Summer recess has set in at IIT Kharagpur on April 1, preponed by 4 weeks and a revised academic calendar being circulated amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic. Classes at the Institute have gone digital since March 17 in the process of following social distancing.
The first year classes with their larger size were the first to be facilitated on YouTube Live using the National Knowledge Network. The lectures were also video recorded and made available online for future reference. Following the lockdown announcement on March 24, all classes were moved to web-conferencing mode, video lectures of NPTEL, or through email.
Till March 31, 2020, total number of courses offered stood at 388 with registrations from 8025 students to participate in the online classes.
“We procured 200 user licenses of WebEx which allowed us to conduct 100+ lectures at a given point of time. This could practically allow us to conduct all classes as per our academic schedule,” said Prof. Debasis Deb, Dean, Undergraduate Studies.
The Institute has also been conducting online classes using Zoom, G-Suite, Skype, DEEKSHAK (an IITKGP web-conferencing platform). Institute is in the process of procuring 20 user licenses of Zoom for conducting classes uninterruptedly, Teachers are using these online platforms to interact with students for lectures, doubt clearing sessions, tutorials and assignments while emailing and uploading video lectures. The NPTEL platform of the Ministry of Human Resources Development is being widely used for the purpose which has a rich repository of video lectures by various IITs. Students are also being recommended to use the National Digital Library of India (NDLI) platform to access vast digital resources.
Atul Jain, Assistant Professor at the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering who has been teaching a course ‘Mechanics of Composites’ shared his experience on his online teaching and students response tracking. He has been using Microsoft Office extensively to create lectures and share exclusively with students enrolled for the course as unlisted videos on YouTube. He further uses Google Analytics to derive useful insights about student participation and attention span etc.
“From my statistics reveal that the average number of students viewing the lectures within three days of delivery is almost the same as the average attendance in a contact classroom. There is no specific time preferred by the students with the viewing time spread over almost 24 hours. Students have a definite tendency of watching the videos in a smaller time span of less than 10 minutes with about 2.5 views per user on average. This is quite a contrast to the usual 55-60 minutes lecture usually delivered in regular classrooms. This freedom is a major positive in online learning,” said Prof. Jain.
Talking about assignments, Prof. Deb informed that the inhouse Moodle facility of IIT Kharagpur has been made available for access from outside the campus LAN.
“The assignments have been emailed while Moodle is being used primarily for computer programming related assignments. BTech and MTech projects related to design and software applications too are being carried out while those requiring laboratory access have been postponed until the reprise of the academic session on June 1,” he said.
Student internship which is critical at IITs is being considered for the period from April to July session having a break in June for regular classes and exams. The Institute is advising students to opt for online mode for company internships and also to apply to faculty members at the Institute for inhouse internship opportunities.
“We are in the process of allocating students to work as interns at the Institute on various on-going projects, term papers, product development and others. Departments are actively involved with the students to give them the best internship experience in house ” remarked Prof. Deb.
In a recent development, the Institute has set up a taskforce to monitor placement situation. In the academic year 2019-20, 1306 placement offers were received. Due to the ongoing 19-nCoV pandemic, there has been speculations regarding offers being cancelled by the recruiters at various institutions. The taskforce will liaise with the recruiters and work towards ensuring that the number of offers at Iit Kharagpur remain consistent with those of the past years.