Top engineering and B-Schools, including IITs and IIMs, have embraced virtual learning amid disruption and uncertainty following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Engineering and management schools said there is no campus activity, and professors have started working from home to develop content to be directly delivered on smartphones of students.

“We must reduce disruption and hardship of students. All my professors have started working from home and within the next few days, the online content and video will be available to all students who have missed out on classes and are back home. It’s an opportunity for us to change our teaching model to benefit our own,” said Sarit K. Das, director at IIT Ropar. “We are not going for live streaming as the internet bandwidth is limited in rural India but all recorded and sent to their phone and on an online platform,” Das said.

IIT Kharagpur said it has started offering online classes to students. “Since the pronouncement of the suspension of classes, the Center for Education Technology has acquired a large number of WebEx licenses…for conducting classes from 2nd-year undergraduate courses up-to postgraduate level. First-year classes are being conducted through YouTube Live. More than 40 faculty members are already taking classes using these e-learning facilities. We are further discussing with Zoom to facilitate interactive online teaching,” IIT-Kharagpur said in an email response.

The institute is enhancing YouTube Live facility to enable the faculty to concentrate on the teaching part instead of being concerned with the technical aspects, said Jeevan Jyoti Chakraborty, professor at the IIT.

He said they plan flipped classroom and active learning strategies wherein students can listen to recorded course lectures prior to the scheduled online class and interact more regarding their queries on the topic.

Harivansh Chaturvedi, director at Birla Institute of Management and Technology said coronavirus has disrupted normal life in campuses and the school has now adopted online classes for executive education and doctoral programs. “We have decided to deliver at least 20% of the total academic course work through online, and the present crisis has given us an opportunity to adopt it quickly,” said Chaturvedi, adding that even a portion of their unfinished admission schedule for fresh students will happen online.

“Hundreds of students are still to be interviewed as part of our admission season and we have communicated to them that it will now happen online after 31 March. A visit to the campus in Greater Noida is no more a requirement and the written ability and interview part of the admission process will happen over internet,” said Chaturvedi adding that he is exploring if he can reimburse a portion of the fee students pay to online platform while completing their homework.

Bharat Bhaskar, director at IIM-Raipur, echoed other engineering and B-Schools and said the institute is developing technology platform to offer executive education, and complementary classes to students and professional enrolled with them. “It’s the way forward,” Bhaskar added even as other top schools like IIM-Indore and IIM-Bangalore have established technology platforms to deal with disruptions.

Bhaskar said even the human resource development t ministry has asked institutions to adopt technology to deal with the present crisis.

India is a under a three-week lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus with uncertainty about when the situation will improve and campus activity will resume.

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