at work giving shape to the vision, mission and intellectual content, the infrastructure team was equally busy conceptualising the physical elements. The Shiv Nadar University campus is to be set up on about 300 acres at village Dadri near Greater Noida, which also has a small natural lake. The campus is being developed as a green campus which the founders describe as a ‘nested community’ and ‘campus village’. The campus plan incorporates the ideology of the university in its design and will reflect the principles of interdiscipline in a physical environment – the various departments will be connected through walkways, allowing people to communicate with minimal trouble. In keeping with the idea of integrating with the community around the campus, cultural evenings will be hosted in auditori-

ums wherein local people will also be invited. The plans also include a faculty lounge overlooking the lake, among other things. As VC Sinha puts it succinctly, “One of the things we want to convey is the perfect match of intellectual and physical traffic. If you keep engineering and sciences on different sides of the campus, the physical segregation will never let you achieve the intellectual intermingling of the two. We are also developing the concept of a campus village, with restaurants, cafés, bookstores and a movie theatre, all within the university area. Having a green campus is important to us. We have been in talks with TERI regarding their natural cooling building designs that do not require air-conditioning. The SNU campus will incorporate energy and cost-efficient design elements that will be extended to the entire campus in the course of building it. July 2011  EduTech


cover story New Campus

Chapter 5

The Teachers


uality faculty is in short-supply in India and with a plethora of colleges and universities opening up all over the country, there is a race to filch the best. At a time when the teaching standards of India’s top institutions are questionable, finding and retaining good faculty is not an easy task. To tackle this, SNU has designed a creative package of incentives with the aim to lure the best teaching talents in the country and abroad. The incentives include long-term benefits that would make the faculty willing stakeholders in the university. One such idea is to grant a series of bonuses to teachers depending on the number of years they have taught at SNU. A

ver i a w l fee o A ful be given t will e batch y th Jul n i d e tt admi 1. In laterhe 201 0% of t t e ,5 years ents will g stud olarships sch

housing plan is also being developed under which SNU will build homes, both on and off campus. Teachers can rent the off-campus homes and once they have completed 10 years with the university, house ownership will be transferred to them. SNU will also offer academic incentives that would appeal to intellectuals looking for career advancement and job satisfaction. Sinha explains, “The first and foremost interest, particularly for the faculty in science and engineering streams, is the opportunity and encouragement to conduct research. The inspiration behind such academics is the urge to advance knowledge in their field. To stimulate and sustain their intellectual appetite, we have to provide them with the right infrastructure, resources and ambience. Secondly, they need intellectual and academic freedom – both inside and outside the classrooms. Deeply embedded in that concept is the participation of such faculty members in the administration of the universities. The third thing is that they want to teach the best students, which does not necessarily mean going out for board exam toppers only.” This is a tall order indeed, particularly for a university just getting off the ground. But the founders believe this too will be done.

Chapter 6

The Taught


n institution is only as good as the students it produces. The ultimate aim of any hall of higher learning is to turn out learned, well-rounded individuals. The admissions team at Shiv Nadar University understands that it is not only the toppers who make good learners. To reach out to a broader base of students, the SNU team is determined to ensure that extremely high cutoffs don’t result in bright students falling through the cracks. Saurav Adhikari, who is involved in the admissions process, said, “At SNU we hope to retain the fun in learning. We are not a university aiming to admit 95 percenters and then help them achieve 96 per cent marks. That is incremental. Instead, we want to bring in all-rounders, teach them to do well in academics and assist them to leave with a holistic education which has equipped them to be good leaders, sportspersons, speakers, communicators, etc.” Education at private institutions that offer such a multidimensional approach comes at a price that few can afford. Though a clear fee structure for Shiv Nader University is yet to be articulated for various courses in the years ahead, the university has a clear mandate for the first batch of students.


EduTech  July 2011

TSR Subramanian, Trustee, Shiv Nadar Foundation and former Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh and former Cabinet Secretary, Government of India, said that a full fee waiver will be given to the batch admitted this year. He added that in the later batches, 50 per cent of the students would be provided scholarships and the university would ensure that no meritorious student is denied admission on monetary grounds. SNU will be flagged off with a school of engineering (an area in which they have expertise and resources) and then add on departments as they go along. Only 300 students will be admitted in the session beginning in July 2011, though the university is targeting a full student strength of 8000 eventually. With affordability woes put partially to rest, all that remains to be seen is whether the courses, the standard of teaching and the prospects thereafter, attract the right applicants. If Shiv Nadar University succeeds in its mission, quality education may yet become affordable and meaningful for many students in India. We will be watching for more such varsities that aim to make it so.

cover story

by Subhojit Paul

by anil T

New Campus

“We’re not a mall offering Gucci, Prada and other global brands” Nikhil Sinha, the founding VC of SNU, says that their commitment is to quality education not just foreign tie-ups A number of new universities are coming up. What makes SNU different? Most new universities tend to focus on either engineering or business and not on social sciences or humanities. Ours is a multi-disciplinary varsity that offers a wide variety of programmes and disciplines. In addition, we are offering the full range of courses – undergraduate, masters and doctor-

ate. Each school will also become a centre for research in the disciplines being offered. I am an advisor to HCL Corporation, and as the idea of setting up a university began to germinate, Shiv (Nadar) asked me to lead the effort to develop and design the concept of SNU.

You were at the University of Texas as well. Were July 2011  EduTech


cover story New Campus

you always academically inclined? It was really a natural fit for me. I have been an academic for 10 years including the time that I spent at a university. I was also involved in a couple of start-ups as a corporate executive. All these skills and experiences came together perfectly for this project — the academic as well as the management. Starting a university is as much a management task as an academic one. What led to the consciousness that a multidisciplinary approach is what India needs? I did my undergraduate studies at St Stephen’s College, Delhi. This gave me a taste of the Indian education system. I went to the US for my masters and PhD. The exposure there made me understand the difference between the two systems. So, of course, there was a consciousness that we need new models in India and the multidisciplinary approach has distinct advantages. Other parts of the developing world like the South East Asia, Middle East and others, are also moving in this direction. Even Europe has new institutions called the Liberal Arts institutions.

But, right now you are just starting with the engineering college? We would have loved to start everything together, but the Act was notified only by April. And rather than trying to start everything at once and doing a bad job, we decided “let’s do the one thing that we know how to do” first. We have the know-how to start an engineering institution and the resources — faculty and administrators of the SSN College. They’ve helped us devise the curriculum, recruit faculty and get good students. We will roll out other courses soon and start hiring people to teach these programmes. But we will also recruit part of the faculty for other programmes right away, as our engineering students will have to take courses in other disciplines too. How do you plan to recruit faculty? We have a series of financial and academic incentives outlined for our faculty. We are focusing, in particular, on people of Indian origin who have done their PhD. For faculty from abroad, we will not be paying any significant portion of their earnings in US dollars. We are saying that we will give them the same saving opportunities and not only the earning opportunities that they would have in the US or any other country – access, other benefits and longterm incentives. And at the end of the day, they should be able to save the same amount of money that they are currently doing elsewhere. They are all rational people, and I don’t believe that compensation is going to be the one major attractions. For many, it is about getting the right research opportunities and

“We are making it mandatory for students to work on research projects conducted by faculty, specially for fourth year undergraduates” —Nikhil Sinha 28

EduTech  July 2011

brands. Not every school will have such a sity r e v i tie-up, but we will have an equally good n he u to be faculty for all schools. What these proT s e grammes will do is that they will provide What about the a h t h al to more opportunities to our students. admissions process i c fi e They will open up room for joint and the students you n be local research to take place. are trying to reach? . t n e For admission to the engim neering school that is underDo you think having a fourviron ill be n e w way, we are taking into account year programme will be a e more than just the grades of the stumbling block? Ther ecial aspirants. We have a wellOf course there will some quep s n o s i designed entrance test that gives a ries from students and parents s a total perspective on the personality on why a student must hang mph policy at e of each student. In mathematics, we around for an extra year. But c i are conducting an aptitude test of our we believe that the research, publ ll levels own. There are essays on their past experiential learning, intera intellectual freedom, which we will provide.

achievements and things they have done in terms of their engagement with the world outside — and finally, we have an interview. This is necessary because what the students will be required to do in their four years at SNU, they will never be able to achieve unless they have an aptitude for it.

You also have a tie-up with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). How involved will CMU be with Shiv Nadar University? We have a very deep relationship with Carnegie Mellon. We are working on a four-year undergraduate programme in collaboration with them. Under this unique partnership, our students will spend half their time at SNU and the other half at CMU. At the end of it, they will get degrees from both universities. The dual degrees will qualify them for admission to any postgraduate programme and enable them to meet employment requirements both in the US and India, and also, anywhere in the world. The unique thing about the programme that we are putting together is that it’s not your usual equally divided semester system between two universities, with two years in India and the next two in the US. Rather, the concept we are working on will entail one year of studies at SNU and the next year at CMU. For an engineering student pursuing half his education in the US and half in India from two top universities means a lot, particularly, in the IT industry. To have this kind of an international experience coming out of a degree programme is unique. If you’re at IBM or Accenture, you can’t be in the US today and not be working with a team in India. Have you planned an India-US experience for the other programmes? They are in different stages of development. The core issue is that regardless of whether we have any of these tie-ups or not, we have to deliver world-class education at SNU. We’re not a shopping mall offering Gucci, Prada and other global

national component, core elective and other disciplines cannot be taught in less than four years. So, once the students get opportunities and see the value in that one extra year, they will say, “yes, it makes sense”.

How are you going to keep the focus on research? Students passing out of a BA degree programme have no practical training. It’s all theoretical; something that we intend changing. Our courses are being designed to provide hands-on research on the one hand, and experiential learning on the other. We are making it mandatory for students to work on research projects conducted by faculty; especially for fourth year undergraduates. There will be three aspects of research training: teach students how to conduct research; make them do research as part of their evaluation within courses and engage them in research projects being carried out by faculty and graduates. We believe you are planning a green campus... We have been in talks with experts on energy saving strategies for our campus. One thing that we are thinking of doing is not to have any gasoline powered automobiles on campus. Instead, we will have electricity powered vehicles. We will also let people experiment with energy-efficient vehicles and hold competitions within the various schools on saving energy on the campus. If they can learn to do it; they already have these ideas embedded in them. Are you also planning to engage with the local people in the vicinity of the university? Absolutely. The university has to be beneficial to the local environment. There will be special emphasis on public policy focussed on the local, state and national levels. We may not have a school of public policy, but the courses will be designed in such a way that students can do programmes in public policy and public health. July 2011  EduTech


cover story

by Subhojit Paul

New Campus

“To create an institution that outlives us all is something else” Saurav Adhikari, Senior Advisor, Shiv Nadar Foundation, talks to EDU about how they have adopted international best practices EDU: How did the idea for the Shiv Nadar University come about? Saurav Adhikari: Initiatives usually start from an inchoate thought. Sometimes even a simple feeling like, “I need to do some good”, or ”Let’s give back to society”, can start one. Shiv


EduTech  July 2011

(Nadar) always says he is a product of education, and believes it is probably the single-most transformative force for social and economic change. The idea for the university is the byproduct of a remark that set off a lifelong commitment. Shiv had been invited for a talk somewhere and someone asked

cover story New Campus

him, “You have achieved a lot in business in the south and also established the SSN College in Chennai. What about the north?” And there and then Shiv said, “It is my commitment to do something for the north too”. This was in 2005. Two years later, in 2007, we acquired land from the Government of Uttar Pradesh at the prevailing market rate. Since SNU is a legislated university under the Government of Uttar Pradesh, we have been given a lot of latitude in designing it around the principles and values that we believe in.

