ICT enabled distance education

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Professor Anil D Sahasrabudhe, Director, College of Engineering, Pune, presented a case study on ICT enabled interactive distance education. College of Engineering, Pune, has recently introduced interactive distance education using ICT services. The factors that motivated were exponential increase in the number of engineering colleges, shortage of faculty in premier institutes, acute shortage of good faculty, outdated curricula in Universities, poor teaching-learning processes, faculty qualifications, intake of good quality students and employability. Sahasrabudhe informed how the faculty was enable with the use of multimedia and IT tools in classrooms . They were granted permission to present papers in National and International Conferences and short term courses for faculty were introduced.

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Technology can help educational institutes in many ways. One should go for Internet bandwidth with a campus wide network, fiber and Wi-Fi, data center with servers and PCs as well as introduce a digital library with E-books and E-journals. The most important thing is that, with the help of IT, institutes can go for online live interactive classes through videoconferencing. However there is no denying the fact that there are numerous challenges faced in terms of infrastructure cost, mindset of students and teachers from real versus virtual remote class, inferiority complex amongst remote students, inexperience of teaching in remote mode, clarity of video and audio, attention span of students, assumed background of students, assignments, tutorials, examinations and evaluations said Sahasrabudhe

Nevertheless, they overcame those challenges by providing students with good quality classroom, ambiance, acoustics, minimum of exclusive 2 Mbps connectivity, Polycom Videoconferencing equipment at both ends (Telepresence : Cisco, Tandberg), good sound system, faculty coordinator at the remote location and background material especially for Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Sahasrabudhe stressed that the model which they have implicated is highly replicable & scalable. There can be one-to-many (may be up to five virtual classes). The use of ICT can help reduce cost for carrying out lab experiments remotely on expensive equipment.

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