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Edu Tech December 2009

FOREWORD Technology: The Great Leveller



friend of mine, hailing from a small town in Bihar, told me a heartwarming story recently. This friend, an IITian, had made it through a reputed residential school, thanks to the tutoring he received from a local schoolteacher—“Arjun Master”. Masterji lived and taught from his single-room home on a dingy street in town. Despite his humble background, his lessons were magic! Last week, my friend received a call from his old Masterji. There was great news—his former teacher’s child, Rashmi, had received admission to one of the most reputed schools in New Delhi. The teacher’s request was that my friend be his daughter’s local guardian. It was a proud moment for my friend. And, he was curious. How did Masterji manage the admission process and travel? “Rashmi did everything. She researched on the net, then applied online,” came his reply. Masterji’s home is an archetypical rural Indian town. It has electricity for two hours in the day. Cyber cafes run on generator. In such a town, a smart student had leveraged technology efficiently to transform her life. And, an institution had offered her the scope to do that. Technology is becoming the fulcrum in Indian higher education institutions. Colleges and universities are leveraging it to transform learning. It is this transformation that we wish to explore in this month’s EDU—how reach, learning and administration are changing here. We have resorted to case studies and roped in three leaders to talk of their experiences. Despite sunny prospects, there’s a warning here—technology can act as a transformer only if adopted in the right way. Unfortunately, this transformation has not touched everyone. A 2009-Ernst&Young survey, Making Indian Higher Education System Future Ready, states that only 22 percent of government institutions have ERP systems. And, only one percent of people in rural areas (where 72 percent of India lives) use the net. Only when we give technological access to the remaining milieu, do we actually win the war, and the battle. If policymakers are indeed serious about making India the next IT hub, they should change our higher education system first. However, that does not absolve institutions from playing their part. They will have to continue to nurture smart students such as Rashmi. If government and institutions cooperate, who knows what other sagas will start next?

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha

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Edu Tech December 2009


Surveillance for future


mity University is a leading education group of India with over 50,000 students studying across 700 acres of hi-tech campus. At Amity, the management is passionate about grooming leaders who are not only thorough professionals but also good human beings with values. This is just one of the many reasons why Amity has been consistently ranked number 1 by several magazines. Amity University has been ranked the no. 1 private university (source: Education Times), Amity Institute of Biotechnology has been ranked the no. 1 private biotech institute three years in a row (source: Biospectrum), Amity Institute of Telecom has been ranked among the top (source : Outlook) and Amity School of Engineering has been ranked no. 1 private engineering institute for placements (source: Dataquest). Business Challenges Last year, the top management of Amity wanted to secure its campus in Noida to prevent untoward incidents, as well as to maintain a strict vigil in and around the campus. Further, they wanted to create an online classroom scenario, enabling students to attend classes without being physically present. The focus was also to stop ragging, theft, unusual activities and record lectures for future


reference as well as for virtual classroom. While creating the perfect and desired atmosphere, the university wanted lectures in classrooms would have to be recorded live so that students can catch up later, if they miss it in a particular class. They also sought for creating a digital library of all subjects. On a macro level, overall surveillance of the campus was a primary requirement for the university with E-map feature. Steps towards solution In order to provide the best of solution D-Link carried out a two month long demonstration and presentations for the project. Since the project involved a vast area to be covered through IP surveillance, initially Amity gave an order for a branch that satisfied the university and prompted it to go for the overall campus surveillance from D-Link. After understanding and analysing their requirement, D-Link India recommended Pan-TiltZoom(PTZ)-based solution with excellent optical zoom. D-Link (India) Limited is a part of D-Link Corporation and one of the largest networking company in India. D-Link successfully bid for the project through its partner integrator Technosys Security Systems Private Limited, a Noida-based System Integration company, which specializes in integrating security solutions.

J.S. Sodhi, vice-president of AKC Group at Amity, said: “We chose D-Link India on a holistic basis, as we were satisfied with its presentation and product demonstrations. We also consulted other brands, but we zeroed in on it, as our preliminary requirements matched with what they promised to provide.” Implementation challenges D-Link also faced initial teething problems before successfully going about it. First, there were problems of software modification to suit the need of the top education institution. Software was developed and modified but D-Link also faced problems of competent operators on the campus. Hence, it went for training several staff of the university who could take charge of run-

ning those modified software, required to run the IP surveillance system smoothly. This training took about a month. Besides stiff competition for this particular project, D-Link stumbled upon blocks while creating E-map feature in D-view of the campus as per requirement of the university. For this, D-Link contacted its headquarters in Taiwan from where experts came to the Noida campus for an overview of the system. Within three weeks, the entire campus was on E-map with active assistance from the experts from D-Link’s headquarters. Solution Primarily, D-Link offered several cameras, which included stationary web access cameras that feature motion triggering and

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SUMMARY ORGANIZATION: Amity TYPE: Educational institution, trying to build an IP surveillance on campus. Gave D-Link India the project to implement BUSINESS CHALLENGES • Need of area wide surveillance to prevent untoward incident along with maintaining strict vigil. • Need of an online classroom scenario and recording of lectures for future reference. • Deployment for the whole campus, maintaining strict deadline. • Customization of software to suit Amity’ requirement. SOLUTION D-Link India successfully bid for the project through its partner integrator Technosys Security Systems Private Limited, a Noida-based System Integration company, which specializes in integrating security solutions. • Primarily, it offered several camera, which include stationary web access cameras that feature motion triggering and scheduled recording and fullyfeatured Pan, Tilt, Zoom (PTZ) models that feature wireless connectivity, 2-way audio, extreme low light sensitivity and smooth video recording. The different types of cameras were: • DCS-5300G 802.11g Wireless Internet Camera with Pan/Tilt: 200 numbers • DCS-5610 2.6x Optical Zoom PTZ PoE Internet Camera: 350 numbers • DCS-6620G 10x Digital and Optical Zoom Wireless PTZ Camera: 10 numbers BENEFITS • Monitoring of activities in and around the campus. • PTZ Camera’s with Optical Zoom up to 10X. • Management of IP Camera’s locationwise (E-Map Feature) • Different user level security to access IP Camera. • Assisting students in re-viewing the lectures in case they have missed them through online recording of the lectures • Creating a digital library of all the subjects for future references

scheduled recording and fullyfeatured PTZ models that feature wireless connectivity, two-way audio, extreme low light sensitivity and smooth video recording. In two weeks, the system integration was completed and it took only a week to complete the installation of the cameras at different locations. D-Link installed 200 numbers of DCS-5300G 802.11g Wireless Internet Cameras with Pan/ Tilt. The DCS-5300G is a fullyfeatured surveillance system that connects to an Ethernet or wireless broadband network to provide remote high-quality video and audio. One can safely access and control the DCS-5300G using web browsers. The DCS5300G Wireless Security Camera uses a CCD sensor that provides sharp and clear video with life like colour representation. The DCS5300G Wireless Security Camera has a pan, tilt, and zoom function that can be controlled from the Web interface or from the included remote control. D-link also installed 350 numbers of DCS-5610 Pan/Tilt/ Zoom PoE Internet Cameras, a full-featured surveillance camera designed to monitor home, office and small business. IP surveillance systems are quickly gaining ground over conventional CCTV security cameras due to superior performance, low costs and convenient management. Features such as Power over Ethernet (PoE) support, 2.6x optical zoom, SIP 2-way audio, and 3G mobile phone support make this network camera a premier surveillance solution. The 10x optical zoom lens delivers the level of detail necessary to identi-

“We are quite satisfied with the surveillance system as well as the web-camera integration in classrooms. This not only helped us on several occasions in administration, but also students benefited most from the IT-enabled services on campus.” —J S SODHI , VICE-PRESIDENT OF AKC GROUP AT AMITY fy people, license plate numbers and other important details that are difficult to clearly view with digital zoom. Lastly, D-Link 10 DCS-6620G 10x Digital and Optical Zoom Wireless PTZ Cameras. It supports two-way audio with its built-in microphone and A/V port. Attaching a speaker to the A/V port1 allows remote communication with subjects near the camera. With the ability to record video in low light settings, the DCS-6620G can provide exceptional night-time surveillance. Extreme low-light sensitivity of .05 Lux enables recording in near total darkness. Benefits The benefits of the IP surveillance project at Amity were too many. Managing IP cameras locationwise (E-Map feature) is one of the best that a university of Amity’s standard can get. Not only this, D-Link also made different userlevel security for the institution to access the IP cameras. AKC Group vice-president Sodhi added: “We are quite satisfied

with the surveillance system as well as the web-camera integration in classrooms. This not only helped us on several occasions in administration, but also students benefited most from the ITenabled services on campus. We are probably the first university to focus on IT on such a scale and our commitment towards students is to prepare them for a better future.” Besides the administration of the premier university, the students were also directly benefited from the project. If a student cannot attend a particular lecture, s/he can review it through online recording of the class. For this, s/he doesn’t need to go to a friend for notes or request the faculty concerned for repeating the particular lecture. Another major advantage of the project is that the institute created, in the process, a digital library of all the subjects for future references. “A student can at any time, take help from the digital library or the virtual classroom that we created for him/ her,” Sodhi says proudly.

“Amity provides Education solution that offers integrated capabilities for institutes by enabling core functions, support functions and management of institutional resources. The on-demand solutions are offered through an innovative business model-“IT-as-a-Service” in a “Pay as you use”; “Build as you grow” mode. To know more about Education solution call at 1-800-209-6030 or email at”

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UPDATES 06 07 08 09



Access, learning and administration— three sectors in higher education that are becoming more and more cutting-edge. Is your campus lagging behind?


38 RAHUL CHOUDAHA Why B-schools should get accredited. Indian management schools fail the quality test. 46 DHEERAJ SANGHI Shouldn’t the existing admission system be more flexible for the sake of the student?


10 RISHIKESHA T. KRISHNAN Distance Education: what India’s GER needs


52 AARON B. SCHWARZ Increasing resource utilisation on campus


60 ASHOK RANCHHOD Why he thinks that students deserve a vibrant, rather than a viable atmosphere By Rohini Banejee & Smita Polite


54 PATENTLY UNDERUSED EDU shows you why patents are indeed a virtue By Smita Polite


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12 ACCESS Communication technology is bringing education to every corner of the country

22 LEARNING Future classrooms promise to get more and more tech-savvy By Chethana Dinesh

By Nupur Chaturvedi

“There is little time spent on reflection—on what we are doing and why”


40 SOLAR POWER Alternative energy—how an institution can spend wisely and save the planet at the same time By Bhavika Sicka & Urvee Modwel



34 INDUSTRY-ACADEMIA Expertspeak: here’s how and why the two should start repairing burnt bridges By Urvee Modwel


48 The country’s waking up to the need for continuing education and newer distance-learning courses By Nupur Chaturvedi & Parsheila Lookhar

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28 ADMINISTRATION New-age campuses are resorting to digitisation to speed up processes

SALES & MARKETING VP SALES & MARKETING: Naveen Chand Singh BRAND MANAGER: Siddhant Raizada NATIONAL MANAGER-EVENTS & SPECIAL PROJECTS: Mahantesh Godi NATIONAL MANAGER ONLINE: Nitin Walia ( 09811772466) ASSISTANT BRAND MANAGER: Arpita Ganguli GM SOUTH: Vinodh Kaliappan(09740714817) GM NORTH: Pranav Saran(09312685289) GM WEST: Sachin N Mhashilkar(09920348755) AD CO-ORDINATION/SCHEDULING: Kishan Singh

By Padmaja Shastri

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


62 BOOKS n The Great Brain Race n Open Secrets 63 PRODUCTS n Sony’s new Walkman Mp3 Players n Intel launches the world’s thinnest netbook











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


OFFICE ADDRESS Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd C/o KPT House, Plot 41/13, Sector-30, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400703, India Published, Printed and Owned by Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd. Published and printed on their behalf by Kanak Ghosh. Published at KPT House, Plot 41/13 sector-30, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400703, India Printed at Silver point Press Pvt Ltd, d107 TTC Industrial Area, Nerul Mumbai 400706. Editor: Anuradha Das Mathur COPYRIGHT, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED : Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt. Ltd is prohibited.

64 HANSA MEHTA The first woman vice chancellor By Rohini Banerjee Cover Art: DESIGN: ANOOP PC

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts before recycling

May 2010 EDU TECH

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NEW DIRECTOR AT TRINITY S.M. Bhatia, the former director of the technical education, Madhya Pradesh, has joined the Trinity Institute of Technology and Research, Bhopal, as its new director. Earlier, Bhatia served as the director of Vyapam from July 1997 to January 2001, where he was involved in the formulation of rules for all professional courses. He has also successfully conducted entrance examinations on a pan-India basis. Bhatia helped form autonomous societies pertaining to all government engineering colleges and polytechnic institutions in the state. He served as the director of technical education from May 2002 to August 2004 and was the key government official in implementing the World Bank-assisted Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme.


Kapil Sibal is enthusiastic about forging ties with US universities


Top US Varsities Express Interest Overseas institutions are ‘enthusiastic’ regarding the recentlyintroduced legislation on foreign educators


epresentatives from several premier American universities met Kapil Sibal, when he visited US in the first week of June, and expressed their interest to set up institutions in India. Apart from starting their own institutions in the Subcontinent, they also expressed interest in collaborating with Indian institutions. Sibal met representatives of Virginia Tech, Georgetown University, American University, and School of International Studies. Virginia Tech has shown interest in setting up a facility near Chennai for research. Similarly, Georgetown University has expressed its desire to venture into social science research. The minister has asked them to forward a concept note to decide on the areas of mutual interest. Sibal also addressed the Council for Foreign Relations, stressing that higher education will be one of the key areas for strategic partnership between India and the US.


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NEW CAMPUS LAUNCHED BY IIFM Indian Institute of Financial Management (IIFM) launched its new campus in Pune. It will offer a two-year, full-time international MBA, two-year executive MBA and a threeyear international BBA, with specialisations in marketing, finance, HR and IT, with international accreditations. The campus will have Wi Fi enabled libraries and auditoriums and also boasts of Polycom-enabled video-conferencing systems.

NEW MIT DEAN Subra Suresh, dean of engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been nominated by US President Barrack Obama to serve as the next director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Arden L. Bement Junior, who returned this month to Purdue University after heading the NSF for five years. The NSF uses an annual budget of nearly US$7 billion to support basic research at American colleges and universities.

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UPDATES tie-up

Uniken, IIM A Join Hands Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship to start a new programme


niken and Center for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), an initiative of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, have joined hands to create a technology innovation and entrepreneurship programme in India. “Called Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Labs (TIEL), the programme will target engineering colleges. It aims to provide budding innovators an ecosystem for developing their innovations and commercialising them,” said Sanjay Deshpande, chief innovation officer, Uniken. TIEL is based on MIT’s FABLAB concept. It will assist innovators in shaping ideas around problems, and then developing unique solutions from those ideas to resolve problems. This lab will further assist innovators in prototyping solutions and formulating business plans, or case studies, around them. The Business Innovation Centre of

IIM Ahmedabad took initiative and set up the Centre for Incubation and Entrepreneurship

Uniken would then take over the solution and explore models for commercialisation. Those who wish to partner and explore this avenue would be provided support by the TIEL programme, guided by leading names in the technology and innovation space in India. Pranay Gupta, CoCEO of CIIE, elaborated that, “The importance of innovation in India cannot

be over emphasised. Developed countries today are already looking at India as the next generation innovation lab. TIEL is an opportunity for educational institutes to start developing the innovation mindset among students. Both Uniken and CIIE are committed towards developing an innovation ecosystem in India and we will leverage our respective expertise in running this programme.”


Oxford Tops Guardian’s 2010 League List, Cambridge Follows OXFORD UNIVERSITY AGAIN topped the list as UK’s leading teaching institution in Guardian’s university league tables. Oxford scores highly on teaching quality, student satisfaction and career prospects. It also spends the highest amount per student. John Hood, vice chancellor, Oxford, in May 2010 had warned that the university was suffering from losses because of the cost of teaching—however, it seems that the university successfully managed to beat its losses. In the list, Cambridge retains its second place, with St Andrews University moving up from its fifth position to the third place. Britain’s oldest universities still dominate the high rankings this year. Universities founded in the 1960s have also made the top 10—usually, newer universities tend to do worse in Guardian’s tables because they spend less money on teaching and have lower ratios of staff to students.




has Imperial College , th place London, while Edinburgh comes in at seventh


has St Andrews rd place University moving up from its fifth spot last year

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Georgia Tech, Infosys Ink Research MoU

Georgia Institute of Technology and Infosys sign an agreement to set up a postgraduate centre in Hyderabad


he Georgia Institute of Technology and Infosys Technologies have announced their intention to partner on potential research and educational opportunities. An MoU has been signed by Gary Schuster, Georgia Tech’s provost and vice-president for academic affairs, and S. (Kris) Gopalakrishnan, chief executive officer and managing director of Infosys Technologies, formalising the collaboration. Georgia Tech is exploring the possibility of establishing a postgraduate research institution in Hyderabad, India. The proposed facility would include centres for excellence in information technology and information systems, energy systems, biotechnology and infrastructure studies. As a part of the partnership, Infosys is planning to collaborate on various research projects of mutual interest in these areas of technology. Georgia Tech

R&D development

and Infosys will create a roadmap to identify the necessary resources and infrastructure to transfer these technologies to market. “Since Infosys has a presence both in Atlanta and Hyderabad, there are collaborative opportunities in


Access To Global E-Books HRD ministry to subscribe to global e-journals and e-books to boost graduate, postgraduate courses College students across India will now receive free access to e-journals and e-books from all over the world with the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry subscribing to them. Over 2,000 journals have been subscribed to by the ministry under the project titled “N-List” (National Library and Information Services Infrastructure for Scholarly Content). These will be provided to colleges for a fee. “It’s a part of the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) initiatives of the government. The resources include more than 2,100 e-journals and 51,000 e-books,” a ministry official said. The scheme covers premier technical institutions such as IITs and NITs, along with 6,000 government and government-aided colleges across the country. Private institutions are also eligible for membership, provided they pay a fee. “We have covered over 1,200 Indian colleges. They


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both locations,” said Schuster. “Such alliances are critical for developing a global university and enhancing closer educational, scientific and economic ties between the United States and India.” According to Schuster, for the past several years the partnership between Georgia Tech and Infosys has been very strong in Atlanta. Schuster also noted that the new collaboration extends the existing partnership to the research arena. “Georgia Tech faculty along with Infosys’ engineers and scientists will now have the opportunity to work together on emerging computing and web technologies that promise to add new efficiencies of cost and scale to the rapidly expanding markets,” he said. “The human resources development ministry of India recently encouraged non-Indian universities to set up campuses in India through the forward-looking Foreign Universities Bill that was introduced in Parliament,” added Vijay Madisetti, executive director of Georgia Tech’s India Initiative. He also said, “We are hopeful that the passage of this bill will allow us to expand our proposed activities beyond research, to include educational programmes that will offer PhD and master’s degrees to Indian students. At the start, we plan to draw primarily from Infosys.”

have been given logins and passwords,” the official said. Government colleges have to pay Rs 5,000 as annual membership fee, while private colleges will have to pay an annual subscription of Rs 46,000. The facility will, however, be free for some students. “For colleges that receive UGC aid, the expenditure will be met by the ministry itself,” the official said. e-resources will include publications from American Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, Annual Reviews, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Royal Society of Chemistry and Tata McGraw Hill, along with major Indian journals and publications.

