IIT Bombay scales up 'train 1000 teachers at

a time' programme to 10,000 teachers and

launches Aakash-2

 

Conducts  workshop for teachers of engineering colleges

from across the country on "Introduction to Research

Methodologies'

The new Aakash-2 to have a faster processor, much better

capacitive touch screen and battery life and several new

applications

 

June 25, 2012, Mumbai:  IIT Bombay today announced the launch of scaling up its very popular 'train a 1000 teachers at a time'  programme to 'train a 10,000 teachers at a time' programme. The workshop  was inaugurated today by the Honourable Minister for Human Resource & Development, Mr. Kapil Sibal, who joined through live a video link from New Delhi and interacted with students and professors from colleges in Kanyakumari, Srinagar, Rajkot and Nagpur.

 

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Sibal said: ' There is a raging debate in our country that the quality of the students ultimately depends upon the quality of teachers. And unless we empower our teachers, our children will not be empowered because ultimately it is the quality of the teachers that will bring about the quality of students in the country'.

 

'Under the National Mission on Education through ICT, IIT Bombay has been conducting workshops to train 1000 teachers at a time. This is a novel model where a large number of teachers participate from designated remote centres. Based on the excellent feedback, the Ministry of Human Resource & Development asked the Institute to scale up this model to engage more teachers. The Institute has now expanded the model to make it a program for training 10,000 teachers at a time. I am happy to note that there are over 9000 participants attending this first workshop. So this is a historic moment for me, and I am sure that for all those 9,000 teachers who are with me at this moment.', he added.

 

Prof. D.B. Phatak from the Computer Science Engineering department and the head of this project said: 'So far we have conducted 10 successful workshops under this programme, and have trained more than 11,000 teachers. The excellent feedback received from participating teachers prompted us to try and further scale up our efforts by one order of magnitude. In such mega-workshops, we plan to engage 10,000 teachers across the country in each single workshop. This needs a significant increase in the number of Remote Centres. In the last two months, we have managed to have 168 Centres. We believe that, globally, this is the first ever attempt of its kind, to simultaneously train engineering teachers on such a large scale.

 

'Over 12000 applicants had actually enrolled for this first workshop, of which we could only enroll 9,000. This was due to the limited number of Remote Centres. Over the next six months. We will be looking for additional 200 Centres, eventually increasing to 500. Our mission is to have a Centre in each town where there is an engineering college', he added.

 

'Train 1000 Teachers' workshop model

IIT Bombay conducts workshops for empowering teachers who teach engineering courses, the emphasis being on the basic courses such as Electronics, Thermodynamics, Computer Programming, etc. To engage 1,000 teachers at a time, our model uses a certain number of established colleges as identified Remote Centres, where the participating teachers assemble in groups of 30 to 70. Lectures are transmitted live from IIT Bombay. The A-View system, developed by Amrita University is used for this transmission. It permits two way video interactions, making the lectures almost a live experience. Lab sessions and tutorials are conducted at each Remote Centre under the supervision of local Workshop Coordinators. These Coordinators themselves are expert-faculty at respective Centres, and for whom an orientation program has already been conducted at IIT Bombay. This is much like the training we arrange for Teaching Assistants at IIT, who are our PhD scholars and MTech students, but is more comprehensive.

 

This was also an occasion to announce the launch of another ICT innovation, namely the Aakash project. The MHRD project was conceived as a Low Cost Access-cum-Computing device, to serve as an affordable tool to enrich the learning experience of the students of the nation.

 

On the launch of the Aakash tablet, the Minister said: 'It is well known that 'cost innovation' of this kind requires some iterative process. The project was transferred to IIT Bombay 3 months ago. The specifications are upgraded while maintaining its low cost. The new version ordered by the institute has a faster processor, and a much better capacitive touch screen. IIT Bombay has received devices of the new specifications, and has completed preliminary tests'.

