Time travel to the 70s; the skill set that has been pre-dominant in the job market include writing, ability for faster computation, reading, oral communications and others. Changes in social structure triggered by technological and economical reforms brought about flipped preferences regarding skill set in the job market. The top-rated skill sets in 70s have taken the back seat to leave space for collaboration, analytics, creativity and many more. However, classrooms in India remain to be reminiscent of the past. India being a major player in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution, is yet to see large-scale adoption of technology in classroom. The government of India has been investing significant efforts towards effective and large-scale usage of technology in Indian classrooms. IIT Kharagpur with support from the government has been working incessantly making education accessible and affordable to all. This article aims at providing a panoramic view of the digital learning research and development works being carried out in IIT Kharagpur.
An exceedingly simplistic view of education can be presented as an interplay of three components, namely, Content, Pedagogy and Delivery. Digital learning includes Technology in its purview, cutting across all the other three components. The digital learning research carried out in IIT Kharagpur concerns confluence of technology with the other components.
National Digital Library of India (NDLI): A Large-Scale Delivery Platform
With limited resource and infrastructure, knowledge economy is the only pathway to cater to the educational needs of the world’s largest young population. With the vision of realizing knowledge economy, the National Digital Library of India aims at becoming the one-stop platform for satisfying knowledge requirement of learners from diverse levels and disciplines. NDLI, sponsored by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, has already made a significant impact in Indian education sector by including more than 19 million e-learning resources in its collection. The development has leveraged state-of-art search and indexing technologies to power multi-lingual content discovery and multi-lingual interfaces. Artificial Intelligence and Text Mining approach based semi-automatic resource curation workflow has been instrumental in feeding resources to ever growing resource collection. In this process, the research and development team has embarked on solving several challenging problems in digital library including automatic metadata extraction, user intent analysis, resource recommendation and others.
Content Analytics and Learning Analytics
Thanks to different projects carried out as part of National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT) under the stewardship of MHRD, India has become one of the notable contributors of e-learning resources. The SWAYAM project aims at making online courses from various disciplines available to teachers and students of different levels. The project has made significant impact by implementing online certification and credit transfer schemes. IIT Kharagpur has been among top contributors to this gigantic effort by offering more than 200 courses.
As compared to classroom instruction delivery, the digital learning platforms lacks in embedding natural interaction and engagement. This brings forward one important question: What are features of an e-learning resource that makes it engaging and grabs the attention of learner? A group of researchers in the Centre for Educational Technology, IIT Kharagpur has been investigating on this research question. The group focuses on observing and recording the cognitive processes that underlie during a learning situation. Several bio-signals like Electro Encephalogram (EEG), Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) and Eye Tracker are used to record the different bio-signals during learning. This research has profound implication in providing feedback to the content developers for producing quality contents.
The MOOC wave has started to gain momentum in India through government initiatives like SWAYAM. The impact of MOOC offered in other parts of the world has been analyzed extensively and outcomes of different analysis have been diverse. Impact of MOOC in Indian setting considering its diversity in socio-cultural, linguistic, geographic dimensions is yet to be explored. IIT Kharagpur has taken up initiative in this direction by developing learning analytics algorithms that analyze massive amount of data generated during leaners’ interactions with the MOOC platform.
Innovations in Pedagogy
Changing skill requirement, social structures, learners’ aspirations, technology landscape necessitates continuous evaluation and innovation in pedagogy. Teaching Learning Centre (TLC) of IIT Kharagpur established under Pandit Madan Mohan Malavya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) scheme of MHRD has been experimenting on innovation in pedagogy with specific focus on collaboration, critical thinking, experiential learning and inquisition.
Argument Driven Inquiry (ADI) is a flagship program of TLC, IIT Kharagpur. This program focuses on to instill ‘Scientific Temper’ through a collaborative framework that adopts an investigative or discovery-based approach towards learning and teaching science. This framework also envisages nurturing skills like critical thinking, problem solving, scientific communication in early grade students. Active Teaching Learning Process (ATLP) program undertaken by the centre puts greater emphasis on interdisciplinary nature of science through hands-on and experiential learning.
In spite of being most sought for subject, dropout rate in mathematics has never been at a low ebb. One of the major factors behind the sorry state affair is lack of pedagogy practices that aims at envisionment or visualization of mathematical ideas. The centre has initiated efforts towards developing Visual Mathematics pedagogy and deploying it in Indian classroom.
Plaban Kumar Bhowmick, Assistant Professor
Plaban Kumar Bhowmick is an Assistant Professor in Centre for Educational Technology, IIT Kharagpur. He has received B. Tech. from Calcutta University in 2002, MS and PhD from IIT Kharagpur in Computer Science & Engineering in 2006 and 2011 respectively. He is one of the co-principal investigators and technical lead of National Digital Library of India project and principal investigator of different e-learning projects of national importance. His research areas include text processing, artificial intelligence in education, semantic web technology, knowledge graphs and digital library technologies.