If you cannot go to IIT, then IIT will come to you.
In the new academic year, engineering students in India and abroad will be able to sit in virtually on Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) lectures on their iPods. Already the IIT webcasts — broadcasts in real time over the internet — lectures for about 400 courses across five subjects.
Next month, the institute will allow students to post on a special website questions and doubts relating to these courses, which will be answered by their professors and students.
“Since technology is changing fast, we need to keep coming up with new mechanisms to transmit courses,” said Kannan Moudgalya, head, Centre for Distance Engineering Education at IIT-Bombay.
The innovations are part of a larger government initiative, the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning, to make more efficient use of the IITs’ intellectual resources by making them accessible to a wider audience.
The seven older IITs and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore are involved in the programme, which will help them catch up with world-class institutions, which make lots of resources available online.
Policymakers believe such creative use of the internet can raise standards at the country’s 1,500 engineering colleges, which do not have enough teachers and often make do with mediocre ones.
“By March students will be able to post questions, which will be answered by IIT professors or peers,” said professor Mangala Sunder Krishnan of IIT-Madras, also the programme’s course coordinator.
The new facilities are part of the national programme’s second phase, for which the government approved Rs 90 crore earlier this month.