May 20, 2011
A new research grant from the Department of IT, Government of India will see Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and CDAC-Mumbai design interactive Online Labs using advanced computer simulation and animation technologies.
“Science labs in today’s schools are limited by the lack of equipment,” stated Prof. Raghu Raman, who will be the PI on the Amrita side. “In addition, there is the issue of use of hazardous substances or equipment that may easily break.”
Elaborating further, he added, “There is also a shortage of good teachers. Sometimes students are provided insufficient time to work on the labs.”
According to estimates by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the body that works to improve school education in India, a significant percentage of schools across the nation lacks labs facilities for the basic sciences.
Will online labs be able to provide the solution to all these problems? Perhaps yes, and that is why the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) agreed to collaborate with Amrita to develop these labs.
The team will develop models, demonstrations, videos and experiments in Physics and Chemistry to enable students to study, hypothesize and demonstrate key concepts and experiments. Amrita is already working on an MHRD-funded project to develop virtual labs in physics, chemistry and biotech for undergraduate students.
The goals of these labs is to support learning in a virtual environment such that student learning equals that or is greater than if he or she were physically present in an actual lab. All labs are open source; many make available output from advanced research for free use by the entire student community in the nation.
Prof. Raghu explained further. “Our initial target is to develop 30 lab experiments in Physics and Chemistry for Standards IX and X. We will pilot test the labs with the students of several schools.”
“One of our research initiatives will predict and forecast teacher acceptance and adoption of this technology in the classroom. Another research study will focus on student perceptions of using these labs in their learning.”
On April 9, 2011, Dr. M. Sasikumar, Director of Research at CDAC-Mumbai visited Amrita for a project kick-off meeting with Prof. Raghu Raman and Prof. Prema Nedungadi.