December 5, 2011
School of Biotechnology
The concept of globalization is often associated with economic advances brought about by the reduction of international trade barriers. However, back in the 1930’s, globalization was first associated with a holistic view of education.
Today, global education is no longer an aspiration; e-learning has made it a reality.
Highlighting innovative e-learning models for the integration of education, technology and research, Global Universities in Distance Education (GUIDE) organized their fifth International Conference at the Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi in Rome, Italy during November 18-19.
Amrita’s Shyam Diwakar, Assistant Professor, School of Biotechnology, attended the conference and presented a paper titled Virtual Labs: Pervasive Education and Scenes from an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Perspective.
The paper was written by Diwakar and co-authored with Krishnashree Achuthan, Prema Nedungadi, Raghu Raman and Bipin Nair.
Defining virtual simulation-based laboratory (Virtual Labs) as a new kind of experimental science, Diwakar explained its role in understanding and solving complex problems in cross-disciplinary studies or large mathematical real-life scenarios.
“Virtual Labs can be used to educate students in subjects like biotechnology that require intensive laboratory training. Amrita has developed physics, chemistry and biotechnology virtual labs using mathematical models and enhanced pedagogy techniques to create a new approach to learning science,” he said.
Diwakar discussed Amrita’s blending of e-learning and real research, which now includes new simulations in neuroscience and biophysics. He also noted the institution's endeavor to unify the Virtual Labs Collaborative and Accessibility Platform (VLCAP), a MHRD Government of India National Mission on Education through ICT initiative.
Commenting on the conference, Diwakar said, “It was good to hear how e-learning is now the main technology uniting the distance education community and that the group is trying to establish a standardization of e-learning techniques.”
The GUIDE conference emphasized the evolution of an accessible and flexible knowledge-based society promoted by new e-learning models. The conference also stressed that in order to make the shift from a traditional teaching model to an open one (free-online-education), stronger cooperation among open universities is needed.
For years, free education materials, like lecture slides and syllabi were available online, but now with the advent of open teaching, education is also beginning to become freely available to all. Amrita, like other open universities, is unlatching the barriers to learning, sharing valuable learning experiences around the world.