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EDUCOMP’s Foray Into Management

Raffles Higher Education Limited carves a foothold for itself in management education


ducomp Raffles Higher Education Limited in June announced its foray into management education by announcing its dual master programme in PGPM and MCom. PGPM and MCom programmes are two-year, dual-masters programmes that enable students to pursue a course in India with an option of studying a semester in RCDC Australia, or Singapore. After

course completion, students may be awarded with a PGPM degree from Raffles Millennium International, or an MCom from RCDC Australia. The programme also guarantees placement to 20 students in Singapore and 45 students in India. Raffles seeks to provide its students with corporate exposure by visits to corporate houses and arranging discussions on international case studies.


Online Admissions In Panjab University Varsity to make admission process transparent and error-free through web-based selection


n a bid to reduce its paper work and streamline its admission procedure, Panjab University (PU) has decided to issue online admit cards and roll numbers to students studying in 100 and more colleges in Punjab from the forthcoming sessions. This centralised admission procedure will enable all students and parents to save time, money and energy. “We are trying to put everything online in order to make processes more transparent and efficient. From the next session, we will issue online admit cards and roll numbers. It would be a big help for outstation students and would reduce the chances of any discrepancy,” said PU Vice Chancellor R.C. Sobti. He added, “Students and parents can also check the attendance record on the website and file complaints. We would ensure the process gets hastened up.” PU campus is spread over 550 acres in Chandigarh and some 11,000 students study in its 60 departments. PU has launched a website (www.pubcomadmissions. com) for centralised admissions in the forthcoming session in its BCom course. There are over 4,000 seats in BCom I, in 26 PU-affiliated colleges in the union territory and other cities of Punjab. This course, is most sought after not only among the students of this region, but also among outstation students. Every year, students from states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and New Delhi, apply for it.

VOICES “PROLIFERATION OF INSTITUTIONS IN THE UNAIDED SECTOR will ruin the public education system. One of the main reasons for the progress of a state, is its public education system that is pursued there” — V.S. ACHUTHANANDAN, Chief Minister, Kerala, India

“FROM INDIA, WE HAVE MUCH TO LEARN; with India we have much to share” — ARNE DUNCAN, Education Secretary, United States of America

“INDIA SHOULD BE LITERATE BY 2020, because that is where national assets and real wealth will be created ” — KAPIL SIBAL, Minister, Human Resource Development Ministry, India

“RESPECT FOR THE TEACHING PROFESSION IS GAINING MOMENTUM, AND THE COUNTRY SEEMS TO HAVE WOKEN UP. The government is also determined to strengthen higher education” — M. ANANDAKRISHNAN, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Kanpur

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Rishikesha T. Krishnan

Distance Education: Shot In Arm For India’s GER


y global standards, India has a dismal Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)— proportion of people of college-going age actually enrolled in institutions. (Incidentally, our GER stands at 12 percent). Doubling this figure will require an investment worth India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), believes Samir Brahmachari, director-general of India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Such an investment is obviously out of reach, given the competing priorities of our country. Apart from a dismal GER, India also faces a perennial shortage of teachers, while quality of those available, varies considerably. It is clear to the government that to become the “next big thing” in the present global knowledge economy, an educated population is cardinal, otherwise, even the concept of India’s demographic dividend will fall flat.

Open Varsities & India For the past five decades now, India (and its government) has been trying to rectify the GER situation. One of the steps taken by the government has been to establish the concept of “distance” education in the 1960s. Open universities came into being 20 years later. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has been up and running for 25 years now. Today, with 2.8 million students on its rolls, it’s supposedly the largest such institution in the world. Apart from IGNOU, India has 13 other open universities.


Despite pushing the country’s GER, the open university system has not achieved the same status as traditional universities. Recruiters tend to consider distance education as “inferior” to traditional (classroom) teaching. This, despite the fact that India’s open universities operate in a hybrid mode, with study centres and points of contact with students. There is one genuine problem though—such universities have not kept pace with the changing times. Their presence on the web is weak and most don’t use e-learning. On the other hand, these universities have embraced technologies such as video conferencing, television transmission and FM radio broadcasts. But, there is hope—given by the internet and technologies such as video streaming. Which is helping to bridge the trade-off between richness (of content and quality) and reach.

Alternate Models Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launched its Open Courseware (OCW) project ( in 1999, to use the internet to allow a larger audience to benefit from their courses. A pilot of 50 courses was launched in 2002. By 2007, more than 1,800 courses were available online. OCW is not a formal course offering. It does not provide additional support for online learners, or offer credits. It simply publishes course material used by professors after

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Rishikesha T. Krishnan

formatting, editing and verifying licencing requirements. Beneficiaries are both teachers and students—OCW portal helps faculty in other schools get a headstart while preparing their teaching material, while students around the world get to use the MIT material to supplement their own learning. In 1999, India began a similar programme— National Project for Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL)—with help from the IITs and the Indian Institute of Science. For its first phase (2003-2007), 125 web-based courses and 123 video courses covering basic engineering and science courses were produced by the consortium. ( Video courses were originally intended to be shown through Doordarshan’s education channel— Eklavya. They are now available in a more easily accessible format through Youtube. The target audience is faculty and students of engineering. Material is designed to meet the AICTE curriculum and is modular in nature.Its content quality is good, meeting the requirements of curricula across the country. Eventually, NPTEL plans to have interactive features such as threaded discussions.



ers 450 courses and has recorded 4.1 million views on Youtube during 2009. One of the most successful distance education programmes is the Stanford Instructional Television Network (SITN). It was built around the television in 1968. It beamed graduate (Stanford) classes into US companies and allowed employees to gain graduate qualifications. Distinctive features of this programme were the high quality of instruction, use of technology to deliver the classes with high fidelity, and a strong customer service support system. Off-campus students could ask questions and intervene in the class through audio. Thus the “distance learners” were able to participate in an actual class. By the second half of the 1990s, Stanford courses were offered by the Stanford Center for Professional Development ( through streaming video, allowing asynchronous access to participants.

Way Forward Berkeley’s approach is effective and easy. Not only does it obviate the need for studios, it enables the

n the long run, the project will form the ‘nucleus’ for a ‘virtual technical university’—students can enrol for credits and degrees

Interestingly, half of the NPTEL users for the first 10 months were professionals. By 2011, approximately 600 courses will be available on NPTEL—the project aims to be the largest repository of technical video lectures in the world. In the long run, the project will form the ‘nucleus’ for a ‘virtual technical university’—students can enrol for credits and degrees. webcast.berkeley ( provides an alternate model. Audio and video recordings of actual classes are available to the world through the internet. Faculty can sign up to have their courses made available online. UC Berkeley leverages technology to bring down the overall cost of production and distribution. They have an internally-developed system that automatically invites eligible faculty to participate each semester, manages their responses, creates and schedules course recordings and processes, and publishes media files to webcast.berkeley—it cov-

video to enter an interactive classroom. In contrast, the NPTEL videos are formal. Of course, NPTEL has the potential of creating content suitable to the needs of a target audience, while Berkeley’s content is what they teach at the university. The second phase of NPTEL is expected to broaden the range of teachers beyond IITs and IISc. If the video content can be based on actual class sessions at institutions, this will create a more vibrant environment for learners. Supplementing the streaming videos with online study groups and discussion forums will help extend learning beyond videos. The HRD ministry should be lauded for funding the NPTEL. Thanks to providers like Youtube, the problem of storing content and streaming video has been overcome. But, long-term success will depend on the existence of a widespread, high-quality broadband connectivity.

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

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Access, learning and administration in higher education are getting the 21st century technology makeover ILLUSTRATION ANOOP PC

Technology is omnipresent in our lives—we don’t notice that we eat, breathe and live it. In today’s world, science is second nature, providing us a platform to communicate, collaborate and learn. Especially in the field of higher education. Institutions are opening up their classrooms like never before to a global community 12

of teachers and students— and in this scenario technology is applicable to its every domain, playing a crucial role in its delivery. While technology has shrunk the world, it has also become the strongest tool fostering higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills, helping to streamline administrative operations

and delivering a great service to students and optimising resources. In recent years, higher education institutes or HEIs have become aware of this shift towards 21st century learning and environments enabled by Web 2.0 technologies, social networking sites and mobile devices such as iPhone and dual-mode phones.

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Technology COVER STORY

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No wonder then that the budget for technology in the Indian education sector has witnessed quite a surge. According to Gartner, the research firm, budget for IT in the education sector grew at a rapid rate of 4.1 percent in 2009—propelled by the belief that technology could turn our “flat” world into a virtual classroom. “Information and communication technology (ICT) is challenging faculty to rethink how a classroom time should be spent. If lectures can be both recorded and streamed as video, what then is the best use of classroom time?” asks Steve Carson, director (external relations) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Carson is also the incharge of OpenCourseWare and president of its consortium. OpenCourseWare does exactly what its name suggests—puts course content (material) online for the world to refer to. Use of satellite connections, internet and mobile phones is expanding the classroom experience, further.

Reach Out & Grab


hile a handful of universities are concentrating on how ICT can enhance classroom experiences, others are toying with a more basic idea—reaching out to the maximum number of students through “open and distance education” (ODE). A number of institutions are exploring this field with help of open courses and platforms like EduNxt—that was introduced by Manipal Education to bring content to the living room at the click of a mouse. “Thanks to ICT the nature of higher education is undergoing transformation here. Technology is making education student-centric. It allows the sharing of ‘best practices’ and study materials— improving quality. It’s like the magic wand, helping ODE by reaching out to a wider audience, especially in remote areas,” explains Anand Sudarshan, CEO, Manipal Education Group. When one considers the gross enrollment ratio (GER) of India (11 percent), ICT could be the stitch-in-time, raising GER to a more respectable 15 percent.


Indian higher education institutes (HEIs) have realised the potential of ICT in enhancing the reach of education. And, they are adopting it effectively to grant students an “active learning experience”, whichever state or country they may be in. Distance education is getting redefined with students across socio-economic groups gaining access to “global” content from across the world. And the government is not sitting idle! The Centre’s initiatives to promote education through ICT have grown in the past few years. Several private players (Hughes-Net, Reliance World and Oracle) have entered the arena, as well. They are providing knowledge-infrastructure for networking and real-time classrooms across cities. So, are higher education institutes, examining ways in which they can integrate ICT into their course fabric and create an intellectually motivating teaching-learning experience? Yes, they are. If one is not convinced, she should examine the flood of online courses and study materials on offer. Then there are the teaching aids that are being adopted. On one hand there is the Interactive White Board (IWB), offering teachers an opportunity to lecture students from across a country in realtime, on the other hand, there are systems such as video-conferencing and data-sharing that are helping professors collaborate with global peers. Students are resorting to global platforms to debate the pros and cons through social networking sites—Facebook and Twitter. Digital libraries, journals and e-books are substantiating the fact that knowledge is, after all, at one’s fingertips. Influx of smartphones and iPhones into college campuses has further raised the bar, allowing students and faculty to perform a range of tasks—registering, text blogging, downloading study material and accessing latest journals, virtually from anywhere. HEIs are no longer just institutes that impart knowledge—they are communities enriching knowledge where the line between real and virtual is getting just a little blurred.



f the universities are changing, it’s the students who are pushing this change. Say RIP to the book, the exercise copy and the pen. Today’s generation is a mobile-totting, notebook-carrying and stylus-using group, seeking out universities that offer a robust IT infrastructure. Universities, too, have a finger on the pulse of these new kids on the block. HEIs are adopting technology to build a brand for themselves—one that says loud and clear that their students are prepared to dance the techno trot.



T has, perhaps, given the biggest makeover to college administration. Gone are the days of preadmission pains—queues in front of the office for forms, travelling across cities for tours of a campus. A click of a mouse on a university website can now take a prospective students on virtual tours of campuses of their choice, offering a peek into facilities, while a voiceover gently points out interesting details— quick, hassle-free and inexpensive. Forms are available online, are submitted online, and fee money is collected through the websites. Working technology to their advantage, campuses around the world are implementing education resource planning (ERP) to improve the way they function. Servers are storing a sea of information related to the student and staff community, financial and human resources and the alumni. Lists of classes, grades, exams and schedules and results—information is stored online making colleges paperless and green. Taking the term tech-savvy a notch higher are “smart cards”. These have minimised administrative work by 30 percent, at the very least. These multiapplication cards are used on smart campuses to access and control monetary transactions, computer networks, photocopying, machine use, laboratory and medical facilities and food courts. They are being used by staff and students alike. Welcome to the world of tomorrow.

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Edu Tech December 2009



SCALE UP, SPREAD OUT Technology has turned the world and education, flat with shrinking distances and increasing interaction BY NUPUR CHATURVEDI

“We have to choose software and hardware that have a reasonablylong usability for our intended purpose” —DR SURJIT SINGH PABLA, VC, SMU

TECH TALK Satellite Technology


aking higher education to every Indian family is one of the toughest challenges that the Centre faces today. The country’s current gross enrolment ratio (GER) stands at 11.6 percent (global average stands at 26 and that of developed countries at 40). HRD minister Kapil Sibal wishes to take that dismal GER to 15. As professor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, chairman and VC, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), points out, contextualised use of technology could do the trick! “The challenge is to enhance the reach of education that can be done by contextualised use of technology,” he adds.

Distance No Bar One of the ways higher education can spread a wider net is through open and distance education (ODE). For long, this meant mailing out course material and compromising upon the learning experience. In the past few years, however, technology has been employed to bring ODE at a par with classroom learning. ODE is about getting education where you are—over the internet, with satellite connections, or more. Take, for instance, NIIT Imperia and HughesNet Global Education. Both use satellite technology. Shraman Jha, senior vice president, NIIT Imperia, calls NIIT Imperia a “fully live classroom with a difference”.


OPEN AND distance education (or ODE) is obtained through simulated classroom experiences— these combine an institutes’ intellectual capital with technology that emulates a real-time classroom experience with help of satellite. Students are able to access lectures sitting thousand miles away. The learner, here has the freedom to choose any pedagogical mode

OpenCourseWare IN 2000, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) started putting up some of its course content on its website for a global community of students and teachers. MIT has been a pioneer in democratising higher education— currently, it puts up 1,900 course contents online. Then evolved EduCommons—an online platform ready to be downloaded and used by any institution

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Technology COVER STORY Some of the other institutions making use of the same technology include IIMs Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Indore and Lucknow, IIFT New Delhi, IMT Ghaziabad, MDI Gurgaon, and IMI New Delhi. The technology simulates a classroom environment in a distributed configuration. What makes the courses come alive is the potent combination of an institutes’ intellectual capital—curriculum, faculty and pedagogy—with technology that emulates a real-time, classroom experience. Like NIIT Imperia and HughesNet, Reliance Worlds also offer virtual classroom environments. IIMs Bangalore, Calcutta, XIMB, XLRI and IMT, use Reliance’s virtual classrooms for the delivery of some their courses. A reliable technology partner and a welldrawn-out plan are critical to making ODE a successful venture. In its recommendations to the government, the National Knowledge Commission’s working group on ODE stated, “ICT must be integrated into the ODE system not only to ensure a wider outreach, but to make the pedagogical process more relevant, user-friendly, and updatable. Pedagogical delivery must discard its reliance on textual material and content-based evaluation and move towards skill, competency and capability development suited to the life and work of the learner, who must have the freedom to choose any pedagogical mode.” One of the recommendations of the group is to establish “a national ICT infrastructure through state support that can meet the technology demands of the ODE system.” With the technology infrastructure in place and institutions on board, getting higher education across to people won’t be a pipedream.

Get It Online Another way for students to access higher education is over the internet, by way of e-learning. Course material delivered online, complete with online assessment, gets knowledge across to where colleges—and teachers—can’t. It also gives the student the freedom to learn at her own pace. Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, for instance, has a

virtual university, which offers webenabled courses. The pedagogy and curriculum are the same and are delivered in the form of “multimedia-based soft teachers.” There is even a virtual lab to get the course as close to the real experience as possible. The assessment, in BITS VU’s case, however, is conventional. Reliance Worlds are also used for delivery of a lecture. In this system, the institution also provides additional study material, or makes them the centre for evaluation for the courses. Besides the private sector, UGC and department of information technology (DIT) of the ministry of communication and IT also sponsor courses to be delivered online. IGNOU has spearheaded e-learning initiatives in courses, replacing print content with e-learning initiatives. ODE today has gone from being a $200-million market, to projected revenues of $1 billion for 2010.

