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DU gets wired to the future

education Updated: Apr 24, 2012 12:13 IST
Vandana Ramnani
Vandana Ramnani
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Delhi University has gone high tech. The rollout of ICT in 56 colleges will immensely benefit its 4,50,000 students and staff members. Set up at a cost of Rs. 12 crore and spanning over 250 acres and hundreds of college buildings across north and south campuses, the university’s wireless network voice, video and data communications, are all up and running within a year. A futuristic virtual learning portal is also likely to be launched soon with interactive and intuitive learning applications, further connecting the university to other institutes across the country through the National Knowledge Network.

The initiative is part of vice chancellor Professor Dinesh Singh’s vision ‘Enabling DU with ICT’.

The university is fast modernising itself in anticipation of the competition from foreign universities likely to come in after the passage of the Foreign Education Providers (Regulation) Bill (still pending in Parliament).

“Education is no longer confined to the classroom. Information and network technologies are redefining the learning experience of students around the world and ICT deployment in DU colleges is in response to that need. The next generation of Wi-Fi is fundamental to this response,” says Dr Sanjeev Singh, Institute of Informatics and Communications at DU and coordinator, ICT and elearning, Institute of Life Long Learning.

Students will now be able to access applications such as virtual learning, videoconferencing, live and pre-recorded lecture streaming, interactive student-teacher communications, online assessments, quizzes, library subscription for journals and for taking exams online. The technological support has been provided by Ruckus Wireless.

Wi-Fi was chosen because cabling had logistical challenges, the cost and time factor were other issues, Singh says, adding that 56 colleges have so far rolled out the network and have been provided two servers and 80 computers.

As far as online lectures are concerned, a live studio has already been set up in north campus where at the moment lectures are being delivered to African countries. The Institute of Life Long Learning is playing an important role in content creation, dissemination and aggregation of learning material across subjects.

“This has enabled cross institutional communication and has tremendous scope for collaborative learning. Flexibility is the hallmark of this programme,” says Singh.

Maharaja Agrasen College has received two servers and other hardware from Delhi University. “We received two servers from them. We have four labs and a total of six high-end servers with us after we pooled in our own resources. We’ve installed a free of cost, open source learning management system called MOODLE or modular object oriented dynamic learning environment”, says Dr Amit Pundir, associate professor, department of electronics, Maharaja Agrasen College. “All the students receive alerts. The software also gives a report card of every student. Over 10 teachers in our college are using it across disciplines. Students have access to this database and can even practice their assignments on MOODLE,” he says, adding that the ICT Centre is managed by six students from the college itself. The college is also preparing to install LCDs to display the examination results and cut-off marks during admissions.

Sri Venkateswara College has also been given two servers and 80 computers by the university. “We decided to pool in our own resources and gift our college four computer labs with 200 computers as part of our golden jubilee last year,” says Dr Hemlata Reddy, principal of the college.

Students can access DU’s intranet, all journals and e-journals through this facility. “We will be able to provide Wi-Fi facility to all students in the next six months. That will enable them to access internet from any part of the college,” Reddy says, adding, the college is planning to digitise its library.

Servers and 80 computers have also been provided to Lady Irwin College by Delhi University, 40 of which are housed in the computer resource centre (CRC) and 40 in the library.

The college has also set up a CRC 2 this year with its own funds. The facility has 25 computers. “Students can access the data base pertaining to their course requirements in the CRCs,” informs Dr Sarita Jain of the college.The facility in the library is extensively utilised by the 40 PhD students.

“There are plans to set up an institutional respository of work where the college faculty will be able to upload the details of awards presented to them and their published work. We hope to set up this facility by October, November this year,” Jain adds.

Wi-Fi campuses
* VIT Vellore and VIT Chennai have also gone in for a Wi-Fi network on campus. The institutes are spread across 350 acres and the facility benefits 20,000 students
* The technology is also being deployed at eight universities and colleges in Guangxi province, China spread over 2000 acres. The network will allow more than 100,000
students and teaching staff to get online at various indoor and outdoor locations

Cycle to college
At Maharaja Agrasen College, smart cards have been issued to students for use of bicycles on campus. This is part of the Green ICT initiative. The college has received R20 lakh from Delhi University for the project.

“We have issued smart cards to students for use of six bicycles across the 10 acre campus. The ICT centre manages the bicycles. Right now it is a free service. The service started last month,” says Dr Amit Pundir, associate professor, department of electronics, Maharaja Agrasen College.

Faculty members have also shown interest, with the principal bicycling to work to promote the green cause.

The college is planning to contact Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) to provide some space at the Metro station to park the bicycles.

“This will help in providing last mile connectivity to our students,” he adds.