EDU: How did you personally get involved in the education sector? I have always been passionate about academics. I wanted to do my PhD but couldn’t. This way I am fulfilling my aspiration and now, curiously, I am involved in creating a university. I may consider doing a PhD right here at SNU (smiles). EDU: You visited several institutions before setting up SNU. What are some of the interesting things you observed? On our Yale visit, the university president told us that one of the things they did was to create nested communities — where living spaces for students are situated not far from the faculty. Not because they wanted to interfere in the students lives, but to be accessible for mentoring, so the nomenclature, nested community. At Harvard we learnt how to create lifelong learners — the curriculum is not important, but the quality of the mind to deal with situations is. At New York University (NYU) we found that its biggest strength lay in the business school and finance. Why? The Wall Street is right next to it. We went to Babson College and learnt that it doesn’t rate very high on the MBA scales compared to Harvard or Wharton. But look at the entrepreneurship rankings, and they’re No 1. Why? Because they have a singular focus; and this taught us the virtue of a focussed outlook. At UPenn, the provost said the university used to be like a gated community. It did not let the world of Philadelphia come into its premises. Then they opened up their gates — a lot of people could walk in and look at their artwork. They put up park benches and other amenities to make the visitors comfortable. The provost explained, “We opened ourselves to the city and that is when UPenn kind of opened up to the world.” It’s difficult to say what the top five lessons we learnt are, but we did pick up these little nuggets. To quote Rick Levin of Yale, “A university is a work in process, all the time. It’s constantly being designed and redesigned.” That’s the kind of thoughtprocess that has been consuming us. How are you planning to incorporate some of this at SNU? I keep telling people that we want engineers to have the freedom to go to a poetry class, as much as poets, who may want to attend a mathematics class. To make this possible, to give one example, we are tying up with Mathematical Sciences Foundation of India and very soon we will have an

on g n i s cus ft o f y “B the so re u t c u str infra e creating you’r ellectual int , which s asset gh not thou ble, are palpa actful” imp outstanding mathematics faculty at the Shiv Nadar University — not just to teach maths, but also the science and art of it. This defines our approach to teaching. In terms of infrastructure, we have 300 acres of land with a natural lake and we want to preserve this. We want to build a sports facility for students to explore whatever they want to. We also desire to go beyond the physical assets of the university. By focussing on the soft infrastructure, you’re creating intellectual assets, which though not palpable, are impactful. Thirty to 40 years from now, the infrastructure will have totally depreciated in the context of the times, but the values will remain. We are trying to make some difference by not just finding and adapting the best practices that we have seen globally, but while doing this, we are also trying to establish an Indian context to it.

When you began, what were the issues that you dealt with and how did you tackle them? There were plenty of issues – from acquiring land, hiring architects, thinking through what the structure of the university would be, to even convincing somebody like Nikhil (Sinha) to relocate from the US to India. And mind you, we are starting with an engineering school, but he’s not an engineer. His PhD is in Communications from Annenberg School of Communication, UPenn. We also want to ensure that we get the right teachers, since all the faculty here must be doctorates. You can erect a building if you have cash, but to create an institution which, as Shiv says quite often, “outlives all of us”, is something else again. And this is one of our main challenges. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters July 2011  EduTech


TECHNOLOGY 36 Tech INTERVIEW: Timothy B Loomer, Talisma 37 Tech TUTeS: LinkedIn

by Photos.com

32-39 Tech Snippets: Technology News, Tips and Tricks

The Social Campus

Get to know how to leverage social media to reach out to your students – past, present and future by tushar kanwar


EduTech  July 2011


onsider the following two scenarios. In the first one, you’re at a party with lots of people but you’re only able to mingle with your friends. You can’t hear or get to know the others, let alone find out if they have something interesting to say or whether you have something in common. In the other scenario, you’re at the same party but now you can hear and see everyone, including people you haven’t met before, and can even join meaningfully in conversations with these hitherto-unseen faces. The latter, effectively, is how social media works. But you don’t need me to tell you how popular and powerful social media has become. It is no longer a matter of

Social Media

Tech Snippets | New Launches

Tablet Excitement If you’ve been waiting for credible competitors in the tablet space, wait no more. With the recent launches of the BlackBerry PlayBook and the upcoming HTC Flyer, there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air as industry and consumers alike scramble to identify use-cases to justify the purchase. The PlayBook sports enterprise-class secure linking with your BlackBerry mobile for using your corporate mail and BlackBerry Messenger on the tablet, and boasts of a Flashcompatible browser – a rarity in the mobile computing business. It has a conventional tablet design. The Flyer, on the other hand, is all about style, with its unique unibody design that is carved out of a single block of aluminium. And unlike other Android tablets making

whether to use social media or not, but which of them you use and how soon. Today, we delve into how you can best leverage social media to reach out to your students – past, present and future – and the community at large to support your work and encourage enrolments, and look at the latest best practice and expert recommendations.

Social Media: Benefits Galore Like any of your institute’s marketing initiatives, the key drivers for social media can be whittled down to the benefits the tools bring to stakeholders. Current Students: According to Gaurav Mishra, Director, Digital and Social Media, MSLGROUP Asia, improved participatory learning is the paramount consideration. He suggests that schools not only rely on their own websites as the hub, but also connect with students on Facebook and Twitter and other platforms that young people favour. He says this makes post-classroom communication easier and brings faculty and students closer together. No longer does the classroom have to be the only place where ideas are discussed and feedback sought, says Mishra, adding, institutes can even consider internal social networks, if needed. Alumni: Your most visible showcase


their way into the market, this one sports a pen/stylus for instantly taking notes on a photo you took or a web page you’re browsing. Both devices have a 7-inch screen. They have both got multiple and different advantages. PlayBook is a better choice if you want to go for web browsing. Because of its pen, HTC Flyer is handy for meetings. PlayBook is thinner and lighter than HTC, but both have more or less similar technical specifications. However, PlayBook at $499 to $699 comes cheaper than HTC Flyer at $800. Tablet space has exciting times ahead…that much is for certain!

is your alumni in the industry. Schools should use networks such as LinkedIn to stay connected with former students over the course of their careers, possibly even connecting the dots for alumni employment opportunities. A long-term interest in students goes a long way to encourage alumni to give back to the “system” when it comes to industry participation, by way of taking up jobs and taking part in events. Prospective Students: Karthik Srinivasan, Head of Digital Strategy at Edelman India advocates that in reaching out to prospective students and their influencers – their parents and peers – institutes can not only generate leads and start engaging with interested students, but also become genuinely more approachable to this audience. Add in some alumni participation, he says, and students can identify and interact with people who were in their own position once. External Communities: With the right social media presence, schools can complement existing marketing initiatives at a fraction of the cost of established media. This way, they get to showcase their research and thought leadership with the academic community and the media while adding an extra feedback loop that is usually missing in traditional media.

Anti-social media? The Challenges Any system that encourages more open relationships comes with its own set of challenges. Many institutes and faculty could feel burdened with the additional time commitment required to fully support a rich social media presence. They therefore need to enlist strategic top-level support for such activities, and a plan needs to be built to make time for social media. You shouldn’t simply add a Facebook page for your university because your competitors have a page. If you’re not going to be able to add regular content to it, take advantage of the wall posts and respond quickly, it’s not worth doing. Most institutions that take the plunge with social media struggle with a perceived lack of control, notes Gautam Ghosh, Product Evangelist at Qontext, an enterprise social collaboration platform. The problems largely relate to the two-way nature of blogs and social networks, where strong opinions can find a voice. That said, negativity will not go away by not participating, Ghosh says. If anything, it will find a voice elsewhere, unbeknown to you. Having the platform for the audience to speak out is the first step to change any negative perceptions that you did or d i d n’ t k n o w e x i s t e d . Ma l i c i o u s July 2011  EduTech



Social Media

Tech Snippets | Online Tricks

Google Translate for 5 Indian Languages In an effort to reach out to the local community, search engine giant Google has announced its translation services for five Indian languages namely Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. With the inclusion of new languages, the total number of languages supported by Google Translate has risen to 63. Google says these languages are presently in experimental phase, noting that Indian languages are different from English language. It also highlights that the new languages supported by its online translation service are spoken by over 500 million people in India and Bangladesh. Google’s research scientist Ashish Venugopal writes on Google Blog, “Indic languages differ from English in many ways, presenting several exciting challenges when

campaigns can also be effectively countered by relationship-building with your biggest brand advocates – your alumni and other influencers who are active on social media. Get this right,

“Your website should be overhauled to better and more cleanly represent what you do” —Karthik Srinivasan Head of Digital Strategy, Edelman India


EduTech  July 2011

developing their respective translation systems. Indian languages often use the Subject Object Verb (SOV) ordering to form sentences, unlike English, which uses Subject Verb Object (SVO) ordering. This difference in sentence structure makes it harder to produce fluent translations; the more words that need to be reordered, the more chance there is to make mistakes when moving them”. He also points out that these new languages are likely to be less fluent and may have several untranslated words as compared to languages such as Spanish and Chinese – which he says have much more of the web content that powers Google’s statistical machine translation approach. He concludes his post hoping the new alpha languages will help users have better understanding of the Indic web and encourage publication of new content in Indic languages.

Ghosh says, and negative stories will be discredited or ignored because there are enoug h peop le w ho be lieve the positive stories.

new programme, needs careful planning and foresight. Consider the following checklist when laying out your social media plan:

Which media: Facebook or Twitter or…?


With new social networks and platforms coming out of the woodwork everyday, which ones do you choose as those vital component in your social media plan? All the experts we polled suggested that institution websites and blogs should be the hub, with external platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as “digital embassies”, as Ghosh puts it. The focus should be on bringing people to your own website or blog. From there, each of the key platforms should be evaluated according to purpose. Facebook is good for building community and sharing, Twitter for faster, shorter interactions, LinkedIn for professional networking, YouTube for videos of events and lectures and SlideShare for contentdistribution. Discussion forums and online messageboards can also be considered, but the key is to have the right kind of person monitoring and engaging stakeholders on these platforms.

How to “Go Social” “Going social”, as with instituting any

Identify Goals and People – Be clear about the purpose of the engagement, set out metrics and pull together an internal team that will take responsibility to make it happen. Importantly, ensure you have enough student participation. Students know the landscape better than most. Over the course of this exercise, draft a social media policy to define its scope, but understand that this is a living document so will need to be updated from time to time.


