September 22, 2009
Amrita Center for E-learning, Amritapuri
In April 2009, Amrita became part of a consortium of top universities in India to work on various e-learning projects funded and promoted by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). Last week, at the first meeting of the Apex Committee of National Mission on Education through ICT, Amrita and the other universities had the opportunity to demo the initial work completed. Present at the meeting were Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource Development and Ms D. Purandeswari, Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
“Nearly 15 live demos were given illustrating virtual labs, virtual classrooms, vocational training through haptic devices, education resources planning and learning management tools …,” reported the portal India edunews.net. Amrita participated in the demos for virtual labs and virtual classrooms; these two projects are led by IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay respectively. To enable virtual classrooms, MHRD will deploy Amrita’s A-View to link educational institutions around the country. A-View has already been installed in some of the leading IITs in the nation. (see news)
In addition to participating in these two projects, Amrita is leading a third MHRD-funded project — using haptic devices to provide vocational training. (see news) At the meeting, Amrita demoed drilling for plumbing and fabric painting using a haptic device. The demos were highly successful. “After the demos, Shri. Kapil Sibal asked who was doing all that great work,” shared Prof. Kamal Bijlani, Director of Amrita’s E-learning Center. “When he was told it was Amrita, he responded with, “O, I know Amrita, they are just fabulous!!”
After the demos, Shri. N. K. Sinha, Secretary, Department of Higher Education provided an overview. “Over 40 pilot projects worth nearly Rs. 450 crore have already been sanctioned,” he told the gathered audience consisting of Secretaries of various departments, Directors of IITs, Directors of IIMs and Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities. “The demos displayed here today are the outcomes of these sanctioned projects. The projects will provide e-content in the fields of science, social sciences, engineering and languages.”
Later the Amrita team called on Shri. N. K. Sinha at his office. The team also met with Ms. Purandeswari. The Honorable Minister was impressed with the use of haptic devices for vocational training and suggested that Amrita adopt some vocational centers. “Within the jurisdiction of MHRD, we can also provide support,” she stated. The M.A. Math already runs two Jan Shikshan Sansthans that provide vocational training. The Amrita JSS in Tamil Nadu was awarded the NLM-UNESCO Award for Adult Literacy by the President of India last year. Amrita continues to excel thus in many diverse fields.