OpenCourseWare Not all engineering colleges are IITs, and not all management institutions are IIMs. How, then, can an institution provide the same quality of education as premier institutions? The answer is OpenCourseWare. In 2000, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) start-


ed a simple initiative—putting up some of its course work content on its website. MIT has been a pioneer in democratising higher education—it puts up the content of 1,900 courses online. Taking its lead, more institutions have adapted their courseware as such. Then evolved EduCommons—an online platform ready to be downloaded and used by any institution. EduCommons made the development of open courseware a manageable and cheaper task. The onset of Web 2.0 has increased the level of interactivity for courses. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, have added to the teaching-learning experience. It has helped institutions bring down the cost of delivery. So, what happens once these courses have been made available online? While self-learners benefit, the real impact is when educators in smaller institutions use the online coursework to enhance the quality of teaching. National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is a collaboration between seven IITs, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the HRD ministry. NPTEL harnesses the combined knowledge of major institutions and conducts workshops for teachers who are from lower-profile engineering institutions. Taking the learning from open courseware a step further, IGNOU’s FlexiLearn makes courseware available free, but charges a fee if certification is sought. For those who just want to learn, there is the course content for free, and for those that need the stamp of certification, there is the option to get that as well.

Live On Air Given the limited internet penetration in the country, sometimes the only way you can get any information across is over the radio or television. Again, it is IGNOU that has harnessed these successfully, delivering courses over Gyan Vani (radio) and Gyan Darshan (television). Whatever be the technology if in the right hand, is a pretty powerful tool cutting across barriers. It is up to the institution to use it towards maximum impact. June 2010 EDU TECH

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IT IS THE GREAT INDIAN LEVELLER Inspired By Life—Manipal’s motto motivates the education and healthcare group to offer distance education to students. Brigadier Dr Surjit Singh Pabla, vice chancellor, Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Sciences explains the nitty-gritty BY NUPUR CHATURVEDI When did SMU decide to enter the open and distance education (ODE) sector? Manipal Education and Medical Group’s motto is “Inspired by Life”. We take our cue from life itself. The group decided to enter the ODE field in the 1990s, after noticing that a large number of Indian teenagers were unable to attend college. We began with Manipal Academy


of Higher Education (MAHE); and from 2001, through the SMU.

What is your mode of delivery? How has technology helped? SMU, we believe, has the best delivery model. Our three-tier system comprises self-

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Dialogue COVER STORY learning material (SLM) and regular lectures by experts through interactive lessons. These (lessons) are broadcast via three studios and 400 VSAT terminals in our pan-India learning centres (LCs). We also have subject counsellors at LCs. EduNxt is the latest addition to SMU’s DE resources. It’s a potent tool, using information and communication technologies (ICT) for an effective delivery to students—wherever they may be.

operational in August 2010.

What are the day-to-day and long-term challenges in managing the technology? Though India is emerging as a technology hub internationally, a large percentage of its 1.3 million children (between 18 and 24 years) are not computer literate. Therefore, our initial efforts to provide a classroom-like environment through VSAT lessons were not a success. We had established three broadcasting studios at Manipal, Bengaluru and Mumbai, and over 400 VSAT receiving terminals in our LCs. We used subject specialists to deliver online interactive lessons, throughout the day. However, the attendance recorded was low and benefits were not commensurate with expenditure and effort. EduNxt initiative also took some time to become popular. However, our perseverance paid off! And the number of students using EduNxt resources gradually rose.

Is your technology managed in-house, or have you outsourced it? Initially, SMU’s DE used materials and tools available off-the-shelf—textbooks and evaluation tools. Over the years, we developed our DE learning materials. Today, we have full-fledged departments headed by professors and staffed by faculty. We also have the academic central—a department that looks after the printing of selflearning material and customisation of ICT tools. We also see our EduNxt platform as the core competence of our organisation, allowing us a greater control over development and deployment.

Could you explain the concept of EduNxt? Simply put, EduNxt is a technological solution that addresses the problem arising due to the lacuna between students having access to technology, and those who don’t. We believe that information technology is the most efficient means of delivering information and knowledge-based services. More importantly, it is highly scalable with modest incremental investments. IT can, in several ways, provide knowledge and education of a superior quality, available at local colleges. EduNxt came in for these reasons. It was inaugurated at Mumbai in 2008. Its first version was released to our students, a year ago. It has been designed keeping in mind India’s population and its varied socio-economic conditions that impact access to technology. We have made fairly large investments for it. We expect the initiative to help DE students access knowledge that is comparable to regular classroom learning. EduNxt is an ambitious project. We are seeking to establish a global benchmark. It uses emerging technologies. The demand for education in our country is high. But, existing infrastructure will not be able to keep pace with the demand—leaving a portion of population with little, or no, access to education. The second and improved version of EduNxt is due to become


Given the pace at which technology upgrades itself, for example the onset of Web 2.0, how do you plan to keep pace? It is true that technology upgrades at a speed that is difficult to match—especially where development and software fields are concerned. We take duly considered decisions when it comes to making investments in software and hardware— keeping an eye on what is happening around. We have to choose software and hardware that have a reasonably-long usability for our intended purpose. As far as Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 are concerned; these are marketing buzzwords. We take these as the normal development processes for web applications. We do not hastily change technology tools.

Do you believe that technology has played a transformational role in extending the reach of higher education? Technology has certainly played a key role— it has reduced the cost of producing DE learning materials and improved its quality greatly. Delivery systems, too, have become faster and reliable. A DE student today has access to knowledge that is nearly comparable to that delivered through a regular classroom mode. Given India’s scarce resources, rapidly-shrinking costs, and growing penetration of IT, technology augmented learning will become the primary driver of education in our nation, as well as in other developing nations. IT is a great leveller. June 2010 EDU TECH

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Case Studies


IIM K’s Distance Learning Programme CHALLENGES: Lack of a

model to benchmark, translating classroom rigour to a virtual platform, and training faculty to adapt to the new mode


ndian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIM K) was established in 1997 for providing management education. Spread across 100 acres, the institute is situated on two hillocks, in Kunnamangalam, Calicut Kerala.

The Need With a huge demand in the IT sector during the late 90’s, most executives did not get a chance to undergo a formal management education as they were absorbed directly from campuses. The high pressure and mobile nature of the IT sector created a need for a rigorous, yet flexible programme.Existing distance learning programmes were not suitable for management education as they were asynchronous and lacked “peer-based learning”. There was a need for a country wide virtual classroom. As IIM K was situated in Kozhikode, a logistically disadvantaged area, it decided to leverage on technology to tide over the handicap. The options were to go for pure distance learning or blended learning or even asynchronous web based learning. However, IIM


K felt that the technology should simulate a classroom environment and should provide a high level of interactivity. Hence, the broadcasting modes were rejected. It also felt that the technology should support an intense learning atmosphere and provide adequate tools for a range of pedagogies adopted in the class, like case studies. Another consideration was that it should provide a centralised control to maintain discipline and help teachers to engage students while delivering the sessions through a series of interactive tools, like pop-ups, directed questions and flagging. Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) technology best met these requirements.

Implementation The IDl was implemented on a Build Operate Transfer model. The institute decided to extend revenue sharing for the vendor who, at its cost had to set up studio, provide adequate bandwidth and allied infrastructure. After a two stage bidding process M/s Zee Networks and Hughes Escorts Communications Ltd. were shortlisted. HECL was awarded the contract after

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Case Studies COVER STORY inspection of quality, technical parameters, commercial viability and pan India presence in business centres. The IDL programme, started in 2001, was one of the first in Asia-Pacific region. Through continuous training and technical handholding,the challenges were overcome successfully. The first batch had a very enthusiastic group of technocrats as participants and minor technological issues were sorted out during the course. A detailed backup plan was made to ensure that the ‘classroom experience’ was not lost.

Benefits The institute developed a niche in the emerging market of virtual-guided learning. There was greater peer-based learning. The project also influenced the corpus of the institute positively, making IIM K the IIM with the largest corpus fund in the shortest period of time. Since the technology chosen allowed anonymous interactions, students had more interaction than a physical class. The pan India presence also helped in discussions. Inputs from— Anand Unnithan,Chairperson, IDL

IIM B’s Videoconferencing CHALLENGES: Stabilising the solution by fixing

issues like disturbed transmission due to heavy rains and solar flares


ocated in the heart of the IT capital of India, IIM Bangalore is spread over 100 acres. It was established in 1973 and has emerged as a premier management education institute. It launched a Post Graduate Program in Software Enterprise Management (PGSEM) in 1998, which was a long duration programme for IT executives with significant work experience. In 2005, it decided to extend the PGSEM program to IT executives in Chennai, with Infosys acting as its implementation partner. For this distance learning programme, IIM B wanted to simulate a real classroom. Video conferencing was the obvious choice, but


ready made solutions for corporate videoconferencing, were not suitable and the solution had to be customised to ensure identical setups across all locations. Indian Space Research Organisation, which had just launched its EDUSAT satellite, provided bandwidth to conduct classes in a distributed mode. Microphones were placed within easy reach of every student. An audio mixer blended voices from multiple mikes into one audio stream. Pan-tilt-zoom video cameras of TV quality followed the instructor as well as the students. Large-sized LCD monitors were set-up. Cameras were positioned so that an instructor could peer into the monitor at a student and hold a conversation and vice versa. An electronic whiteboard captured all writing for real time transmission via a computer. All communication was conducted twoway via satellite. IIM B entrusted the implementation to a multimedia outfit called Actis, which had experience in media installations. The deployment took 6 months. PGSEM has become popular in Chennai. Sessions are often held by connecting to classrooms in the UK or the US. Inputs from—Shankar Venkatagiri, Assistant Professor, IIM B

SOLUTION PROVIDERS AGC Networks Private Limited Airtel CISCO Meelap Infotech Services PeopleLink Corporate Solutions Polycom (UK) Limited SEC Communication

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STUDENTS’ TECH TROT IN CLASS With a battery of innovative products entering the classrooms, students can look forward to better learning experiences in days to come BY CHETHANA DINESH


tudent of mechanical engineering Akshay wasn’t convinced of the difference between projectile and rocket motions— despite discussions with his “prof”, who had used the Interactive White Board (IWB) to explain the difference. A confused Akshay posted his query on a social network site. He accessed e-books and read up journals in the digital library. And then chatted online with friends in other universities—and Eureka! Within no time he had his answer from a peer! A relieved Akshay posted his online “thank you” note, and marked a date on the e-calendar for his paper presentation. A laptop under his arm, stylus in his pocket, and a mobile in hand—Akshay is your archetype of a student. When in doubt, he clicks. Are his teachers any different? Not really. They are also on the lookout for innovative teaching aids that raise student engagement in a classroom.

Key Driver Technology, especially “stuff” such as IWBs, are changing a classroom’s profile. An IWB is a device that comes with a touchscreen which works in conjunction with a computer and a projector. It is an effective way to interact with digital con-


“Since access to journals is imperative for research, digital libraries are indispensable tools for learning” — RAJEEV SANGAL, DIRECTOR, IIIT HYDERABAD

TECH TALK Interactive Whiteboards THE INTERACTIVE whiteboard device is connected to a computer through a USB or a serial port cable or via a wireless connecection, like bluetooth

Digital Libraries A DIGITAL library is a library in which collections are stored in digital formats. The content may be stored locally, or accessed remotely via computer networks. A digital library is a type of information retrieval system

Videoconferencing A VIDEOCONFERENCE is a set of interactive telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously.

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Technology COVER STORY tent and multimedia in a multi-person learning environment. Add to that the fact that nearly 40 IWBs, spread across any location, can be connected with the help of Local Area Network (LAN), allowing a single teacher to interact with students across classrooms make it even more attractive. Designing lessons around IWBs help educators promote efficiency in information and communication technology (ICT) integration. “The challenge (of integrating ICT into learning environments) is connecting with students, keeping them engaged,” says Anand Sudarshan, CEO and MD, Manipal Education, that launched EduNxt, a technology-infused learning system that enables collaborative and interactive environments for learning. EduNxt inculcates group mentoring, virtual classrooms, simulation, self-study content, recorded presentations and shared browsing. While knowledge dissemination is the objective of teaching aids, collaborative technologies such as video conferencing, data sharing and chats help educators and students to link with the world—a global community of learning. Hari Menon, CEO, India Skills, says, “Innovative teaching aids help utilise time better and facilitate interaction between students, course work and mentors. The aids provide a platform for hands-on experience with multimedia resources.”

Power To Influence If used appropriately, teaching aids encourage a high-level of student interaction and help an average pupil to jog his or her mind. “Technology is allowing elements of education such as content, learning experiences and certification to become dis-aggregated in the digital space. In traditional campuses these factors were tightly packed. Take MIT for instance. Initiatives under its ‘learning management system’ have created a shared online learning community across institutions spread over 18 countries. Mobile devices are increasingly being used to reach wider audiences,” explains Steve Carson, external relations director of

OpenCourseWare and president of its consortium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Such learning technologies give students access to information 24/7 and helps them pace their learning process. They put instructors, too, in an advantageous position—professors and teachers are able to update course content as and when the developments in the field happen.

Smart Students City&Guilds, a vocational skill awarding body, recently achieved a breakthrough with the creation of SmartScreen—a unit-specific and online support for tutors and learners. As Michael Howell, chairman, City&Guilds, explains, “The use of SmartScreen will help tutors and learners by providing access to relevant, qualification-specific support and save time.” While it is SmartScreen for City&Guilds, it can be any other innovative learning technology for other institutes. The Indian government, too, has its finger in the tech pie. The Centre recently launched the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning. The programme aims to enhance the quality of engineering education by developing curriculum-based videos and web courses. Then, there are institutes that are offering distance education resorting to mobile phones and computers to reach to a wider audience. Digital libraries and e-books are also the “latest rage”. And administrators love them too as they are cheaper than the printed textbooks and provide unlimited


access to information round-the-clock. Learning technologies are being used for assessment as well. Institutes such as the MIT and Manipal conduct their tests online. And they also provide chatrooms and whiteboards, and send internal course e-mails to make learning easier.

Behind The Screen With such a thriving market, it is no wonder that some electronic firms (Panasonic, Sony and Samsung) are joining in the technical bandwagon. “Technology frees students from the drudgery of copying and cramming— they know that the subject material can be retrieved at will. Technology also acts as a force multiplier, as trained teachers are at a premium. In order to enhance the teaching experience, Panasonic offers ‘Total Classroom Link Solution’ that contains infrared wireless microphone system, IWBs, plasma panels, projectors, panaboards, SD cards, cameras, video-conferencing systems, screens and phones. The microphone system helps students hear and understand,” explains Chander Kohli, head (education vertical), Panasonic. Scientech Technologies, providers of technical training equipment and solutions, believes in imparting hands-on experience to students. “Our TechBooks are portable and powerful learning platforms. They enhance the learning experience with interactive classroom solutions consisting of interactive devices, response systems, document camera, wireless tablet and online education through Scientech Knowledge University” says Mohammed Ghouse, manager of Scientech. While Scientech’s document camera helps bring in the real world to students online, eBeam, an interactive lightweight gadget costing half of a regular IWB, converts any flat surface (or board) into an interactive platform. New projectors are also being introduced in the market that come with an infrared eye, or a pen, that may be connected to the computer and manoeuvred through it. Future classrooms can get only more technical—savvy? June 2010 EDU TECH

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IT CAN’T REPLACE LIVE TEACHERS Professor Rajeev Sangal, Director, IIIT, Hyderabad, stresses on the ‘right use’ of the ‘right’ tools BY CHETHANA DINESH


What has been the role of technology in transforming higher education (teaching) aids?

trend is surely catching on.

With newer teaching aids entering the education sector, technology is now playing a major role. For new age campuses, it’s a challenge to adopt the “right” teaching aid that suits a particular course. The use of teaching aids is yet to be “very popular” in India (as it is in the west), but the

What has been International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad’s, experience when it comes to new age teaching aids? At IIIT we use several innovative teaching aids. We are, however, very careful in our choic-

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Dialogue COVER STORY es—as not all aids suit our requirements. For instance, a collaborative technology such as video conferencing isn’t the most successful one for us, because of bandwidth problems. However, audio conferencing, when introduced, was a great success. In fact, a faculty member who moved to the US on research-related work taught our students for a year with this technology.

Often, interesting discussions are initiated on the web—that help the students to arrange debates and discussions. Unfortunately, such networks are still limited within the IIIT campus. But, we are seeking to broaden the scope of such networks.

Digital libraries and e-books are touted as the best learning aids. Do you see this trend getting better in the future?

What are the teaching aids presently being used at the IIIT? Our pedagogy centres on “Learning by doing”. Since our aim is to make technology work for us, we keep experimenting with aids and strive to make learning a positive experience for our students. The latest aid that is being used on campus is the “tablet”. When a teacher writes on the tablet, which is almost like the keyboard of a laptop, the written word gets projected on the big screen. Another innovative aid is one that allows a teacher to write on paper, while a camera captures the writing.

What about recorded lectures? Do you consider them a powerful teaching aid? Recorded lectures have their own advantages. While one of the degree programmes offered by us is dependent on recorded lectures, there are some, especially research-oriented ones, where recorded lectures are a waste of resources. More often than not, recorded lectures and video broadcasts make students passive listeners. For recorded lectures to achieve their objective, a teacher must act as a good facilitator and offer all support to students.

