In a role-reversal of sorts, engineering teachers, including those from the disturbed corners of Srinagar, have been rushing to attend their ‘classes’. They have all signed up for a first-of-its-kind programme which allows engineering teachers to enhance their skills under star IIT faculty members.
“There is a lot of unrest in the Valley and it’s not safe to ply vehicles on the roads. But we didn’t want to miss the workshop,” A H Moon, the Department of Electronics and Accreditation of Computer Courses (DOEACC) co-ordinator from Srinagar said. “Everyday, we walked over 15 kms to reach the centre where the lecture was being beamed live from Mumbai.” Some of the female teachers even resided at the lecture-receiving centre. “It was the spirit of the workshop that drove the participants to forget about everything else and focus only on the workshop,” Moon added.
Miles away, Deepak Phatak, one of the finest computer science teachers in the country, stood in an empty hall at IIT-B’s Powai campus, urging about 650 faculty members from Srinagar to Salem to take their teaching a rung up.
“The lectures are being transmitted across the country through two networks— satellite and the internet. The class is similar to a first year class in IIT-B, the only difference being that it focuses on the teacher as the end-user,” said Kannan Moudgalya, member of the standing committee of the National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT). “There are tips on how certain topics can be taught, examples that can be used, pointers that need to be stressed upon in a classroom,” Moudgalya added.
Every morning, from 9 am to well past noon, the country becomes a huge classroom, as teachers interact not only with the IIT faculty, but also their counterparts from all over the nation. “That way, we learn about the best practices being followed in other engineering colleges,” said Phatak.
The ‘enhancement of teaching-learning processes in technical education in India’ workshops are free and financially supported by the HRD ministry.
Keeping the sensitivities of teachers in mind, the IIT-B conducts “quizzes and polls” to get an idea if the participants are picking up what is being lectured. Clickers, hand-held devices the size of a cell phone, are provided to every participant and each time an (objective) question is posed, teachers press in their answers.
“The answers are collected in the server of every centre and transmitted to IIT-B. Behind-the-scene software system developed by IIT-B provides the speaker the names of participants who got the correct answer and those who didn’t. The IIT faculty then works with the teachers who have not quite followed the topic,” said Phatak.
As Phatak signs off the day’s lecture, teachers from other engineering colleges start working on their projects; those in Srinagar embark on their trek so that they can get home before dark. “Risking our lives, but completely content,” says Moon.