- Director of the engineering college said this strategy was adopted to end the semester as soon as possible
- Course work had also been suspended
- Students should not worry about the delays
As the classes have been affected due to the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the deadly virus, an engineering college in Hyderabad has taken a rather bold step of shifting its entire semester online.
The International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) has also declared that it will do away with the formal final examinations and will now distribute the weightage to less stressful and more hands-on components such as quizzes, projects, assignments, reports and others.
IIT-H has announced that the “suspension of the course work with immediate effect on 14th-March-2020 and has made it mandatory for all undergraduate students (first year to fourth-year batches) and postgraduate students (MTech first and second-year batches) doing only course work to return home by 18th-March-2020; research students (MS, PhD and Dual Degree students registered for thesis credits) can choose to stay and continue their research work. Institute will announce plans for finishing the Spring semester’s coursework by 20th-March-2020,”.
Professor P J Narayanan, Director of IIIT-Hyderabad, said that this strategy has been adopted in order to conclude the semesters as soon as possible and to remove the cloud of lockdown. He said that the weight of the semester’s courses from the shoulders of the students will also be taken off by this. He said that this way the students will not face any problem graduating and also will not be worried about the delays.
Narayanan said, “Conducting long final exams is tricky if done online, considering the highly variable situations the students may find themselves in where they are. Evaluations based on more hands-on application of concepts will stress students less, though the work on the teachers may increase.
Undesirable sharing is possible for such work, but we adopted it. It is good to not obsess excessively about every possible violation, as long as serious and hard-working students get their due,”.
The institution has decided it will not award any student an F (Fail) grade for the course, instead, the student will get a W (Withdraw). Though both serve the same purpose as the student must meet the requirements later, said IIIT-H. Students will only get A, B, C, and W grades for courses, leaving out A-, B-, C- and D grades.
Prof Narayanan also said that the classes are being conducted since the 23rd of March for almost all of the courses and the attendance in those classes is around 80% which is at par with the normal average of the institution. He added that the faculty members have adopted themselves and their teaching style to suit the online requirements.
He said, “The institute used that week to test and train the faculty on the various technological solutions out there, Microsoft’s cloud-based solutions for email and other services we had adopted earlier. That included a supported version of Teams, a tool suitable to run online classes.
A big plus was the ability to record the classes including audio, video, slides, digital blackboards, etc. Students could access the video later even if they couldn’t attend the live classes. Faculties were requested to keep notes and other study material on the LMS platform Moodle for students to access at will,”.
“We are aware that a small fraction of the students have poor to no access to online technologies. However, an overwhelming majority of the students are highly comfortable with technology and have adequate access.”
The academics and the tech support team of the institution worked really hard to train the faculty who, in return, reciprocated heartily. Director of IIIT-H Prof Narayanan said, “Students who could not take part meaningfully in the online phase of the courses due to poor connectivity, sickness to self or family etc will be evaluated separately whenever it is safe.
A combination of alternate evaluation and grading methods will be employed for them with a combination of assignments, projects, oral examinations, reports, etc. They will not be disadvantaged in any manner by this,”.