How does the IIIT faculty react to innovative teaching aids? Our faculty is quite tech-savvy. Moreover, we offer necessary training as and when necessary. We also train faculty from other colleges. IIIT, so far, has trained around 150 faculty members outside our college.

Certain institutions are leveraging the increasing popularity of social networks to introduce a dash of novelty in their projects. What do you have to say about its efficacy? Do they help, or hinder? Social networks are great tools to access and share information. At IIIT, our students’ community share and seek information on the intranet. They access lectures details on the intranet.


Most definitely—as digital libraries and e-books put knowledge at our fingertips. They are particularly useful for highly-advanced research-based courses. Since access to journals is imperative for research, digital libraries are indispensable tools of higher learning. At IIIT, most courses are research-based, and for our students, using digital libraries has almost become second nature. Ditto for e-books. Therefore, our institute server is loaded with the latest e-books, tutorials and presentations—making it easy for students to access information from any corner of the campus.

Are innovative teaching aids always useful? Every coin has two faces. First we must understand that technology is a smaller part of a larger picture. We should not use teaching aids for the sake of using them. Technology can never replace live teachers. The methodology used, and the manner in which a mentor connects with his students, is more important than technology. For instance, whenever a faculty member wants to use a power-point presentation (PPT) to teach, I ask her if it’s absolutely necessary. According to me, blackboards and classroom teaching method is any day better than the digitised classroom because there is a greater scope for a dialogue in the first one.

Does the institute recommend the extensive use of teaching aids? Only if there’s a faculty-crunch. In such instances, lectures by experts in the field are recorded and teachers (who may, or may not be, the best in the field) are trained to conduct classes with the help of recorded lectures and digital course material. Otherwise the institute is partial to traditional classroom teaching methods assisted by these aids. The focus is on the faculty-student interaction—not an aid. June 2010 EDU TECH

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Case Studies

CASE STUDY Smart Boards To The Rescue


easy-to-use and handy, the board was pretty expensive and required regular maintenance


RI Group of Institutions began in Bhopal in 2001. It was started by a group of NRIs based out of the US. Its five institutions offer BE, MTech, DPharm, BPharm, MPharm, MBA and MCA courses.

The Need Regular chalkboards presented problems that the institute wished to overcome—especially, retrieval of written information. Once a chalkboard was cleaned, lecture information could not be retrieved. Again, diagrams and pictures could not be projected properly. Finally, writing on chalkboards was time-consuming. Overhead projectors could only show prepared slides. The institute was looking for a solution that would allow it to project high-quality presentations, yet retain the ease of using regular boards. Choices were to use an LCD projector along with a black-and-white board, or use smartboards and a portable Whiteboard system.

The Solution Since specialised programmes in the institutions required presentation of a cross-sectional view, circuit and block diagrams and video lectures, the institute decided to go for the


Portable Whiteboard System provided by ONfinity. The portable interactive whiteboard system was handy. It could be installed anywhere with a computer and LCD, and could be displayed on a wall without a screen, or any softscreen without cable attached to the projection surface. As soon as both instruments were attached, it became an interactive board in which, along with a regular powerpoint presentation, one could write, erase, underline and explain, (on the same or separate sheets) the whole lecture. And the lecture could be retrieved, or revised, and stored for quick referral in the future. This technology was found to be easy-to-use. But, it was expensive. It needed to be handled with care, and to be maintained properly. As classes became more interactive, students became much more attentive in class. Faculty took extra care in preparing presentations. In case of a faculty leaving the institute, lectures and study material remained with the institute. It could be provided to the new faculty member taking over. Copy of all lectures could be stored centrally and were made available to every faculty member for consultation. Computers were connected through LAN, so monitoring (of lectures) was easy.

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e-Solutions Galore CHALLENGES: Increasingentists and students from the bioinfor-

complexity necessitated matics community the world over to run improvement in infrastruc- their research findings in applications as AMBER, Gaussian, Bhageerath, ture, creating a monitoring such and Sanjeevini. Through the portal the tool to check new clusters scientific community could access free


he Supercomputing Facility for Bioinformatics & Computational Biology (SCFBio) at IIT Delhi was created in July 2002, with grants from department of biotechnology, department of science and technology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and IIT Delhi. The institutions had established a nodal facility for supercomputing, which was accessible to the bioinformatics community to develop novel methods and softwares for genome analysis, ab initio protein structure prediction and active site-directed drug design. SCFBio provided a web portal for sci-

compute time on the Supercomputer. SCFBio would run these applications on previous clusters of 104 cores to provide outputs to queries. But with increasing complexity, it needed to improve infrastructure and create a monitoring tool to check new clusters.


It was then that the institute decided to engage Wipro to look for a solution. Wipro proposed a high-performance, cluster-based solution that could run jobs parallely and produce details on time-to-time basis. Wipro provided this solution with applications such as AMBER, Gaussian and home-grown programmes such as Bhageerath, Sanjeevini and 36 servers with gigabyte interconnectivity (high end interconnect allow nodes to communicate at the speed of 1GB/s over Ethernet). The solution helped get faster output and serve more scholars. It also made resource monitoring simple with the Ganglia tool. Deployment, management and monitoring became easier. It also made seamless addition of more systems possible, without doing any modification. Higher speed in job resolution was achieved because of high-speed interconnect.

Online Answers CHALLENGES: Creating a

To solve this problem, the administra-

separate web space, assign- tion decided to bring in some changes— ing unique domain IDs, as far as its online property and access concerned. What began as an exerconverting books in the was cise to keep students connected to the library to e-books faculty, even while they were outside


uru Ramdas Institute of Scie n c e & Te c h n o l o g y, Jabalpur, was facing trouble aiding students preparing for their examinations, while they were away on prep leave. Students had to travel back to college during their leave period, meet the faculty, visit the library and then clear their doubts. However, this was inconvenient and time-consuming—especially on days when a particular book was missing from the library, or a teacher was absent.

their classrooms, soon became a learning tool for all. FAQ links were created to help students stay connected to the teachers and


store responses online for everyone’s benefit. E-books were uploaded to enable more than one student to access the same book at a time. Links to previous questionpapers and solution sets were also uploaded on the same portal for reference. The web space, including an e-mail space, was purchased separately. Student and faculty alumni were also added and grouped. Net result: E-learning offered individualised instruction. By using learning style tests, it could target individual learning preferences. Expert knowledge became readily available. Consistent delivery of on-demand content enabled students to learn at their own pace. It increased comfort of students, reduced stress and built more confidence. June 2010 EDU TECH

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ADVANTAGE EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY Education technology is on a roll—there’s certainly no looking back now. With a battery of innovative education technology products, students can look forward to better learning experiences



here was a time when Bengaluru-based RV College of Engineering (RVCE), with 4,500 students, waded through a voluminous sea of data related to admission, attendance, academic schedule, etc., making extraction of information a nightmare. Departments had no standardised method to generate reports—some did it manually, others on Excel. When enough was enough, the college decided to implement an Education Resource Planning (ERP) solution to help automate its sea of data. The application was deployed on the college’s central server, capturing information. Today, students, teachers and administrators can access the centralised database through the intranet. For Oxford Educational Institutions of Bengaluru, the need for ERP was driven by their inability to consolidate data and submit compliance reports on time to AICTE and DTE. ERP solutions helped them smoothen information flow across departments and fine-tune report mechanism. It made staff administration more effective. The scalable platform allowed room for handling processes. “Our ERP solution, SmartCampus, takes care of all stages—pre-admission to placement. It can be best utilised when institutions customise it,” says Girish Baliga, founder CEO, IDenizen Smartware Pvt Ltd, which has provided technol-


“Our campuses are connected through a multiprotocollabel switching virtual private network” —J.S. SODHI, ASSISTANT VP (IT), AMITY UNIVERSITY

TECH TALK ERP Solutions EDUCATION RESOURCE planning (ERP) solution is an application that helps automate data that can be deployed on a college’s central server, capturing information, providing access

Smart Cards SMART CARDS integrated with the ERP system act as identity cards containing name, address, phone number, etc., and is used to control access to premises, facilities and networks, and monitor attendance

SaaS SOFTWARE AS a service (SaaS) or cloud computing is touted to be the ‘next big thing’ in institute administration. With SaaS, institutes don’t need to invest in software licences, as administration tools are made available through internet

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Technology COVER STORY ogy solutions to around 80 higher education institutions (HEIs).

Smart Campuses Issuing smart cards, integrated with the ERP system, to students, faculty and staff have become common. These act as identity cards containing name, address, phone number, etc. They are used to control access to premises, facilities and networks, and monitor attendance. Faridabad-based Lingaya University adopted SMS into its ERP application enabling the administration to send SMS alerts to parents after report cards have been issued, or payment has been made using the smart card. At Manipal University, the chip-based card doubles up as an ATM-cum-debit and medical card. “These coupled with closed-circuit televisions reduce the need for continuous entry management,” says Dr Gopalakrishna Prabhu, registrar, Manipal. “HEIs are looking at networking solutions that offer secure, cost-efficient and real-time connectivity,” says Rajesh Shetty, vice president, Cisco India and SAARC. Assam University recently deployed LAN with fibre and copper wiring for uninterrupted, campus-wide connectivity to the internet and internet–based resources. It helps data transfer among 29 departments on its 600-acre campus. Next phase: connecting 51 colleges under the university umbrella to enable eGovernance. Multi-site deployment is another key challenge, as HEIs expand across locations. Manipal has established a virtual private network connecting HEIs in India and abroad with a multi-protocol label switching backbone. “We can add new locations and services such as video conferencing and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP),” says Dr Prabhu. For seamless internet connectivity, Manipal got a 100-MB bandwidth and Wi Fi mesh network, supporting multimedia services such as IPTV and VoIP. “HEIs have high-speed and high-traffic data networks that require ultra-speed security. We have institutes coming to us in need of 10GBPS,” says Vishak Raman, regional director, SAARC and Saudi Arabia Fortinet. Network security solutions company has been providing Amity and

National Institute of Technology, Calicut, a unified threat management platform including firewalling, antivirus protection and web content filtering.

Going Online Amity offers online counselling to students and parents. HEIs are increasingly helping parents track student records such as attendance, exam dates, marksheets and fee, either online or over mobile phones. IIM Bangalore is implementing an ERP system to bring together islands of IT systems developed by each of its six programmes to create a common platform. “Technology brings in efficiency and transparency, reducing cost, effort and time. It helps management to monitor, control and deploy resources efficiently,” says George Paul, executive vice president, HCL Infosystems. “The key is to create a digital environment where pieces of automation can interact seamlessly,” says Praful Pillay, senior vice president, SunGard Higher Education.

Around 80,000 students have sat for the online admission tests for Manipal University for the past five years. While 40,000 students took Narsee Monjee Management Aptitude Test conducted in a computer-based format across 51 centres in India and 11 countries abroad in 2010—for the first time. A few HEIs are also showing interest in automating core exam processes such as setting question papers and assessing answer sheets. “We have developed a system based on client-server technology for online assessment of exams,” says K.N. Subramanya, director (administration) RVCE. A majority of India’s HEIs are, however, being left out of the technology race because of poor computer and internet penetration. Only 22 percent of government HEIs have ERP systems. An average Indian college has 229 students per computer, notes a 2009 Ernst&Young Survey (Making Indian Higher Education System Future Ready). According to the survey, only one percent in rural areas (where 72 per cent Indians live) use the internet.

Next Big Thing


“Software as a service (SaaS) or cloud computing is going to be the next big thing in HEI administration,” says Swapnil Dharmadhikari, founder-director, Splashgain Technology Solutions Pvt Ltd. He should know, considering that in the past four months after its launch, 10 HEIs have subscribed to his company’s SaaS-based admission platform— ePravesh. End-to-end service enables HEIs manage pre-admission and admission processes online. In this model, institutes do not need to invest in software licences or hardware, as administration tools are made available through internet. They need to pay per usage and login to the service from anywhere to manage administration in a cost-effective manner. “Smaller HEIs, which have no budgets for in-house data centres, are finding it more attractive,” he says. Another emerging trend is biometric systems. Manipal uses it to avoid impersonation during examinations, while Amity is introducing it in hostels to stop the entry of unauthorised persons. June 2010 EDU TECH

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AMITY WORKS ITS INTRANET MAGIC Amity Group of Educational Institutions has the most hi-tech campuses in India. In an interview with EDU, Dr J.S. Sodhi, Assistant Vice President (IT) talks of how Amity uses the web for better administration BY PADMAJA SHASTRI

How does technology help Amity in conducting administrative duties? We have automated most campus processes through the intranet. Attendance, form submission (we enable a complete online tracking of the admission process), examination, payment system and counselling are all conducted


online. Amity also has an interactive intranet portal—Amizone—that stores information related to students (attendance, timetables, exam schedules, results, important circulars). Amizone is uploaded daily and may be accessed by faculty, students and parents. It is an enterprise

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Dialogue COVER STORY resource planning (ERP) system developed inhouse, in which information flows to respective domains with automatic escalation—even to me in case of IT complaints. Data analysis is available as a “business intelligence dashboard”—displayed on the four screens at the president’s chamber. This helps to take quick, strategic decisions. For instance, if we receive heavy application forms from a particular city we could mull opening a campus in that city. Routine administration also becomes easier. Management Information System (MIS) generated from the portal provides all sorts of information (dates on which maximum students have been scheduled for interviews or when the auditorium is overbooked). This alerts administrators when they are dealing with thousands of students.

What role does technology play in maximising Amity’s resources? Our campuses are connected to the main (NOIDA) campus through a multiprotocol-label switching (MPLS) virtual private network (VPN)—each of 2MB link. This hub-and-spoke model, where locations are on a local network, helps us provide uniform ICT applications to all campuses from a centralised location. It also increases information security. Noida works as the single gateway to the world outside. MPLS helps our campuses to share intellectual resources in the form of presentations, lectures and seminars, transmitted live using e-Learning solution and internet protocol (IP) cameras.

How does technology aid campus infrastructure? We have a smart campus with Wi Fi connectivity. To enable internet browsing from any point, Amity has installed high access points with Omni (bigger radios) and sectoral antenna. We have over 300 surveillance IP cameras across campuses, controlled and managed centrally. That enables me to see what is happening at our Lucknow campus, while sitting here. The cameras also record exam proceedings. Further, every student of Amity carries a chip-enabled smart card for access into the campus. This card can also be used as an e-wallet to pay for on-campus services such as printing. In future, its use will be extended to the canteen, library and bookshop for cashless transactions.

Which administrative challenges did you tackle with technology? Given the exponential way in which Amity


has been growing adding over 6,000 students in 2008 alone, was the biggest challenge. The sheer number was straining the existing IT infrastructure. Installation of IP cameras loaded the network further, while rise in demand for new applications required further server hardware leading to a challenge of physical space. To tackle these, we virtualized 35 rack servers using VMware software on just three HP blade servers. Around 10 applications can run on each blade server, breaking the legacy of the “one application to one server” model. It has an in-built solution, whereby if one blade fails, or works at a peak capacity, the applications on it will automatically move to another blade—where there is spare (RAM or processor) capacity. Blade server with virtualisation has not only helped in pooling resources and reduced the physical space required for servers, but also resulted in 85 percent reduction in operational costs. Further, we built redundancy at all levels by deploying two of everything— basic network servers, core (CISCO 4,500 series) switches, firewall boxes—on high availability mode, so that if one is down, the other takes all load with zero downtime. We have also split the 90MB internet bandwidth. We have taken two internet service providers (BSNL and Reliance) for un-interrupted internet.

How do you manage storage? We have allocated an online central storage space where files can be stored and retrieved, irrespective of the desktop. We have 34TB of online data generated by 20,000 users and have to archive recordings of cameras and lectures. We use an EMC Network Access Storage system, compatible with virtualisation.

What do you use for information security? We use media access control (MAC) address-based authentication—each computer carries a unique code and user’s details. It allows us to ensure that only authorised people use our systems. A 300-page MIS report is created daily that carries data such as top 10 downloaders or 10 most infected computers— that helps us to keep a check on user activities. Also, a firewall with web-content filtering, helps us to offer different levels of privileges to different categories of users. Students of Amity Institute of NGO Management, who work on AIDS, are given access to adult sites, otherwise not open to students. Similarly, students are allowed chats and video-streaming only after working hours. June 2010 EDU TECH

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Case Studies


SAP Solution for UPES CHALLENGES: Integrat-

ing appraisal and induction process along with records of employees, collating the physical data, transfering it on the ERP solution


niversity of Petroleum & Energy Studies (UPES) was established in 2003 for developing superspecialised, professional managers and engineers across sectors like oil and gas, power, transportation and energy. The courses offered by the University in the Energy sector are accredited by the Energy Institute, UK.

The Need In its initial days the University had a high employee attrition rate and also changed office locations frequently. Record keeping was increasingly becoming a challenge. The University’s HR department realised that the records had to be computerised. They also wanted to integrate the processes like appraisal and induction within this system. Another requirement was to monitor academic processes and workload. They also wanted to be able to rapidly generate consolidated information and reports from multiple locations, reduce the turnaround time for typical transactions, and provide the management with a birds-eye view of the organisation. Keeping permanent records of all its


students was also mandatory. An Education Resource Planning system was clearly the only solution. After experimenting with custom developed point solutions and commercially available software for finance and accounts, they decided to go in for an ERP system tailored for education industry. Considerations like technology platform, functional coverage, scope and future proofing led them to the SAP solution for Higher Education and Research. The SAP implementation was a joint best effort between the University and the implementation partner. As this was the first implementation of this solution in the country, the partner provided consulting for the core modules and the University team for the education domain processes implemented in Campus Management. The project went live on Jan 03, 2007. L&T Infotech was the implementation partner. The implementation model used was the Big-Bang approach where all functional areas across all campuses were involved. There were fewer errors in record keeping, accountability increased as the entire system became more transparent, management of user authorisations and security became easier and back up and recovery capabilities were created.