Outside Assistance – If you feel overwhelmed starting the project, consider using a social media consultancy. Focus on folks who can, as Ghosh puts it, “see beyond the tools”. Experience is a plus, but having credibility with the right influencers in your domain is more important. And since your in-house team knows the institute’s ethos the best, focus on getting your own staff trained up to take over the day-to-day social media activities as soon as possible.


Organise the Hub – Does your website need overhauling to better

Social Media

Tech Snippets |Digital Library

courtesy www.miragebookmark.ch

Thousands of Historic Books to go Online Google and British Library have entered into an agreement to put thousands of historic books on the web. As per the agreement, readers will be allowed to search, view and download the texts dating back to the eighteenth century. The books will also be made available by Google on its site for free. The joint venture between the search giant and British Library will help digitise nearly 250,000 out-of-copyright books from the collection. Google will bear all the digitisation costs. The content includes a wide range of printed books in European languages, periodicals and pamphlets dated 17th-18th Century – era that saw French and Industrial revolutions and end of slavery. The project mainly focusses on content that was not freely available on Internet. British Library says the move will

and more cleanly represent what you do? Consider this a top priority, says Karthik, since many who chance upon your social media initiatives will do so by reaching your website first. Collect content you’d like to share and showcase and embed it on your website via SlideShare or YouTube. Also, ensure that your website can be discovered easily – use search engine optimisation and search engine marketing.


Connect the online with the offline – Use social media to complement your existing marketing vehicles, such

ensure the knowledge is not restricted to those who could afford private libraries. Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, says, “We believe that we are building on the proud tradition of giving access to anyone, anywhere and at any time. Our aim is to provide perpetual access to this historical material, and we hope that our collections coupled with Google’s knowhow will enable us to achieve this aim.” Peter Barron, Director of External Relations, Google, says, “What’s powerful about the technology available to us today isn’t just its ability to preserve history and culture for posterity, but also its ability to bring it to life in new ways. This public domain material is an important part of the world’s heritage and we’re proud to be working with the British Library to open it up to millions of people in the UK and abroad.”

as radio ads, TVCs, print ads and newspaper inserts, to inform target audiences about offline meets and events. Given the targeted reach social media offers, the return-on-investment will, over time, far exceed traditional media.

How they did it The big universities around the world have been successfully using social media for a long time. Here are some snapshots to show you how the best have done it. Yale University: Apart from tweeting about its string of famous speakers, such

“Having the platform for the audience to speak out is the first step to change any negative perceptions that you did or didn’t know existed” —Gautam Ghosh


Product Evangelist, Qontext

as Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, the school also showcases bleeding edge research on issues such as stopping the spread of cancer. It also gets students to speak up for the school, be advocates, in its “Why I Chose Yale” section. Wharton MBA: Incorporates blogs, forums and chat. Wharton’s MBA programme presence helps prospective students prepare for admissions and student life, and gets current students to actively pitch in with answers and solutions to queries posted. Tufts University: Social media overdrive! With two dining halls sending out tweets linking to the daily breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and an actively manned Tufts Facebook group linked to a variety of student and administrator blogs, Tufts has it all. And that’s not even counting the entire site dedicated to new media tools like wikis, podcasts, conferencing and more. Indian School of Business (ISB): Closer to home, ISB uses its social media properties on Facebook to post frequent, relevant, quality content and their Twitter handle @ISBtweets has quite the loyal following – as you’d expect. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters July 2011  EduTech



Tech Interview

Talisma Facts: In May 2011, Talisma launched applications covering Social CRM, Businesses Intelligence and Enterprise mobility I t has administrative, and academic software in higher education


Timothy B. Loomer, President and CEO, Talisma Corporation Private Limited

CRM for Higher Education

The Florida-based subsidiary of Campus Management Corporation, Talisma, offers enterprise Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) solutions for several sectors including higher education


EduTech  July 2011

What is the role of CRM solutions in a Higher Education Institution (HEI)? As a solutions provider we look at the education sector consisting of constituents or people — students, faculty, councillors and co-ordinators, etc. That’s how the term “constituent relationship management” comes up. It’s a mass communication software. CRM solutions helps address a university’s three main needs — admissions, student services and advancements (read: alumni management, lifelong learning programmes, postal education and career placements). In these areas constituents work together. During admissions, CRM solutions provide tools to help an HEI

Tech Tutes

reach out to the student community through e-mails, or SMSes. They help route the student to the right councillors and sessions. In student services, it helps students interact with universities through several media of communication. CRM solutions boost interaction between HEIs and student services platform. In time of an emergency, it may be used to notify students to immediately vacate dorms. With CRM, HEIs can manage the dormitory, grievances, inquiries, careers or even the cafeteria.

How do you see Indian HEIs evolving as far as the use of CRM solutions is concerned? What we have understood so far is that the Indian reality is truly different. Here there is a greater demand for every seat in an institution. The issue is not of attracting students, but of filtering the right applicants for the perfect studentinstitution fit. So, CRM solutions have to be packaged differently to help HEIs do this processing. CRM solutions will have to focus on fundamental management of resumes and scores. When it comes to scores there are so many different benchmarks and tests in India. So, is there a way to streamline all these information and arrive at a conclusion? With CRM I believe one can. In India, such student services are at a nascent stage. Keeping the student community and base fresh is essential. Private HEIs have started moving in that direction. Even so, there is less emphasis on alumni management or corporate connect. Why do you think CRM solutions are more popular in the US? In the US the demand is different. We have fewer students. Schools have to compete against one another to attract students. So they look for technologies to help them do that. The agenda’s different from India. However, in the past couple of years the US economy has taken a hit, and more and more unemployed workers have been returning to school. What we have seen in the past couple of years is a resurgence in the admissions.

You must have attempted to quantify the Indian market. Could you share some numbers? The Indian software technology market for higher education is $5060 mn currently. By 2015, we estimate that it will hit the $600 million mark. The ballpark figures are based on talks with CIOs, Vice Chancellors and administrators. Price points in the international market will not be the same as India. We are currently working with few universities in India s u c h a s Ma n i p a l U n i v e r s i t y, Bangalore University in both private and public sector. We will also talk to more colleges, including IITs and IIMs. Some of the IIMs have implemented some of the CRM solutions, which were built in-house to suit their needs. You say that 10 per cent of CRM solutions comprise a software. What about the rest? It comprises several technologies—for example implementing direct online learning lessons such as internet-based or skill-based learning programmes, installing white or electronic boards and routers, providing wireless accesses and providing laptops to students. Will the entry of foreign universities escalate the need for such technologies? Most foreign universities, if they are allowed to set up base here, will be from the US. So, there should be a rise in demand for CRM applications because US universities are familiar with the technology. Another aspect that will affect the business would be the creation of for-profit institutions. They will seek a tool to leverage technology and make themselves attractive to the students as they compete for students’ attention. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/ content/newsletters




Using LinkedIn Effectively

Tips for Polishing Your LinkedIn Account by Jill Duffy The people I’m connected to on LinkedIn fall into two categories: those who use the professional networking site to discuss ideas, connect with new people, drum up work, and seize opportunities they wouldn’t find elsewhere; and those who set up a skeleton profile and never returned. If you fall into the latter category, it may be time to re-evaluate what LinkedIn has to offer so that you can take full advantage of it. You don’t need to be a power user to start reaping the benefits, but you should try to log in to the site at July 2011  EduTech



Tech Tutes

areas of expertise, you least once a month to READER ROI need to tell them what it is improve your visibility and How to use you do with prominently reputation to the point LinkedIn effectively displayed keywords. These where people and opportuto discuss new key pieces of information nities can find you. ideas, connect with people and seize need to come first in your And it’s not just about new opportunities “summary,” and be repeatfinding a full-time job ed in the “experience” seceither. If you’ve ever made a How to make sure tion. Examples of keyfew hundred bucks consultthat your LinkedIn words are contingent on ing, you know there’s real Profile sends the right signals your field of work. monetary value in telling Programmers should list other people about your the languages they know areas of expertise. If you best. Advertising professionals should have a business, LinkedIn provides name the categories and mediums another way for clients and business they’ve worked in. PhD scholars need to partners to find you. And if someone in list the subject they studied and the “eleyour network has a need that you can fill, vator-pitch” summary of their dissertawhether for payment or for the benefit of tion. Even if the information is implied building your reputation as a communielsewhere, like in a department name or ty-oriented person, LinkedIn can faciliyour professional title, you want to use tate all aspects of the transaction. keywords so that search engines can find Here are five things you can do to them as well as human beings who are instantly make LinkedIn more valuable. visually scanning your page. Update or completely fill in your profile. When someone enters your full name in an online search, they often expect to find a LinkedIn webpage near the top of the results. If they click through to a page that isn’t up to date or is missing swatches of information, it sends a message that you aren’t committed to completing things and aren’t up to date with the technology. Whether it’s true is another story, but that’s the first impression. Complete your profile. Update the resume section with recent achievements. Thoroughly updating your profile should take an hour at most (and you can reuse the same points and highlights to update your offline resume while you’re at it). Be sure to include a headshot so people can identify you. There are very few reasons not to use a headshot, but if for some reason you can’t, upload some kind of image that relates to something striking about you.


Connect with former colleagues — not just people you’ve met recently. One of LinkedIn’s primary functions is as a professional address book. What’s great about LinkedIn is you don’t have to update anyone’s information — your contacts do that part for you (yet another reason to keep your profile current). The reason you should stay connected with former colleagues in particular is that they are well-established connections that you already have.



Frontload keywords in your profile. If you want people to approach you via LinkedIn for unforeseen opportunities, from consulting work to a media appearance based on your


EduTech  July 2011

Having a complete profile is important. Incomplete profile sends a signal that you are either not committed to complete things or aren’t up to date with Technology. You can also try to get LinkedIn on your phone to make life simpler for yourself. It will help you participate in discussions on the go

Tech Tutes

Tech Snippets | Low Cost Tablet

Ultra Low Cost Sakshat Tablets Set to Take off Multiple media reports suggest India’s ambitious ultra low-cost computing device “Sakshat” is finally going to arrive this month. The launch which was supposed to take place some six months ago hit several bottlenecks including an overhaul of the contract with the vendor. Early reports suggest that the tablet is likely to be priced at Rs 2,200, out of which the Indian government will subsidise 50 per cent of the cost – bringing down the price to Rs 1,100. Nearly 10,000 tablets will be dispatched to IIT-Rajasthan later this month, while some 90,000 devices will be rolled out over the next four months, according to reports. The device has a 7-inch touchscreen display, external hard drive and two USB ports. Moreover, the device has three-hour


battery life. The tablet also supports several commonly used software applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF viewer, Open office, zip/unzip facility, video streaming, flash video and web browser with javascript support. Officials claim the device has capacity to work in extreme conditions as well. Sakshat is considered to be a revolutionary gadget, as it aims to connect the rural India with the ongoing technology boom. The tablet, which is mainly meant for students, is an attempt to ensure accessibility of information and latest technology for the masses in the rural areas. With everything in place, the much-awaited device is set to take off very soon. The HRD ministry of India is going to manage the distribution of the gadget. The low-cost Sakshat tablet project, if executed well, could prove to be a unique initiative that will empower and bridge the gap between rural and urban India.

