Cornell Organizes Media Production Training for e-content Development for Indian Faculty
July 16-27, 2012 | Cornell University, New York, USA
With the agenda of helping the Indo-Gangetic farmers prosper financially and socially, the Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP) project strives to improve agricultural education imparted to the Indian agricultural students and professionals. Along with its ongoing efforts towards initiating changes in the curricula of the state agricultural universities and integrating experiential learning with classroom education, AIP is also gearing up to take its efforts in this direction to the next level by introducing an open source e-learning platform called OLAT (Online Learning and Training) to empower learners with unlimited access to the available knowledge base through e-learning courses. OLAT has been successfully installed at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology (SVPUA&T) and AIP’s efforts are underway to establish similar media production centers at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and other state agricultural universities.

The training workshop on e-learning and media production methodologies, conducted at Emerson Hall, Bradfield, at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) from July 16–27, 2012 is another step taken towards building capacity for agricultural specialists who require adoption of modern teaching approaches and technologies. The training program further strengthened the collaborative effort for dissemination of the educational programs to the Indian agricultural students utilizing the cutting-edge learning solutions through digital technology platforms. Once implemented, these educational programs will enable the faculty to efficiently impart education to the students in a systematic manner while the learners will be better equipped with all-time access to Learning Management Systems and utilize the facility to derive maximum benefit from this virtual teaching-learning methodology. The e-learning courses will supplement classroom training to equip the students with sound understanding of the curricula.

The platform adapted for this purpose, OLAT, for instructing the Indian agricultural students, was tested and installed and the participating faculty members from the two major AIP partner universities, BHU and SVPU&T, were given hands-on training for implementing the platform in the respective institutions.

Under the expert supervision of Stefan Einarson, Director, Information Technology, Cornell University; Anantha Murthy, Information Specialist, Sathguru Management Consultants and Christopher Knight, Production Manager, Translational Learning, CALS, the hands-on training on OLAT was disseminated to Prof. R. K. Singh and Dr. Vijai P, faculty from BHU and also to Mr. Deepak S. and Dr. U. P. Shahi, faculty from SVPUA&T. The participating faculty members were trained not only in promoting interactive e-learning courses in the classrooms but also in assessing the progress of the students online using several parameters. Through OLAT Learning Management System (LMS), prototypes of content were uploaded in text and PPT formats, and the instructors gave the participants hands-on training in creating forums, tests, handling audio-visual equipment to capture video, edit content, record audio and synchronization techniques. Darcy A. Dyll, Web Applications Developer for International Programs, CALS, provided training on Adobe Premier Pro CS6 software. The participants were also given an exposure to Accordant Presenter Plus software for editing content and synchronization. The intensive training session was aimed at equipping the faculty members with the required skill sets and efficiency in capturing classes, edit and synchronize for publishing on OLAT to fortify the teaching methodologies and offer the students interactive and interesting e-learning facilities to derive full benefit from their curricula.

The end of the training program was marked by planning and preparation for an executable work plan to set up media production centers at BHU and SVPUA&T. It was also understood that for proper implementation of OLAT getting the right environment with proper infrastructure, studio installation and maintenance of the facilities are to be ensured. The work plan also focused on acquiring the content from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and setting up standards for content. Making the infrastructure ready, decisions on filming classes in the interim and Cornell faculty training sessions at BHU and SVPUA&T for media production and hardware/software integration also formed integral parts of the work plan.

In order to avail the full range of benefits from the e-learning courses, the institutes have to follow the goals of integrating at least one e-learning course per department in the undergraduate course. In BHU and SVPUA&T the implementation of the e-learning courses through OLAT will be going through various processes that include assessment of infrastructure requirement, content integration, risk assessment, risk mitigation, student training and their assessment. With strict adherence to the timeline that is set for October 2012, the AIP consortium looks forward to positive changes being made through a collective effort to initiate progressive and innovative approaches.

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