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Case Studies COVER STORY

Sharda deploys PeopleSoft CHALLENGES: Reduce

cost and time to process data, improve employee productivity and regulate management processes


harda University is a new multi-disciplinary private university established in 2009, in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The University offers a fully flexible credit based system and uses application-based learning by utilising modern practices. The University wanted to streamline its processes to create a stable and auditable environment. It wanted a solution which could reduce time taken to recruit employees, manage records, reduce paperwork, reduce operating costs, improve employee productivity, and increase transparency. It also needed to regulate processes related to student financials, admission, library, hostel

management, transport, enrolment, grades and transcripts. Other options under consideration were Campus ERP Software – Ecole Solutions Pvt. Ltd. and SAP Campus Management. However, its requirements made it settle for Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions. The solution was implemented by Citagus India Private Ltd. In the process of implementation, it encountered challenges like lack of infrastructure, lack of manpower and validating data. There were technical challenges like improper interfacing between modules,duplication of data,and change of requirement. The solution helped it to reduce manual intervention,provided a seamless interface with PeopleSoft HRMS (HR Management Suite) and PeopleSoft Financials (Financial Management Suite). Pankaj Singh, head of IT, at Sharda says, “To implement the solution properly, we are deploying high end servers to store, distribute and optimise the data of various departments and in turn save costs.”

IILM uses Ubuntu CHALLENGES: Learning

Unix commands to solve networking issues, Ubuntu’s non compatibility with Dell systems


ILM Institute of Higher Education offers academic programmes in management at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The institute needed a secure low cost operating system for the laptops and dektops being used by its staff and students. There were many options available like OpenSUSE and other software on open source but ultimately the institute decided to go for Ubuntu Operating system because its graphical interface is almost the same as Windows and so, required less training.

It is virus-free and provides adequate free software under different categories like Education, Office, internet etc. Also, Open Office came free along with Ubuntu and is the best alternative to Windows office. Its IT support team deployed the solution. It encountered hardware problems like printer sharing and Ubuntu’s incompatibility with LCD projectors. It also had to overcome initial reluctance of people who were used to Windows and MS-Office. In order to overcame these issues, it organised training sessions. After the full implementation the institute did not need to spend on OS Office software and it got to use other free things like the Ubuntu Software Center. The campus became virtually virus free, lesser support staff were needed. All queries could be answered online on Ubunto’s company canonical and the various online communities and forums provided further support to solve issues.


Bharti Vidyapeeth University, Pune Open Source Technology

Hindustan College of Science and Technology, Mathura LCD Projectors

Lovely Professional University, Punjab Customised IT-based Solution For Maintaining Records

ABV-Indian Institute of Technology Management, Gwalior Student Online Record System

Guru Ramdas Khalsa Institute of Science and Technology, Jabalpur e-Learning

Institute for Technology and Management, Bangalore In-House Developed ERP

United Education Institute Global Learning Management System

June 2010 EDU TECH

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Industry Academia Linkages

Do higher education institutes have what it takes to feed the growing demands of the industry?



POINTS TO PONDER LESS THAN 25 PERCENT OF YOUTH IN India are actually fully employable INDIA EXPECTS 550 MILLION NEW JOB seekers between 2007 and 2022


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Industry Academia Linkages

here are over 300 universities in India. Latest information reveals that there are 427 registered universities in India, including public and private universities. And then there are several more universities that are not “deemed” or accredited. India currently has 600 million youth below the age of 25 years, of which 320 million are in schools and colleges. The shocker: Less than 25 percent of them are employable (industry standards). Moreover, India expects 500 million new job-seekers to emerge between 2007 and 2022. It is obvious that the country is facing a lacuna—between formal education and industry employability. Employability refers to a person’s capability of gaining initial employment, maintaining that, and obtaining a new employment, if required. However, the age-old complaint of “you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job” still echoes. There are numerous problems that face employers today. Employers wish to hire only the best. They believe that they are not exactly spoilt for choice. Most companies seem to be facing an added dilemma of taking the time to train graduates only to have them whisked away by others. Rajeev Grover, MD, Mercer, believes, “It could be simple for me as an employer to hire trained resources and hit the ground running. I see no need for a competitor to take away my trained resources.” There is a strained status quo between the academia and the industry—one that neither is taking precise or tangible steps to dissipate. Siddiq Wahid, vice chancellor, Islamic University, asks, “Is it so hard to create a selfsufficient employable person?” That is indeed the question that both the industry and the academia are asking. He adds, “It is unfair to ask the industry what they want. We should not be in the business of educating, if we do not know what the industry people want from us.”

What The Industry Wants


y far, what the industry is looking for is strong communication skills. Most businesses these days have a global reach. And, not being able to communicate properly is a concern. Rajnish Virmani, director, COLT, has strong opinions on this problem. He places communication skills as his top-most priority that he seeks in an employee. “Only formal education is not enough. India may provide engineers with excellent technical skills; but, as far as communication skills are concerned, these workers are weak when compared to their global peers. It takes an Indian engineer years of experience before he is able to communicate with a colleague from France, or the US. Tomorrow interactions will be even more intense—as most skilled labour will come from



India and China.” It is obvious that there is less of a gap and more of a gaping chasm between learning and doing. This is where knowledge-based and practical-based education come head to head. According to employers it is the practical aspects that “maketh the man”. Educators, on the other hand, ask why after so much education, training, business research, management consulting and books and articles later, is there so little change in what an organisations does? Employers argue that if they were to measure the level of actual performance against the level of knowledge, employees tend to either under-perform, or overknow. This may be a trend, but it is one that both sectors are seeking to change.

What The Industry Gets


t is these questions and problems that companies, such as Aspire, are trying to address. Incorporated in July 2007, Aspire is an education-services firm that aims to enhance employability. Amit Bhatia, founder-and-CEO, Aspire, organises forums for industry-academia interactions to understand trends, challenges and opportunities. Bhatia says that he recognised the need for such interactions early on. Someday, he feels, companies like Aspire will have a mandatory presence in institutes. “Universities are teaching skills that got outdated some three decades ago.” he states. “By the time students get into university, it is too late to teach them how to communicate,” Wahid says and adds, “Students don’t know how to use a library. Every higher education institute must invest in basic skills; a certain number of credit hours.” Sandeep Kaura, assistant managing director, Rayat Bahra, asserts that while there is “willingness on both sides to talk things through, a decisive framework is required. Commitment is never the problem. The point is not commitment, rather it is who takes the first step.” Educators agree that the lack of liberal arts in courses is further widening the gap. India is producing specialised MBA June 2010 EDU TECH

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Industry Academia Linkages

and engineering graduates, but the service industry is suffering. Agrees Vikas Dua of Wipro. “The difference between India and China lies in the service sector,” he says. He retorts that the “education sector doesn’t partner with us; most graduates that come to us looking for jobs don’t even know how to make a resume!”

Connecting The Dots


t is obvious that bridging the gap between the academia and industry will require collaboration in areas of research curriculum development, staff and student exchange, and student-industrial attachment. Also, strengthening the link between theory and practice is an obstacle that needs to be overcome. It is also grudgingly acknowledged that academics, from their ivory towers, “look down” on the industry folks as “uncreative” and “bureaucratic”. On the other hand, industry people resent the arrogance of academia and their “unfocused” approach—thus alienating the two further. The country needs to find a solution to provide education that has adopted an integrated approach composed of foundational knowledge, soft skills and communications. Areas of concern seem to be syllabi, employability, training of students and faculty development. Regular sessions and conferences between experts don’t seem to be helping, either. Wahid confers, “Question and answer sessions won’t solve problems. We need to get employers, educators, politicians and bureaucrats on the same page.” Victor Gambhir, director (planning and coordination, MREI, feels very strongly about the situation. “Why is it that a 5,000-year-old civilisation cannot produce people off the bat? We’re still stuck at the same place we were in the 1960s. The industry has its own agenda, works for its own profits and has its own priorities.” All agree that the Indian education system is based on outdated knowledge and not practicality. A solution that has been thrown out in the open is that corporates should be


“We should not be in the business of educating if we do not know what the industry people want”

“Universities are teaching skills that got outdated some three decades ago”

—SIDDIQ WAHID Vice Chancellor, Islamc University

—AMIT BHATIA Founder, CEO, Aspire

forthcoming. They should engage students on campuses and share insights through interactions, case studies and involvement in organisational issues— through public-private partnership, or joint ventures. A good example is HDFC Standard Life tie—up with Manipal Education to offer a three-month certificate programme in insurance and management for students. It can be argued here that no matter how many steps, concrete or otherwise, are taken to build the bridge, the fact is that the gap will always exist, unless perceptions change first.

In Conclusion Emphasis on practical knowledge: Recognising that theory is of value only if it can be applied, academics must envision a world beyond and prepare students to compete in a market-driven world. Industry participation: Professionals

should be willing to share their expertise with academic programmes and work together to strengthen connections with the academy. Mentoring programmes: Advisory boards, mentoring programmes, internships and fellowships for faculty and practitioners, as well as for students, team teaching, and collaborative research projects are just a few of the ways to bridge the gap and improve the education of future communicators. What remains to be discovered is which side takes the first step towards improvement.

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

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Edu Tech December 2009


Rahul Choudaha

Global Accreditation: Why And How


anagement education plays an important role in the development of a country. It helps produce talent that is productive and innovative. This, in turn, results in enhanced economic activities and social advancement. According to an Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) report (Why Management Education Matters), ‘Management education creates leaders capable of inspiring greater benefit from individuals, and developing organisations that are effective at fulfilling purposes. As a result, societies can achieve greater productivity and support human needs.’

In India, the demand for management education has grown rapidly—but, quality has lagged behind the pursuit for quantity. This is evident from a number of international and national reports that talk of the unemployability and under-employablity challenges faced by an Indian MBA graduate. And, it seems to be a problem that is growing everyday. Of the (approximately) 2,000 B-schools in India, only a handful are effective enough to deliver quality management education. Others, provide an MBA credential all right—but with little value-addition for either the student, or the society.


This results in dissatisfaction—both among employers and students.

Present Tense The quality of the current crop of Indian B-schools is debatable—which leads one to think that the country’s regulatory mechanisms failed to address quality concerns, leading to a situation wherein quality was considered more as an “option” and not a “strategic need”. In India, several B-schools label themselves as “world class”, while they fail to meet standards of even the top Indian B-schools—a self-proclamation which is detrimental for both the system and students. With the increasing globalisation and “flattening” of the Indian economy, the world is looking at India to lead. In such a scenario, B-schools have the task of producing (managerial) talent and providing quality education.

Why Accreditation? In this context, accreditation is a clear recognition of a school’s ability to match global standards. There is no better way for an institute to communicate to the world that its committed to quality. Professor Raymond Zammuto, University of Melbourne, notes that, “Business school accreditation is a quality assurance scheme that certifies that accredited schools have the structures and the processes in place that are necessary to meet

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Rahul Choudaha

stated objectives and continually improve performance. Such quality standards can be used by organisations to differentiate themselves from competitors.” Global accreditation is a positioning statement—it indicates an institution’s willingness to invest in quality.


GLOBAL ACCREDITATION FOR BIZ HUBS The following are the international stamps that an Indian business school should be seeking:

Stamp Of Approval Global accreditation is a voluntary process— unlike the other externally-imposed processes imposed by regulatory bodies such as the AICTE. Further, it is a resource-intensive process, which requires up front expenses, as far as process fee paid to accreditation body and indirect expenses in terms of time and effort, are involved. Julio Urgel, IE Business School. highlighted that in higher education “…Peer recognition is an essential factor for a school to firmly establish its reputation. It [accreditation] is important because it facilitates the process of choosing a good partner in other parts of the world where a given school may have more limited knowledge about the quality of potential partners.” Thus, global accreditation could serve as a strong catalyst for


Accrediting body


Number of accredited B-schools

161 B-schools in 72 countries

124 B-schools in 35 countries

593 B-schools in 37 countries

Accredited Indian B-schools

SP Jain, Mumbai MDI, Gurgaon

IIM, Ahmedabad


In India, SP Jain and MDI are accredited by AMBA; IIM Ahmedabd is accredited by EQUIS. Currently, no Indian B-school has received accreditation by AACSB, but some are working towards it. In contrast, there are nine Chinese B-schools

ccreditation may also help an Indian B-school become an attractive option for international students

establishing collaborations with the top-tier foreign B-schools. These collaborations could range from student and faculty exchanges to research partnerships and joint programs. Accreditation may also help an Indian B-school become an attractive option for international students.

Options Galore There are numerous international and regional accreditation bodies for institutions providing management education. However, three accreditation bodies are considered to be most reputed. They are—the European EQUIS, the British AMBA and the American AACSB. In fact, there are 34 B-schools in the world that went all the way to gain the “Triple Crown” i.e. receive accreditation from all the three bodies—EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB. These bodies have rigorous standards and have been expanding their regional focus to international markets (see Table 1).

accredited by AACSB. While this is a very small percentage compared to the vast universe of 2,000 B-schools in India, it indicates that some Indian schools do have the potential and conviction to achieve global quality. There is a need for many more to continue a march towards excellence and quality by seeking global accreditations. This will create higher benchmarks of quality in management education and would help others to work towards improving their own profiles.

Conclusion Eric Cornuel, director-general and CEO of European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), rightly points out that, “Top business schools of the future will not only implement changes to remain competitive, but they will seek accreditation and improvement programmes to prove to the market that they are committed to excellence and innovation.”

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

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Harnessing Solar Energy

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Harnessing Solar Energy




Bright IS

Reducing carbon footprint on campus isn’t as hard as it seems BY BHAVIKA SICKA & URVEE MODWEL


ndia has high solar insolation with around 300 sunny days a year. Akshat Khare, a student at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, was quick to spot a sunny career in this abundance. Easy availability and growing demand for renewable energy motivated him to form Pegasus Semiconductor Limited—an incubate company of CIIE, Ahmedabad. After graduation, Khare gave back to his alma mater by manufacturing and installing solar lights around its campus.


Sunny Benefits In the face of India’s acute energy scarcity and resource depletion, it is essential to address environmental concerns and tackle the energy crisis through judicious utilisation of non-conventional sources. Educational institutions have taken a cue. Several are now going green and opting for solar power on campus. Solar energy is clean and affordable, provides an uninterrupted supply, and can be harnessed easily. Apart from augmenting the energy supply, its adoption might just help India mitigate its climate change. Being environmentally-friendly, solar power does not emit greenhouse gases, or

POINTS TO PONDER SATHYABAMA UNIVERSITY HAS the world’s largest solar-steam cooking system on its campus, installed and comissioned by Gadhia Solar JAWAHARLAL NEHRU NATIONAL Solar Mission is a US$19-billion plan to produce 20GW of solar power by 2020

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Harnessing Solar Energy

noxious pollutants. Neither does it create a lot of noise. Solar-powered panels and products are typically easy to install and are cost-effective in the long run. Wires, cords and power sources are not needed at all, making it an easy prospect to employ. Its operation is entirely independent, not requiring connection to power or gas grids. Also, little maintenance is required to keep the cells running. Since there are no moving parts in a solar cell, they tend to last long with only an annual cleaning to worry about. As campus needs grow, more solar panels may be added—since the system is extensible. “On campuses, the load and power need is highest during the day. That’s when solar power works at its best,” explains Inderpreet Wadhwa, CEO, Azure Power. “Most campuses have wide rooftops, ideal for installing solar panels. Not only will institutes be reducing strain on the already over-burdened electrical grid, but they can also sell the excess power produced during holidays to earn a profit,” he adds.

Power Packed IIT Bombay has already set a strong example by installing a 3KW photovoltaic panel on the terrace of their department of energy science and engineering, which is soon to be reconstructed as a completely zero-energy building. Applied Materials recently donated a solar panel system to the institute that will be used to light its main avenue at Powai. The Mumbai campus isn’t the only one to go solar. IIT Delhi has a solar-powered water heating system in its hostels. It also has a 25KW photovoltaic generator on the canteen roof. And, solar power is used to pump water and for its distillation. Central University of Haryana is planning green buildings, photovoltaic roof structures and solar trees for harnessing the energy. Manipal has solar heaters in its hostels. Sathyabama University has the world’s largest solar-steam cooking system on its campus, installed and commissioned by Gadhia Solar. It consumes less power and time than a conventional kitchen, and helps keep the kitchen clean and


‘Solar Energy Is The Correct Option’ G.V. Selvam, Pro Chancellor, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), talks to EDU about pros and cons of harnessing solar energy on campus. Could you tell us about the solar power plant on your campus? Did you receive government support while setting it up? VIT has installed the following projects with the support of MNRE and other institutions: 10KW Solar Dish Stirling Power System (partly funded by the MNRE) 10KW Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant (total fund from VIT) 900W solar PV pump with jet and centrifugal options (partly funded by MNRE under the Promotion of Renewable Energy Park Scheme) 24 solar PV streetlights Recently, Dr Farooque Abdullah inaugurated a green building for CO2 Research and Green Technologies Centre at VIT. The research promotion and approval committee approved our proposal to set up the Solar Dish Stirling Project. MNRE contributed Rs 5.6 million. However for operational projects, we did not receive any subsidies. The Centre should come up with packages for institutions.

G.V. SELVAM Pro Chancellor, VIT

In what ways are you using solar power?

We have solar energy units for electricity and hot water supply. With new installations, hot water will be used for cooking. Institutions are installing standby diesel power plants. The cost of production is in the range of Rs 12.5 to Rs 15 per unit. This proves costly for institutions with low incomes, and causes institutions to compromise on quality of research. What are the challenges you faced while adopting this technology? We were planning to implement a 100KW solar PV power plant through foreign investment route. But by the time we finalised the contract, the supplier went bankrupt. The original contract was for a down payment of Rs 7.5 million for 100 KW; we finally landed up paying Rs 3.9 million for 8.25KW. Since our management has a progressive outlook, they did not stop the project. It is proving to be cost effective in the long run. By installing the PV plant we are able to operate our units independent of the grid supply.