You have history with these people. And if they’re “former” colleagues, that implies either you or they (or both) have since moved on and forged new professional relationships with an even wider network. Connect with these people, and your own network will grow overnight.


Sync with Twitter. Don’t duplicate your efforts. If you’re already taking part in discussions that are relevant to your work life on Twitter, sync your LinkedIn profile to republish all the great content you’re already posting. You’ll find the option for connecting a Twitter account under Profile > Edit Profile. Don’t sync with Twitter if the content you post there is only tangentially or unrelated to your professional life. If you keep them separate, potential employers and business partners will treat them as separate entities, too, even when your other accounts are publicly available.


Join groups. I am of the opinion that not everyone on LinkedIn needs to join groups, but, in many cases, it helps. If you belong to a

Sync with twitter if you have an account there. Any content that you may be posting as tweets can then be republished on LinkedIn without any duplication of effort

community that tends to seek out resources (including suggestions for products, services, consultants, and new hires) from other community members, it may be in your interest to join a select few groups to keep tabs on trends and topics of discussion. However, if you

join, you should participate. Joining groups willy-nilly and then not contributing to them will be obvious.

Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.

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t lent 40

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Net connect has brought net gains for aspirants of white collar jobs in lower-tier cities. Institutes are not only actively pursuing industry for placements, but also ensuring that top-of-theline companies come knocking at the door of their campuses to hire the students. Technology has certainly effortlessly squeezed the universe into a ball by Kavitha Srinivasa

By Anil t


yomesh Vashishth, a student of Jagannath Gupta Institute of Engineering & Technology, located in the Sitapura Industrial Area of Jaipur, had his sights set on the corporate world. His aspirations soared high and technology helped him make the transition. An internet product company provided the platform for him to connect with Birlasoft Technologies Ltd that fetched him a white-collar job. Vashishth represents the emerging breed of youth from lower-tier cities who go that extra mile to groom themselves into desirable blue-eyed candidates for the corporate world. Savvy educational institutions located in Tier II & III cities are also making calculated moves to help students like Vashishth overcome the hurdles of location and find placement in the top ranking organisations. Sure enough, a different kind of life is being orchestrated for such aspirants from small cities. Chennai’s Bharath Institute of Science and Technology may not have a city centric location, but it has MOUs with premier companies and training institutes to its credit. “Our year-long activities are designed to help students channel their interests and make connections in the corporate corridors. Their performance and specialisation are projected to the companies. The placement records of previous batches also help attract companies for recruitment,” said institute Placement Officer Senthil Kumar. An educational institute on a highway will not be on everyone’s radar, unless it does some lateral thinking to make itself noticeable. “Situated on the Jalandhar Highway, with no direct air connectivity, attracting recruiters was a challenge. Students updated their knowledge through activities like Professional Enhancement Programmes, which connected them with industry experts from Airtel and Infosys,” explained Ashok Mittal, Chancellor, Lovely Professional University (LPU). There is a streamlined automated approach whereby students upload their CVs online. The webpage also provides information to students, while at the same time sharing feedback from the July 2011  EduTech




industry, so that they are better equipped for interviews. Besides, LPU organises HR summits regularly. In the education vertical, the digital medium has left an imprint on placements, quite like social networking sites like Facebook. Job seekers from Tier I cities have many opportunities, unlike those in Tier II and III cities. “Access and cost considerations associated with reaching out to talent in Tier II & III cities have kept the hiring volume low,” explains Himanshu Aggarwal, Director and Co-Founder, Aspiring Minds, a Gurgaon-based recruitment assessment company. However, smarter solutions in assessments and hiring, have helped IT and ITeS industry reach out to cities beyond the top 20. “Domestic market businesses

like banking, retail, and hospitality have a strong presence in lower-tier cities,” says Aggarwal. Opportunities are backed by a focussed approach. CoCubes.com, an internet product company, headquartered in Gurgaon uses technology to help increase employment and employability for students. “We got students in locations like Orissa online in less than one week and connected them with firms like Accenture. We conducted over 300 such recruitment drives across the country; from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh down to Kerala in the south,” claimed Vibhore Goyal, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, CoCubes.com. The company shares SMS modules on CV writing. There is a log-in for students and colleges to share.

Establish Links with the Industry for Effective Placements

Satya Narayanan R

Chairman, Board of Governors, IWSB


“At IWSB, we take pride in building relationships and placing our students with SMEs, where they get to work directly with CEOs. The linkage between a business school, industry and CEOs merits attention beyond the transactional consideration of placements. It should also find its impressions in other academic and non academic activities”

lacement at any business school is the outcome of the credibility that an institution enjoys in the eyes of the CEOs and the industry. This is critical, as a CEO’s impression trickles down to the organisation’s HR head and/or the business head. Hence, all efforts should be made to nurture this relationship. Some ways by which institutes can establish linkages with industry and CEOs are: • Initiate student-led live projects with companies


EduTech  July 2011

•Initiate dialogue with industry on curriculum/content • Involve students in designing MDPs (Management Development Programmes) for corporate partners • Faculty-led consulting projects form a critical link between the industry and the institution • The institution’s alumni and the growth of a business school are inter-linked. • Alumni network should be nurtured to reap long-term benefits

They can also follow multi national companies (MNCs) on the platform. This year, CoCubes has partnered with several firms to deliver a concrete employment solution for third year engineering students. However, with every student aspiring for a big ticket move, finding desirable placements becomes a problem, especially offline. “There are 20,000 colleges and five lakh companies – all wanting to get in touch with each other. Placement officers from Tier II and III cities travel to metros to meet HR managers who don’t have a clue about these institutions and are hence, not in a position to choose or reject one. This offline means of finding the right fit is inefficient in terms of cost and time consumed,” says Harpreet S. Grover, Co-founder and CEO, CoCubes.com. Technology not only enables accessibility but is also a great leveller. NAC Tech, an industry standard assessment and certification programme from Nasscom, has created a national standard for recruitment of entry-level talent, besides reaching out to a larger audience. It is targeted at final and pre-final year students, who seek employment opportunities in the IT sector. An IT manpower base will be built through apex bodies and campuses across the country, which will be certified in tune with the industry. Those who have completed BE, B. Tech, MCA, M.Sc and IT final year students are eligible to apply. Reaching out is the magic phrase and the winning formula lies in breaking the hegemony of elite academic institutions and bringing potential students from various corners of the country to the forefront. New players are quick to harness the emerging online community of lower-tier aspirants, like for example, MeraCareerGuide.com, a career counseling portal for students, professionals, parents and teachers. Students are guided to identify their interests and abilities, which is then matched with the career options open to them. The time seems ideal to whet the market because the internet penetration in India has increased by 20 per cent in the last two years and is expected to increase


by 5 per cent by the next financial year. For GenNext, social and professional networking offers the key to finding dream debuts. “Students can upload their demo reels on YouTube and the link is directly sent to recruiters. It updates on placements, industry news and upcoming events,” informs Gupta.

“Students updated their knowledge through activities which connected them with industry experts from Airtel and Infosys”

Broaden Boundaries Educational institutes need to connect with companies outside India as well. They must also map companies relevant to the sectors in their state of existence and likely to hire from their institution. Students, too, need opportunities to showcase their candidature to foreign companies. “Lesser known campuses need to map organisations in nearby cities and areas, and network with them to promote recruitment. They must maintain sustained relationship by encouraging organisations to visit campuses for discussions and forums. The alumni net should be cast far and wide to ensure the institute is well represented in every possible corner of the earth,” said Anuricha Chander, Deputy General Manager- HR, Technopak Advisors Pvt Ltd. Colleges must also develop curriculum and programmes specific to growing sectors in their region. This helps attract companies expanding in those domains. They can also develop specialised management development programmes. Institutions must work closely with industry to groom students in industryspecific needs. Pre-placement offers pour in as students’ performance become visible to organisations. Institutes must also train students before sending them for projects/internships in order to make the right impression on prospective recruiters.

Place of Placement It’s all about packaging. The placement cell works as the bridge between a training institute and an organisation. The placement team recommends students to organisations and also grooms them for interviews as per the industry benchmark. They update students on the requirements within the industry, specific to their specialisations. Students are


—Ashok Mittal

Chancellor, Lovely Professional University

provided assistance in creating resumes and portfolios, besides being prepared for technical interviews through mock sessions. “A student must be provided complete hand-holding for placement,” said Naveen Gupta, CEO and Executive Director, FAVE (Frameboxx Animation and Visual Effects), a Mumbai-based animation institute. Nilesh Sarawate Chief Student Mentor, India-Europe International Business School (IEIBS) Navi Mumbai, felt that placements can be streamlined by initiating a corporate-student network from the first trimester/semester of the programme itself. “It’s not the lack of quality jobs but a mismatch between what students expect and what companies offer that is responsible for placements being such an important part in the management of a B-school,” said Sarawate.

Hiring Trends Generally, companies ensure that they hire students from top B-schools at a level above students from other colleges. A few companies also differentiate in the training provided to students from different colleges. Those from premier B-schools have a fast-track programme wherein they complete training in half the time vis-à-vis others. On its part, Directi Internet Private Ltd, a Mumbai-based web products company, has a work culture that requires

mature candidates who are smart, motivated and enjoy their work. Employees are given flexi work hours and don’t have to adhere to a dress code. “Our campus hiring spans across B-Schools, technology institutes and graduate courses. Each candidate, whether from campus or otherwise, goes through a series of tests, interviews and case studies. The CEO and top management spend time to make sure that the candidate completely fits the bill,” explains Margaret Rodriques, Associate Manager, Corporate HR, Directi Internet Private Ltd. For this reason, the company doesn’t confine its decision-making to just academic performance. Instead, a series of processes ensure that a candidate is evaluated on metrics that matter internally. Throwing light on hiring trends, Chander added, “After the slowdown, the major chunk of hiring was done by banking and financial sectors as they had stayed away from campuses the last couple of years.” FMCG and marketing companies continued to make their presence felt at the campuses. “Consulting was the third biggest recruiter as they have a lot of work coming their way, with companies wanting to expand and venture into new areas,” Chander concluded. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters July 2011  EduTech



Social Responsibilty

The SSCBS SIFE team with its project co-ordinator Jyoti Sikka (seated). The only Asian team among 115 semi-finalists in the 2011 Dell contest, SSCBS SIFE walked away with the third prize. They were invited to develop their idea, Sanitation Solutions, into a detailed venture plan and create a video pitch for it. The entries were judged by a panel made up of leaders of academia, industry, government and non-profit sector and five finalists selected. SSCBS SIFE will be helped to turn their idea into a working business model or NGO. The team will also receive two Dell laptops and access to world-class social entrepreneurship networks and events.

