January 10, 2010
Amrita Schools of Engineering
Amrita’s three Schools of Engineering joined twenty other colleges around the nation for a 2-week workshop on effective teaching and learning of computer programming.
The workshop was led by Prof. D. B. Phatak of IIT Bombay. Over ISRO’s Edusat network, he could simultaneously reach out to nearly a 1000 participating faculty members at remote centers.
“At first, I wasn’t very keen on attending,” admitted Ms. Sandhya Harikumar, Vice-Chair of the Department of CSE at Amritapuri. “I don’t normally teach C, but regardless, I thought I would attend to improve my teaching methods. And I am glad that I did.”
“The workshop included teaching methods commonly adopted at the IITs. Key concepts were illustrated using examples and analogies. After the workshop, I now find myself using examples more and more to illustrate key points.”
For example, Fibonacci series and recursive functions are taught in the C programming. It was emphasized that Fibonacci series could be introduced through say, sunflowers. Spirals seen in sunflowers (and pineapples and cones and other things in nature) follow the Fibonacci series.
A total of sixty-two faculty members attended from the Amritapuri campus. Of these, thirty represented other colleges in Kerala. Similar numbers attended from Amrita’s campuses at Coimbatore and Bangalore also.
“We were inspired by the fact that at the IITs first-year students are given an opportunity to work on funded projects,” shared Ms. Padmavathi of the Department of CSE at Coimbatore. “They gave an example of a Fingerprint Recognition System that was developed by their students.”
“Mission 10x of Wipro, which was part of this workshop was very useful also,” stated Ms. Nalini Sampath from the Bangalore campus. “We had to select topics and upload questions into a common question bank.”
The workshop underlined the importance of question banks. Students should be provided an opportunity to work in groups and create questions. At the IITs, extensive question banks have been created in this manner.
The workshop included quiz sessions that were simultaneously open to all remote centers. A Clicker Response System incorporating the state-of-the-art in audience response technology was employed. It efficiently handled responses from all thousand participants accurately.
The programming language C is taught in engineering and MCA colleges around the country. An estimated 7,00,000 students study this subject every year in their first-year of college. They are taught by about 7000 to 10000 teachers. This workshop may have only reached out to 10% of those teachers but nevertheless, it was an important beginning.*
Amrita is glad to have participated.
* The National Mission on Education through ICT, MHRD, Govt. of India, seeks to improve the effectiveness of teaching in core engineering and science subjects. This workshop conducted by IIT Bombay was part of this mission.