What pointers should an institution keep in mind before adopting solar technology? Since educational institutions are not profit-making bodies, they have to make a deal with project promoters on capital investment, infrastructure requirement, space provision, operation and maintenance, rental charges or lease agreements. It’s important to convince the government to provide subsidies.

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Harnessing Solar Energy

hygienic. By replacing LPG with solar dishes, the university saves nearly Rs 20 lakh every year. Avinashilingam University for Women in Coimbatore has installed “concentrated parabolic solar cookers” in its engineering department. IIT, Kanpur, is currently involved in conducting research in this technology. They are experimenting with the use of organic solar cells (instead of the commercial inorganic cells made from silicon). The architectural design for their Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering building, which has been awarded the five star Teri-GRIHA rating, has been optimised according to climate and sun path analysis. It has energy-efficient solar lighting and daylight integration. Says Dr R.S. Anand, professor, department of electrical engineering, “We had plans of setting up a 500KW Solar Energy Research Experimental Station scalable to 1MW. Few institutes such as IITs are fortunate enough to have uninterrupted electricity supply. At IIT, Kanpur, we want to create a model solar power plant that can be replicated elsewhere.” There are also demonstration projects on campus. The on-campus replica of the Delhi Iron Pillar will be lit using solar power. According to S. Sundar Kumar Iyer, associate professor, “We believe that the best benefit is that students get to see the benefits of solar power, first hand. As future leaders, we hope they, too, will promote this technology. It’s important that IITs and educational institutions set an example and make the Gen-Y aware of the need for addressing environmental concerns and pave a path to sustainable future.”

Aid Advantage “The sun occupies the centrestage of our lives, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while describing the Action Plan for India’s national strategy on climate change in 2008. The Centre is now offering rebates and concessions to institutions that are seeking to adopt solar technology. “We fund research and development



PROFESSOR G. N. TIWARI Centre for Energy Studies, IIT Delhi




programmes, and are willing to provide financial support to most green initiatives,” says B.L. Ram of the ministry of new and renewable energy. According to a representative of the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), “We will organise more seminars and training programmes to promote solar energy. The government plans to launch several more schemes through IREDA to boost the use of solar power. So, the future looks bright.” In 2009, the government unveiled the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, a $19-billion plan to produce 20GW of solar power by 2020. Under the plan, solar-powered equipment and applications would be mandatory in all government buildings, including universities. “Subsidies have been announced that will make solar installations more economical now,” adds Khare. “Also, grants from DST, TEPP and MSME help young ventures. These grants are also routed through institutes that can use these to support incubate companies. Our venture, Nessa Technologies, received strong support from the government in getting the nod for pilot projects and showcasing new technology.”

Dr Anand believes that, “If an institute has the funds, it can set up plants producing 50 to 100KW, depending upon its requirements. Otherwise, if manufacturers and banks come forth to offer soft loans recoverable against electricity charges, the cost can be recovered in the life of the solar power systems.”

Varsity Challenges Though solar technology seems an attractive proposition, there are certain aspects a university should look out for. The initial cost is the main disadvantage before installing the system—largely due to the high-cost of the semi-conducting materials used in building one. An exclusive solar generation system with a capacity of 250KW units (per month) can cost anywhere around Rs 5 lakh, with present pricing and taxes. The panels also require quite a large area for installation—to achieve a level of efficiency. According to Dr D.P. Kothari, Vice Chancellor, Vellore Institute of Technology, “Maintenance becomes a problem owing to the lack of trained personnel.” The efficiency of the system also relies on the location. Though this problem can June 2010 EDU TECH

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INTERNATIONAL MODELS Rutgers University, New Jersey, has the largest solar energy system on a single campus in the United States. In 2008, the university partnered with the Board of Public Utilities and broke ground by constructing a seven-acre solar energy facility on its Livingston Campus. The system comprises 77, 00,175 watt photovoltaic (PV) crystalline solar panels with a rated capacity of 1.4MW. The university maintains a high-voltage distribution system, which uses the energy generated on the solar farm to serve the electrical needs of the entire campus, which comprises of academic, housing, dining and athletics buildings. By providing 11 percent of the campus’ energy requirements, it plans to cut down carbon emissions by 1,350 tonnes in the next year. It will also reduce expenditure on conventional energy by US$230,000, and more in the future as energy costs escalate. According to Joseph Witkowski, director of utilities operations of the solar farm, “The project is a showcase of the university’s commitment to clean energy. At a university where multiple disciplines are conducting research on climate change and alternative energy, it is exceedingly appropriate for Rutgers to set an example and promote solar power”. He believes an educational institution must be committed to education, research and service, which is why bringing environmentally-sound practices to higher education is a must. “This project is a win-win not only from a financial perspective, but also from an educational one”. Stanford University is renowned for its green initiatives and sustainable technology. President Hennessy’s home boasts the largest PV system on campus. The project is both environmentally and financially beneficial, since it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 14 metric tonnes per year. Excess power from the solar panels will be sold to PG&E, and the project’s US$362,000 cost will be reduced by US$84,000, thanks to a rebate from the California Solar Initiative. The Leslie Shao-ming Sun Field Station has 22KW solar photovoltaic and solar thermal heating systems. Synergy House has a 10KW PV system, partly funded and installed by students and house alumni. Stanford’s Utilities Division installed a 30KW PV system to offset the energy used for pumping water into storage reservoirs. The Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building and Reservoir showcases three PV installations totalling 12KW. Student Housing operates a solar water heating system and has partnered with the Civil and Environmental Engineering department to demonstrate two solar water heating technologies. Colorado State University has installed of a 2MW solar power plant at its Foothills Campus. This plant will produce enough power to meet more than 10 percent of the University’s electric energy needs at that campus. Ohio State University just received a grant of US$18.6 million from Ohio’s Department of Development, to build a solar cell development centre.

be overcome with the installation of certain components. The production of solar energy is influenced by the presence of clouds, or pollution, in the air. Similarly, no solar energy is produced during the night, though a battery backup system can solve this problem.


“High costs and the weak link of battery are the biggest disadvantages of this efficient source of energy. A lot of research is needed to improve efficiency and reduce material costs even further,” believes Khare. He adds that institutes should try not to convert every energy source into a

solar-powered one, but wait to do it in a modular fashion. Universities and institutes should start with solar streetlights as far as outdoor lighting is concerned, and then look for energy efficiency—not just renewable energy—such as substituting conventional lighting with LED lights.

Future Perfect? Solar Photovoltaic is the world’s fastest growing energy technology and holds tremendous potential for India. “SPV systems are experiencing considerable decline in prices due to intense research, commercialisation of utility projects and increase in poly silicon production,” informs Wadhwa. “Even though

it is still relatively expensive when compared to more conventional sources of power as far as tangible costs are concerned, there is a growing realisation that this source is the most promising one when it comes to generating power without polluting the environment.” Evidently, the benefits of solar energy much outweigh the disadvantages that may be overcome as and when technology improves. Going green therefore, means a cleaner, brighter campus, and a cleaner, brighter future.

What’s Online To read the full interview of Inderpreet Wadhwa, CEO Azure Power go to EDU website Write in your views and opinions about the stories in this magazine or on any other issues relating to higher education. Send them to the Editor, EDU at

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Edu Tech December 2009


Dheeraj Sanghi

How To Make A Fairytale Come True


et’s look at the life of an average Class XII student. In Class XII, she prepares for the toughest school examination of her life. At the same time, she keeps a track of admission tests for technical and professional programmes, along with university admissions.

After the boards get over—a new series of tests begin. For students not living in the metros, this means travelling to a centre in the city. In between, there is the hunt for accommodation—an expensive affair. If tests happen to be on consecutive days, students either have to fly between cities, or let go of an option. Once results are out and universities start offering admissions just to be safe (Indians love to be safe!), fee deposits are made in one university, and then the wait for the “right” university starts. When the dream offer arrives, then its a rush to get admission there, and then try to get a refund from the first place. Consider an alternative scenario. A single entrance examination— one that applies to all universities—that, too, online. A single portal that offers the admission details of all universities. During admission, the fee is deposited online. If a student gets through more than one university then a fee transfer system is also in place. It may seem like the higher education fairy tale—but implementation might just be simple.

India Specific Problems When it started, the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) was supposed to reduce the number of admission tests of engineering programmes in the country. But, the AIEEE did not have its desired impact.


The reason: universities in India give weight to different subjects. There is also a financial angle. Admission is an expensive operation and the process of advertising is not cheap. Conducting one’s own examination allows universities to charge higher application fees, and take care of expenses related to the process. Academicians have also argued that having a single exam causes too much stress—a single day’s performance affects all future career options. The above arguments all hold weight—thus, is there a model common entrance examination that takes care of all these concerns? There is indeed a simple solution. An ideal examination could, or should, have multiple sections. Students can choose to appear in some, or all, of those sections. Consider the admissions to engineering programmes. Most universities want to test students on physics, chemistry, and mathematics. So, exams could have all three sections. Some universities also put stress on language skills, aptitude, analytical skills, etc. Therefore, examinations could also have sections on those. Results should provide individual marks in sections, and each university can choose to consider a weighted average of marks obtained in some of the sections. Ideally, there should be a computer-based examination (like the GRE) and questions should not be random from a large database. Difficulty-level of questions should depend on

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Dheeraj Sanghi

the performance of a student in previous sections. If a student keeps answering all questions, then the computer will ask progressively difficult questions. Such an exam ensures that the student with a high score has not just performed better than others, but has answered more difficult questions correctly.

Looking for Solutions Stress associated with single exam can be solved by offering multiple attempts. The best score may be retained. This, of course, is easier said than done. Exam logistics would be such that it would not be possible to provide other opportunity days. The time between board exams and the beginning of the admission process is short. So, it will certainly not be possible to permit three attempts if the exam has to be held during this period. The solution is that students be permitted to take the exam prior to the boards. Since most will want a significant gap between admission and board exams, the admission test has to be at the beginning of Class XII—which means that the test should ideally omit the syllabus of Class XII.



great opportunity to create such a test, and bring together a set of universities who believe in it. The second problem related to admission is filling up forms of universities and running around to deposit fees and certificate submission when an admission offer is made. Technology has simple solutions for this too. Again, it translates into a great business opportunity. One can come up with a web portal—a student can apply to multiple universities by providing information once. It can then select the universities in which one is interested. If a particular university needs additional information, that can be provided. The portal should have a link for online payment, charging the student whatever is the application fee and a small overhead to cover its cost. The portal ideally should have links to the result websites of all tests—one that may be downloaded when results are announced. Universities should be able to mention the mechanism by which a merit list is to be created. The portal will create the unique merit list for each university based on the admission criterion. Students should be able to put in information about all programmes in universities that they are

dmission is a costly task, ads are not cheap. Conducting one’s examination allows a varsity to take care of expenses

Overseas, there are tests before Class XII finals— if one performs well in it and passes the board exam at the end of Class XII, it is assumed that the student knows the subject to the extent that she or he can understand the material taught in the first year of college. Having the admission test in the beginning of Cass XII will also ensure that the admissions need not be squeezed in a small time (between June and July) every year. In fact, universities can offer admission tests much before the board exams, reducing stress for students.

The Ticket to the Portal The financial incentive to conduct one’s own exam is easy to handle. Universities can charge an appropriate application fee to mitigate their advertising and related costs. They can also charge an admission fee from those who accept the offer for admission. For companies in the testing business, it is a

interested in, and the order of preference of those programmes, just like what they do in joint counseling of IITs or for NITs. The portal operator can also have help centres in cities to help students from rural backgrounds in entering all relevant information. It can also provide help to universities for the verification of documents. Once results are available, universities can start offering admissions through the portal that can provide support in terms of forwarding emails and SMSes, or posting letters and documents. The portal will ensure that as soon as an admission offer is made to a student, the lower options of the student are removed from the system. If the student had earlier accepted another offer by paying the required fee, that admission is cancelled and money is transferred towards payment of fees for the new programme. Universities may have policies on refund, which will come into play and will be implemented by the portal as well.

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.

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Continuing Education

Courses to help professionals bridge knowledge gaps need to address market needs BY NUPUR CHATURVEDI AND PARSHEILA LOOKHAR


ive years into his job as an engineer in one of India’s leading automobile firms, Vinay Lapse realised that he would soon hit a professional plateau. A graduate from a regional college, Vinay felt he needed to give his career another dimension. To fill the knowledge gap, he joined a part-time MBA programme. Presently, Lapse is a principle consultant in a multinational software company. Given the increasing pace of change, learning can’t end with the university alone—it has to be a life-long process of learning, updating and adapting. That is where continuing education comes in. In 1978, University Grants Commission (UGC) launched the National Adult Education Programme and opened its door to continuing education. Since then, it has helped universities set up programmes by providing them guidance and funding. There are more than a hundred universities offering continuing education programmes (CEPs).


POINTS TO PONDER CPD PROGRAMMES COME IN AN array of formats that range from a few hours to a couple of years THEY CAN BE CONDUCTED IN classrooms, over the web, or in the form of workshops

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Different Intent, Courses


roadly speaking, there are two aspects of a CEP—adult education and continuing professional development. Though not always delineated in compartments, intent sets the two apart. Professor Jonathan Michie, director of the department for continuing education and president of Kellogg College, University of Oxford, says, “Traditionally, continuing education at the universities has been about putting out courses aimed at adults, primarily for their intellectual enrichment. Topics would typically be humanities-related. Recently, continuing professional development (CPD) has come to play a greater role in business and society.”

Something For Everyone


n any professional field, specialisation is key, and knowledge, critical. To avoid falling off the “information bandwagon”, a professional must stay updated with the latest developments. Craig Campbell, MD FRCPC and director of professional affairs at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, says, “CPD’s goal is to ensure that professionals possess the knowledge, skill, attitude and ability to enhance performance throughout their lives.” In every discipline today, there are topics that weren’t even there five years ago. Case in point— social marketing. With social networking sites penetrating all corners of the world, marketing professionals would be foolish to ignore it. From the point of view of a company employing a marketing professional, it makes business sense to invest in training a staff in social marketing. The company gets the benefit of an employee’s existing experience of company products and services, as well as the acquired knowledge of new marketing tools. What does an institution do? It recognises the need for such a course on time, and ropes in both experts and faculty to deliver it. Apart from skill upgradation, CPD programmes are a great way for the industry and the academia to interact. With this interaction, an institution can make its courses relevant and make students industry-ready. CPD opens up a new revenue stream for an institution with minimal investment, since programmes make use of the existing expertise and resources.

A Diverse Bouquet


iven the two examples above, it would not be completely wrong to assume that management is one of the more sought-after disciplines for CPD. It


Resuscitating Medicine With Continued Education According to a World Health Organisation survey, there is one doctor for every 2,500 people in India. While India claims to be a hub of medical tourism, there is a shortage of 600,000 doctors at least—says the Planning Commission. Given this, there is obviously more emphasis on getting across basic medical facilities to more people, than on the quality of doctors. Continuing medical education (CME), therefore, is a much-neglected area in the Subcontinent. This story is not unique to India—all developing countries face the same barriers. In most parts of the developed world, however, CME is part of the system. Says Craig Campbell, MD FRCPC and director of professional affairs at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, “With increasing demands for greater physician accountability, improved patient safety and better quality of care, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada implemented a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) programme in 2001. Participation is mandatory for Fellows in active clinical practice or related professional activities, and a requirement to maintain membership and the right to use the fellowship designation FRCPC or FRCSC.” To practise as a doctor—in whatever capacity—you need to be registered with a medical registration body, whether national or regional. In other countries, this registration is only valid for a few years, after which the practitioner has to renew it. Renewal is conditional on completing a certain number of hours of CME. Dr Sita Naik, former Dean, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), Lucknow and recently inducted into the seven-member panel constituted after the dissolution of the Medical Council of India (MCI), says, “In India, we have lifetime registrations. For instance, I got registered sometime in the mid-1970s and I am still registered. This means that I needn’t have opened a single book since then and nobody can stop me from practising.” The MCI has been lobbying for CME to be mandatory and for registrations to be time-bound. Some regional medical councils have also mandated time-bound registrations. The Delhi Medical Council, for instance, requires members to re-register every five years, and thus they have to complete at least 100 hours of CME. But, as with all regional initiatives, the impact is limited. Even just outside Delhi, or the other regions where these regulations are followed, as well as in the rural areas, CME is a pipedream. One of the major concerns in the area of CME is the influence of the pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies. These companies, given their financial resources, often conduct conferences for doctors, obviously presenting views biased towards a particular technology or drug. One way medical councils counter this is by not recognising these conferences as part of CME. The other way is an accreditation process for CME courses. Says Dr. Naik, “A committee in the Ministry of Health has recently made a recommendation that we should have an accreditation council which doesn’t just accredit formal and organised under-graduate and post-graduate courses, but also CME programmes, so that there is independent and un-biased evaluation of such programmes. The recommendation is lying with the ministry, but it is hoped that in the ongoing revamp of the education system, this will also be taken up.”