Positive of Power Business

Dell contest winner, CBS, looks beyond the classroom and syllabus for inspiration


he vision statement for Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (CBS) reads: “Creating new frontiers of knowledge and standards of achievement to mould committed, responsible, ethical and active managers out of students.” However, amid the many institutions making similar claims, what makes CBS stand apart? It’s how it chooses to go about the task of educating its students. Instead of relying solely on curriculum, classroom lectures and content, CBS goes beyond its boundaries into the real world for some real life lessons. And their efforts have paid off. In May 2011, the college bagged the third spot in the prestigious “Dell Social Innovation Contest, 2011”, for their Sanitation Solutions Project. Not a mean feat, considering the competition that they were up against — postgraduates and doctorates from Temple University, Carnegie Mellon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and London School of Economics (which won


EduTech  July 2011

Dr Poonam Verma, Principal, CBS, believes that when it comes to education, lessons learnt outside the classroom often leave a deeper impression. “I am proud of what my students have achieved. They have been working on the project since 2009. From a selfish perspective, I would say my future lies secure in their hands. CBS is the first and only Asian university to bag the Dell award. Our team was also the youngest at the contest. I look at this win from several perspectives. On one level, it is a victory for the country, the college and its students. On another, it’s a personal win too. I’ve always believed in my students and in their cause. I stand vindicated.”

Social Responsibilty


According to the project co-ordinator and faculty advisor, Dr Jyoti Sikka (second from left), Sanitation Solutions business model entails establishing a supply chain, wherein a direct network is set up between the slum women and sanitary towel manufacturers, eliminating middlemen. This ensures that the price of the product is kept minimum for the consumers (slum women), while ensuring a fair profit for sellers. Regular awareness camps on health benefits of using the product are also conducted for target consumers by the CBS volunteers

SIFE is an international non-profit organisation (INGO) that operates in 39 countries and has approximately 1500 active teams. The body aims to create a better world using the ‘positive power of business’. SIFE started working in collaboration with CBS in 2009, harnessing the skills of students and professors to empower the under-privileged in society. The CBS team, known as SSCBS SIFE, consists of 39 students and one faculty advisor, Dr Jyoti Sikka. It’s assisted by the head of the institution, Dr Poonam Verma, in all its endeavours. The society is currently involved in another community outreach project dedicated to literacy — Project Akshar

the grand prize). The win may have come as a surprise to some, but Dr Poonam Verma, Principal, CBS, believed her students were special. It was this faith in her team that made her approach the Delhi University and request it to postpone CBS’s semester tests (to be held before the contest). “Students may forget what they learn in class, but lessons garnered through experience leave an indelible imprint. As teachers our task is to groom corporate leaders of tomorrow. However, for the sake of our

A SIFE SSCBS volunteer at a workshop. As Iyad Sheikh, VP Finance at SSCBS SIFE, explained, “At the Dell Contest we were terrified and thrilled at the same time — after all we were the youngest team. We were also the least experienced. However, the judges and speakers were all encouraging. The contest was held by Dell in association with University of Texas at the latter’s Austin-based RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service. As a team, we are really proud of the project. We try to break taboos, increase awareness and provide volunteers (all women) with a sustained means of livelihood. Sanitation Solutions is a unique project and we are really proud of it”

nation, it’s important that these youth leaders are also responsible and socially aware adults, otherwise progress would be meaningless,” Verma says. Universities must develop the right mix of theoretical classroom lectures with practical lessons in life to enrich a student’s learning experience. “Turning a social cause into a business proposition is not something that one can learn in the classroom alone,” adds Verma. No wonder, CBS lays emphasis on students involvement in extra-

curricular activities. It has 15 societies dedicated to debating, literature and performing arts. “SIFE SSCBS’s member, Iyad Sheikh, learnt about the contest and his whole team registered. As teachers, we were more than happy to support their decision. That’s what we are here for, to be their guide and mentor.” Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters July 2011  EduTech


the global perspective From

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

INSIDE 50 | Prominent Academics Announce Plans for a Private, Liberal-Arts-Style College in Britain 51 | Thiel Fellowship Pays 24 Talented Students $100,000 Not to Attend College

Crisis of Confidence Threatens Colleges Rising costs test families’ faith, while more than a third of presidents see academia on wrong road By Karin Fischer

by photos.com


Downhill?: American education may lose its sheen in the next decade


EduTech  July 2011

he American higher-education system has long been seen as a leader in the world, but confidence in its future and its enduring value may be beginning to crack along economic lines, according to two major surveys of the American public and college presidents conducted this spring. Public anxiety over college costs is at an all-time high. And low-income college graduates or those burdened by student-loan debt are questioning the value of their degrees, or saying the cost of college has delayed other life decisions. Among college presidents, the rising price of college is not the only worry. They’re concerned about growing international competition and declining student quality, with presidents from the least selective, and thus sometimes the least financially stable institutions, the most pessimistic. But perhaps the most troublesome finding from the surveys is this: More than a third of presidents think the industry they lead is heading in the wrong direction. Without a change in course, presidents fear, American higher education’s standing around the globe could erode. Although seven in 10 college chief executives rated the American system today as the best or one of the best in the world, barely half predicted that a decade from now the United States would be among the top globally.

Global.Chronicle.Com Shi, a former president of Furman University, “We should be worried,” said Nancy L. Zimin South Carolina. He notes that the financial pher, chancellor of the State University of New pressures faced by many such colleges during York system. “We are in a flat world. We are the economic downturn have been acute. going to have to evolve.” Their bottom lines were not buoyed by federAmerican higher education has never been al stimulus research grants like those of the a monolith, of course, but the findings of the Sign up for a free weekly top research universities, they couldn’t make survey of more than 1,000 presidents, conelectronic newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education at up lost revenue by increasing tuition like elite ducted March 10 to April 25 by the Pew Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter colleges, and, unlike wealthy institutions, Research Center, in association with The The Chronicle of Higher Education is they have little in the way of endowments or Chronicle, suggest how deep its divisions are. a US-based company with a weekly cash reserves to fall back on. What’s more, those fractures are intensifying newspaper and a website updated “The recession really has had an asymmetjust as the country faces formidable and col­ daily, at Global.Chronicle.com, that cover all aspects of university life. rical impact on higher education,” said Mr. lective challenges, such as meeting President With over 90 writers, editors, and Shi, now a senior fellow at the National Obama’s goal of having the world’s highest correspondents stationed around Humanities Center. The system, he said, “has proportion of college graduates by 2020. the globe, The Chronicle provides become fragmented between haves and haveThroughout the survey of presidents, the timely news and analysis of academnots.” most positive responses, and justifiably so, ic ideas, developments and trends. Take Sinclair Community College, in Daycame from leaders of highly selective colleges, ton, Ohio, where the budget has shrunk by 20 which have healthy balance sheets, more topper cent, in inflation-adjusted dollars, from a decade ago. Durachieving applicants than they can possibly admit, and a strong ing the same time, the college’s student body has swelled with portfolio of global partnerships. laid-off workers looking for retraining, but its tuition, among But they occupy a tiny space in American higher education. the lowest in the state, has been frozen or tightly capped by the The responses of non elite institutions—two-year, for-profit, legislature. “I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy,” said Steven Lee and less-selective four-year colleges—largely reflect their more Johnson, Sinclair’s president, “but I think we’re going the precarious situation. The public institutions among them must wrong way when it comes to public disinvestment.” grapple with declining state support, while tuition-driven priTo remain in the black, Sinclair officials have ferreted out vate colleges confront a student market that has said “enough” inefficiencies, put more of the college’s courses online, and to paying more. Proprietary colleges face greater government whittled away at non essential spending. Still, Mr. Johnson said, scrutiny and regulation. “I’m not confident I can keep doing that and offer something of All will have to educate a student body that is underprepared, quality. We’re starting to cut into muscle.” many of whom are from groups that have traditionally not Sinclair is not alone in its cutbacks. The University of Hartattended college. “The view from the bottom,” said James ford, too, has reduced its expenditures significantly. But the Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College, outside private college ended up plowing much of last year’s savings Detroit, “isn’t so bright.” back into financial aid, says Walter Harrison, its president. “I And unless they rethink the way they do business, education hear every day from people about how expensive they think colexperts say, some colleges will be forced to down shutter. “We’re lege is,” he said. staring fundamental change in the face,” said Stephen R. Portch, Indeed, the general public is fairly shouting its concern about a former chancellor of the University System of Georgia. “Our college costs in a companion survey of 2,142 Americans, ages system is bankrupt, and we’ve got to have a new model.” 18 and older, by the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of those polled said college was out of reach for most people. It’s the Money, Stupid Twenty-five years ago, six in 10 Americans felt that way, accordIt’s not surprising that colleges with less, or that serve students ing to a survey by the Council for Advancement and Support with less, should strike a more downbeat tone, said David E. of Education. The squeeze is real. College costs have been on the rise, increasing 50 per cent over the last decade, Mr Shi said. By contrast, family incomes actually fell between 2000 and 2009. Ask young adults why they’re not enrolled in college or don’t have a bachelor’s degree, and the overwhelming response in the Pew survey: money. “The affordability of a college degree—whether it is affordable—is becoming a third rail in the national conversation about higher education,” said Jamie P Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation for Education. The belief that college has become prohibitively expensive is

Unless they rethink the way they do business, education experts say, some colleges will be forced to shut down

July 2011  EduTech


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE shared across class and race lines, among Americans of all income levels, by those who went to college and those who didn’t—by everyone, it seems, except college presidents. Forty-two percent of university leaders, in fact, say most Americans are able to pay for a college degree, according to the Pew Research Center/Chronicle survey. Why is there such a divergence of opinion between presidents and the public? For one, there’s a certain amount of variance among college leaders, with those who typically serve lowincome students more concerned about sticker shock. Nearly two-thirds of community-college presidents, for instance, called tuition unmanageable. Some educators blame the gap on the failure of college officials to make the case about the whys of higher-education pricing. Students and parents, they argue, have a poor understanding of such practices as tuition discounting and don’t fully appreciate the costs that go into a college degree, expenses that include faculty salaries and health insurance, remedial-writing labs, even climbing walls. “If they want to buy a MercedesBenz,” said Stephen J. Trachtenberg, a former president of George Washington University, “we need to say why it costs more than a cheaper vehicle.” Others say that, despite their complaints about the price tag, the public gets it. In the Pew survey, 84 percent of two- and fouryear college graduates deemed their degree a good investment; nearly everyone said they expected their child to get a college education. Meanwhile, enrollments in higher education are at record levels. “People keep voting with their feet and their wallets to attend college,” said Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond.