 

'The institute will be handing over 100,000 of these upgraded tablets to students and teachers at engineering colleges across the nation. I understand that the 168 Remote Centre colleges that also participate in the 'train the teachers programme' have agreed to participate in this exciting project, in partnership with IIT Bombay.   The deliveries are expected to begin in July 2012. It is my pleasure to symbolically hand the all new Aakash tablet to the 4 college principals who are attending todays workshop at IIT Bombay from VJTI college, Sommaiya college, PIIT panvel and COEP Pune,' he added.

 

Commenting on the launch of Aakash, Prof. Phatak said: 'The Aakash Lab has been set up in the department of CSE at IIT Bombay, to drive this project. With the increasing convergence of communication and computing technologies, tablet computers are fast emerging as popular consumer devices. In coming years, Aakash is likely to become a ubiquitous tool in the hands of students, at all levels of their education'.

 

'In the 3 months since the project was transferred to IIT Bombay, we negotiated upgraded specifications with a faster processor at 800 Mhz, and a capacitive touch screen. We have also negotiated a lower price of Rs. 2,263, down from 2,276. We received first 100 samples of the Aakash-2 device during May/June. Our goal is to complete the deployment at over 500 engineering colleges, and to build a large community of thousands of talented professional students and teachers from these colleges, to carry out large scale development of applications and content for use in all schools and colleges,' he added.

 

Aakash Project at IIT Bombay

MHRD has launched an affordable tablet 'AAKASH', for use as an educational tool. IIT Bombay was given the responsibility for running the first phase of this project 3 months ago. The institute has partnered with CDAC in this project to do rigorous lab tests for the samples. IIT Bombay during this phase will concentrate on development of educational applications, and deployment of tablets in engineering colleges for field testing of devices through actual users. In later years, IIT Bombay proposes to continually work with CDAC for future enhancements to Aakash.

 

The institute aims at developing useful Open Source applications and content for use on Aakash. These will encompass the entire educational spectrum from schools to colleges, and from vocational training to professional studies. The goal is to complete the deployment at over 500 engineering colleges, and to build a large community of thousands of talented professional students and teachers from these colleges, to carry out large scale development of applications and content for use in all schools and colleges.

 

Content in Indian languages will receive special attention. All the existing Workshop-Remote-Centre colleges have agreed to participate in this exciting development effort. We will start the deployment in the coming academic year from August, and will start training teachers and students.

 

What's new in Aakash-2?

In the 3 months since the project was transferred to IIT Bombay, it negotiated upgraded specifications with a faster processor at 800 Mhz, and a capacitive touch screen. It has also escalated the battery power from 2000 mili ampere hour (approximately less than 2 hrs) to 3200 mili ampere hour (approximately 3 hrs). All this at a negotiated lower price of Rs. 2,263, down from 2,276.

 

The institute received first 100 samples of the Aakash-2 device during May/June. It then deployed over 150 people, including faculty, Ph D scholars, M Tech students, and project engineers, to work on development and porting of applications and contents on the new device. Building upon the past work at IIT Bombay, the team made substantial progress, and the work continues in full swing. It has added key functionalities through these applications. Students can now use video lectures in an interactive fashion. They can access these from a local server using W-Fi. They can give on-line Quizzes in the class and can submit assignments. They can conduct experiments and develop systems for Engineering control applications. Most importantly, the institute has succeeded in making available a programming environment. Permitting students to write and run programs in C, C++, Python. The open source package 'Scilab' has been successfully ported on Aakash. This effort emphasizes that Aakash is not just an access device anymore, but can be used also a regular computer for learning programming.

 

While the mandate of the current project is for empowering teachers and students of engineering colleges, the institute's proposal for doing a pilot deployment for school teachers has been approved. IITB's long term vision is to create and sustain collaborative research efforts, to work continuously on Aakash related R&D. It has already started to identify several hard research problems spanning multiple disciplines. In the coming years, IIT Bombay hopes to contribute significantly to this great initiative.