Monday, February 20, 2006

President Kalam on undergraduate education in IISc

For future generations of research students and scientists, Dr. Kalam urged the IISc. to consider starting undergraduate study programmes in core areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and bioinformatics. The institute must also take the lead in creating a "virtual education hub," an "Open Courseware" that could be deployed on the web and be accessible to anyone who wanted to be part of the knowledge society.

When his suggestion on undergraduate studies was greeted with silence, Dr. Kalam joked, "I knew this would be your response, but I am taking the liberty of suggesting it, since I consider myself a part of the institute."

Here's the link to the story in the Hindu. My take on undergraduate education in elite research institutions such as IISc and TIFR is here.

Update: Venkat, an alumnus of IISc, offers his views on this issue here.


  1. Anonymous said...

    'Core areas' like nanotechnology, biotechnology??

    Regarding Open Courseware etc., wasn't there programmes on Doordarshan, something called UGC Countrywide classroom?

  2. Anonymous said...

    Abi, I saw this just after posting in my english blog, Pl. see

    Should IISc start undergraduate programs?

  3. Anonymous said...

    Vishnu, Yes UCG was supposed to be. But they are ill-equipped to do this. This should come from teaching institutions directly and should be constantly refined based on their direct experiences in the classrooms. UCG can at best play the middleman role, which is not necessary.

  4. Abi said...

    Vishnu: Our President does have way of presenting less-than-coherent ideas as important initiatives, doesn't he? His ideas on nanotechnology and biotechnology as 'core areas' in which undergraduate education must be offered are quite loony.

    As for 'virtual education hubs' and 'knowledge platforms', his ideas appear simplistic. What is the use in urging faculty members who probably don't have any expertise in e-learning and distance learning (and I am not even talking about web technologies) to create these platforms. These initiatives require expertise in specialized fields, and if it is important for us to do them, we must strive to develop that expertise here (read: we must be willing to spend money on these alternative modes of delivering education). Clearly, faculty and course websites do not a Knowledge Platform make!

    As for UGC broadcasts, I really have no idea whatsoever about how effective they were in terms of reach or usefulness. If anyone knows about them, I would appreciate their comments.

    Venkat: Thanks for that post (and for the link). I am so glad that I am with you on this one!