Real-World Relevancy The question that remains, of course, is will they continue to do so? Among the warning signs, a quarter of college graduates who earn less than $50,000 a year now say their degree was a bad bargain. A number of presidents say they have begun to see a trend of “trading down,” of price-sensitive students and parents opting for more affordable institutions, such as community colleges or local public universities. They worry: Could some of those students opt out of higher education altogether? One key factor, especially as the country remains in an economic hangover, is whether the public sees real-world benefit in a college degree, said Richard K. Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability & Productivity and professor of economics at Ohio University. “The piece of paper has to have more than just symbolic value,” he says. But whether ponying up for a degree leads to a fat paycheck seems to be a little unclear, at least to the average American. While a plurality of those surveyed maintained that the main purpose of college is to learn specific skills and

knowledge for the workplace, a third of college graduates said their current job doesn’t require a degree. Asked what it takes to succeed in the work world, respondents ranked a college education below a good work ethic, getting along with others, and skills acquired on the job. “The inconsistency of the public,” said David A. Longanecker, president of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, “suggests that people are not getting what they need.” If Americans are confused, it may also be because there hasn’t been enough of a conversation—and a proactive, farsighted one, at that—between university leaders, policy makers, and business executives about the role higher education ought to play in meeting economic needs and aspirations, says Travis J. Reindl, program director for postsecondary education at the National Governors Association. It does no good, he argues, if a state’s higher-education institutions are turning out bachelor’s degrees, when more community-college training is demanded. “If we’re not producing what we need,” Mr. ­Reindl says, “then 10 years down the road, there could be a real crisis of confidence.” Many presidents, however, appear to balk at a more jobs-oriented approach to education. The largest share of respondents to the Pew/Chronicle survey identified promoting intellectual growth as the primary role for colleges to play, prizing it over general workplace skills or specific career training. (Unsurprisingly, community colleges, for-profits, and even less-selective institutions saw a greater role for job preparation.) That response heartens Paula M. Krebs, a professor of English at Wheaton College, in Massachusetts, who said she has worried that higher education “could succumb to the language of utility.” Colleges shouldn’t be judged, she argued, on graduates’ first jobs out but rather on the intellectual foundation they provide. After all, says Ms. Krebs, now an American Council on Education fellow at the University of Massachusetts, “no one thinks high school should be training for the work world only. No one advocates a high-school curriculum of just shop classes, or just computer-science courses. You have to take English, math, history.” An emphasis on work-force readiness isn’t necessarily incompatible with a broad education, of course—a case a growing number of liberal-arts institutions have been trying to make. Under Mr. Shi, Furman put in place a program to help students think more deliberately about their professional aspirations and how they related to their studies. The College of New Jersey collects statistics charting the realworld accomplishments of its alumni, such as how quickly graduates advance to management positions.


increase in colleges costs over the last decade has made a college degree unaffordable


EduTech  July 2011

Private Gain, Public Good? If those approaches tend to focus on the individual, it probably isn’t a coincidence. Americans appear to view higher education as a private good, says Ronald G. Ehrenberg, director of Cornell University’s Higher Education Research Institute, not as a wider societal bene-

Global.Chronicle.Com fit. In the Pew survey, they were more than twice as likely to contend that college had been a worthwhile investment for them as they were to say it would be a good value for students in general. Nearly half thought students or their families should pay the largest share of college expenses, rather than rely on governmental aid or scholarships, with those in highincome brackets more likely to place the responsibility with the individual student. That singular outlook emerges again in the survey of presidents, a majority of whom also thought college costs should be paid by the student. It’s not so much college leaders’ stances on particular issues, said Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, as it is their pattern of response. On question after question, where a president sits—and that institution’s financial concerns of the moment—seemed to color the attitudes of presidents. “Clark Kerr once said that college presidents only really know how to think of higher education one institution at a time,” Mr. Callan said, referring to the late, pathbreaking president of the University of California. “It is a strength of the American system, but in this case, it’s also a weakness.” While the American educational system has become a mass one, charged with preparing a wide swath of the population, college leaders frequently point to institutional measures of success, like U.S. universities’ domination of international rankings, as a sign of its strength. For the United States to achieve global goals, like Mr. Obama’s challenge to improve college completion, it will take a more systemic effort. Acting in a united manner could be challenging, however, when leaders from different sectors don’t even see eye to eye. Nearly two-thirds of presidents say achieving Mr. Obama’s goal is not too or not at all likely. “There is no system, just individual units, individual stars in the sky,” Mr. Trachtenberg, the former George Washington president, said of American higher education. “Only an astronomer with a telescope could look at it and see a solar system.”

A number of presidents say they have begun to see a trend of “trading down,” of price-sensitive students and parents opting for more affordable institutions, such as community colleges or local public universities

Disruptive Change The president’s graduation goal may be broad, but the heaviest burden will most likely fall to the very institutions already bowing under financial strain. Most new students won’t head to flagship research universities or the Ivy League but to community colleges and for-profits, public branch campuses and less choosy private institutions, says Peter M. Smith, senior vice president for academic strategies and development at Kaplan Higher Education.

Already, the signs are there: In Ohio, for example, enrollment at four-year public universities has climbed 20 percent over the last decade. At state community colleges, the growth topped 80 per cent. Expanding access very likely means serving students who are less prepared, who are the first in their families to attend college, and who are juggling classes with work and family, said Mr. Smith, whose book Harnessing America’s Wasted Talent calls for unclogging the college pipeline to improve American competitiveness. “If we want to get the numbers up,” he said, “colleges are going to have to deal with people they’ve never seen—or who they’ve seen and failed.” To meet both the academic and financial challenges, colleges will have to rethink how they do business, Mr. Smith and others said. Among the ideas discussed: three-year degrees, yearround classes, online courses, adopting learning outcomes tied to real-world standards, and changing federal financial-aid policy to meet nontraditional students’ needs. What the conversation can’t be about, said Nasser H. Paydar, chancellor of Indiana University East, is more money. “Universities just aren’t going to get much more of it,” says Mr. Paydar, who overhauled the budgeting process at his state university, putting spending decisions in the hands of deans and giving them incentives to be more entrepreneurial in seeking new sources of funds. As a “mature industry,” change won’t come easy to higher education, adds John Immerwahr, a professor of philosophy at Villanova University and a senior research fellow at Public Agenda. But it needs to come. Mr. Immerwahr points to a cautionary tale from another wellestablished American industry, one that was the best in the world, until it wasn’t—auto manufacturing. “We don’t want to be Detroit,” he says. Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at http://chronicle.com/globalnewsletter July 2011  EduTech



Plans for a Private, Liberal-Arts-Style College in Britain A C Grayling, Professor of Philosophy at the University of London’s Birkbeck College is spearheading the institution By Aisha Labi


ne of Britain's bestknown public intellectuals took higher-education observers by surprise on Sunday with the announcement that he is spearheading the establishment of what would be an unprecedented kind of institution in Britain—a private, for-profit liberal-arts college that would rival elite institutions such as the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. A.C. Grayling, a professor of philosophy at the University of London's Birkbeck College and a fellow of Oxford's St. Anne's College, said in a video introduction to the new institution posted on its site that the London-based college, which will charge annual tuition of £18,000, or nearly $30,000, will begin operating as early as next fall. The New College of the Humanities will be modeled in part on American liberal-arts institutions—such as the College of William & Mary and Amherst College but will also incorporate the weekly one-on-one tutorials that are a hallmark of Cambridge and Oxford. It will offer direct instruction from several of the world's best-known academics, 14 of whom as billed as its founders, and smaller class sizes than is the norm at British universities, all but one of which are publicly financed. The American liberal-arts-college model has been gaining ground in Europe in recent years, and several such institutions have been established in Germany, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.


EduTech  July 2011

British universities have recently faced sweeping cuts in the amount of money they receive from the government to finance teaching, and tuition at universities in England is set to increase in 2012 from the current government-mandated cap of £3,350 (about $5,500) to as much as £9,000 (about $14,800) a year. Many universities, including all but one of the 20 research-intensive universities that comprise the Russell Group, have announced that they intend to charge the maximum allowed rate. There are widespread fears that as a result of cuts to teaching grants, universities will sharply curtail their offerings of courses in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. London Metropolitan University, for example, recently announced plans to cut 70 per cent of its courses, including degree programs in philosophy, history, theater studies, and performing arts. The new college will seek to offer "a new model of higher education for the humanities in the UK," Mr. Grayling said. The "ethos of the college" will require all students, regardless of their major, to take three central courses in logic and critical thinking, science literacy, and applied ethics, he said. . The college will offer University of London degrees, in a public-private part-


nership arrangement that is already fairly common in Britain, and students will have access to the university's libraries, student union facilities, and residence halls. Although the University of Buckingham, which charges annual tuition of nearly £9,000 for its two-year undergraduate degrees, is the only private university to have been awarded degree-granting power of its own by the government, several private providers, including American companies such as Kaplan and Laureate Education, operate in Britain in partnership with accredited local universities. In addition to University of London degrees, graduates of the new college will receive a separate diploma that reflects the "richer content than normal degrees" of the courses they have taken, according to the new institution's Web site. Examples of such additional diploma courses include practical professional skills focused on subjects including financial literacy, numeracy, research methods, leadership, and cultural awareness. The new institution will initially offer eight degrees in five subject areas—English literature, history, philosophy, economics, and law. Along with Mr. Grayling, who will serve as the new institution's first master, several promi-

million in start up funds has been already raised by founding professors and other investors for the university

Global.Chronicle.Com nent academics from both Britain and the United States, including the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, the historian Niall Ferguson, and the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, will be taking part in the venture and have also reportedly invested in the project. According to The Sunday Times, the founding professors and other investors,

including an unidentified Swiss couple and several London-based financiers, have raised up to ÂŁ10-million, or about $16.4-million, in start-up funds. Britain's main faculty union reacted angrily to the announcement on Sunday, which seems to have taken most people by surprise. "The launch of this college highlights the government's failure to

protect art and humanities and is further proof that its university funding plans will entrench inequality within higher education," the union's general secretary, Sally Hunt, said. Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at http://chronicle.com/globalnewsletter

Thiel Fellowship Pays 24 Talented Students $100,000 Not to Attend College The fellows will leave institutions to work with a network of more than 100 Silicon Valley mentors By Ben Wieder


he winners were announced today for a new fellowship that has sparked heated debate in academic circles for questioning the value of higher education and suggesting that some entrepreneurial students may be better off leaving college. Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, will pay each of the 24 winners of his Thiel Fellowship $100,000 not to attend college for two years and to develop business ideas instead. The fellows, all 20 years old or younger, will leave institutions including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University, to work with a network of more than 100 Silicon Valley mentors and further develop their ideas in areas such as biotechnology, education, and energy. More than 400 people applied for the fellowship, and 45 of them were flown out to San Francisco in late March to present their ideas to Thiel's foundation and the network of Silicon Valley mentors. Mr. Thiel, who is also the first outside investor in Facebook, said he was impressed by the quality of the top candidates. "They compare well with the set of people who are starting good companies in Silicon Valley," he said. Does he think the group will produce the next Mark Zuckerberg? "That's not our metric for success," he said. He stressed that he doesn't see the fellowship as an investment and isn't looking to profit from the student ideas. Rather, he's hoping the winners will learn more than they would by staying in school.

