AIP Empowers AAU to Integrate E-learning into its Curriculum
November 5-8, 2012 | Jorhat, Assam

The educational system of a nation determines, to a great extent, the quality and volume of its human capital. It also determines the living standard of the people who are the products of such systems. Having said that, in a country like India, which has millions of students across all disciplines who primarily depend on traditional classroom set-ups, it is quite difficult to achieve and maintain the optimum student-teacher balance. It is also equally challenging to set up an educational infrastructure that addresses all aspects of quality, accessibility and interactivity of current forms of education, and effectively manage training processes.

The issues cited above are not peculiar to India. Many nations in the West have effectively addressed these concerns through e-learning, which has marked advantages over traditional classroom teaching. If effectively adopted in India, it can transform the face of the educational system. Along with the advantages of flexible learning, saving costs on material production, trainers, and infrastructural set-up and reducing travel time, e-learning can produce great results by improving student performance. Also, unlike a one-time classroom session, e-learning offers access to content anytime, anywhere. Such courses, which offer quick adoption and customization, can build capacity among Indian universities, empower them with e-resources and supplement class room teaching. E-learning will also give students quicker access to source materials.

Promoting e-learning in Indian agricultural universities is among the initiatives that AIP has adopted towards improving agricultural education in India. In order to integrate e-learning with the agricultural curriculum, AIP plans to create e-learning centers to deliver ICT-enabled courses to students at partner Indian agricultural universities leveraging on the technological expertise of US partner universities.

As part of one such initiative, the AIP facilitated adoption of e-learning by the Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat, Assam. On November 5-8, 2012, Sathguru Management Consultants, the project coordinator for AIP, organized a hands-on training for around 25 faculty and staff members of the university on using, managing and imparting training through Online Learning And Training (OLAT). OLAT is an open source Learning Management System that supports different kinds of online learning, teaching, and tutoring. Earlier this year, Sathguru helped AAU to successfully load and deploy the OLAT program through their server.

Over four days of the program, titled “Administrators’ & Authors’ OLAT Training”, the university staff members were introduced to several features of OLAT. Two trainers from Sathguru, Mr Anantha Murthy and Mr Ravinder briefed the participants on the history and utility of the tool and trained them on managing content, folders, forums, assessments, tasks, portfolio tasks, questionnaires, enrollment, notifications, calendar, group creation, file discussions, quizzes, linking wikis, blogs, integrating podcast, conducting surveys, connecting via chats, grading modules, integrating time marker for video data, multi-language support, etc. The trainers explained the role of several kinds of OLAT users, which include the basic user (student); the teachers who administer the courses as well as moderate them and the administrators who manage the platform, the users and accessibility to OLAT features. The participants were also trained on customizing Home page design, settings, creating and submitting courses as well as inserting course elements, using Single Page, External Pages, etc.

Under the e-learning initiative, AIP plans to help universities reduce material production costs; create customized courses; build capacity within Indian universities and connect the agricultural universities across the country by creating a network to share resources. These initiatives will help build an ecosystem that will equip today’s universities to meet the educational needs of the next generation students. These will also help transform the educational system in these universities.

On the occasion, Dr. Jyoti Kumar Gogoi, Professor-In-Charge, Agricultural Research and Information Service (ARIS) Cell, Assam Agricultural University said, “This is a paradigm shift in the academic scenario of the University, which is a significant step towards our vision of competitiveness with the present day world in the academic front. With the inclusion of e-learning in the curriculum, the teacher-student interaction will increase and the teaching-learning process will break the boundary of time and place.”

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