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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in General Science | 1 comment

Playing a part in India’s drive for multimedia post-secondary education

I have been invited to India this July to give a series of 10 to 15 hours of lectures covering the basic properties of spin. The sponsor is NPTEL—the National Programme On Technology Enhanced Learning.

My course is to be at the upper undergraduate level and I will assume the recipients have had a basic course in quantum mechanics, know about the structure of matter and the importance of the Pauli Exclusion Principle. I will discuss the material I will cover in another entry, but right now I am madly preparing Power Point slides to cover spin angular momentum.

July is not far off–and a lot can be covered in 15 hours. Most of the material will be based upon my electronic book on Physical Chemistry by Laidler, Meiser and myself.

It is now nine years since I was last in India and at that time, 2003, the Indian Institutes of Technologies were initiating NPTEL which is an ambitious program to bring education to a large segment of the population. India has outstanding Institutes of Technology (IITs) located at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Danpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee.

There is also an exceptional research institute in Bangalore called the Indian Institute of Science. In addition there are about 500 other universities and colleges around the country.

Most students want to get into one of the IITs and competition is stiff. Students must spend a lot of time preparing for the entrance examinations. The standards are very high. The NPTEL program offers web based courses which are used to train both teachers and students and to help them prepare for the entrance examinations.

The Departments of Secondary and Higher Education in India recognized that the use of multimedia is an effective way to bring specialized material to all the universities, colleges or anyone with interest so as to improve the quality of education. NPTEL states:

The concept of multimedia based courses with high potential of interactivity has become a popular and a viable option for both the developed and the developing nations, though for different reasons. Offering multimedia courses in technology assisted modes has not only become invaluable for the learner, but also an attractive and creative option for faculty. Such courses have the potential to enhance the on and off-campus learning experience for students and in a distance learning mode.

This indeed is a major effort to bring education to a country that lacks paper resources to print books, and has a large and scattered population that requires training in specialized areas of technology. The NPTEL objectives are:

The broad aim of the project NPTEL is to facilitate the competitiveness of Indian industry in the global markets through improving the quality and reach of engineering education. The operational objective of NPTEL is to make high quality learning material available to students of engineering institutions across the country by exploiting the advances in information and communication technology. The target group for this project consists of students and faculty of institutions offering undergraduate engineering programmes in India.

Various professors mostly from the IITs prepare lectures which are recorded and placed on the NPTEL website. The scope of these short courses is extensive with presently over 1200 being offered which cover the fundamentals of science, physics, chemistry, math, in addition to the many technological areas from Aerospace engineering, Nanotechnology etc. Even Textile engineering and Humanities and the Social Sciences are covered. (Click to enlarge image).

Most of these courses are at the undergraduate level and they are thorough, in-depth and, when necessary, mathematical.

Indeed I am excited about being part of this initiative by the Indian Government. In the coming weeks I will be adding posts here which will talk about my experiences in preparing and presenting these lectures as well as some insight into the NPTEL program.


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