Peter Thiel co-founder of PayPal says he does not see the fellowship as an investment and is not looking to profit from the student ideas

At least one student initially chosen as a Thiel fellow, however, ended up turning down the deal, opting to continue her traditional education by accepting admission at MIT. Mr. Thiel said he had expected some applicants would decide to stay on their academic track. He admits he probably wouldn't have applied for a program like the Thiel Fellowship when he was a student in the 1980s July 2011  EduTech


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE either. Mr. Thiel studied philosophy at Stanford in the 1980s and later completed law school there, but he now wishes he had given more thought to the educational decisions he made and their implications. "Instead, it was just this default activity," he said.

Questioning the Value of College The fellowship seeks to help winners develop their ideas more quickly than they would at a traditional university. Its broader aim goes beyond helping the 24 winners, by raising big questions about the state of higher education. Mr. Thiel ignited controversy when he told TechCrunch in April that he sees higher education as the next bubble, comparable to previously overvalued markets in technology and housing. Both cost and demand for a college education have grown significantly in the years since Mr. Thiel was a student. He sees that rise as irrational. Students today are taking on more debt, and recently tightened bankruptcy laws make it more difficult to shake that debt,

sidering taking time off even before she applied for the fellowship to spend more time on her project. "Entrepreneurship and college isn't necessarily something that can be mixed," she said. "Learning about it in the classroom isn't going to tell me if something will work or not." William K. Aulet, managing director at MIT's Entrepreneurship Center, said he thinks an academic entrepreneurship center can provide support and infrastructure that is difficult to find outside a university setting. Mr. Aulet, who has been involved in several successful startups himself, said he would advise student entrepreneurs to develop a strong academic foundation and then get some experience at a well-managed company before starting their own venture. While he said there are always exceptions to the rule, he thinks encouraging students to leave formal education before graduation sends the wrong message. "To say that you're better off dropping out of school is a gross generalization," he said. "It depends on the situation." Jim Danielson, another fellowship winner, said that Purdue University, where he recently completed his sophomore year,

More than 400 people applied for the fellowship, and 45 of them were flown out to San Francisco in late March to present their ideas to Thiel’s foundation and the network of Silicon Valley mentors he argues, and those factors make higher education a risky investment. "If you get this wrong, it's actually a mistake that's hard to undo for the rest of your life," he said. Critics contend that even so, Thiel's advice to leave school and develop a business is applicable only to a tiny fraction of students and that Thiel's own success, aided by business relationships forged during his days at Stanford, argues against leaving school. But Thiel is convinced that the social pressure for students to pursue "lower-risk trajectories" in their career choices will lead to less innovation in the future.

Real-Life Testing Ground Eden W. Full, one of the fellowship winners, said the mind-set at Princeton University, where she just completed her sophomore year, is for students to get a degree and then enter banking or academe. Ms. Full said her time at Princeton, where she studied mechanical engineering, helped her further develop her business idea, a solar tracking system that rotates solar panels to improve their efficiency. She was able to set up prototypes of the system, which she calls the SunSaluter, in Kenya through her work with Winston O. Soboyejo, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. But she says she was con-


EduTech  July 2011

had a good entrepreneurship program and that his idea, an improved motor for electric cars, was supported by faculty and staff there. But Mr. Danielson, an electrical-engineering major, said he learned more about his field on his own than in the classroom. "I spend hours and hours researching it online," he said. And there was an economic incentive, beyond the fellowship money, for leaving: Students at Purdue (like faculty there and at many other institutions) keep only one-third of the profits from their inventions. "That's a huge drawback to students developing technology while you're in school," he said. "Twothirds of what you do is going to somebody else." Still, both Ms. Full and Mr. Danielson said they would consider returning to school when they have completed the fellowship. The structure of the program—with an established peer group, network of mentors, and regular monitoring from the Thiel Foundation—was a major selling point to both, who will be moving to the Bay Area soon to be near other winners. "It will sort of be like being in college," Ms. Full said. "Except instead of doing homework together, you're running a startup together." Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at http://chronicle.com/globalnewsletter

SUbhojit PAul

The Tectonic Man Bijendra Nath Jain, Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani, is not just a selfconfessed technophile but also an architect of our networked nation By smita Polite


EduTech  July 2011


hen you meet Dr Bijendra Nath Jain, Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani, and hand him your visiting card, chances are he too will give you his card. Turn it over and you will discover strange black squiggles on it. You realise that it’s some sort of a code. A quick visit to the wikipedia later, and you discover his card has a Quick Response (QR) code, a twodimensional code readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera telephones. The information encoded may be text, a URL, or other data. His unusual visiting card is a window to Jain’s phenomenal love for technology and it would also not be wrong to call him the founding father of our networked nation.

Bijendra Nath Jain

For, it was his proposal that gave shape to ERNet, the first data network in the country which finally brought India on the internet map in 1989. You may get fooled by his staccato, matter-of-fact way of talking that he is probably an android. But dig a little deeper and you will find a heart beating with love, excitement and rebellion.

not think highly of it at the time and rejected the proposal. Luckily, I had made Dr. N Seshagiri, Director, Department of Electronics, a collaborator on the project. He was beginning to work on networks and had a copy of my proposal. He was obviously much smarter than I was, and converted the proposal into a nationwide project for $6mn. The proposal was accepted this time and received funding from the Government of India and the UNDP in 1986,” informs Jain. Along with developers from other institutions (IITs, IISc and NCST), Jain worked on this project and helped launch the first data network in the country -- the ERNet in 1989. “We were the 14th country in the world to join the network. It was exciting and difficult. We had sent out the first emails in the country and I was teaching everybody how they could benefit from the net. When we introduced email application to students, they were on it much faster than the teachers,” reminisces Jain. Jain’s love for research and technology took root during his student years at IIT Kanpur. At the time, the institute was doing really well with the Kanpur IndoAmerican Programme working perfectly. They had the best equipment in their labs. Most of the professors had been trained in North America and were brilliant and inspiring. “I think once you are in contact with brilliant people, it’s natural to be drawn into doing creative work and research. My professors, Dr R. N. Biswas and Dr T. R. Viswanathan, were the best I have ever known. Their love for the subject and teaching inspired many students to take the research route,” says Jain.

Breathing Technology

A War & A Rebel

Not many are aware that Jain was the first to propose a data network, more popularly known as the internet, for India. He had just returned from Austin, Texas, in 1983, and realised that India needed an infrastructure for data networks. “I wrote a proposal for a $1mn research grant to be funded by the United Nation’s Development Fund (UNDP). Unfortunately, the ministry did

Inspired by their professors, many students thus headed to North America for postgraduate studies. Jain was among the lucky few who got full scholarship to study at SUNY, Stony Brook (NY). It is difficult to imagine now that Jain once sported long hair, was part of a meal plan with four students – two Indians, one from Trinidad and a Chinese – who cooked by rotation, and participated in

fact file Name: Bijendra Nath Jain Current ENGAGEMENT: Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani things he likes: Book: Reads only those on technology Movie: Three Idiots Holiday Destination: Any quiet place Pastime: Surfing the internet Cuisine: Chinese Music: Golden oldies from 60s and 70s His little secret: Loves clicking away on his autofocus camera; can’t stop when on a vacation with family


protest marches against the Vietnam war. At the time in early 1970s, Vietnam protest movement was at its peak. Young people in the US as well as in other countries were joining the movement. “We were not disenchanted with the research system, irrespective of what was happening in Vietnam, but we were sure that we did not want to stay on in the US.”The fact that teachers like Biswas and Viswanathan had returned from the US, also helped Jain decide that India was a great place to go back to. Within a week of finishing his PhD in 1975, Jain flew back to India. He had applied to a few places like IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur and ISRO for a teaching post. IIT Delhi was one of the first to respond. “When I met Professor Mahalanobis, head of the department at IIT Delhi, I told him that I had to go back to Meerut, my home town, and would join after 10 days. He insisted that I join immediately and then take leave for 10 days. It was amazing to see his focus on getting the right people,” Jain recounts. This was Jain’s first exposure to the art of getting the right faculty, something that he would become an expert at in later years. “IIT Kanpur and ISRO were still considering my application and had not yet reached a decision. IIT Kanpur was passing through a rough phase and everything went slow there. I finally got an offer from them in July 1975, but by then it was too late,” he says.

Love at Sweet Sixteen It was soon after joining IIT Delhi that Jain decided to tie the knot with his childhood sweetheart Madhu. Jain smiles at the memory of how he met his wife and says, “I have known my wife since I was 16.” Jain’s father was an engineer in the Army and throughout his childhood, Jain barely spent two years in one place, travelling all over India. The family was in Bareilly when Jain was in class 10. When his father got transferred bang in the middle of the academic year, Jain was sent to stay with a family friend. In class 11, Jain tried to get admission into another school in Meerut, but not succeeding, he returned to stay with the July 2011  EduTech



Bijendra Nath Jain

same family for the next two years. When he got back from the US and joined IIT Delhi as a faculty member, he discovered that the same family he had stayed with in Bareilly were now living in Delhi. He went to frequently visit them over the next few months. His wife, Madhu, was the daughter of this family. Madhu now works with mentally challenged children and adults at Muskaan, an NGO. Jain’s elder son, Tarun, teaches Economics at ISB and his younger son, Tushit, is an engineer working in Los Angeles.

Makeover at IIT-D When Jain joined IIT Delhi, it was an institution focussed more on teaching than research. It had still not adopted the more progressive methods like IIT Kanpur, which was following the US system of semesters and credit based assesment. Jain, who was more into research, immersed himself in applied research, trying to identify problems that needed solving and using technology to find solutions. Soon, he was made the head of the department. Ta l k i n g a b o u t h i s s h i f t t o administrative roles, Jain puts it in a very matter of fact way, “In academia, it’s normal to call upon every capable person to become the head of a department or to chair a committee. If you do well, then people notice you and ask you to take on more responsibility.” During the time that Jain was the head of department, 1995 to 1998, it recruited some of the best people and also attracted funds for renovation. Microsoft, Intel, Phillips and Compaq funded research labs. An IBM research lab was also set up on the campus. Recalling the time, Jain says, “Working my way through the administrative rigmarole and getting people to agree to IBM opening a research lab on the campus required huge effort.” They also managed to get scholarships sponsored by IBM, Qualcom and Samsung. This was the time when a large number of international companies were entering India and Jain made sure that he interacted with the industry. When Bill Gates came to India in 1997,


EduTech  July 2011

different strokes “Dr Jain joined us last year when we had just begun working on the Vision 2020 plan for BITS. He brought with him a fresh perspective and a different leadership style that infused new life into our work. I have worked with him closely for the past one year and the one thing that stands out in his working style is his consultative approach. He makes sure that he talks to everyone before arriving at any decision” Dr Raghurama G. Director, BITS Pilani

“Professor Jain has spent his career teaching and guiding a large number of talented yet fickle young people. I have always been struck with the equanimity he displays in his interactions. I experienced it myself, when I spent a few years vacillating between a corporate or academic career. I benefited from both his patience and support, which he provided, no matter what path I chose to walk” Tarun Jain Assistant Professor, ISB Hyderabad (Jain’s elder son)

IIT Delhi was the second destination on his itinerary right after the PMO. He left a cheque of 90 lakh for the department to use as they deemed fit. It was this money that was used later to create the Microsoft Chair, perhaps one of the most expensive chairs in India till date. Jain was to occupy the same for 2 years in 2003. Soon after this stint, Jain spent two years at Cisco systems in California, where he worked on research projects that led to the grant of seven patents, with him as a co-inventor. As Dean of Alumni Affairs for International Programmes, at IIT Delhi Jain managed to get a $5mn grant from Vi n o d K h o s l a , c o - f o u n d e r o f SunMicrosystems. “We got the funds in 2003, but the building is still under construction,” says Jain pointing out of the window of his erstwhile office to the new building coming up next to the Bharti School. “Unfortunately, despite best intentions, sometimes administrative hassles delay projects, with many people trying to pull you sideways.” Known for his ability to attract and retain faculty, in 2005, Jain was invited by Surendra Prasad, Director, IIT Delhi, to join as the deputy director and look after faculty affairs.

