Published: 06th September 2020
BIT Principal Dr Aswath M U: This lockdown helped improve the teacher-student relationship
In a conversation with Edex, Dr Aswath M U, Principal of Bangalore Institute of Technology talks about how their teachers helped students deal with stress during this pandemic
The COVID pandemic has transformed everything from offline to online. As a result, there has been a huge paradigm shift in the education sector. While students were already tech-savvy, teachers have also embraced the technology and adopted new methods to conduct online classes. Dr Aswath M U, Principal of Bangalore Institute of Technology (BIT), says, "Despite the connectivity issues or facing issues in adopting the technology, teachers of BIT and other colleges have done an amazing job. The pandemic gave them an opportunity to explore the other side of speaking live on the camera. The credit for completing these online classes successfully totally goes to them."
We speak to him to know how BIT's faculty not only taught students but kept a tab on their mental health also. Excerpts
1) Can you tell us how many engineering courses were conducted online and how many remained offline?
Even before the lockdown was announced, owing to the pandemic we had finished only 30 per cent of the syllabus and the remaining 70 per cent of the syllabus was covered through online classes. Since it was the first time for us, the first 15 days were spent in arranging proper equipment, internet and other infrastructure required. After that, the faculty chose a different online platform to conduct their online classes. Aside from completing the syllabus, we also did a revision for those who had missed the earlier classes due to internet connectivity issues. Not just students, even the faculty members had connectivity issues. But they made it a point to record these lectures and upload them on various platforms for easy accessibility for our students. Recently, we also conducted exams for final year engineering students. There were 1,500 students on the campus and we followed all the protocols placed by the state government during these exams.
2) We came across several reports where students faced depression and anxiety disorder during the pandemic. How did you keep a tab on the students' mental health and helped them?
Aside from teaching, our faculty made it a point to be in constant touch with them over the phone. This lockdown helped improve the teacher-student relationship through constant conversations. Whenever they felt that the students' performance in the online classes was low, they would immediately contact such students personally and counselled them. We would constantly give them confidence about writing exams and their career as well as various job options in the future.
Dr Aswath M U, Principal of Bangalore Institute of Technology (BIT)
3) Engineering Courses like Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics focus mostly on practical learning through experiments in the labs. How was this made possible online?
It is obvious that it is difficult to teach subjects like Maths through PPTs. Hence, teachers would solve these problems on papers and upload the photos on WhatsApp or other modes. In terms of practical learning, virtual labs were made accessible for the students who were divided into different batches on different days.
4) There are predictions that courses like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, etc will have more demand in the post-pandemic world. Are you providing any full-time/ part-time courses on these subjects?
BIT being the pioneer in introducing a Computer Science course in Karnataka in 1981, always study and predict the demand for certain courses. Therefore, we had launched courses like AI and Machine Learning even before the pandemic. These courses are the requirement of the industry. BIT has its own expert committee where we discuss the requirements of the industry and introduce either full time or part-time courses to our students. This has been happening for the last three years.
5) What do you say about the impact of this pandemic on students choosing courses that they are particular about?
Recently, BIT did a survey among students where we found out that the students choose the courses that interest them. Therefore, I think the pandemic is not going to make much of a difference except that a few students might choose to go to the colleges close by even when there is no course available to pursue. But a majority of the students will move out of their cities and homes to study the engineering courses in a good and reputed college. According to me, good colleges will not have any issues in students' admission.
6) Are the campus recruitments happening during this pandemic?
Though there is a slight delay in the process and onboarding of candidates, the recruitment process has not stopped and it is going on online. The students will upload their documents and necessary details and almost all the rounds take place. In fact, this coming week, there are eight companies conducting interviews for our students.
7) What are your future plans for the institution?
Like any other prominent organisation, we also want BIT to get University status. Aside from engineering, we have 14 other institutions under our umbrella including our medical college, law college etc. We will work towards gaining this status for our institution in the next two to three years. Currently, we have got NBA accreditation and we are also listed among the top institutions as per the rankings of NIRF.