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Continuing Education

is, however, by no means the only one. CPD programmes are a result of a market-need. So, they pan across disciplines like humanities, commerce, engineering and technology, design, medicine and management. Jamia Milia Islamia offers short-term non-certificate courses in fashion designing, screen-printing, basic computer skill development; diploma courses in Uzbek language, NGO management; bachelor degree courses in library, information science and engineering; masters courses, such as MBA, M Tech, etc; and doctorate courses. Professional institutions, on the other hand, offer the opportunity for training in more specialised subjects. IIT Bombay offers specialisations under biomedical applications, mathematics, industrial design and management. CPD programmes come in an array of formats—from a few hours to a couple of years. These courses can be conducted in classrooms—evening or weekend classes, over the web, in the form of seminars, conferences and workshops, or, if there are enough numbers, in a company’s premises. BITS Pilani offers what it calls “Work Integrated Learning Programmes”, which are off-campus courses conducted in the company’s premises in collaboration with the human resources development division. IGNOU has tied up with the Indian Army to provide the university’s professional and management courses at the existing training centres of the army. Says Tandra Mitra, professor and head at the department of adult continuing education and extension, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, “The biggest difference between a course in formal education and one in continuing education is that while the former is fixed, the latter is flexible. Because of this, courses of a varied nature can be offered and delivery can be flexible, depending on a candidate’s preference.”

Roadmap For CPD


efore a university or college goes down the CPD route, there are a few questions it must ask itself:


‘Information Technology Has Emerged As A Powerful Tool’ Professor Ashok Joshi, PhD, department of aero-engineering, and professor-in-charge of Continuing Education Programme at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, talks to EDU about CEPs. What are the areas in which courses can be designed for continuing education? How should these courses be designed? Almost all areas have the potential for developing the continuing education programmes, as the primary focus is to inform and upgrade the knowledge base in any discipline—be it arts, science, engineering, technology and management. For example, at IIT Bombay we have programmes in bio-medical applications, mathematics, industrial design and management, apart from the traditional areas of engineering and technology. The pre-requisites for any continuing education programme are; a market need and the available expertise. In most cases, the programmes are developed in consultation with the user groups. The programmes could be delivered through contact mode, web-based offline mode as well as web-based live mode. There is no specific preference as each of these modes has its own benefits and limitations. The success of such programmes depends on PROFESSOR ASHOK JOSHI the quality of the programme and timeliness. Professor-in-Charge, Continuing Education Programme, IIT Therefore, it is important to focus only on core Bombay strength areas and to do a thorough market analysis before starting any new programme. Another important element is the research focus of the institution, which helps in developing new programmes in emerging areas.

How can these courses be promoted? Dedicated websites, along with e-mail reminders, are the best ways to promote programmes. Printed brochures containing the course outlines, the faculty profiles and the benefits are also the traditional methods of promoting the programmes. In many cases, out-reach events, to which industry leaders are invited, can also be an important vehicle for promotion. Word-of-mouth publicity through past success stories and participants also play a major role. From a recipient organisation’s perspective, sponsorship of employees to the various continuing education programmes should be an integral part of the overall growth strategy and the human resource section has to be on the lookout for courses that could upgrade the quality of their manpower pool.

Continuing education programmes in the area of IT are quite popular. What are your views on this? Information technology has emerged as a powerful tool for socio-economic change, which can account for its success in continuing education field. Further, reason for perceived popularity of the courses in IT could also be because the overall numbers seeking IT-based training are quite large as the intake to an IT degree can be from almost any discipline, unlike engineering and science-based programmes.

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Continuing Education

“The goal is to ensure that professionals possess the knowledge skill, attitude and ability to enhance performance” —CRAIG CAMPBELL Director (Professional Affairs), Royal College of Physicians And Surgeons, Canada

Is there a market need? Assessing the market is key. Here an industry tie-up proves most useful. Through the tie-up, an institution can be “in the know” and can initiate programmes proactively and on time. As professor Michie says, questions like “who would the students be? What sort of programmes would they want? How much would they be prepared to pay as course fees?” help assess the market. Is there existing expertise? A CPD programme will be more of a liability than an asset if it requires a whole set of faculty. Professor S.K. Bhati, head of the department of adult and continuing education and extension, Jamia Milia Islamia, says, “Two types of faculty members are usually required in continuing education programs: core faculty—persons trained in continuing education, extension education, distance education, or e-learning for planning and organising the programme; and course-based faculty, who can be pulled in depending on the course.” Is there existing infrastructure? To support course flexibility, resources at


“Continuing education programmes are being offered in several subjects and clientele or learners vary from slum dwellers to trained professionals”

“The biggest difference between a course in formal education and one in continuing education is that while the former is fixed, the latter is flexible”

—S.K. BHATI Head, Continuing Education, Jamia Milia Islamia

—TANDRA MITRA Head, Department of Adult Continuing Education, JU, Kolkata

hand should be scalable. Professor Bhati says, “Continuing education programmes are being offered in several subjects and clientele or learners vary from slum-dwellers to trained professionals. Duration and nature of courses vary from few weeks-long non-certificate courses to two to three-year-long degree programmes. Thus, required infrastructure also varies from course to course and according to the method of delivery.” While a three-week-long course on legal rights for women may not require more than a classroom and some reading material, an evening BE course for inservice diploma-holders will need sophisticated laboratories and equipment, besides classrooms and a library. Is there willingness and availability? Of course, your existing faculty are of no use if they can’t spare the time, for lack of bandwidth or enthusiasm. Is there support? We are talking about external support here—from the government, industry and companies. A little support from them can go a long way, also rendering credibility to the course.

Once the institution has answers to all these questions, it should look for benchmarks for the quality of the courses, as well as, put down parameters for their success. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. Those who have eaten the pudding will be your best promoters. Says Professor Michie, “Most of our students come back for more courses, and often tell their family, friends and colleagues about our courses.” He also says “The key to the success of these courses over time is firstly having high-quality programmes on offer—excellent lecturers, appropriate course structure and material, and good facilities and secondly, having the full support of your university colleagues across the institution, and of the university centrally.” Quality, of course, is a common refrain, in terms of course content, course delivery as well as in course credibility. With all this in the bag, the CPD programme of the institution can be a sure success. June 2010 EDU TECH

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Fortresses To Community Spaces


ncreasingly, campuses are offering different kinds of programmes on continuing education to different ‘types’ of students—part-time commuter students, who may take a course or two towards an eventual certificate, to similar students, who may be taking a course for personal enrichment or career transitions; even those seeking corporate training who take up professional seminars offered to the public in between semesters. These programmes, and others like them, are revenue-generating ones for an institution. Simply put, these generate additional money from tuitions using the same infrastructure, already in place for traditional students. It especially works in campuses that suffer from poor utilisation of classroom facilities, and other more expensive resources. By increasing resource utilisation through such programmes, immediate return on investment is greater and long-term benefits are plenty—without incurring additional course work costs.

Partnering For Change Those higher education institutions that are older and more evolved rely heavily on funds derived from different sources. In such campuses, inhouse funding and development teams work hard to secure alumni philanthropy, corporate sponsorship, and grants, in addition to the standard government subsidies. In order to cultivate and harvest this type of “giving”, campuses form longer-term bonds with both the alumni and nontraditional students and corporations. One of the several routes to revenue success—both short and longterm—is through corporate training. Industry academia partner-


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

ships leave an immediate impact on a campus, as they increase career placement opportunities and provide sources for an adjunct faculty. Such partnerships help build research collaboratives and multidisciplinary ventures of innovation, too. Campuses devoted to research, especially dedicated to medical research, attract related industries more easily. Ideally, these campuses should be placed in areas that grant clearer access to an employment base—so that, tapping in or partnering in research innovation becomes simpler. Several institutions across the world have built public-private innovation communities or research parks to stimulate and control partnership activities. If a university decides to build a public-private research park, or innovation community, it must look at its longer-term objectives and not shortterm gains. A university research park typically

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Aaron B. Schwarz


competes against private real estate entities in a real estate market.

Advantage Campus Therefore, a research park must have a lease structure that is competitive. At the same time, the structure should be such that helps it differentiate from private landlords. Fortunately, a campus provides quite a few of amenities that a private research park does not provide. Say for instance, a campus offers physical amenities such as sports, recreation, and dining. It also provides intellectual resources—access to libraries and resource centers, access to expensive laboratory equipment. And, it also provides human capital resources—future employees, student work force, researchers, faculty and staff. Campuses provide subsidised incubator facilities within research park initiatives and the right kinds of space and services to get new companies off the ground. This is a major reason as to why the recruitment and retention of entrepreneurial faculty can benefit not only from rent subsidies, but also from the services of an institution. Campuses are important economic engines for communities, beyond their abilities to offer employment. Private enterprise is stimulated by being able to provide portions of the college’s need—housing, food, entertainment, and others. Some colleges partner with local providers to run their internal food services and bookstores. When an institution is fully engaged with its regional context, it also plays an important role as the cultural centre for its community. Several campuses build art museums, theaters, sports arenas and public facilities that are sized beyond student enrollment needs. By allowing the community access to these facilities, there is better utilisation of assets (that are potentially revenue streams) and the building of longer-term beneficial partnerships.

Physical Construct All this talk about different spaces—belonging to the institution and to the public—needs to get translated into the campus design and its physical construct, as well. These new needs that a campus-of-today has, negates the traditional concept of a “walled oasis” in which only students and faculty participate. Intertwining of users and blurring of lines between college and public use will inevitably change the physical nature of a campus. So, the planning of a campus must embrace and welcome the surrounding community—as opposed to being a fortress within that community. Opening doors to continuing education, temporary students and private industry, needs a different planning approach. Some institutions tend to keep non-traditional student spaces separated from the campus core. For example, hotel conferencing facilities are often built on the campus perimeter. Students, through controlled access, may still take advantage of faculty and other services. However, by separating functions, often the full extent of a campus infrastructure is not used, or is wastefully replicated. Keep in mind that the long-term objective is to build a strong bond between

OFFICE TALK: Concerns for security tends to be the largest obstacle to opening up a campus to the public

the corporation and students with the institution. The lines are indeed blurring in few areas. In urban centers, it is sometimes difficult to discern between campus and private enterprise spaces. Several US colleges have revitalised urban areas by making their presence felt and by intermingling with private enterprises—institutions have taken over abandoned properties, or have renovated older structures for use, alongside offices.

Security Concerns As we saw, intertwining of users and blurring of lines between college and public spaces— changes the physical nature of a campus. However, such changes also brings in new problems. Concerns for security tends to be the largest obstacle to opening up a campus to the public. In the past years, shooting incidents on American campuses have pointed out to the need of having stringent security plans in place. The administrators, planners and designers must find better ways to create a secured campus without the notion of fences or walls. When securing the campus perimeter is not possible, institutions look at other security measures such as increasing patrolling staff, increasing cameras and improving lighting. In addition, technology has simplified the ability to secure specific buildings and rooms with use of proximity sensors. Student and faculty identification cards are easily programmed and may be changed to provide levels of access. It is clear that improving relationships between campus and public life is important for the vitality of campuses, and their immediate surroundings. Physical facilities need to embrace as well as reinforce this concept. June 2010 EDU TECH

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Underused EDU explores why our academic institutions lag behind global peers in filing patents and lists some of the best practices




Professor Ajit Verma, director-general of Amity Institute of Microbial Technology, remembers the first time he applied for a patent in the mid-nineties. “I was tortured,” he says. Excited about his research on the fungus Piriformospora Indica, which he felt had a great potential as biofertilizer, bioprotector and bioherbicide, the former microbiology professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University, set out to get a patent on the properties of the fungus, only to be rebuffed from everywhere. “We had no patent culture at that time,” he rues. Frustrated, he went off to Germany to do further research on his pet topic, and while there providentially got help to obtain a patent for his innovation from the European Patent Office in Muenchen, Germany.

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POINTS TO PONDER FILING FOR PATENTS IS THE FIRST step to getting international recognition GETTING A PATENT IS NOT enough; You have to pay to maintain it OUTSOURCING JOB TO A PATENT attorney can help to speed up the process INFRINGEMENTS, revocations, & opposition issues can incur significant time and cost

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Today, Verma feels that the IPR environment in India has become better—at least in some institutions. Take Amity University, which has filed 125 patents between June 2008 and December 2009. A patent attorney visits its incubation centre twice a week to facilitate the patent filing process for researchers. No more running from pillar to post. “It is a simple and easy process without any hidden legal complications,” says Verma, a veteran at patent filing now.

Patenting Pains The process may be simple, but it is excruciatingly long. Sometimes after filing the application, it can take seven to eight years before the actual grant of the patent, which can be frustrating for PhD researchers, who prefer not to hang around a campus for that long. The long delay is one of the reasons why patent filing is not popular in Indian universities. A 2009 Ernst and Young– FICCI report (Making Indian Higher Education Future Ready) points out that of the thousands of higher educational institutions in the country, barely 25-30 institutes are into patent filing. The other reason is a mindset issue. Most faculty members say they are not into the research for the money. They would rather publish papers in prestigious journals and get “name and fame”— often this also helps them get funding for the next cycle of the project. Also, since most research at Indian universities is funded by government grants, there’s very little impetus to encourage patenting intellectual property. Many believe that filing for patents has no tangible benefits as companies remain uninterested in the invention and there is hardly any commercial gain. Mohit Mahajan, executive consultant (IPR/ TT) Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT), IIT Delhi, agrees that its a mindset issue. “Our scientists need to have confidence in the value of their invention and realise that inventions are worth money,” he says. Even as some people see filing of patents as a waste of time, money and resources, many disagree with that view. They point to the importance of filing


‘Patenting Requires Specialised Manpower’ Dr Anil Wali, Managing Director, FITT, talks to EDU about the patenting process in India and in his institution. Could you describe the process of patenting—is it tougher in India? The process of filing, examination, prosecution and grant of patents is particularly long-drawn in India, and requires regular follow-ups with the Indian Patent Office. Patenting requires specialised manpower—experts who have a thorough understanding of technology and working knowledge of patent laws. An Indian patent normally costs upto Rs 20,000 as far as government fee is concerned and an additional fee for the lawyers. The ultimate cost could go up to Rs 60,000 and more.

Who does a patent belong to—researcher, or the institution? How does the institution facilitate researchers? As far as the IIT, Delhi, is concerned, patents are taken in the name of the institute (except in cases of externally funded projects wherein joint ownership or ownership by sponsor may be allowed). FITT facilitates the patenting process and technology transfer.

What issues related to Patents could worry administrators? Issues related to infringements, revocations, oppositions on patents can incur significant time and costs.

Are patents granted in India recognised abroad? Patents are jurisdiction specific and are equivalent of a property right granted by a sovereign country.

Are PhD theses copyrightable? If yes, then who owns the copyright? Does the funding agency (public or private) also have a right? Yes, PhD theses are copyrightable. Under the existing IPR policy of our Institute such copyrights are taken in the name of the Institute.

Once the patent is obtained, how does the commercialisation process work—again does the institution lend a helping hand or the researcher has to do it alone? IIT Delhi has an in-house Technology Transfer Unit at FITT whose primary function is to interface with the industry for understanding and addressing their needs for technology development and to engage in the technology commercialisation process.

Finally, how many patents does IIT Delhi hold? How many have resulted in commercial gains? FITT at IIT Delhi has so far processed close to 340 proposals for filing patent applications out of which about 210 patent applications have already been filed. FITT has also transferred more than 43 technologies to the industry under different kinds of licences.

patents in building proprietary positions, value differentiation and in encouraging innovations. Besides, FITT’s experience at IIT Delhi is that several important R&D collaborations, particularly with industry, are driven by clear positions on IPRs. Lack of adequate IP protection can dis-

courage the foreign collaborators.

The Process To spur patent filing, the National Knowledge Commission recommended the creation of IPR cells in universities. Some universities in the country like JNU, Jadavpur and others, do have an

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Intellectual Property Rights Cell. The cell provides all necessary facilities to the inventors, both economic and intellectual and guides them through the patenting process. The institution works as an applicant while the scientist/innovator is the inventor. But, in most institutions, the IP activity begins and ends in the cell. Very few have incubation centres or tech transfer centres to market the invention and commercialise it. IIT Delhi was one of the first institutions in the country to come up with a tech transfer model. FITT was set up in 1992. While the nineties were a relatively slow period, now things are picking up , with a lot of enquiries coming in from both large firms and SMEs. Typically, when a researcher submits a work for patenting, a panel that comprises attorneys and scientific experts does due diligence, scrutinizing the merits of the case. After the scrutiny, the process of filing a patent is initiated. The bulk of the filings is outsourced. It could take four to six weeks to complete the forms and submit the application at one of the four patent offices in India (Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai). This is followed by a long drawn process of examination, prosecution, challenges. Says IPR specialist advocate Chander Lall of Lal &Sethi Associates, “Patents can be lost

Staff at Amity University’s incubation centre doing what they do best— getting the green signal on the smallest of grounds. For instance, if you indulge in irresponsible dissemination of information by putting the research in public domain, you lose the whole right. So, you have to keep it within a small tight group.” It is also a myth that technology transfer occurs only after a patent is granted. FITT’s experience is that maximum technology transfer occurs at the filing stage. So, if a patent has not received bids even after 2-3 years of fil-

The Patent Power

The MIT Technology Licensing Office earns a significant amount every year courtesy patents Amount in (US$ millions)

100 80 60 40 20 0 2008

2009 YEAR

Expenditure on Patents


Gross Revenue

ing, then it can be abandoned. Also as Lall points out, getting a patent is not enough. You need to pay to maintain it. Which is why he says, “You cannot go around shopping after the grant of patent. You have to have collaborations between universities and corporations right at the start of the research.”