Building BITS by Bit Soon after this, in 2010, Jain was invited by BITS’ Chancellor Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla to take over as the Vice Chancellor of BITS Pilani. Talking about his current engagement, Jain says, “When I joined, BITS Pilani was primarily a teaching institution and a really good one too. However, I believe we need to be good at teaching as well as researching. Getting the right faculty with the perfect blend of teaching and research aptitudes, is the greatest challenge. Last year, we went really slow on hiring. But this year, you will see more hiring than previous years.” Jain believes that the quality of faculty he hires now will impact many generations. “Hiring faculty is quite like selecting a prospective son-in-law or daughter-inlaw. You do not choose someone to wed

Bijendra Nath Jain

your daughter or son, just because s/he earns a lot or cooks well. Rather, you base your choice on the person’s entire personality and outlook. It’s the same with hiring faculty.” BITS Pilani has already taken certain steps like tweaking the compensation package. Compared to IITs where the retirement age is 65, at BITS, the faculty and staff still superannuate at 60 years of age. The faculty is on contract, renewed every five years. But all this is set to change. Jain has put in place a stringent evaluation criteria under which, “if you don’t do research, then you do not have a future at BITS Pilani”. “We are not asking faculty to show immediate results, but in a few years everyone has to start showing their potential. We are going to count the number of papers you publish, the students you guide and the research funding you get. We will incentivise all this. Faculty can spend two months in the industry during the summer. A chief research and development officer has been appointed and in three to four years, you will begin to see the difference,” says Jain confidently. Though Jain likes to discuss issues in a democratic way, he does not hesitate to take tough decisions that may require his going against the popular view. Recently, when senior administrators at BITS Pilani were discussing the design of tenureship, most agreed that after a three-year period, faculty should get permanent tenureship. They also viewed that performance should be reviewed every year. The initial proposal, though, had suggested that if a teacher performed poorly for five consecutive years then s/ he should be asked to go. But most senior faculty members felt even four years was too long to allow a nonperformer to continue. The corporate industry was then consulted, and they suggested two years as sufficient time period to evaluate performance.”The popular consensus then was for two years. However, I felt two years was too short a time to judge someone’s performance, and as the VC, overrode the popular view and made it three


Man of Many Hues

Tech Tie That Binds: B N Jain meets Bill Gates at IIT Delhi (top) Kodak Moment: Jain with his sons Tushar and Tushit tries on 3D gear

years,” he says.

Question is the Answer As a teacher, Jain believes in getting students to formulate questions instead of giving to them answers. “Once your students start asking the right questions, you know that they are really eager to find the answers, and you also know that what you tell them will register well,” he says. From his words it is evident that he approaches research and teaching in a similar fashion. As you get ready to take your leave after a short photo session, the techno-

buff resurfaces. He asks our cameraman whether the idea of a camera bag with a solar charger appeals to him; and you could see the gears in his mind already working on the technological blueprint of such a device. Don’t be surprised if you find such a bag in the market soon. Meanwhile, you may perhaps like to check out how to get those QR codes embossed on your visiting card?

Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters July 2011  EduTech



Academically Adrift Colleges need to realise the value of academic rigour and engagement activities outside the classroom, even if they do not add to students’ learning Despite the unprecedented rise in tuition fees, more and more students continue to go to college every year. A bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum for entry into a growing number of professions. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning On College Campuses, asks a fundamental question that most parents don’t ask: “How much are students actually learning in contemporary higher education?” The answer is “not much”. The reason for this is that colleges fail in their most basic mission and many undergraduates are drifting through college without a clear sense of purpose, say the authors Richard Arum, professor of sociology and education at New York University, and Josipa Roksa, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. The book has crucial lessons for everyone who ignores contemporary

“An institution has the responsibility to make undergraduate learning a priority” Josipa Roksa

campus culture and cannot see the crises that confront higher education today – students, faculty, administrators, policy makers and parents. According to the authors’ analysis of over 2,300 undergraduates at 24 institutions, 45 per cent of the students show no noteworthy improvement in a number of skills including critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing during their first two years of college. Reviews categorise Academically Adrift as the most important book on higher education in a decade. James Rosenbaum of Northwestern University says about the book, “Combined with students’ limited effort and great disparities in benefits among students, Arum and Roksa’s findings raise questions that should have been raised long ago about who profits from college and what colleges need to do, if they are to benefit new groups of students. In this new era of college for all, their analysis refocuses our attention on higher education’s fundamental goals.” Arum and Roksa say that students should work hard and not worry about their non-academic experiences. Every college ought to have an internal culture that values learning and faculty should find creative ways to assign more reading and writing to students. Lack of rigor is suppressing the academic growth of students. Author: Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa Publisher: University of Chicago Press Price: $70

New releases for your BOOKSHELF Managing Technology in Higher Education Based on evidence from more than 30 colleges and universities, the book examines the way post-secondary institutes are trying to integrate technology in teaching and learning and talks about adopting a radical approach towards it . Author:A.W. (Tony) Bates, Albert Sangra Publisher: Jossey-Bass Price: $36.99


EduTech  February 2011

Social Class on Campus analyses the dynamics of social class which is generally ignored as an important issue in the lives of students. This book is suitable for anyone professionally involved with students and interested in knowing how class mediates relationships in higher education. Author: Will Barratt Publisher: Stylus Publishing Price: $24.95


gADGETS Tech Insider | Mala Bhargava

Push Pop Press and Learn

E-books are no longer just text on e-paper and a couple of pictures. They’re a whole dazzling experience – one that makes learning a joy. Al Gore teamed up with ex-Apple execs, Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris, to create Our Choice, a book that takes the message of his An Inconvenient Truth a step further to explore solutions to environmental problems. This amazing piece of work for the iPad and other Apple devices is an app-book. When you finish paying for and downloading it, the book opens up to a spinning globe, a message from the former vice president, and screen after screen of beautiful photography sitting atop a strip of miniature pages. To get to the book’s pages, just pick up the strip of miniature pages with your fingers and it flips up to take the whole screen. Now, scroll through pages with a finger-flick. Anything you find on those pages can be picked up, unfolded, and watched or explored. Geo-tagged videos, pictures, infographics and animations open in an almost sensual 3D movement. Our Choice, set to the Push Pop Press publishing platform is an amazing experience. Watch a windmill start to move and light up a house when you blow on the screen. A clever use of input to the microphone. Individually, each feature may seem like a gimmick. But together and at a speed and slickness a browser can’t match, it rivals other formats. A few other app-books based on different publishing platforms are in the market, but Our Choice is the most impressive of the lot, for now. These books cost little, just under $6 for Our Choice and $14 for Gems and Jewels, another interactive book.

Mala Bhargava is Editorial Director at Nine Dot Nine (9.9) Mediaworks and a technology writer. She is also the author of That’s IT, a regular column on personal computers in the Business World.

Refraction Hand-crafted Chess Set Refraction’s hand-crafted chess set brings the beauty of crystal glass to life. Designed by Eva Starkova, each piece in the set is unique and can be differentiated from its siblings by deep handcarved cuts made by master cutter Jirí Neu il. Its clarity, quadratic shape and board of black glass will light up corner of your room. Surely the most perfect chess set for you. Price: $6,200

Quirky Keeps Your Digits Warm In Biting Cold For all those who have touchscreen devices,

Quirky’s touchscreen glove keeps your hands from getting frostbite. The gloves have digits, mini conducive pins made of conductive silicon, attached to them. On the back of the digit is a metal pin that can be attached to your gloves. Just place the back side of the digit inside the fingertip of the gloves and push it through. . Price: $20

February 2011  EduTech


legacy “Money is easy to make but difficult to spend properly”–G.D. BIRLA


Man With A Golden Heart


hanshyam Das Birla made money at a time when it was difficult for an Indian to do so. But more importantly, he was also a past master at ‘spending it properly’. Born on April 10, 1894, Birla was a native of Pilani, Haryana. His grandfather was a moneylender, but Birla had different plans for himself. Starting his career as a jute broker at the age of 16, he migrated from the deserts of Rajasthan to a rented room in Kolkata with his brother. That one-room tenement served all the needs of the two brothers – sleeping, cooking, washing, etc. This was in 1910. By 1939, the Birla brothers were owners of India’s 13th largest managing-agency firm. The Tatas, headed by J.R.D. Tata, were at No 1. After Independence, Ghanshyam Das Birla invested in tea and textiles through a series of acquisitions of erstwhile European companies. He also expanded and diversified into cement, chemicals, rayon and steel tubes. It’s not just his success but the manner in which he achieved it that makes a fascinating story. To build a jute mill, he had to break the stranglehold of British businessmen over the industry. To build Hindalco, Birla had to hack his way through jungles, real and bureaucratic. His empire-building spree preceded licensing, so he had to do it alone, with no assistance from the government. For G.D. Birla, the creation of wealth, philanthropy and political leadership were all part of nation-building. Mahatma Gandhi considered him both his friend and counsellor, though Birla preferred to describe himself as the “unofficial emissary and honest interpreter” between Mahatma Gandhi and the British. An educationist at heart, Birla has left behind him a legacy that few can equal. A school dropout himself, he opened 400 primary schools in just one year. He taught himself to read, think and write on religion, medicine, history, current affairs, English, Indian literature and India’s economic problems. The Birla Engineering College in Pilani, established by him, has evolved into one of India’s finest engineering schools. Today, Pilani also houses a wing of Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), a famous residential public school christened after the Birlas and a number of polytechnic colleges. Birla also established many temples, planetariums and hospitals. Ghanshyam Das Birla died in 1983 at the age of 90. The G.D. Birla Award for Scientific Research was instituted in 1991, to encourage research in the country. There is a memorial to him at Golders Green Crematorium, London, where a large statue of him stands sentinel. It is a tribute to the man who in his last interview said, “A good guy, that’s all I’ve tried to be all these years. Forget G.D. Birla.” Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters


EduTech  July 2011

(1894 – 1983) 1927 Starts the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) along with Purushottam Takkur 1932 Becomes first President of All India Harijan Sevak Sangha 1942 Establishes Hindustan Motors 1957 Awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India 1964 Founded BITS Pilani in its current form


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