Learning Independent of Place, Time and Pace

Prof Ratnajit Bhattacharjee

Prof Ratnajit Bhattacharjee, Head of Department, Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, IIT Guwahati, says that ICT tools make it possible to have laboratory experience available at the desktop of the learners who can use them as per their convenience and at their own pace

Virtual Laboratory is a project under the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT) initiative of the MHRD, Government of India, coordinated nationally by IIT Delhi. IIT Guwahati is a participating institute in the initiative.

The project falls under the broad category of technology-enhanced learning which provides a unique learning experience: learning independent of place, time and pace. ICT tools make it possible to have laboratory experience available at the desktop of the learners who can use them as per their convenience and at their own pace, not being under the pressure of finishing the experiments within some laboratory slots assigned to them.

Virtual laboratories may come in different forms: simulation models using measurement data gathered from costly and sophisticated experimental setup, simulation experiments based on mathematical models and real time laboratories using the actual hardware at the remote end. Apart from the experiments, each laboratory is also provided with background materials such as theory, experimental procedures and quizzes along with videos illustrating how the experiments should be performed. Since these laboratories are primarily targeted for use by the student community, map- ping of contents to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) prescribed syllabus has been made for majority of the laboratories. Some of the laboratories are targeted for use by the research community. The laboratories undergo regular evaluation by a team of experts in the respective fields. User feed- back is taken into account to continuously update their contents.

“IIT Guwahati has contributed seventeen laboratories, covering Electronics and Communication, Mechanical, Computer Science, and Chemical Engineering and other areas, under the NMEICT initiative”

IIT Guwahati has been an active partner in this initiative right from the beginning. It has contributed a total of seventeen laboratories, covering the areas of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering and other areas like Design and Social Sciences. The developmental activities for many of these laboratories are almost complete and some of these laboratories are undergoing field trial. The laboratories are available online for use by the user community. There is also a provision for providing feedback.

Apart from this, the laboratory developers are also carrying out workshops and special sessions in selected institutes. The feedback from the user community has been encouraging. We have also received queries from an American university requesting us to allow usage of one of our laboratories in their web- based classes. Once the contents of the laboratories are fully developed during this phase of project, maintenance and scaling up issues will be addressed. The initiatives for this have already been taken. These laboratories will not only provide first-hand virtual laboratory experience to the user community covering a wide variety of topics, but will also supplement those cases where a real laboratory is not in place.

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