Commercialisation “Do you know that present international data shows that only 0.2 percent patents have been commercialised,” asks Dr Verma. Most big companies in India tend to buy technology from abroad and it’s only the start-ups that show interest in the academic institutions research. Amity, for instance, has spent nearly 10 million on patents, and is yet to see any commercial gains, although Verma insists that with companies showing interest, it is only a matter of time before the institution starts earning revenues . The optimists believe that since entrepreneurship in India is also at a nascent stage, the patent culture will grow along with it. IIT Delhi’s experience is that early stage companies are the ones that are more interested in acquiring new technology and willing to invest in it. As anywhere else, the industry has to come forward to help take university research forward. They are best placed to make it market-ready. Another reason


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Process Factfile Patent: It is a grant made by the government to an inventor, conveying and securing to him (or her) the exclusive right to make, use and sell an invention for a term of a few years Patent by Institution: Creates network and provides facilities to inventor(s), both economic and intellectual. Thus, the institution works as an applicant, while a scientist, or innovator, as an inventor

What is Patentable? A new product, or process, involving an inventive step and more economic than the existing one (if any) and capable of being used in an industry. An invention is only patentable if it is technical in nature and meets the following criteria: i) Novelty—not published in India, or elsewhere, before the date of filing of the patent application in India ii) Inventive Step—The invention is not obvious to a person skilled in the art, in light of a prior publication, or knowledge, or document iii) Industrially applicable—Invention should possess utility, so that it can be made or used in an industry to generate revenue

What is Non-patentable? There are a number of clauses on what is non-patentable. Some major ones are: A) Invention which is frivolous, or claims anything obviously contrary to well established natural laws B) Invention whose primary, or intended, use, or commercial exploitation, is contrary to public order, or morality, or which causes prejudice C) Discovery of a new form of a known substance D) Discovery of a scientific principle, or formulation of an abstract theory E) Substance obtained by a mere ‘admixture’ resulting only in the aggregation of the properties of the components thereof, or a process for producing such a substance F) Inventions that compromise the security of India G) Topography of integrated circuits H) Mere presentation of an information

why commercial gains have not been made is that most of the work in institutions like IIT is in cutting edge new areas like Chip Design. Now, in India, there are barely 2-3 companies in this area, and it becomes difficult for the institution to find takers. Ditto for areas like stem cells research, cloning in which a lot of academic institutions in India are doing research work—but there are hardly any industries to match. Contrast this to the scene at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, where in 2009 as against $16 million invested on patents, the cash income generated was $75 .7 million.

New IPR Bill When the new draft Bill (Indian Protec-


tion and Utilisation of Public Funded Intellectual Property Bill) was first drafted in 2008 and later tabled in Rajya Sabha, there was widespread optimism that it would increase the number of patents filed by academic institutions in India. This was because the Bill is closely modeled on Bayh-Dole Act of the US, which was passed in 1980. In the US till 1980, technologies developed at government funded institutions belonged to the government. With this Act, technologies developed with federal funding could belong to the university. Universities in the US were spurred to set up tech transfer offices, the number of patents shot up, as did venture funding for innovations developed at academic institutions.

However, now experts feel that the Indian bill will not really create any such impact. Institutions like IIT Delhi which have a strong IPR culture are already doing much of what is being stated in the Bill. At the most, it could impact universities in small towns. In a paper published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Rights, Mrinalini Kochupillai who has critiqued the proposed Bill points out that in the Indian context, if one studies the Science and Technology Policy, 2003, it clearly spells out that government agencies should not try and claim rights over technology created by institutions using DST funding and it should lie with the inventor and institution. Also, most of the good research institutions in India are already autonomous and so the Bill is only restating the existing policies at these institutions. In sum, then, the passage of the Bill will be a mere piece of paper legislation and may not make much of a difference.

Streamlining Patenting To sum up institutions need to streamline the patenting process: Create an IPR Cell: This will be responsible for training faculty, researchers on the importance of patenting, what is patentable and what is not, as well as helping them file applications with the patent office. Set up Tech Transfer Offices: Helping with patent applications is not enough. To commercialise the invention, a marketing wing is necessary. A tech transfer office is a tried and tested model because it can also address the issue of taking the invention from lab scale to market scale by leveraging its clout with industry to test prototypes. Have a stringent rejection policy: Globally, universities typically only send 50 percent of the patent submissions they get from their researchers for filing, but in many Indian institutions as much as 70-80 percent are applied for, which is a waste of resources. Get expert help: A lot of delays in patent grants happen due to the process of examination, counter examination, etc. Outsourcing the job to a patent attorney speeds up the process.

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Edu Tech December 2009


Ashok Ranchhod NAME: Ashok Ranchhod CURRENT ENGAGEMENT: Director, Mundra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA) DATE OF BIRTH: December 12, 1948 THINGS HE LIKES Book: Empires of the Word Movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 2001 A Space Odessy Food: Gujarati home-cooked meals Music: Of west Africa, South Africa and Mali. Among Indian artistes, he prefers Ravi Shanker, Hariprasad Chaurasia. Loves The Beatles and Western classical music Destinations: France, Spain, Portugal, and closer home, Goa AWARDS AND HONOURS 2003 Outstanding Paper Award, Emerald Publications 2000 Most Innovative Paper, British Academy of Management 2000 Prize for Best Paper, Academy of Marketing—Direct Marketing Track 1997 Prize for best paper Academy of Marketing—Marketing Information Systems track 1994 December Second Prize for a refereed case Study Cosyfeet at the Enterprise in Small Business Conference Nottingham University 1995 Good Ambassador prize at Southampton Institute 1994 June Staff Merit Award of Being The Most Innovative Teacher

The Mica Man’s Different Moves Ashok Ranchhod, Director, MICA, believes in continuous learning and research


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is mother was Zimbabwe-born Indian, and a pucca lady. His father migrated from Saurashtra. Ashok Ranchhod is as cosmopolitan as you can get! He was born and raised in Zambia, worked in London and is now temporarily based in India. Talking to him, one gets the feeling that this academic-cum-entrepreneur-cum-administrator is fascinated by the puzzle that is India, and surprised by the binary opposites that exist here. He knows that Indians are capable of more— much more. He remembers the hard-working Indian families in Zambia and reminisces about the two schools that he and his friends were sent to. “One started from 7.30am and continued till 12.30pm—that was the English school. The other, a Gujara-

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Ashok Ranchhod

ti school, began later. Our parents made sure that we learnt about our roots,” he says. Proud, hard-working, educated and ethical—that’s how he knew Indians. Coming to the country of his origin, he found the same people turn a bit, shall we say, slow—to think things through. “There is little time spent on reflection—on what are we doing and why. Why should we critically examine something, why are we learning or teaching this?” It is this lack of introspection that bothered the man—both inside and outside the classroom. Thus, when he took over as the director of the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), he set out to change that. “I will like to get away from timid teaching—where a teacher is like a sage on stage. I would like to improve the quality of assessment and set a target for my staff as far as research is concerned. I would like to see MICA become a little more of a continuously improving institution. I think students deserve that—a vibrant, rather than a viable, atmosphere,” he explains. Ranchhod’s road to MICA was colourful and varied. When he was just 16 years, Ranchhod left Zambia for the UK to complete his A-levels. Then, it was off to Sheffield University. A “scientist by nature”, Ranchhod completed his masters in geochemistry hoping to get back to Africa—however, political tensions prevented that. Instead, the student of science ended up getting a work visa in England. He conducted research, taught, and somewhere in the middle, began a bio-tech company that cloned plants, and sent them off for replanting. “The company was featured in Financial Times and on television, but we didn’t make money. My children were young. So, while running the business I did a parttime MBA and went into a safer job, lecturing at Nottingham Business School.” Pure science to the science of business—he was then at the Sheffield Business School where he ran an MBA programme with 500 students. Afterwards, he joined the Southampton Business School where he began to “understand marketing”. “I sort of became the head of marketing, then moved to research,

while finishing my PhD in it. I became a research professor with loads of international links and visiting chairs in France, Scotland, etc. Along with that I began to publish, and completed 50 papers and books.” So, the lessons never stopped? With him, not really. “For a teacher, continuous learning and research is essential—and having some sort of industry link. That gives a practical twist to any programme. Let’s say when I take a class on marketing strategy students will trust me more if they know that I have written a book on the topic, or say, have published papers. When I became the director I was particular that I wanted my staff to be ‘eligible’ to teach in a


she is involving herself with the school.” “At MICA, we are trying to collaborate with Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton). Through the collaboration I am trying to boost research projects. That’s the only way.” If you believe him—it’s all advantage India now. “Here, a person is allowed more freedom. If they give you the director’s post, there are things that you can do. On the flip side there are people who promise a lot, but do not deliver! Another habit that miffs me, is that people personalise everything—instead of looking at the job, they look at the man at the helm.” Then it becomes like a “little coterie of arguments and discussions”.

“I THINK THAT THE STUDENTS DESERVE THAT—A VIBRANT, RATHER THAN A VIABLE, ATMOSPHERE” class. It was tough for several who were not used to such demands.”So, is he a task master? “I am kind and fair,” is what Ranchhod leaves you with. “I have been blessed with the opportunity to stay in three different, but amazing countries. Indians in Zambia were mostly in business—most were prosperous. When I came to England in the 1960s, it did feel dull at first. But, it soon got better, the university had a great library, it was also an exciting era with great songs and poetry.” Poetry is something that is close to Ranchhod’s heart—he often uses poems to express his despair, hope and desire. As for the future, MICA is Ranchhod’s soul—a project in which his wife, too, is lending a hand. “Nilanta is a qualified deep tissue therapist. She involved herself into raising our three children. Now,

But if MICA is his soul, swimming is that one passion that Ranchhod discusses little and engages in more. “I play tennis and I do yoga, but, yes, swimming is my passion. There is a company called Swimtrek in the UK. They train people for swimming holidays. With them, I travelled to the Greek Islands, Cyclades. We covered between two and five kilometers,” he remembers with a smile. The other thing that makes this “kind and fair” man smile is the thought of his two daughters and son—all settled in the UK. There’s one more hush-hush project that Ranchhod is looking forward to. “I had learnt to play the flute, while I was in Sheffield. Since I am here now, I would love to learn again,” he admits. A strict administrator with a soul—here’s hoping that the MICA man continues to make a difference. June 2010 EDU TECH

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Book Review

The Great Brain Race Helping the trustee, president, department chair and faculty find decision-making tools to aid administration IN AN insightful and straightforward manner, Wildavsky discusses the strategic value of universities extending their influence and brand throughout the world. International competition for the brightest minds is transforming higher education, a revolution which should be celebrated and not feared. He meticlously demonstrates that this ongoing globalisation of academia and ‘free trade in mind’ will lead to economically beneficial outcomes. His message is similar to Friedman’s The World Is Flat, since he believes higher education is no longer confined by national boundaries, much less by campus walls. Newly created or expanded universities in China, India, and Saudi Arabia are competing with the likes of Harvard and Oxford for faculty, students, and research pre-eminence. Wildavsky chronicles the unprecedented international mobility of students and faculty, the rapid spread of branch campuses, the growth of for-profit universities, and the international expansion of college rankings. Wildavsky argues that this scholarly marketplace is creating a new global meritocracy, one in which the spread of knowledge benefits everyone, both educationally and economically.

THIS BOOK reflects on contemporary humanistic pedagogy by analysing critical works that span approximately 240 years. Through the works of Rousseau,Goethe, Nietzsche, D. H. Lawrence and others, Bell explores notions of pedagogical circularity and authority in order to understand educational relationships. Many have discussed the progression and influence of the European Bildungsroman from the perspective of the development of the student, overlooking aspects of teaching and learning. By revisiting this project and exploring the point of view of the tutor, Bell investigates complex and subtle relationships to explore “the limits of the teachable”. Bell has borrowed Goethe’s term offenes Geheimnis (open secret) to create a motif that connects the various threads of his discussion. It “is not a secret which everyone has discovered, but an utterance that few can understand”, and concerns what is imparted in teaching, and what cannot be imparted. The book would be of interest to educators and professors, since Bell cites them as examples of these fortunate “few”.

Author: Ben Wildavsky Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 25, 2010)

Author: Michael Bell Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (July 5, 2007)

Price: US$17.79

Price: US$70.00

NEW RELEASES New Directions for Higher Learning This book brings together leading researchers and practitioners from higher education who are actively exploring the frontiers of education from an integral perspective. EDITORS: Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Jonathan Reams, Olen Gunnlaugson PUBLISHER: State University of New York Press (August 2010) PRICE: US$26.95


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Mission and Money This book is a comprehensive treatment of the economics of the higher education and examines revenue sources. It makes a good read for those interested in higher education and the role of different types of organisations in the contemporary economy. AUTHOR: Burton A. Weisbrod, Jeffrey P. Ballou, Evelyn D. Asch PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press (March 29, 2010) PRICE: US$18.71

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Sony’s Walkman players

Better than the Ipod?

GADGETS Enso introduces the zenPad The zenPad from Enso is another tablet launched in 2010, the “Year of the Tablet”. Competing with big shots and small shots alike, Enso truly shows us how wide open the tablet market really is, with its 5-inch 800x400 resolution screen (LED backlit restive touchscreen) tablet that runs on Android 1.6 and Samsung’s S3C6410 667MHz processor.

Price: US$155 SONY HAS LAUNCHED new iterations of its W and B series of Walkman MP3 players, targeting those consumers who desire their music on the go, in a portable and durable form. The Walkman W Series is water-resistant and washable, suitable for those into active sports, and designed to be used in rainy or dust-laden environments. It is uniquely wire-free, making it super comfortable to use while exercising. The W Series also has a unique music navigation feature called Zappin, which allows users to listen to the main chorus of each song while scanning through their music library and playlists to find the song they are looking for. The NWZ-W250 is available in three colours: black, white, pink. It weighs just 43 gms, and provides up to 11 hours of playback time with a full charge of 90 minutes. It also has a Quick Charge function that lets it play up to 90 minutes of music with just 3 minutes of charging time.

World’s Thinnest Netbook Intel showcased a netbook featuring the dual core “Pine Trail” based ‘Canoe Lake’ platform. At just 14 mm thickness it is optimised for low power consumption and higher performance in sleeker netbooks. The architecture increases the power efficiency and battery life, while giving a performance boost over the current netbooks. Plus, as Intel says, it performs better than other netbooks and runs cooler, and is 50 percent thinner than any other netbook in the market.

Price: could be sold for around US$600 next year

Price: Rs 4,990

Panasonic Unveils Plasma HD 3DTVs PANASONIC HAS JUST unveiled the 46 and 42-inch versions of 3D TVs in Japan as successors to their 50-inch & above versions. They are expected for a due release on July 30 in Japan and are likely to make a parallel appearance in India as well. Panasonic TC-PVT25 series has won the 2010 Best of CES award, for being the industry’s first to announce the release of FULL HD 3DTVs into the market. Also, Panasonic is the first company to have promised bundled 3D glasses with its 3D TVs.

iPhone 4 in India

Price: US$3,833 & US$3,285

Price: Rs 35, 000-40, 000

Come September, iPhone 4 will be launched in 88 countries, probably, including India. The iPhone uses the microSIM, which is like a usual SIM minus the white plastic around the circuitry. It remains to be seen whether this will affect the launch of the new iPhone in India, as the operators currently use the bigger miniSIM.

June 2010 EDU TECH

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LEGACY “There was an increasing need to train teachers, especially women”

Hansa Mehta First Woman Vice Chancellor of India

Life is a matter of choice—some choose to complain, others to act. Hansa Mehta, is one of those who fall into the second category. In times of turmoil, Mehta fought not only to free her country, but a shackled education system, which had little room for vocational, or teacher’s training. Coming from a progressive Gujarati family, education was a priority in Mehta’s life. A bright student, she topped the matriculation examination among girl students in 1913. Married to Doctor Jivraj N. Mehta, (Deewan of the state of Baroda, the first chief minister of Gujarat and one who established the MS University of Baroda in 1949), she was inducted into the public sphere right from her adulthood. In an interview conducted on September 09, 1963, Hansa Mehta admitted that she plunged into the Freedom Struggle after Mahatma Gandhi’s salt march. Picketing and boycott of foreign goods followed. Steadily, her involvement with the movement grew—one thing led to another, till she was made the Parliamentary Secretary of Health and Education Departments in the Constituent Assembly in pre-independent India (1939). It was then that the educationist-at-heart addressed some of the issues that had nagged her from childhood. During her tenure, teachers were sent overseas for further training, while several pre-university institutions, also imparting vocational training, were established in India. In 1946 she was deputed as a delegate to the UN. There, too, the advocate for human rights and education-for-all, left a deep impression. Previously, the Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights began as: “All men are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Mehta pointed out that the term “all men” might be interpreted to exclude women—leading to the present text that states “all human beings”. In 1949, right before the state of Baroda was to be merged into the state of Bombay, Jivraj Mehta set up the MS University and invited Dr Radhakrishnan to be its first VC—however, Radhakrishnan was appointed as the Ambassador to the UK by then. And Hansa Mehta stepped in. Faculty of social work at the MS University of Baroda owes its origin to the vision of its first vice chancellor—Mehta—who also became the first woman vice chancellor in the country as well. Though it remains the third university to impart professional social work education in the country, it was the first to hire a full-fledged faculty for the job. She was also the woman who was responsible for introducing home science and fine arts department in the university. A silent worker, who let her actions speak, Hansa Mehta is an exception who never let a “rigid system” rule her.

~: July 3, 1897 – April 4, 1995 :~ FIELD Freedom Fighter, Human Rights Advocate and the First Indian Woman Vice Chancellor of MS University of Baroda AWARDS AND HONOURS 1913 Tops matriculation among girl students 1946 Deputed as a delegate to the UN as the first member of the Subcommittee on the Status of Women THE JOURNEY 1949 – 1958 First woman vice chancellor. She held her post for nine years 1958 – 1960 Member of the executive board of the UNESCO 1964 – 1966 She accompanied her husband (Dr Jivraj Mehta – High Commissioner, UK) to London where she headed several committees and boards (Soroptimist Club, Racial Relation Committee, Indian Women’s Association)

—Rohini Banerjee If you would like to share similar stories with readers of this publication please write to the Editor, EDU at


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