In these unprecedented times induced by the Covid pandemic, IITs are planning to conduct online semester classes till the end of the year. The institutions will however get back the PhD students on campus whenever possible.
The IIT directors told The Indian Express that they are most likely to conduct virtual classes for the undergraduate students who have already enrolled. They are also working on alternatives for students who may not have access to proper Internet connection or devices to attend lectures online. To enable better online learning systems, some IITs are modifying their curriculum to have lab work during the spring semester.
The IIT Council has recently set up a sub-committee of directors to decide on how to start the new academic session and provide solutions to all operational challenges. The sub-committee is expected to submit its report this week. It will then be presented for approval by the Council headed by the HRD minister.
IIT Madras has officially indicated its plan to continue lectures online for the upcoming semester. Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi, in an e-mail to students, had conveyed that they will most probably continue online classes for one more semester. He wrote, “We are not sure when the Institute will be permitted to re-open and who amongst our students will be able to travel safely to the Institute. Even when this becomes possible, with just about 6,000 hostel rooms on a single-occupancy basis, we expect that only some of the continuing students can return to the campus.”
The director wrote that PhD students will return first followed by the fresh batch of students for the academic year 2020-21. The email further stated that they might conduct some face-to-face classes for students who are able to return to the campus along with live-streaming or recording of the classes for the online students. “We do not know how things will pan out, given social distancing constraints in classrooms,” it read.
IITs seek students’ suggestions for online learning
The IIT-Bombay has asked its students for suggestions to make teaching more effective if lectures were to go online next semester. The institution directors say they are planning to keep some aspects of campus remote for the year to ensure social distancing. An IIT director told The Indian Express, “Given the recent increase in student strength, IITs are pressed for space, and many of our students share hostel rooms. Even if we manage to provide each of them with a single room, the mess and the bathrooms are common.” Another IIT director added, “How do the IITs also ensure to quarantine each student for 14 days before sending him or her to the hostel room? In case any student gets infected, how can an IIT situated in a hotspot assure medical help when health systems are so overwhelmed? Also, we don’t think parents will be fine to send their wards to the campus even if we reopen.” IIT-Guwahati, for instance, had invited 150 research scholars back to the campus but only about a dozen students returned.
Alternatives for students without devices or Internet
IITs are also working on alternatives for the students who lack proper Internet connection or digital devices. IIT-Bombay is already tapping its alumni network for help. IIT-Delhi is planning to provide students with an option to either drop a semester or access online classes from their hostel rooms. Referring to lab work, the email from the IIT-Madras stated that they “stand postponed to the time students can return to campus”. IIT-Roorkee and IIT-Delhi are also considering putting practicals on hold. According to an IIT spokesperson, laboratory experiments can be conducted over a week or two when they come back to campus.
Source: Indian ExpressNational, News