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Log on to long-distance lectures

Every morning, Vishal Khatri, 20, a fourth year civil engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) attends lectures there. Every evening, Khatri attends lectures at the University of Stanford, several time zones and thousands of kilometres away.

mumbai Updated: Jul 30, 2012 01:17 IST
Bhavya Dore

Every morning, Vishal Khatri, 20, a fourth year civil engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) attends lectures there.

Every evening, Khatri attends lectures at the University of Stanford, several time zones and thousands of kilometres away.

Khatri is among thousands of students and working professionals from around the world accessing classroom lectures posted by renowned professors through an online portal Coursera.

This week, 12 more universities announced they would join Coursera and make their lectures available. Details from the site show that Indians rank second in terms of enrolments after the US.

Khatri completed a course in cryptography in April and is now rifling through the other options.

"Without this, I wouldn't have had the chance to learn from so many experienced people. It is totally worth it."

Courses available through Coursera are around 10 weeks long and are free. Students can also earn a credit for assignments either from Coursera or a respective university.

With major universities signing up to make learning material available online for free, an official Mumbai Courserians group listed on the website already has 29 members.

"I wanted to learn statistics and data analysis with a view to changing my profession; this seemed good," said Brijesh Bolar, 32, who has signed up for five different courses available from five different US universities, four of which begin in September.

Institutes in Mumbai have also been offering online learning modules to students through pre-recorded open access lectures and live sessions.

The e-learning centre at Mumbai University's department of life-long learning, that hosts online video lectures in three subjects since 2007, is now working on making special lectures and seminars held at the Kalina campus available by recording these in a studio.

"This helps working people get access, and also allows people to learn at their own convenience," said Mohan Kumar, assistant professor in charge of the e-learning centre.

At IIT-B, the Ask A Question programme allows students from across the country to log in and ask an IIT-B professor a question during a one-hour slot every Thursday. IIT-B has video recordings of lecture training programmes for engineering teachers available for download.

"Coursera can benefit a large number of people," said Deepak Phatak, professor of computer science at IIT B.