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Four Indian varsities come together to launch ‘virtual university’ on European model

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Four Indian varsities will launch the project ‘EQUAL’ by the beginning of next year to offer a new concept of ‘online education’ to the Indian students.

The project EQUAL (Enhancing Quality, Access and Governance of Higher Education in India) will be a boon for the poor students who are long deprived from getting the taste of education, said a minister.

As per an official, the project will offer a blended learning platform (online plus face-to-face) for undergraduate students in India.

The four participating universities are, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, Ambedkar University, Delhi, University of Hyderabad and Shiv Nadar University in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh.

“For India, the solution can’t be purely classroom nor purely online. It has to be a mix of both. Through EQUAL, students will have the desired mobility. We are planning to launch pilot courses by the end of this year or beginning of next year,” said Supriya Chaudhuri, faculty coordinator and project member from Jadavpur University.

“In addition, since it will be adopted by Indian varsities and colleges as part of their curriculum, it will not have the drawbacks of MOOCs — low completion rates and inadequate certification,” she said, adding the courses, designed in the Moodle software, will be free.

The project is funded by the European Union under its programme ‘Support to Indo-European Interactions in Higher Education,’ and the initiative is supported by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The administrative support is being provided by the British Council India’s division for Internationalising Higher Education.

The four Indian universities are working in collaboration with King’s College London and the University of Bologna, Italy.

The project mainly focused on four interdisciplinary areas-natural resources, environment and sustainable technology, human ecology, cultural studies and critical thinking.

“We urge universities and colleges to adopt this system so that students can have access to the best lectures and courses across India,” said Sugata Hazra, another project coordinator from Jadavpur University.

The university is hosting the project website and creating the e-learning platform to run online courses through virtual classrooms.

“The aim is to create partnerships between Europe and India, and between Indian universities, adapting the ‘Bologna Process’ to the Indian context,” said a professor of Jadavpur University.

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Conventional vs Unconventional Classroom

So where would you be learning, conventional or an unconventional classroom?

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Unlike the conventional learning in a classroom, online training makes the content available for students digitally. Flickr

Learning is the process of acquiring new skills or knowledge and for quite some time students have followed the process of enrolling in an offline centre to learn and study from the material provided but now, there is a new and an unconventional approach to upskilling yourself and that is through online learning.

While I was growing up, if I ever wanted to learn a new skill, I had to travel a minimum of 2-3 kms to the nearest learning or tuition centre to enquire and then enrol for the desired training. Though there were interactions with the teacher, but inhibitions got the better of me and with time, because of all the unresolved doubts, the learning started to become monotonous and I lost interest. But online learning has made that journey for a student interesting, fun and a cakewalk. You can relax in your seat while the knowledge is displayed on your screen and ask all that you wish to.

To begin with, what is online learning?

Unlike the conventional learning in a classroom, online learning makes the content available for students digitally. Students can learn online, anywhere and anytime. Instead of physical copies of books, e-learning uses visual content and gamification.

To help you understand the differences better I would like to compare both the classrooms and the learning associated on the basis of parameters that are essential for an overall learning.

1.       Affordability: 

In offline centres or conventional classrooms there are a lot of miscellaneous expenses incurred and hence the fee structure is designed accordingly.

Whereas in online learning, students’ aim is to learn so companies spend resources only on developing the content and thereby lowering the cost of the training.

From text to graphics, this software does it all. Pixabay
In offline centres or conventional classrooms there are a lot of miscellaneous expenses incurred and hence the fee structure is designed accordingly. Pixabay

2.       Flexibility and convenience:

In a conventional classroom, if you miss a class it gets difficult to grasp the topic and understand what is being taught. The classes have to be attended on fixed days
and timings, offering almost no flexibility. Whereas in online learning, the classes can be taken as per your availability and thus giving you an opportunity to design your own curriculum. You could also watch the classes over and understand the topics in-depth.

3.       Answers to your questions:

While learning, doubts might arise about the topic being taught but students usually hesitate in asking questions in a classroom. Whereas in online learning, you are an anonymous user and your doubts, as frivolous they may be, can be asked without any hesitation.
4.       Practical experience:
The learning journey in a conventional classroom is about reading and grasping, it involves little or none practical applications of the learnings. Whereas in online learning, the training is designed in such a manner that the content is informative and involves practical applications as well. The test and assignments in the module are made to ensure that the student has a holistic growth.

Also Read- Apple Watch Helps Users in US Take ECG

Only 20 percent of the five million students who graduate every year get employed, industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said in a report, published last year.

The competition is stiff and is going to get worse with time so It essential to make yourself stand out from the rest to increase your chances of getting hired. The certificate you will receive at the successful completion of the training will help in making the employer realise that you have relevant skills and in-depth knowledge about the subject.

So where would you be learning, conventional or an unconventional classroom?

About the Author: Sarvesh Agrawal is the Founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and trainings platform. (Internshala.com)