How NIT Tiruchy will drive online content for MOOCs on govt e-learning platform SWAYAM

Recently chosen as the national MOOCs coordinator for UG and PG engineering courses, NIT-T is training faculty, involving students and strengthening infrastructure
NIT Tiruchy (Pics: NIT-T)
NIT Tiruchy (Pics: NIT-T)

The National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (NIT-T) recently became the national MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) coordinator for undergraduate and post-graduate engineering courses. What does this mean? Essentially that they will create content for the government's SWAYAM platform. But this new development won't be much of a challenge for the institute. NIT-T was already developing the infrastructure for recording videos and its faculty was being trained to deliver online content, says Director Dr Mini Shaji Thomas.

NIT-T plans to involve faculty from other institutes to create content for the platform. "We are identifying which courses we want to offer. Around 200 courses have already been decided. A content development committee has already been formed. Faculty to teach a particular course will be decided based on student demands - they can be from other NITs or even state universities," says Dr Thomas.

The institute is also thinking about other e-learning portals while developing its own courses. "There is a huge demand for engineering courses online and after National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) we will also be developing online content for engineering," says Dr Thomas, "We have been careful to select courses that we have expertise in, that the students want and that is not available elsewhere. A student survey is being conducted to determine what they want and we will try to develop content in a manner that is exciting and attractive. Instead of having a longer video, we will create shorter videos."

Dr Mini Shaji Thomas, Director, NIT Tiruchirappalli

Dr Thomas adds that they will also have a team to decide the course design and another to design graphics for the content. "We can't make it in one shot where a person keeps talking. The faculty should be trained accordingly. The content and presentation should be able to interest the students," she says. Dr Thomas hopes that NIT-T's sound IT infrastructure will allow it to make content that is suitable for an international audience. The institute has invested in its IT infrastructure and will keep investing more to strengthen it further, she adds.

NIT-T is also taking suggestions from other coordinators on the SWAYAM platform. "The management courses from IIM Bangalore are quite popular. We have contacted them, NPTEL and National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR), Chennai for inputs and to learn from them. Our courses will have to be as attractive for the students," says Dr Thomas.

The Director feels that MOOCs have the power to enhance learning. "MOOCs can become a supplement to what is being taught in class. A student can watch a lecture on SWAYAM by their professor and then attend the class, which can be more focused on clearing doubts. It also depends on the students on how they choose to utilise the resources available to them," says Dr Thomas. With extra credit on the line, the demand for MOOCs will not dwindle, she feels.  

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